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 FSI Language Courses Forum : Learning Languages : Arabic
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Deniz
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Quote Deniz Replybullet Topic: MSA Arabic
    Posted: 20 December 2006 at 3:12pm
Does any of the fellow members own or have acces to the FSI MSA Arabic course? It would be the basic stone for the whole arabic language section as the majority of learners begin with the MSA. Thank you all contributors anyway- this site is offering the opportunity to learn more obscure languages even to people from the countries, where no sources for such languages are available.
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daristani
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Quote daristani Replybullet Posted: 20 December 2006 at 4:30pm
I agree that it would be nice to have the FSI MSA course available on the site, but it's not really a basic language course the way most of the other FSI courses are.  Here's part of a post I wrote about it on the "How to Learn Any Language" site some months ago:
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The MSA course is (...) unlike any other FSI course of which I'm aware. It's all in Arabic script (except for the vocabulary listings) and thus presupposes that the learner has already learned the Arabic alphabet. It introduces a very few words at a time, then gives lots of sentences using these words, which are read on the tapes. These sentences tend to e very similar to one another, with only a word or two varying, at least in the first few lessons. There's no speaking, unless you want to repeat after the voice on the tape, and there are no drills per se. In essence, I think its best use is to develop listening and reading comprehension of Modern Standard Arabic on typical journalistic topics. It's thus useful for, say, a political officer in an embassy or consulate who wants to gain greater comprehension for written and spoken journalistic Arabic, but probably will not be of overmuch help in terms of developing conversational ability. There are no dialogues, but rather lots of typical newspaper (or television news report) sentences. In short, I think it's excellent for certain specific purposes, especially for developing comprehension and practicing news-related vocabulary, but it's not a course to learn to speak Arabic from.
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That said, I recall that there was an effort underway a number of months ago to digitize the MSA materials as well and eventually make them available.  I have no idea when they might become available, if at all, but think that most learners of Arabic would probably do better to start with the Saudi Basic Course in any event, given the rather specific focus of the MSA course.  The Saudi course is the only FSI Arabic program of which I'm aware that's even remotely conversational in nature.
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onebir
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Quote onebir Replybullet Posted: 21 December 2006 at 6:30am
Originally posted by daristani

IThe Saudi course is the only FSI Arabic program of which I'm aware that's even remotely conversational in nature.


It seems there was also a 'FAST' course.  It doesn't seem to be available from NTIS, but Georgetown Uni Press publish a USD40 book/Mp3 CD based on it: http://www.press.georgetown.edu/detail.html?id=1589010604

(see the link to the preface - bottom of page - for the FSI connection)

There's also a free non-FSI course in Syrian Arabic, including around 3 hours of audio, online here:
http://www.syrianarabic.com/

(Let us know if what they're like if you try them)
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Poetry
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Quote Poetry Replybullet Posted: 12 March 2007 at 8:41pm
Gmut is right, if a bit testy. I'll verify things before posting from now on.

After two decades, my own skills and rememberances are just faulty. I should know better.
--Poetry

Edited by Poetry - 22 March 2007 at 6:26pm
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gmut
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Quote gmut Replybullet Posted: 13 March 2007 at 10:03am
I strongly disagree with the post as to the similarity between MSA and Maghrebi. I happen to have gathered original dialect material from Tunisian and Moroccan Arabic, and these two dialects are so far from MSA that Arabs from other parts of the Arab world are unable to understand them. Arabs from the Maghreb region have to speak in MSA with other Arabs in order to make themselves understood. The Hijazi dialect of Saudi Arabia is indeed close to MSA but not the Maghrebi dialects, and so is Levantine Arabic in terms of vocabulary, whereas Egyptian Arabic might be closer to MSA in terms of grammar and pronounciation, with the exception of the "g" sound they use for jiim.
 
Gmut
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patuco
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Quote patuco Replybullet Posted: 16 March 2007 at 4:28pm
I agree with gmut. I know an Egyptian who prefers to speak in English rather than Arabic when speaking to Moroccans.
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Poetry
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Quote Poetry Replybullet Posted: 25 April 2007 at 10:47pm
Yep.  I confused Hijazi with Maghrebi.  Maghreb = Morrocco = almost unintelligible from MSA.  Hijazi = Saudi = really close to MSA.  My bad.  I apologize.  It's been forever since I worked in this language.

I learned at DLI from an Egyptian instructor.  While Egyptian might be close to MSA, I can tell you that it's not the hard 'g' sound that throws your ear off.  It's all of those glottal stops that would get thrown in.  In odd places.  Often.  Really throws the ear off.  When our Instructor would say something to us in Egyptian dialect, you could see the blank stares around the room followed by one of us hesitantly making a reply of some sort.

I took the Syrian/Jordanian/Lebanese dialect course at DLI after MSA, but never saw or heard it again once I left.  From the little I remember, it was MSA-like with truncated endings and French words scattered throughout it.  A lot of French words.  (At least, that's what stuck in my memory.  I can't trust my memory of the Syrian dialect at all.)

 
I graduated and worked during the Iran-Iraq War.  That wasn't pretty, wasn't fun, and I sincerely pitied both sides of that misbegotten conflict.  I was well out of the US military and the Arabic language by the time the Gulf War broke out.  I stored my books in the attic.  For almost 20 years.  My spoken Arabic has degenerated to the basic smattering of Iraqi dialect pattered on what I'd learned.  (There was a point where I'd actually written ghazals in Arabic, but I could not read them anymore.  Though I still knew the basics of what they meant because I'd written them.)  Basically it was a case of 'just don't want to know this, so I won't anymore.'  That was a really nasty war --I still have nightmares sometimes.  (I wished many, many times that I'd been a Chinese linguist instead of an Arabic one.)

 
Then my brother-in-law got called up to take a year long vacation in Iraq in 2004.  While he was there, he asked me for help getting language materials because they weren't able to get them from their own command.  I bought the MSA and Iraqi courses from DLI.  And started digitizing them for him. 
 
A week after I'd started, he returned home injured and was later boarded out.  My digitization effort ended at lesson 8 in the course and stayed there till recently. 

 
There are about 100 tapes and 143 lessons in this course.  The copy of the MSA course that DLI sent me in 2004 did not include the Sound and Script set.  That's about a 2 week intro course on the letters and writing system and SATS (Standard Arabic Translation System).  I still have the workbooks for that from my original set, but I wrote in them, of course.  I turned the tapes in at the end of the sessions, so I don't have those anymore.  The DLI MSA course is pretty useful if you don't know any Arabic, but it does require that you understand the sound and script part. 
 
With any luck, we should know in a couple of months the status of these courses.  Once I get the copyright status cleared, I'll hand them off to gdfellows to post.  And at the rate that I'm digitizing, I should be almost done with MSA by then.  Except for maybe the scanning which seems to be the longer part of this effort. 

I also have both the Iraqi dialect and Syrian dialect courses.  They have about 75 tapes in each one also.  They're not meant to be stand-alone courses, but enhancements after you already know MSA.  They start out immediately in dialogues on social situations, etc.  I've only started digitizing the Iraqi course so far, but I'll get to the Syrian eventually. 
--Poetry


Edited by Poetry - 02 May 2007 at 12:14am
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daristani
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Quote daristani Replybullet Posted: 26 April 2007 at 5:37am
Poetry, thanks very much for your persistence in all of this work.  The DLI materials, based on your description, must be truly unique in their extent, and since they were never marketed the way the FSI courses were, copies are probably exceedingly hard to come by. 

So you're a very unique resource both in your having the materials and in your monumental efforts to make them available.   You'll have a number of people very, very much in your debt when you finish this effort.  Shukran jaziilan!
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mantis
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Quote mantis Replybullet Posted: 02 May 2007 at 7:59am
Please let me know if you need help digitizing any of your materials.  I have a professional dubbing machine and would be to donate my time to the cause. 
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Anatoli
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Quote Anatoli Replybullet Posted: 15 May 2007 at 1:30am
Hi,

I am new to this forum. :)

I will follow for any updates on MSA course availability.


Edited by Anatoli - 15 May 2007 at 1:32am
Анатолий - أناتولي - 阿纳托利 - アナトーリー
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