Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Endless questions 3. - 7.

3. The 'an' at the end of words like 'for example' or 'in the morning'.

Why is the 'an' sound written with two tiny lines up in the air above the alif? It could just be written with a 'nun' and a 'fatha'. But it isn't.

So in the distant past, did people decide to deliberately use that way of writing the sound to mark out its grammatical function? Did Arabic get its written rules from people who were into grammar in a big way and laid them down because they could and because they bamboozled everyone else with less interest in grammar, and had worse spelling and handwriting anyhow. People with social lives and families :)

4. No italics, what is that all about?

Arabic has a dark side with unreasonable quirks. It receives all these foreign names and doesn't even use italics to mark out their presence. Try searching for the root letters of 'Elizabeth' in a dictionary, or a nice short word like 'Hans', 3 letters, so obviously a verb like 'hanasa'... That kept me busy for ages. I was so cross when I realised what was going on. Try 'Wall Street'!!

Now I am feeling less repentant about English and our wonky ways with language. It functions as a silent weapon, as all languages do.

I like the way that Arabic is getting less and less phonetic the further I go. I have examples, but not to hand.

5. Why are there 3 'a' sounds? As in 'bat', 'bar' and 'bare'. Yes, I know there is no answer to this, but I am still asking.

6. Why does the letter 'Q' suddenly become sayable with no warning and without me having made the slightest effort? It has a wierd pre-sound, a throaty thing as well, as if I am going underground somewhere first. You will know what I mean if you have recently learnt that one.

7. Oh yes, why was learning the names for the accents so impossible? Then one day it was fine. The teacher would merrily mention this or that accent in passing and I'd think and get nowhere, hiding my 100% confusion. And then missing the next 30 seconds of intelligent whatever it was. Nightmare. Sitting there in the land of 'Shit, what the hell was that, and now what is going on? Arrgghh, I need tea.'

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