Imagine studying a language for years in a classroom. You can give presentations and write essays in that language (with moderate reliance on the dictionary), and you can read newspaper articles and understand the news (with, realistically, slightly more reliance on said dictionary).
It’s happening again. A wave of fear crashes down mercilessly upon the trembling students. Eyes dart desperately, frantically, around the room. One student scrambles out of class, mumbling something about needing the bathroom. The sky darkens. Another pretends to drop their pen as an excuse to seek refuge under the desk. A lifeless pigeon falls past the window. Everyone has suddenly developed an obsessive interest in the colour of the margins on their paper—
Last week, a friend and I visited this charming little coffee shop in Central London. Maybe it was the dimly-lit, cosy atmosphere or maybe it was the ludicrously overpriced hot chocolate that elicited some serious life contemplation, but either way: as Arabic graduates, our conversation (like always) naturally drifted back to the language.
If I had started this blog for the purpose of sharing only a single post, it would be this one.
You would only have to be studying Arabic for a short while before you’d hear the name “Hans Wehr” flying at you from all angles, and perhaps you’d wonder whether Professor Wehr is an elusive lecturer you have so far failed to bump into in the university corridors.
So, you’ve studied Arabic for a while now. Simple sentences are old news (i.e. you’re silently pleading for your teacher not to go over jumlah ismiyyah yet again) and you’ve got a decent collection of relevant words all memorised. So you’re all set when your teacher asks you to write an essay about the topic in Arabic…right?