BBC Correspondent Learns Arabic In Damascus – And Fails!

There is an interesting article on the BBC News page detailing the experience of one of their correspondents in learning Arabic in Damascus. While I certainly applaud his efforts, I nevertheless have to remark on some inconsistencies in his article.

In the article, the author writes:

But however modest our achievements, the presence of foreign students does seem to please the Damascenes. “Tadrusus el lawra Arabiya – hunna?” they ask delightedly – “You’re studying Arabic – here?”

Now, I very much doubt that an Arabic native speaker from Damascus would have asked “Tadrusus el lawra Arabiya – hunna”. First of all, if the comment was supposed to be in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) / فسحى (fusHa), then the question should have been “(hal) tadrus(u) al-lugha al-3arabiyya hunna?”. Secondly, more probable, someone from Damascus would have asked in Damascene dialect “btedrus 3arabi hoon?”.

This faux-pas puts doubt on the author’s claim that he had “studied hard” during his stay in Damascus. Despite this, I recommend this article to those thinking about studying Arabic in Damascus. It is a beautiful city with mostly welcoming people and a far cry from the fanatical stereotypes perpetuated by the media.

The article can be found here.

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