Friday, September 7, 2007

New Arabic Grammar

I've been glancing through Haywood and Nahmad's New Arabic Grammar. This really is a very useful book: it includes passages at the back from a range of authors; it has an appendix on metre; it devotes a chapter apiece to just about any irregular verb form you can think of. None of this, though, really gives the flavour of the book.

A typical chapter, 43, tackles Number. It gives examples of the formation of the plural of various sorts of nouns. (Diminutives of words denoting things and irrational beings; .) It then has Exercises. Exercise 83 comprises extracts from a sermon by Ibn al-Jauzi. Exercise 84 offers various English passages for translation into Arabic.

A. The three Muhammads co-operated in the committing of this crime; then the first two repented of it. I forgave them, but as for the third, I don't know what the outcome will be. He is not the son of poor parents; indeed, his father and his uncle are wealthy, and give him everything he asks for. But it seems that he reads the crime stories of modern European authors, and takes every opportunity to thieve and fight. The police have arrested him seven times in the last seven months.

Chapter 48.

Adverbial Usages, Including Miscellaneous Quasi-adverbial Particles

Exercise 94.

I met him walking slowly by the river bank, taking short paces. Where has this strange man come from, I thought, and why does he walk sadly as if the cares of the whole world were on his shoulders? I will invite him to my house, as I am a rich man, and I will give him tasty appetizing food. Perhaps when he leaves my houses he will be happier than he was previously!

I called him, but he did not hear me and made no reply. It seemed that his private thoughts were too important for him to heed a passer-by. I called him again in a loud voice, and he turned towards me frowning.

He hesitated a little, then said aingrily: "Have I met you before? Do you know me?"

"No," I said, "but I thought that you were perhaps in some difficulty, and I wanted to help you. Will you come to my house, and sstay a little while and eat and drink something with me?"

"They say that an Englishmena's home is his castle," he replied, "but you want to make yours an hotel, poorhouse, or orphan's home. Do you think that a stranger likeyou can help me? Allow me to give you some adivce; and even if you won't allow me, I will give it: mind your own business!"

Then he went off, and I continued on my way.

On the following day I read in the local paper that the body of an unknown man had been found in the river, that he had drowned, and that there was no apparent cause for that. And even now I do not know whether it was the man who I had met who had drowned, or someone else. But I always imagine that the troubles of that poor unfortunate frownhing man became too great for him to bear, and so he committed suicide by juping into the river. And I still ask myself occasionlly: Could I have saved him?


Language said...

Good lord! Now I want to buy this book, and I have too many books on Arabic already, none of which I have used more than cursorily.

Ithaca said...

I know, I know. I try not to look at new books on Arabic.