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La tit'as'saf. Minil wadeh in'nak talib mujtahid. I don't exaggerate when I say that I consider it a privilege and pleasure whenever I come across non-Arabic speakers who have reached as far as I see you have in the study of the language. I'm only sorry I am unable to offer my personal help with some free additional lessons to reinforce your grasp of whatever material you are being officially taught.
You'll do well, I'm sure. It takes persistence, and remember this is classical Arabic.(Technically, a distinction is made between M.S.A. and older Fushah, but M.S.A. alone is at a noticeable distance from the vernacular.) It is not easy to develop a command of this form of the language. These days, even some Arabs forget how to write properly.
The grammar is pretty challenging!
The conjugations must have you sweating.
This is why much of the grammar is stripped in the vernacular. Many of the pronouns, as well as certain consonants, disappear in common speech. In fact, retaining a certain letter may divulge your religious affiliation. Where I come from, if you constantly pronounce the 'qaf', you are either a Durzi or an Allawite.
They grade you on reading, listening and speaking, but not really on writing much. Reading is by far the easiest, because you can digest it. Listening gets hard if you're working outside of Modern Standard Arabic,
Don't try it or rather don't overdose on it unless you are exceptionally good. (I know one excellent student who was able to couple listening sessions at home [using audio tapes that trained one to memorise phrases in the Levantine dialects] with her formal studies of M.S.A.) Unlike many languages, Arabic's written form and Arabic speech are much too far apart to be taken together at once without getting your wires crossed and letting confusion set in. As you learn M.S.A., don't entertain thoughts about speaking within social, undiplomatic contexts, until you are ready to move on to that area of study, which should be handled without reference to text and is of course less formal and requires the aid of practical experience through verbal interaction with an Arabic environment. Should you ever take up learning to speak the colloquial, I suggest you pursue the Levantine dialects: Syrian, Lebanese, Jordanian, and Palestinian.
and I won't even get into speaking. Most of the time we talk to each other, so who knows how terribly we butcher things =)
The student I mentioned demonstrated a sharp mind when studying Arabic grammar, but her biggest difficulty was with pronouncing the more challenging consonants, particularly +ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â© and +Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¡. Phonetics is tricky business, and it happens to be my favourite area of linguistics.
As for the iconography, there's just something very solid and comprehensive about it, as far as the Coptic style is concerned. Of course, I've only been to one Coptic Church, only a few times (my professors' priest actually lives in San Jose or something like that, so he's only here maybe once or twice a month). I agree on the Greek style, though, I like it a lot, especially the ones with the gold paint behind them.
Regardless of the style, I am always intrigued by the look of very old icons, and you'll find many of those in our churches.
Fortunately (for me) their liturgy is on Saturday because they're a mission, so I can go take in the Coptic/Arabic liturgy, wrack my brain trying to digest Egyptian dialect when talking to parishioners, and then go to Liturgy on Sunday with my wife at our OCA parish up north.
Ei da? Masri? It's a unique one ya raagil.
It's too bad, because you can't really talk much about religion at all at school. It's quite the taboo, since there are many different people walking around the halls. Anyway, thanks for the grammar lesson. I'll keep working on it.
One word of advice. Listen to some oldies Arabic music. Music is an excellent tool with which to provide assistance for any language student. It's the second best language aid to being there amongst the people. Helps with phonetics as well.
In IC XC