Arabic Accordance

Where Africa Meets Asia

Arabic words illustrated to match their literal meaning, by Mahmoud Tammam

Should Americans, as part of their school curriculum, learn Arabic numerals?

“Civic Science” a Pittsburgh-based research firm, put that question to some 3,200 Americans recently in a poll seemingly about mathematics, but the outcome was a measure of students’ attitudes toward the Arab world. Some 56 percent of the respondents said, “No.” Fifteen percent had no opinion.

Mustafa Akyol

In the ancient days(the years between 1971 and 1973), I was an exchange student at Justus Liebig University, a small (80,000) town north of Frankfurt. German was the lingua Alamannia spoken by fellow students from Iran to Japan. Learning an unfamiliar language breaks barriers in unexpected and humbling ways.

German and English are close lingual relatives. They share familial bonds with Proto-Indo-European (PIE). Persian, although it hardly looks the part, is a branch of the PIE tree. Persian borrowed Arabic script, but its grammar and vocabulary roots place it among most European languages.

A wall between two once and future German-speaking occupied lands had been erected, enforced, and thought eternal ten-years earlier. Politik: Real. Of course, English has long become the international language. But languages offer a way out, an outlet, an escape. I often go to YouTube in order to learn Arabic from people who also learned German as their second language — people like me, people like you.

Visit a local mosque (masjid). I’ve visited ours dozens of times and have always left with hope in my soul. Don’t allow a propagandist, an ideologue, a demagogue, a polemicist… to monger your mind.

  • Arabic is a beautiful artful language.
  • It’s not from the Protoindo-European family.
  • It is a friendly language.
  • has an intensely intuitive grammar.
  • is the language of the Qur’an.
  • Arabic is a fun language.

Thanks for reading.

Below, a draft I wrote in German to organize my thoughts. FWIW.

In den alten Zeiten (zwischen 1971 und 1973) war ich Austauschstudent an der Justus Liebig Universität. Deutsch als eine zweite Sprache musste ich ohne Computer und ohne Internet lernen.

Natürlich ist Englisch schon lange die internationale Sprache geworden. Aber Sprachen bieten einen Ausweg, einen Auslass, einen Escape. Oft gehe ich zum YouTube, um Arabisch zu lernen. Jede Menge von Videos stehen zur Verfügung. Da finde ich Lehrer und Lehrerinnen in Deutschland, die, wie ich Deutsch als ‘ne zweite Sprache zu lernen. Leute wie ich, Leute wie du. Eine kleine Clue: sie sind keine Monsters.

Resultat: Arabisch finde ich eine ganz logische dritte Sprache. Na klar! Fabelhaft.


  • ist eine wunderschön kunsthafte Sprache.
  • stammt nich aus der protoindoeuropäischen Familie.
  • ist eine freundliche Sprache.
  • bietet eine Einleitung zu Islam an.
  • hat eine intensiv intuitive Grammatik.
  • ist die Sprache der Qur’an.
  • العربية ممتعة. — Arabisch macht Spass.

Arabisch lerne ich um Verständnis und Mitgefühl erreichen zu können. Auf der anderen Seite, Propaganda ist Verfälschung. Übersetzungen sollten nie verschmiert werden. Arabisch lerne ich um die Wahrheit zu erkennen. Übersetzungen können grosse Lügen werden, giftige Lügen. Sprachen sollten Verständnis bauen — Propaganda zerstört die Wahrheit mit Absicht.

Who’s Afraid of Arabic Numerals?

Reel bad Arabs


Author: Bill Ziegler

I am a former resident of Delhi Township. These are memories of my life and times in that community during the 1950s and 1960s. A time capsule.

9 thoughts on “Arabic Accordance”

    1. Thanks for visiting, Jim. Comments really do drive content here, and just to prove that I have updated this very post to reflect?/deflect? your comment. I encourage you to revisit. The sound of chopping blades retracting from a military drone seconds before striking a “collaterally” threatening youngster in Yemen impacts me more because it’s an act committed by proxy in my name (if only by dint of citizenship).

      Liked by 1 person

  1. “But languages offer a way out, an outlet, an escape.” And too, as I heard it said, is the first weapon drawn in a conflict. I find it a worthy pursuit to learn a new language. You have my admiration, Bill. But as for myself, I still struggle with English, terribly.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Peter. English doesn’t have a lot of markers built in. Actually, they had those markers until the Vikings invaded and tossed them all out. German has 16 different ways to say “the.” I didn’t know anything about such things until high school Latin, then found a parallel between German and Latin. Still, while living in Germany I would marvel at the perfect grammar uttered by five-year-old kids. Of course, it’s all natural, it’s the way any child learns. Interestingly enough, Arabic becomes much easier to learn than German — once you get the script down, but that’s a big “once.” 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Those overlaps help, do they not? Persian borrows a good number of words from Arabic, but my Iranian friends tell me that the overlap stops right there. Farsi is a world of its own, as I’ve mentioned it’s a fellow PIE language and is closer to Spanish than to Arabic. I now look at Farsi and see it as a jumble of incoherent random letters, kind of like a random-letters generator. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I once bought a self-study guide for Arabic, because I wanted to be able to decipher a language whose script I find extremely attractive. Alas, life intervened, and my guides have been collecting dust on the shelf. I love the sample words at the top of the page!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi tanja, Thanks so much for this kind comment. I had picked up studying Arabic, putting it down as “life intervened” and, also, collecte dust. Finally got tired of shelving it and now spend at least some time each day on it. Calligraphy that has to keep within the tight restraints of the Latin alphabet simply cannot flourish and flow the way that Arabic does. The positioning of each dot and curved line is actually unambiguous once you get the script down well. I love those sample woods too. Thanks again 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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