Teach Yourself Gulf Arabic Complete Course Package (Book + 2CDs) Paperback – Jul 7 2004
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About the Author
Jack Smart has taught Arabic for more than forty years.
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The book is also modestly at fault for the same. After a listening or reading exercise, the questions should be expressed in Gulf Arabic rather than in English, if not from the very beginning, then early on into the text. (Translations of these questions with answers could have appeared in the appendix.) To move beyond survival language skills, more grammatical exercises, especially verb conjugations, would have been useful. (The section on the Arabic verb is too short.) It is not clear how the reader can "explore the language in depth" without such drills (although, in fairness, other language skills are adequately drilled).
The book is marred by a few other misleading claims. Content is touted with providing the reader with the ability to "learn to speak, understand and write Gulf Arabic." As another reviewer mentioned, Gulf Arabic is not ordinarily written (the only place I have seen it written is on sms messages conveying informalities like jokes). Although the text contained in the top paragraph on page 8 is generally accurate, describing the geographical extent of Gulf Arabic, the map of the Arabian Gulf on page 9 gives a misleading impression that Gulf Arabic is spoken in Riyadh, Jidda and even Sana'a. Only the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia evinces a dialect that might be labelled Gulf Arabic (although the dialect there is evolving with the varied impact of the influx of various Arab workers to this petroleum-rich area); in Riyadh, Nejdi dialect prevails and the dialect in Jidda sounds more like Egyptian Arabic.
Strangely, in paragraph four, the authors warn readers not to fall victim to what they tar "pigeon" Gulf Arabic if the reader should hear colloquial
Arabic at variance with "what is given in the book." Rather, the reader ought to be prepared to hear colloquial Arabic at variance with what is given. Even in a small state like Bahrain, there are intra-national variations between the accents, for example, of inhabitants of Muharraq and Sitra, two smaller islands. International variations mean ways to say "I want" span "abbi" and "abghi;" "ureed," which the authors recommend because, it would seem, of its simpler verb pattern, is actual Modern Standard Arabic. (In colloquial speech, in fact, I haven't heard "ureed" anywhere in the Arab World from Morocco to Bahrain.) It worries me that, at times, the authors seem to be taking the readers down the road to a pan-Gulf-Arabic koine that doesn't exist.
Some other matters from content to form: the book boasts a glossary of Gulf Arabic-English and English-Gulf Arabic reflecting the vocabulary units found in the text but the Index is too short to be of much use and the "glossary of language terms" is a waste of space.
Although the quality of the paperback is fine, the plastic packaging is terrible insofar as it is difficult to extricate the two CDs from the plastic without risking damage to one or both. After a laborious effort, I retrieved the second CD scratched which made it impossible to hear the final lesson without the soundtrack skipping. A redesign of the packaging for the next edition is warranted. Of course, this quality issue is the fault of the publisher, not the authors, who have to be commended for putting together an entertaining text introducing Gulf Arabic to anglophones.
The CD's are, of course, indispensible; Gulf Arabic pronunciation has some quirks that will be surprising to learners who come to it from Standard Arabic. ('q' becomes 'g', and 'k' often turns into 'ch'). The dialogues in the lessons progress at a leisurely but reliable pace and by the end of the work the conscientious student should have command of a somewhat simplified and 'averaged out' form of Gulf Arabic that speakers from any region of the Gulf will understand, and be in a good position to add to their knowledge by conversations with Gulf speakers.
All in all this is a good value for the money for anyone with an interest in this area of Arabic and certainly for anyone planning to travel and/or work in the region.
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