03 April 2007

language just happened, it was never planned.

(but now it's inadequate to describe where i am.)

Jordan and its poor quality of instruction aside, Arabic continues to fascinate me. For those who have never heard me explain this, Arabic is fun because everything is organized according to three letter roots. From each of these roots, an entire series of related words can be derived - up to ten forms of verbs, adjectives, a plethora of nouns, etc. As you learn certain patters, it becomes possible to predict and relate meanings of words in a way you just can't in English. A classic example - the root "to study" also includes the words for to teach, lesson, school, studies, etc. Often, the relationships are obvious like this one, but sometimes they're much more entertaining (and revealing). Some favorites I've recently discovered:

The verb 'ajarra means "to be weak;" from the same root, 'ajeera is the buttocks of a woman. Ahh, but it gets better...

A mushkila is a problem; a shakila, however, is a flirtatious woman.

Perhaps the most revealing - the verb khadhara can mean either "to be parayzed" or "to confine to women's quarters" depending on the context. The nouns for stupor and women's quarters are in the same family.

Moving off the topic of women, sometimes the relationship is obvious in a roundabout way - the verb samma is "to be/become deaf," while a different verb form, samama means "to make up one's mind."

Finally, this one is just funny. The verb tafala means "to live as a parasite," and a tifl is a child.

PS. It's great to be a Florida Gator, especially in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan!

PPS. I posted more pictures from our day at the Dead Sea for your amusement.

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