I’ve been using the glorious internet to start networking with people in the Middle East and practice Arabic, as well as make local friends of course. I have only just begun practicing colloquial Arabic, but I believe I have found some pretty helpful Arab friends. One of the most helpful of these is an Arab from Israel (who referred to the country as Israel in case you were wondering). I am working on the basics of the dialect, so I have learned the question words in the Levantine dialect, which would include the dialects spoken in Israel, Jordan, and Syria, among others. To show the stark contrast between formal Arabic and the vernacular of Jordan, I’ll give a few examples:
(note that the pronunciation of the vowels of Arabic, in general, is as follows: a = “ah”, e = “eh”, i = “e”, u = “oo” as in “oops”, and o = “oh”)
What= مَا (maa) in Modern Standard Arabic, شُو (shuu) in the vernacular
When = مَتَى (mataa) in Standard, إِيمْتَا (iimtaa) in colloquial
How = َكَيْف (kayfa) in Standard, ْكِيف (kiif) in colloquial
Who = ْمُن (man) in Standard, ْمِين (miin) in colloquial
Notice tْhat these words look similar to each other in almost all of these cases. While Modern Standard Arabic does vary greatly from the dialects of the various Arab countries, it still shares much in common with the local spoken. But enough about the language minutia. I’m extremely excited to go abroad for what really will be my first time. I do not count a few hours in Canada as an “abroad” experience. In terms of adjustment, I’m sure it will be similar to my experience with college. I have missed my family, but I had never felt homesick; it was an easy transition. This experience, however, may provide a new challenge in that I will be leaving not just my family, but my entire country behind. The gap in standard of living probably won’t help the transition either. But I’m confident I can make the most of my travels and I hope practicing colloquial Arabic will help me do just that.