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An Introduction To Koranic and Classical Arabic [Paperback]

W.M. Thackston
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 1, 2004 0936347406 978-0936347400
Cultural Studies. Reference. W. M. Thackston's AN INTRODUCTION TO KORANIC AND CLASSICAL ARABIC is an elementary-level grammar of standard classical Arabic, the literary norm of the Arabic language that has not changed appreciably in fourteen hundred years. An indispensable tool for all who are interested in Islamic religion, science, and literature, the language presented in this book will enable the learner to study firsthand the primary sources of Islamic civilization and the classics of the Islamic Near East. W. M. Thackston is Professor of the Practice in Persian and Other Near Eastern Languages at Harvard University, where he has taught Persian and Arabic for over twenty years. Author of numerous books and articles on the languages and literatures of the Near East, his works include a new English translation of the Baburnama, A Century of Princes: Sources on Timurid History and Art, and Tales from Luristan: Tales, Fables and Folk Poetry from the Lur of Bala-Gariva.

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An Introduction To Koranic and Classical Arabic + An Introduction to Koranic and Classical Arabic: An Elementary Grammar of the Language Key to Exercise + Arabic Through the Qur'an (Islamic Texts Society)
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Editorial Reviews


Thackston's textbook is the most recent addition to Arabic instructional materials. It is perhaps the friendliest Western grammar of Arabic. Its grammatical explanations are lucid and concise, yet they provide a complete, adequate description of a basic grammar of Arabic. The book comprises a preface, a chapter on preliminary matters, 40 lessons, supplementary readings from the Koran (Qur'an ? the holy book of Muslims) and hadith literature (traditions of the prophet Muhammad), 10 appendixes, English-Arabic and Arabic-English glossaries, an index of verb and derivational patterns (56 of them), and a general index. All the lessons have one consistent design: Each one is subdivided into sections and subsections. The explanations are accompanied by numerous examples. Each lesson concludes with a vocabulary list and two types of exercises: grammatical manipulation (providing case and mood endings) and translation.

As a textbook, this work is particularly useful in programs where a reading proficiency of the Koran and hadith is desirable within a relatively short period of time, given that the students already have a reasonable grasp of Arabic structures and vocabulary. Overall, it is a very well designed book of basic grammar that can serve as a useful supplement for intermediate and advanced students of Arabic in various programs. -- Mahdi Alosh, Modern Language Journal

Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: IBEX Publishers (September 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0936347406
  • ISBN-13: 978-0936347400
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #223,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Book November 23, 2000
.... [This] book presents very
little in the way of Arabic text with Arabic vowels. In all the tables
you get unvocalized Arabic accompanied by transliteration which tells
you the vowels and pronunciation. This may annoy those who would like
to have experience with the actual text of the Koran which is written
with Arabic letters and Arabic vowels.
I would like to respond to
the review of the sincere Muslim below who found the technical
terminology to be a bit confusing. As one who is experienced with
classical languages and introductory grammars in general, the language
is no more than is necessary to truly understand the structure of the
language. If a prospective student of Arabic is not intimidated by the
prospect of learning what might be the most difficult language of the
world, then he should not let himself be dissuaded by Thackston's
terminology. Arabic is a very difficult language. Part of that
difficulty is that it is difficult to describe. Thackston is not
writing this book for those who want enough Arabic to survive on the
streets of Bahrain. He is writing it for those who want to learn the
subtle nuances of meaning in the Arabic so that they can better
understand an enigmatic text in which they are quite likely looking
for the secret of all being. If you truly want to understand Arabic
well enough to open the fine nuances of the Qur'an, then you will have
to be able to understand the finer points of grammar.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It is a great grammer for the student on their own! August 11, 1999
By A Customer
I am an American muslim who is using this book to help me understand Qur'aanic Arabic in its purest form. I recommend only those who are willing to apply themselves and those with a good background in languages to buy this. The reason being is that the author uses many linguistic terms, which may intimidate or confuse the reader. The only negative thing about this book is that it contains no answers to the exercises. Otherwise, it has many bonuses, especially for the muslim reader. He/she will be able to read the Arabic from 'ahadiith with ease. It is a two-fold bonus. The learner not only learns how to read Arabic without vocalization, but is understanding what he/she is reading also. To top it off, that reader whether they be muslim or not, will enjoy reading Qur'aan Kariim ( kariim meaning Holy) in Arabic and understanding the true meaning without incorrect translation. Hats off to the author who compiled this book because I am very picky when it comes to a person who is not a native speaker of that language attempting to write about that language.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for those learning on their own October 18, 2000
An excellent introduction to classical (Koranic) Arabic. It consists of an introduction to the sounds and script, and is followed by 40 lessons.
The format is very similar to the textbooks of Lambdin and Huehnergard: each lesson introduces several grammatical points, and these are followed by vocabulary, readings, and exercises. Arabic script is used throughout, but the vocabulary and grammatical explanations are transliterated into Roman letters, as well.
2 points to mention ... I found the section on the Arabic script to be short of practice material. I'd recommend "Alif Baa", published by Georgetown University Press, as an excellent introduction to Arabic sounds and script. Be sure to get the 4 tapes that accompany the workbook. This will allow you to concentrate on the grammar; otherwise, the lessons can be a tedious exercise in decoding until the script becomes more familiar. Second point: I'd get the "Key to the Exercises"; it contains the answers to both the English-to-Arabic, and Arabic-to-English exercises given in the main text.
All in all, a very user-friendly introduction to a fascinating language and culture.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Already know a Semitic language? July 4, 2004
This book is PERFECT if you already know a Semitic language such as Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, Samaritan, Akkadian... YOU ALREADY KNOW 80% OF KORANIC GRAMMAR, and about 30% of the roots. You need to focus on the new material. Most Arabic textbooks ease students into Arabic grammar by distributing basic forms across several chapters--i.e. 2nd person pronominal suffixes in week 5, 3rd person in week 7. This can be very tedious if you already know a semitic language. In contrast, Thackston is organized like a reference grammar: all enclitic pronouns in a single chapter, all reflexive verbs at once... But unlike a reference grammar, every chapter also includes readings and exercises that focus on core vocabulary and grammar. Also, in contrast to reference grammars, Thackston contains no dissertations on hapax legomena or syntactical exotica. :-) Very highly recommended.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From a non-arabic speaking bi-lingual customer September 25, 2001
Note: My expertise is in romance languages (French/Spanish).
This book provides a concise grammar/translation approach to learning arabic. Learners who desire to learn arabic as it may be spoken on the streets of various nations may want to look elsewhere. However, because of the historical circumstances according to which arabic has become such a vastly used language, starting with classical/Koranic arabic is probably the best place to begin the trek. This book is clear, concise, and well organized in a manner that speakes to the cognitive structures that are challenged in the mind of the english speaker. Though by the end of the book, no more than (by my count) 500 words are in the learner's vocabulary, the grammatical groundwork is invaluable, making later study immensely easier (no "relearning" will be needed).
Perfect for the person wanting to "take the long road" to learning arabic. Not perfect for someone who wants to find a bathroom.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Reading and Understanding the Koran
An Introduction to Koranic and Classical Arabic: An Elementary Grammar is a good aide to those who wanted to know basic grammar that will aide them for the reading and... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction to the language of the Qur'an
This is a great textbook for learning Classical (a.k.a. Qur'anic) Arabic.

The lessons are good sized, and introduces just enough grammar and vocabulary. Read more
Published on November 2, 2011 by ksiezycowy
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
Great book. I'd recommend it to anybody wanting to understand the Holy Qur'an. A little warning though, you'd need some knowledge of English Grammatical terms to understand it... Read more
Published on June 20, 2011 by M. Khalil
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Review for Somewhat Advanced Students
Once past some of the terminology that may sound very old-fashioned and require some effort to sort out, the exercises are really great for a strengthening of Arabic grammar - but... Read more
Published on March 21, 2010 by 3Alim al-jamAl
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy
Straightforward if followed from the start, otherwise perhaps not the easiest to read if glanced through for the first time midway where you will be confronted by the authors own... Read more
Published on September 19, 2009 by M. Rafiq
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for the faint-hearted
An Introduction to Koranic and Classical Arabic: An Elementary Grammar of the Language is a technical (elementary) grammar for classical Arabic. Read more
Published on April 18, 2009 by Anihu
4.0 out of 5 stars Precise but demanding
Wheeler Thackston is known for the precision of his grammatical explanations in his introductory textbooks (he has written ones for Persian and Syriac as well). Read more
Published on December 14, 2008 by Paul Stevenson
4.0 out of 5 stars Serious and difficult
This Introduction to Koranic and classical arabic is serious work. Each chapter (40 in total) introduces 2 or 3 grammatical points. Read more
Published on November 25, 2007 by Talal Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Lives up to its title
This is a great book as far as its title goes. "INTRODUCTION to Koranic and Classical Arabic." It is hard to read, hard to get through, and difficult to use - but if you are able... Read more
Published on August 2, 2005 by ILoveMyKindle
5.0 out of 5 stars tough book, but a tough language, too
Wheeler Thackston's book has no peer. There are many good books on Arabic grammar, but I know none that explains the language as clearly, honestly, and pitilessly as this. Read more
Published on April 13, 2004 by Al Kihano
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