Before the DL Arabic Course came out, I have been learning Arabic on a different site. And it always put a ــٌ to say "a (something)". Am I missing something here?
Technically, there should be a ٌ at the end, but this course is trying to find a middle ground between Modern Standard Arabic and spoken language, so they are dropping sounds that aren't normally spoken when, for example, an interviewer is talking in Arabic on TV. We often drop diacritics at the end of sentences while reading, too, so that's another reason why they didn't write it here.
could you elaborate on this please. What is a 'middle ground between MSA and spoken language'? because there is no real definition for 'spoken language' infact by any definition dialectical Arabic would be a set of many languages.
For instance, I am noticing a repetitive wrong pronunciation of ج in the course, it is Levantine Arabic dialectical, and say in Egyptian Arabic dialectical it is flat out wrong, and in MSA, it is also flat wrong.
It has to be either MSA or some specific dialect. Infact, dialects have their own grammar even. Why are we reinventing the wheel? I think 'middle ground between MSA and 'spoken Arabic' (whatever the latter means) will result in - well, pretty inaccurate Arabic by any understanding. It is a good idea to stick to MSA and then at a later stage maybe teach Egyptian Arabic or Gulf Arabic etc. as separate languages. (for instance, Egyptian Arabic has its own wikipedia already).
The course makers said in their announcement that they're trying to mimic the language used by an interviewer on TV. For more details you'd have to ask them.
As for the pronunciation of ج it is quite accurate. The Levantine dialect is the closest dialect to MSA. Egyptian Arabic has so many differences with MSA, that the Egyptians themselves are trying to make it into its own language. Look no further than having an "Egyptian" version of Wikipedia as proof of this. Having said that, Arabic "dialects", when looked upon objectively, are more like languages than dialects. Their differences are much greater than the difference between Spanish and Portuguese.
Nobody is reinventing the wheel. Duolingo's main goal is to teach practical language, and pure MSA can be impractical, because a lot of less educated Arabs (or children) won't even understand it. There is no "standard" middle ground. The makers of the course are trying their best, based on their experience, to insert frequently used words in dialects, because they're so often used, you can't escape them in real-life.
I understand that from a learner's perspective, one looks for a sense of regularity and rules, but life doesn't work like that. The Arab world is just as diverse as Europe is. You need to be comfortable with that fact to remove the mental block preventing you from learning it. It's going to take a long time to learn Arabic, and its many variations is one major reason for that.
hmmm, thanks for answering, I have made a detailed response to some of these points in another post, i will take an excerpt from there:
"...the pronunciation of the letter ج in the course (I will make this comment again where applicable), it is flat out wrong in MSA, no other way to describe it. If I understand correctly, you have explicitly defended it as 'correct' under a pretext of 'a mix between MSA and spoken Arabic' (again, there is no such thing as 'spoken Arabic' - there is dialect: spoken Lebanese, spoken Egyptian, etc. - you have called YOUR spoken Arabic as 'spoken Arabic', it is not to the vast majority of Arabs, it is 'Lebanese dialect' and their spoken Arabic is very, very different), you have put a Levantine dialectical ج (a soft j as in bonjour), which is very different than an Egyptian dialectical ج (a 'g' like in go), which is very different than a Gulf dialectical ج (a y as in 'yes'). You have effectively made a preference of one dialect over another and falsely presented it as 'Arabic' to the new learner, even explicitly said this is the right pronunciation, and it is NOT the right pronunciation of this letter in 'Arabic' (MSA), it is 'your local dialect'. The correct pronunciation recognized by the entire Arab world for ج is a hard j as in Jim (note: they ACCEPT this even though they all pronounce it differently). Here is the thing - if you ask ANYONE versed in Arabic, whether in Lebanon, Egypt, the Gulf, anywhere, all who pronounce this letter differently in their own dialect btw, they will all say that their pronunciation is dialectical and it is NOT Arabic (MSA), and that is the real reference for the language - not 'local usage' but rather what the vast majority of Arabic speakers recognize to be 'Arabic' (rather than 'dialect')."
The pronunciation of the letter as presented here is not 'accurate' in Arabic at all, it hurts the ears actually. As you know, Arabic is a language that is to a large extent aesthetic and a mispronunciation is detected almost instantly.
Secondly, the statement of 'Levantine dialect being closest to MSA' is also not objective and quite inaccurate. One can really make that argument about MANY dialects. I can think for instance off the top of my head that a Hassaniya dialect is much closer to MSA than Levantine - they actually follow deep grammar rules in day-to-day conversation, infact they may even be closer to Classical Arabic than MSA. The fact that there is an Egyptian version of Wikipedia has nothing to do with how far the dialect is from MSA, that is also an inaccurate derivation, but it has to do with the political argument of identifying Egyptian Arabic as a language, without taking sides on the issue (I am merely elaborating on it). But Egyptians have almost always had their own language(s) and by pushing to have their dialect recognized as a language, is a political statement of identity, it has nothing to do with how far their dialect is from MSA. There is a similar one in Lebanon (Phoenicianism), but with a simple arithmetic difference in population numbers, for every one who pushes for linguistic autonomy in say Lebanon for reasons of identity, there are like 17 in Egypt, so much more to maintain sites and platforms like Wikipedia.
So stating that 'Levantine Arabic is closest to MSA' and 'Egyptian is further because of their own Wikipedia' are both inaccurate statements, but are strictly subjective to your viewpoint. And when these decisions are used to make and derive other decisions pertaining to teaching a language like 'Arabic' (not 'Levantine Arabic' but 'Arabic') as a second language, they create issues and complexities.
If Duolingo strictly wants to teach 'practical language,' then they should adopt a dialect. Egyptian Arabic, or Levantine Arabic, or Gulf Arabic. But you cannot reinvent the wheel and create a whole new language that doesnt exist and name it after a language already defined, respectfully. The reference for what the word 'Arabic' means, is the Arabic-speaking countries, and Arabs, the onus of this definition rests with them, not with you, of what 'Arabic' means.
And mind you, lets take this as an example as stated above, they all have a different pronunciation of that one letter (and almost all of them pronounce it different from the 'correct' pronunciation), but THEY ALL AGREE that their pronunciation is 'dialectical' and 'not Arabic', and when they do teach MSA (like in school or as a second language) they teach it with the correct pronunciation ('j' as in 'Jim). The difference is, you are here presenting your own regional dialectical pronunciation as 'Arabic' and that is not right. The majority of Arabs do NOT agree that this is 'Arabic', nor do they follow this dialect.
The rules of Arabic take precedence over the rules of Duolingo (and I love Duolingo!), If 20+ countries agree what constitutes 'Arabic' and have the same rules from Oman to Morocco, that that is what Arabic is, not what you subjectively decide what 'Arabic' is. They have decided that MSA is what Arabic is, and is it hard? Yes, it is very hard infact (but extremely rewarding, a mind-opener), which is why people in these countries choose to speak dialect. However they never teach their dialects as 'Arabic' they teach it as 'dialect', and when they do teach 'Arabic' - ALL of them, they teach MSA. A university or language center course in 'Arabic' is exactly the same in Morocco as it is in Bahrain. And it is completely detached from dialect.
The difference is, you are teaching elements of your dialect as 'Arabic' and that is not right.
Arabic is actually a very regular language, even the irregularities have patterns and layers. I believe there are more irregularities being created in this course through adopting linguistic rules that do not exist, in inventing a dialect, or rather even inventing a language, that does not exist ("halfway between MSA and 'spoken Arabic'. There is no such language as 'spoken Arabic' let alone 'a language halfway between MSA and spoken Arabic') but there is YOUR spoken Arabic, which the majority of the Arab world actually does not speak, because they have their own 'spoken Arabics'.
But: they choose that 'Arabic' is 'MSA'
That said, your spoken Arabic is a language in its own right, with its own rules and beauty and identity and history, but it is not 'Arabic' and should not be presented to the learner as such. You are effectively creating a strong regional bias, towards a language/dialect (Levantine dialect) that the majority of Arabs do not speak, and do not identify as 'Arabic,' and justifying this bias entirely subjectively (it is closest to MSA, this is how newscasters speak, etc.) when none of these are objective statements. It is neither the closest to MSA, nor do newscasters speak like that in the most viewed Arabic channels worldwide (BBC Arabic, AlJazeera, Al Arabiya, MBC, etc. - they ALL strictly speak MSA. BBC Arabic particularly is a very good reference).
Sorry again for the harsh criticism but please take it into consideration, because now are many 'mistakes' that are noticed in the 'Arabic' taught here, that are based on inaccurate assumptions, and are unfair to the learner.
I have answered a lot of those points in reply to your other post. Your post here reaffirms what I said there. Your strong feelings about what’s right and wrong in language comes from an academic perspective, and Duolingo has never taught a language purely from that perspective. It has always mixed ‘pure’ language with words from different dialects when they are frequently used. They do that in all their courses, and I don’t see why Arabic should be an exception.
As for my statement of Levantine Arabic being closer for MSA than Egyptian Arabic, I cannot convince you otherwise, as I haven’t found any research on the topic. Regarding Phoenicianism, the people trying to make that popular here can be gathered in one room. Nobody actually uses that as a language here. Contrast that to Egyptian, a language that is super useful and practical. I’m actually happy that there are efforts to formalize it. It’s clearer that way.
Regarding pronunciation of ج it’s correct here based on the MSA we learn in the Levant, which has some slight differences with that taught in Egypt. Both are ok, but Duolingo had to make a choice between different text-to-speech systems, and it’s unfair to criticize them for picking one over the other. I’m sure all text-to-speech systems they evaluated had pros and cons, and they picked one that has the most advantages based on their own priorities and mission as a company.
SamirShaker this is in response to your post. Thanks again for your time and effort in responding.
As stated on the other trail of discussion ('an excellent garage') I am not an academic at all, I am simply a native Arabic speaker, I speak it as I do say English. And my feelings about what is right and wrong in ARABIC (I am not concerned about 'language theory' because like I said, the rules of the specific language have precedence over the rules of the platform), are not feelings, they are, well, what is right and wrong in MSA. They are objective statements, not subjective statements.
Your argument, respectfully, sounds like 'others do it so it is okay for me to do it' and that is a logical fallacy. Because I am only concerned with the case at hand.
Is MSA a practical language? I agree with you that it isnt. It is very practicaly compared to Classical Arabic, but relative to other languages, it is impractical. Many course centers throughout the mideast offer dialectical courses side-by-side to MSA, for that very reason. And learning MSA is always the harder choice. BUT: they do not present any bias of specific dialect as 'Arabic', they present it as what it is, a dialect.
Why is MSA impractical? It is MEANT to be that way, that is the language identity. When you change that because of inaccurate, subjective reasons ('this is how newscasters speak', 'my particular dialect is closer to MSA' etc.) you change the IDENTITY of the language, and the onus of defining the identity of this language, rests with Arabs as a collective, it is a remnant of the language's history and collective identity, unlike the identity of a dialect that pertains to the history of that one particular nation.
And the identity of Arabic/MSA involves within a strong part of it, its being an impractical language of aesthetics and descriptive and abstract beauty and musical rhyme, as much if not even more than it being practical. This is why the Arab world uses MSA formally - and yes they speak MSA in every major news station that is trans-Arab (AlJazeera, BBC Arabic, MBC, etc.).
For example, in English there is a word: 'friend'
In MSA, there is 'sadeeq' (a friend whos company you like), 'siddeeq' (a friend you entrust a secret to), 'saamer' (a friend you like late night fireplace conversations with), 'sameer' (a friend you like fireplace conversations with even more), 'anees' (a friend who is never tired in your company), 'najeyy' (a friend who is always there to get you out of a tight spot), 'nadeem' (a friend you can drink with and get into mischief with), 'rafeeq' (a friend you can travel with), 'saa7ib' (a friend who is close), 'khalil' (a friend who is very close), 'khadeen' (a friend with benefits), 'tirb' (a friend of the same age group and gender), 'safeyy' (a friend you prefer over others), 'jalees' (a friend you like hanging around with in general), etc. etc.
The best translation for ALL of these, in English is 'friend'
And yet in MSA/Arabic, every single word is different, and there are more. And in Classical Arabic, there are a ton more, with different and combined axes. This is the identity of the language. When you redefine the identity into a completely nonexistent one ('halfway between MSA and spoken Arabic' - when what you a really saying is 'halfway beetween MSA and spoken Levantine dialectical Arabic), you slay this identity.
This is MSA:
ج is pronounced as in J for Jim
مرآب is garage
معطف is jacket
The way this is presented here and others, is dialect. And it is a dialect less than 10% of Arabs speak. How many speakers of Levantine Arabic are there? Around 40 million? There are around 60 million GCC Arabic speakers, and there are around 95 million Egyptian Arabic speakers, and they have vastly different pronunciations and words for the examples stated, and yet this course is biased towards what less than 10% of Arabs speak, under a completely manufactured pretext of 'this is closest to MSA' (it is not) or 'this is how newscasters speak' (it is not), or the identity of dialect (which is irrelevant).
Like is said, the identity of dialects is different than the identity of Arabic. For example, you presented an explanation earlier for the Arabic pronunciation of 'Bob' due to French having an influence on Arabic. However, the true statement is: Bob is pronounced as such because that is French having an influence on the identity of LEVANTINE dialect. Egyptians (twice as many as Levantines) prounounce 'Bob' in the same way simply out of transliteration of the vowel from English, and the same with Gulf Arabs (20% more than Levantines), and neither have had any French influence on the language. If anything, Egyptian Arabic has a more Italian influence as you know than French.
But: you presented it as 'French influence on Arabic' when it isnt. It is French influence on YOUR dialect, which is less than 10% of the Arabic language collective.
This is why MSA matters - and presenting a strong bias towards a dialect spoken by a minority in the big picture, as 'Arabic' when it isnt, is unfair both to the language, and to the learner.
Lastly, I do understand that it is hard to find a text-to-speech platform to teach the language, but: it is one thing to maintain this is a mistake and another thing altogether to defend it under a pretext of this being 'Arabic' when it is 'dialect'.
The pronunciation of ج in this engine, is ABSOLUTELY WRONG. This is not 'my feeling', this is Arabic. If it were an issue of my two native dialects, both pronounce it quite differently than even the correct MSA Arabic, but: I am not presenting my local dialect as 'Arabic'. I do not know why or how I have to explain very basic Arabic here, but there is ONE way to pronounce ج in Arabic/MSA, and it is the J in Jim. The soft j here, is how less than 10% of Arabs speak it in their own dialect (beautiful in its own right), but it is not MSA, and thus not Arabic. I do understand this may not be easy to produce digitally, but: atleast, it is not right to present it as being 'right', and it is not right to present a dialect spoken by a small portion of Arabs only (or even any portion of Arabs tbh), as 'Arabic' with various inaccurate justifications or under a manufactured guise of 'practicality' in contrasting with the native identity of the language - it is the Arab world, collectively, that has decided what Arabic is. And as for newscasters, they speak MSA.
Thanks however for the dialogue, it is valuable even in difference :)
Both are technically correct, but it's too early early in the course to worry about all diacritics. I guess the dev team for the course are trying to make it simple.
Is anyone else hearing "beit" instead of "bait"? Is there a difference between them or is it really spoken like this?
In hebrew there is a distinction between בַית and בֵית. Is there a distinction in arabic as well?
I was wondering the same thing myself and so looked ahead in A.S. Triton's little book Arabic (Teach Yourself Books, p. 34), who gives "a house" as baytu or baytun (with nunation), while "the house" is albaytu. He explains the construct but I can't type Arabic yet and still have not figured out the vowels. Google translate gives the word for בית קפה in Standard Arabic as مقهي
Does anyone know how to get the little line above letters that represent "a" above "d" with the arabic keyboard? I can only type نيت Which is "Dydh" instead of "Daydh"
The text is "بَيت" which is /bayt/, not /daydh/. But I'll suppose you're doing another example.
But here's how my Arabic Keyboard works.