A Map of Lexical Distances Between Europe's Languages
Europe’s defining trait is its diversity. Europeans don’t have to travel far to immerse themselves in a different culture. And if each only spoke their own language, they wouldn’t even be able to make heads or tails of it.
Or would they?
Finnish people probably won’t make a lot out of Spanish, and if you’re from Spain, Finnish might as well be Chinese. But not all languages are as far apart as those two. A Frenchman could understand a bit of Spanish, just because it resembles his own language. And an Estonian can pick up a some Finnish, for the same reason.
But the Estonian will have a slightly harder time of it than the Frenchman, and this map shows why.
My (completely unsupported, unresearched) theory is that Germanic and Romance languages tend toward the “tea” root, and other major language families tend toward “chai” especially languages spoken in largely Islamic areas (Arabic, Turkish, Amharic, Urdu) but there are many examples that break that pattern.
(Native speakers, please correct me! I do not speak these languages, can’t comment on everyday usage, and can only read Roman characters and Cyrillic. Google Translate was used for a large chunk of info.)
So I have thought about making a quick and
simple intro to Arabic grammar, this mysterious and beautiful language that is
hard to grab and take hold of easily! (I know what I am talking about because,
even I am a native speaker, I faced a huge problem to simplify and make things
clear in this post!!). Thus, here are some general points about Arabic grammar (نحو و صرف):
an SVO language: Subject+ Verb+ Object/Adjective/ Adverb. Arabic can follow
this order too, but it is so heavy and unnatural. Actually, Arabic has 2
different types of sentences;
the verbal sentence (الجملة الفعلية ) and the nominal sentence (الجملة الإسمية). The verbal sentence has a general form of VSO: Verb+ Subject+
Object/ Adjective/Adverb… Ex: ذهب أحمد إلى المدرسة (‘went Ahmed to school’= Ahmed went to school).
sentence has the form of Object/ Subject (noun) + adjective/adverb/verb (but it
is rare for the latter case). Ex: رنيم فتاة رائعة (‘Ranim girl wonderful’ = Ranim is a wonderful girl). What is
the difference? The first structure is used for sentences where there is a verb
(as the name indicates), and the other one for the rest.
But wait; is there a
sentence without a verb?!!! That leads us to the next point!
no verb “to be” in Arabic:
Ok this may
sounds crazy to some, especially whose first language is romance or Germanic
one, but believe me, there are other languages that doesn’t have “ to be” too.
In Arabic, it is simple, no “to be” at all, not in the present, in the past nor
in the future! It is so easy, just pull away this verb. Ex: you want to say “I
am happy”, say ‘I happy’ ـة
only the offset of « the » which is ‘al’ ( الـ), applies for all gender and number ( because some languages do
have some differences but not Arabic). There is only a problem of the
pronunciation sometimes, which I’ll treat in another post.
Remember! No “a”!!
This!! We have a lot of pronouns, a loooot(!!!) which are based in specified
gender and number.
Let’s take an example of “you”; there are anta (أنت singular masculine), anti (أنتِ singular feminine), antouma (you two
masculine and feminine), antom ( أنتم plural masculine) and antona ( أنتنَ plural feminine ). Imagine this with all the
other pronouns!! And of course, there is an accordance with verbs and
adjectives depending on that! (But don’t worry, in the majority of Arabic
dialects, things are a lot easier and some pronouns are never used).
language is based over a system of roots and there are like “templates” that help construct words. Roots are mostly
formed o 3 letters (sometimes 4 letters), and everything can be derived of
Let’s take an example: the root ( ك.ت.ب)
=write and the derivations : the verb kataba كتب( write), kiteb كتاب
(book), kateb كاتب (writer), maktaba مكتبة (library), the verb taketaba تكاتب ( exchange messages, letters, anything written), etc… I’ll make
another more detailed post about that if you want
This is the
most difficult part! The pronunciations of words depends on their function in
the sentence and their conjugated form!! I am not only talking about verbs, I
am talking about every single word in the sentence!
Well to be honest, it’s not
ALL the word that changes in pronunciation, only the last syllable. And there
are three possibilities: الضم (addam) which add the sound ‘oo’, الفتح (al-fat’h) which add the sound ‘a’ and الكسر (al-kassr) which add the sound ‘ee’. I’ll try to make a post about
that; the functions in the sentence and which modification has its one.
modifications are called علامات الإعراب (literal translation: Arabisation signs) and I think this is so accurate! Because this
is so specific to Arabic, but it is also pretty hard to learn ( don’t forget
the gazillion exceptions that there are!!). Even native speakers make mistakes
in that. Actually, the majority of our generation mispronounce everything (and
this is very sad :/), so don’t worry! Don’t put too much effort in this! But if
you master them, you’ll be an amazing and beautiful Arabic speaker!! This will
make you so special!!
what I managed to remember about Arabic specific Grammar, and I should mention
here that I’m talking about the standard Arabic, Fus’ha that is recognized in
every country talking Arabic, dialects differ! I hope this help you get an idea
about how Arabic functions, good luck in your learning and if you need any help
in Arabic, have any questions or suggestions, please tell me! I’ll be more than
happy to help ^^ more posts are coming!
Legend has it that in medieval times, a knight and his lady were walking along the side of a river. He picked a posy of flowers, but because of the weight of his armour he fell into the river. As he was drowning he threw the posy to his loved one and shouted “forget me not”. It was often worn by ladies as a sign of faithfulness and enduring love.