Tuesday, May 6, 2014

w'Sa3ateen bil Wagibaat Arriybi

My cousin decided she was going to take the Spring Arabic 101 classes offered at the Y. I was super excited to get back into the language via helping her with the alphabet, studying along, etc (no lectures on how I don't actually have time this term, please).  It's been years since I took any language classes, so I pulled out my trusty Alif Baa text for a review. My handwriting is still pretty awful, but things were going pretty well. I remembered a lot more amiyya (Egyptian spoken Arabic) than I realized, and I was getting really excited. I drank up the language exposure the same way a plant long devoid of sunlight soaks up the first rays of summer. 
I was honestly quite surprised at my own reaction. I am not a fantastic Arabic speaker, and my vocabulary is fairly limited. But I had not realized just how deeply rooted my love for the language was. All languages are fun for me; I enjoy various alphabets and the ability to express ideas in a particular way. The music of language is fascinating, and the language we speak is so tightly knit with the idea framework in which we think  that sometimes it is hard to differentiate the two at all. But the passion I experienced in finally reviewing my old scrawling Arabic grammar lessons was astonishing, above that of any other language I've experienced. Egyptian phrases would roll around in my head in daily conversation, much as they used to. I unconsciously returned to saying "ilHamdulallah" after almost everything. I started patching holes in my vocabulary as I realized words and phrases I'd forgotten. 

Then my cousin and I started chatting, briefly. And I realized right off--we weren't speaking the same language. Many words were the same, but about half of them were varying degrees of NotEgyptian. Then I remembered--Arab Spring. The Egyptian Revolution. BYU students no longer travel to Cairo. She was speaking Levantine Arabic...not Egyptian Arabic.  Totally different spoken vocabulary.


This will be a lot more studying than I thought. 

I hope she'll be patient with me. I'm still excited, but I think I may be far less help than she anticipated.  I am beginning to believe more and more that my initial struggles with the language were primarily a timing issue. I want this language. I want to always retain this language. I know I need to be primarily focused on a different career path, but my abilities in amiyya have increased since leaving the program, where the reverse was expected. 

Maybe if I bring treats, the teacher will let me sit in on a couple of lectures, for fun. 

You know, since I have nothing else to do. 

"isa3a l'albuk, w'issa3alraabuk....(w'saateen bil wagibat arriybi)."
"An hour for yourself, and an hour for your Lord...(and TWO hours for Arabic homework)."
--Arabic proverb on how to properly tithe one's time (parenthetical added)