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Teach Yourself Gulf Arabic Complete Course, CD package 2nd Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0071434539
ISBN-10: 0071434534
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jack Smart has taught Arabic for more than forty years.

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Product Details

  • Series: TY: Complete Courses
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 2 edition (July 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071434534
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071434539
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #545,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

The other reviewer must be unaware that two forms of Arabic exist. Modern Standard Arabic, or MSA, is the language of the Quran and is used for reading and writing and very occasionaly by university educated speakers. Then there are Colloquial dialects. Gulf Arabic, Egyptian Arabic, Levantine Arabic, Morrocan Arabic, etc. This is the SPOKEN language of the various regions, and it has very little (if anything!) to do with the written form of the language. To REALLY learn Arabic, you almost have to learn two seperate languages. One for reading and writing (MSA), another for speaking (one of the many Colloquial dialects).
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This product is a mixed bag having both positive and negative attributes with the positives more than counterbalancing the negatives. The strong point of the book is that it is very readable and interesting so if you buy it, you are very likely to read it and study from it. The two CDs are useful also; however, the authors sanction the use of just a little too much English on the Gulf Arabic CDs. Using English, especially on the second CD, doesn't commend itself in terms of pedagogy; it cuts against immersion, which is the best way to learn a foreign language. Reliance on an Gulf Arabic transcript and translation thereof contained in the appendix could have reduced usage of English on the CDs. The buyers presumably already know English and they ought to pay to hear Gulf Arabic as much as possible.

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).
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Comment 11 of 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Yes, the previous post is correct. There is barely any alphabet practice and most all words are transliterated into latin alphabet. However, the dialects of Arabic are rarely written. One would almost always use MSA in writting and reading something. The dialects have no standard way of writing them, and it is not therefore taught in schools. Most anything you read will be in MSA (newspapers, news, schoolbooks, and educated writings of various sorts). The dialects, if used in writing, will be in songs, comic books, cartoons, and some informal conversations (example: email between friends). Getting back on topic, the dialects are mostly spoken and therefore it would be of little use to waste your time trying to learn how to write them. You should rather focus on learning how to write MSA. This is probably why the authors of the "Teach Yourself Gulf Arabic" do not focus very much on the written form of the Gulf dialect. Hope this helps.
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Considering the growing interest in Arabic and also the signifigance of the Gulf area in general, it is surprising that more resources for learning Gulf Arabic aren't available. Perhaps some of this has to do with the differences in dialects around the Gulf that some of the other reviewers have remarked upon. Nevertheless, Gulf Arabic has been a neglected area of study and this book is a welcome addition to filling that vacancy.

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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I agree with the last posting. My fiancee is Bahraini and I wanted this book to help me before going to Bahrain. It was hard to find a book with Gulf Arabic - because what they speak there is definitely not the same as what you find titled as Arabic (most of these books are Egyptian dialect). This book is concerned with teaching you the spoken language - if you want to learn to read and write you must learn Modern Standard Arabic, or MSA, which is basically a separate language. This book provides enough of the alphabet and things like street signs so that you can get by. The cultural notes included with each chapter also provide an insight into some of the customs, history, and heritage. I agree that some of the expressions may be out-of-date, but words in every language are being out-dated, or meanings are different, or slang has changed. All in all this book does a good job in teaching you everyday phrases and conversations for use in the gulf area - not Saudi.... For lessons in reading and writing you will have to purchase another course.
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