(First published 2002)
My One and Only Goal This Year: Learn to speak Arabic, in order to better eavesdrop on the enemy without him knowing or suspecting, write down anything he says that may incriminate him, and then turn him in to the Justice Department in order to collect the 25 million bucks the DoJ is offering anyone with knowledge that will prevent another enemy attack. To accomplish this goal, I have purchased the following book :
Arabic For Beginners by Syed Ali
ISBN 0-7818-0841-3 Copyright 2001 (I bought this book after 9/11, by the way, and before the invasion of Iraq)
After I give you a sampling of what I will be learning in this book, you will say with confidence, "I can actually see you getting 25 mil from the gubmint!" All the samples I cite are in this book, absolutely no joking!
The first indication of what I will be studying is listed in the author's thanks to the following people and institutions: 2nd page of the Introduction:
"I am thankful to King Faisal Center for Research in Islamic Studies, Riyadh, Baghdad University and Islamic African Center, Khartoum for suggesting certain changes in the book and these have been incorporated in this edition." Syed Ali.
In one line, Syed thanks Our Friends in the Everlasting Kingdom of Hatred, The Republic of Saddam, Uday and Qusay, and the wasteland of Genocidal Janjaweed for suggesting some "changes"...Hmmmm, I wonder what those "changes" might be:
Let's see, shall we? In lesson nine, model sentences are given:
19: The soldier is brave.
20: God is powerful.
22: The sermon is eloquent.
29: The tank is full.
36: The sky is high.
38: The city is crowded...and my personal favorite...
39: The duck is fat.
In lesson eleven, a few model sentences:
3: The mother stays at home. She cooks food, brings up the children and looks after the domestic chores. Say with me, now girls: "I am but a woman. I am but a woman".
5: The Director of the establishment told the workers: "Every one of you has made an effort and played his role for achieving the industrial and trade targets of the company, hence you deserve extra allowance." I am hoping to drop this line in small talk.
In lesson 12, Syed gives us lots of descriptions of New York City, including a line about tall buildings, and friendly people.
In lesson 14, Syed talks about the happy peasants.
On page 108 and 109, in lesson 17, Syed quotes from the Koran...I think.
3: Do not call those who are slain in the way of God as dead. But they are living.
16: O my brother! Do not leave the water tap open.Do not write on the wall of the house nor throw the waste paper and peel of the fruits except in the waste-paper basket.
Lesson 18 offers this line:
5: The rocket has been fired.
In one lesson, (I can't find it now that I want to quote it)
Syed parses the verb to beat as follows: He was beaten, he is beating, he beat, he will beat, etc...
There are 25 lessons in this book, (which translates into 1 million dollars per chapter) and by lesson 20 a picture is beginning to take serious shape here:
11: He has enjoined upon me prayer and almsgiving, so long as I remain alive.
12: The wind continues to be strong.
13: The market continues to be crowded.
14: The airplane was about to explode.
20: The playground is not crowded with people.
28: We don't have much time.
29: People had imagined that aviation was an impossible skill... at least for Zacarias Moussaoui it appears to have been, right?
In lesson 21 I will learn how to say the following lines:
1: Certainly God is with the steadfast.
2: As if the news was correct! Not if you are reading the New Duranty Times, shahid.
3: The plane crashed, but the loss is little.
4: If only the accused was free! See sentence 17.
10: Perhaps the train is reaching the station according to schedule. Oh Syed, did you mean the ones arriving in Madrid or London? Or, howdja like a nice New Year's Eve razzia on the train in Nice?
16: If only the medicine was useful! How does one say Cipro in Arabic, I wonder?
17: Perhaps the culprit is free! In Yemen he is, and thanks to Germany, a couple of others are, too! Way to go, Krauts!
18: It pains me that the war is continuing. It seems to have pained Uday and Qusay and several thousands of their buddies, too.
20: Perhaps the goal is near! Oh, yeah. Nearer than you think, punk.
Hmm. Maybe I should just get some Pimsleur CDs and learn Arabic the good old-fashioned, American way...in my car.
Update: Pimsleur is only so good. It begins to suck after about the 10th lesson, because you end up dying from boredom. I have learned some Arabic, but not with this little book nor with Pimsleur. I have a method of language learning that isn't anything like these methods. I would write about it, but you would be bored to tears reading about it.