Arabic is a VSO language, which means the verb usually comes before the subject and object. It has a dual number, so nouns and verbs must be learned in singular, dual, and plural. A present-tense verb has 13 forms. There are three noun cases and two genders. Some European languages have just as many forms to keep track of, but in Arabic the idiosyncrasies can be mind-boggling. When Karam explains that numbers are marked for genderÃ¢â‚¬â€but most numbers take the opposite gender from the word they are modifyingÃ¢â‚¬â€we students stare at each other in slack-jawed solidarity. When we learn that adjectives modifying nonhuman plurals always have a feminine singular formÃ¢â‚¬â€meaning that “the cars are new” comes out as “the cars, she are new”Ã¢â‚¬â€I can hear heads banging on the desks around me.
Posted on June 13th, 2005 by Scott Granneman
Filed under: commonplace book