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Lesson Transcript

Hella: Hello and welcome back to ArabicPod101.com, the fastest, easiest, and most fun to way to learn Arabic. I am joined here in the studio by Musto.
Musto: Hello, everyone. Musto here.
Musto: Hello and welcome to a new episode of All About Arabic.
Hella: أهلا, everybody. In this lesson, you will learn five of the most common mistakes people make when learning Arabic. Now, let's cut to the chase. We'll give you the top five mistakes not to make and then go into more detail a little later.
Musto: The top five mistakes you don't want to make are...
Hella: Mistake Number 1, mixing up pronunciations of "he," "ha," and "ein" or "a".
Musto: Mistake Number 2, using the wrong negation word or form, especially when dealing with verbs.
Hella: Mistake Number 3, sentence order and using adjectives.
Musto: Mistake Number 4, the wrong pronunciation of the short and long vowels.
Hella: Mistake Number 5, not conjugating and using the main form of the verb with all or the masculine form. So, Musto, how often did you make one of these mistakes, or did you make them all when you started learning Arabic?
Musto: Surprisingly, yes. The first one was the most common for me, I'm afraid. It took me some time to get used to the right pronunciation of these three letters and then I had some problems with verbs and forming sentences, too.
Hella: That makes it three out of five. Not so bad at all!
Musto: Is that in a good or a bad way?
Hella: I will leave it to you to judge, letting you know that most people I come across make all five of them. Some, even, have more problems than that.
Musto: So it's in a good way. That's comforting. You know, it wasn't easy having to learn it without any introduction, but with practice, it worked out ok.
Hella: How about your friends or colleagues? Did any of them have such problems?
Musto: We all shared these five problems, more or less, and it lasted with some of them longer than with the others. So I have to say, it's good to point their attention to it.
Hella: What is the best way you can tell us to overcome it?
Musto: Practice, practice, and listening to natives talking. Try to talk with them or like them. Try to talk with your friends and get yourself used to Arabic by not missing a chance to use it.
Hella: That is the best way, if you ask me.
Musto: Great. Now let's take a closer look at these words and phrases.
Hella: Well, mistake number one is mixing up the pronunciation of the three very important letters "he," ""ha," and "ein."
Musto: Why is it common for people to make this mistake?
Hella: It's simply a new language with new letters for everyone, and they do sound very similar to each other. It takes some practice and listening to see and, more important, get used to them.
Musto: I noticed that most people will pronounce one, thinking it's like another. They don't really see the difference for a while.
Hella: I would also say that coming from certain countries or speaking certain languages would make it either easier or more difficult.
Musto: Interesting. Now that I think of it, it's what I saw with my friends as well.
Hella: Ok. Listen to how I pronounce each one, and then I will use it in a word and see how it sounds. "He", هارب . "Ha," حارب. "Ein" or "a", عابر.
Musto: The first is very easy. It's more like an H.
Hella: Yes, it is. So that makes it easier. The second is what we call a hollow letter, and the third is pronounced more deeply from the throat.
Musto: So can you tell me two words with these two letters?
Hella: Sure. "Ha," حليم, and "ein" or "a," عليم.
Musto: Wow, that is tricky.
Hella: Yes. The first means "dreamer," and the second means "scientist," and to avoid being a dreamer instead of a scientist focus on how to pronounce them.
Musto: Great! So let's move on to mistake two. You said it was using the wrong form of negation?
Hella: Yes. That goes in both Standard Arabic and Egyptian dialect. First, in Standard, we have a different form for each tense, but it doesn't change according to the person.
Musto: Sounds easy enough.
Hella: I hope it is, since many people use it in the wrong way, and what is even more strange is, despite the fact that we use one negation word in the Egyptian dialect, people tend to use the ones from Standard Arabic, being so used to it.
Musto: But it doesn't change much.
Hella: Not at all. It's what we call a super-negation word.
Musto: That's funny. Why is that?
Hella: Well, we use it before nouns, adjectives, verbs, time and place expressions, and even prepositions.
Musto: Now I understand it why you called it a super-negation word. It's the same in all of them?
Hella: In most of them it is, but when dealing with past tense, we break it. Use the first half at the beginning of the verb and the second half at the end of the verb. The sound of the verb could change dramatically, so you have to know what you're saying and understand it when people use it as well. That is of course, in the Egyptian dialect.
Musto: This is only done in past tense?
Hella: It's a must in past tense, a choice in present or habitual, and a must with prepositions.
Musto: And people make the mistake often?
Hella: Yes. Especially if they have previous knowledge of Standard Arabic or if they're learning Standard Arabic. They will mix the negation tools and the tense of the verb.
Musto: How is that?
Hella: In Arabic, for each person in each tense, there is a conjugation, and when using the negation form, we only use the main tool, which indicates the tense, and the verb is conjugated according to the person in the infinitive form. So no tense is set with the verb in that case.
Musto: The tool represents the tense, and the verb is conjugated according to the person in the infinitive form. I will try to remember that.
Hella: The best way to do it, is to practice it. Read it, hear it, and more importantly, understand how it works, whether in Standard Arabic, Egyptian dialect or any dialect for that matter.
Musto: Great. So let's move on to mistake number three.
Hella: And that would be forming sentences and using adjectives.
Musto: How is that a common problem?
Hella: First, using an adjective in Arabic is very much like in Latin languages. It comes after the noun, never before it. And it acts like it.
Musto: Acts like it?
Hella: Yes. Masculine, feminine, and plural.
Musto: Well, that's easy enough.
Hella: I'm glad you think so. So the only difference that confuses people is that when using it in Standard Arabic, it takes nearly 12 different forms.
Musto: 12? Are you sure?
Hella: I'm afraid so. It changes with each person, so we have "you" for singular masculine and singular feminine. Then dual masculine, dual feminine, plural masculine, and plural feminine.
Musto: And that is only with the "you" forms?
Hella: Yes. So apply that to the first person and the third person forms.
Musto: Does it get easier when dealing with dialects?
Hella: Much easier. It takes only three forms. Masculine, feminine, and plural. No duals, no first, second, or third person.
Musto: Well, that's good, since I'm learning the Egyptian dialect now, but how does that affect the formation of the sentence?
Hella: Well, a basic, nominal sentence would be الولد كسلان , which is "The boy is lazy."
Musto: I remember learning the non-existence of the verb to be in this case.
Hella: Yes, so we added ال, which is the definite article at the beginning of the noun, and used the adjective after along with it.
Musto: So if we said, ولد كسلان.
Hella: That would be "a lazy boy."
Musto: The adjective remains at the end, but translated, it's very different.
Hella: Yes. To say "The lazy boy is," if you want to add more to the sentence, we will say,
الولد الكسلان.
Musto: So we added ال, which is the definite article, at both?
Hella: Yes. So, as you see, it's very small changes, but they make huge differences.
Musto: What is the best way not to make it?
Hella: Start by forming as many sentences as you can. Translate the meaning next to them and then show them to your teacher or friend or use a sample sentence for each word and follow it in more examples. And, of course, talk with people and listen to what they say.
Musto: Brilliant. So that takes us to mistake number four, the wrong pronunciation of short and long vowels.
Hella: It may seem a small or minor problem, but it's not.
Musto: Why is that? If we misuse any of them, we won't be understood?
Hella: Quite the contrary. You will be perfectly understood, but you may end up with a completely different word than what you originally meant.
Musto: Ok. That's a serious problem. Not being understood. People hear you and try to understand you, but to be misunderstood and not to know, I can't think of anything worse.
Hella: I completely agree. For example, in Arabic the words حمام and حمّام means "pigeons" and "bathroom." The only difference is the stress.
Musto: I can see how that would be a problem.
Hella: The word works for both Standard and Egyptian dialect, by the way, but the next one is only in Egyptian dialect. Just as a funny example. تَعبان and تِعبان.
Musto: I don't hear the difference.
Hella: تِعبان , تَعبان.
Musto: Just the small "ah" and the "e" sound in the middle?
Hella: That small sound makes a difference between, "I am tired," and "I am a snake" or "sneaky" in this case.
Musto: Ouch. Now I see why it's an important mistake not to make.
Hella: In some cases, it could simply change the accent you're using from Standard to Egyptian or any other. As a person who is trying to speak the language fluently, you don't want to sound like you picked a word from here and another from there.
Musto: I know I'll be paying much more attention to this from now on.
Hella: That takes us to the most important and common mistake of all.
Musto: Mistake five, not conjugating correctly.
Hella: Simply and well-said, Musto.
Musto: So explain to us, Hella, how is this the most common mistake? I think that makes it the most difficult or confusing.
Hella: I wouldn't say it is really. The beauty of Arabic is that it's a very logical language. You get the rule and apply it to nearly everything. There are very, very few exceptions or irregularities.
Musto: So how come it's common?
Hella: Because we have many forms, and, sometimes, people just want to speak quickly. So they take the short way and use the easiest and closest way that comes to their mind. Which is not a bad idea, if you're talking to a native. It will increase your talking speed, confidence, and best of all, the person whom you're talking to will automatically correct you.
Musto: So, it's a big mistake due to the many forms, not because it's confusing.
Hella: No, but with Standard Arabic, for example, we have 12 forms, while in Egyptian dialect and most dialects, it drops to eight.
Musto: What's the best way to avoid making this mistake?
Hella: I would say a lot of talking practice, then reading some texts which use a lot of verbs to get used to it and see a lot of changes. And, of course, listen to the news, radio programs, any audio you can find.
Musto: Well, those are the top five mistakes not to make when learning Arabic.
Hella: I won't you be making any of them. Best of luck with your Arabic, guys. Thank you everyone.
Musto: Bye!
Hella: Bye! مع السّلامة
Musto: Use the review track to perfect your pronunciation.
Hella: With this powerful audio file...
Musto: You'll listen to and repeat key words and phrases aloud to perfect pronunciation.
Hella: It's the best way to get good fast.
Musto: Get it at ArabicPod101.com.