This Introduction to Levantine Arabic Pronunciation consists of two parts: The booklet presently in hand, and approximately nine and one-half hours of accompanying tape recordings. The two are designed, first, to teach the student to recognize the major points of phonological interference between Levantine Arabic and (most of the more common dialects of) American English as well as the significant phonological contrasts within this dialect of Arabic itself, and, secondly, to provide the student with a model for mimicry.
Levantine Arabic as used here refers to a dialect of educated Palestinians who have been long-term residents of Beirut. This dialect is mutually intelligible with most urban dialects of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine. Fran a purely phonological point of view, however, most of the problems (for speakers of American English) that occur within this dialect also occur in most of the Arabic dialects from Iraq through North Africa, as well as occurring also in Classical Arabic. Consequently, this course can also be used for dialects other than Levantine Arabic.
It is to be noted at the outset that, for the most part, the words chosen in the drills are verbs, and that these verbs were originally found, as a matter of convenience, from a fairly systematic searching of the roots of Wehr's dictionary. This means that these words and lists have a fairly heavy literary (rather than purely colloquial) bias. However, inasmuch as the purpose of this Introduction is not meaning or normal colloquial usage apart from pronunciation, this bias has been considered to be of no great significance.
The materials themselves consist of nineteen 'sections'. These sections are ordered so as to take the student from what he knows, or has learned, to what is new.
Within a given section, the sequence of drills is ordered, in general, to teach the student to hear the sound or contrast first, and then to give him an opportunity to mimic it. There are seven types of drills utilized, each one being explained at the point at which it is introduced:
Familiarization Drills (introduced p. 2);
Reading Drills (p. 3);
Dictation Drills (p. 4; p. 18);
Discrimination Drills (p. 8);
Recognition Drills (p. 9);
Mimicry Drills (p. 9);
Transformation Drills (p. 91)
The drills which are utilized to teach the student to recognize the sounds provide immediate confirmation or correction of the student's response. They can thus be done independently of any outside monitor. However, though the student will most often be able to make judgments as to the accuracy of his own pronunciation, he may still not be able to produce the sound satisfactorily. Consequently, his production (or mimicry) should be monitored or spot-checked.
If the student can mimic the sound satisfactorily, he has achieved the primary goal of that particular segment of the course. If he cannot mimic the sound adequately, the problem will usually be a problem in the mechanics of articulation (in which case explanation and/or demonstration will usually suffice). Occasionally the problem might be in hearing the sound correctly, in which case a review of the Discrimination and Recognition Drills with a monitor would be in order, followed by the Mimicry Drills.
A word concerning the Dictation Drills is in order. FSI/Beirut students do not begin Written Arabic concurrently with their study of colloquial. They thus need to be able to write down new vocabulary items in some accurate transcription, and it is for this purpose that the Dictation Drills were introduced. These Drills, however, have proven to be rather difficult for most students, and thus, for use in other circumstances, it might be found advisable to omit the Dictation Drills or alter the instructions for them.
Modern Standard Arabic has developed out of Classical Arabic, the language of the Quran. During the era of the caliphate,Classical Arabic was the language used for all religious, cultural, administrative and scholarly purposes.
Modern Standard Arabic is the official Arabic language. It can be written and spoken, and there is no difference between the written and the spoken form.
In its written form, Modern Standard Arabic is the language of literature and the media. Books, newspapers, magazines, official documents, private and business correspondence, street signs and shop signs - all are written in Modern Standard Arabic.
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD. This includes both the literary language and varieties of Arabic spoken in a wide arc of territory stretching across the Middle East and North Africa. Some of the spoken varieties are mutually unintelligible, both written and orally, and the varieties as a whole constitute a sociolinguistic language. This means that on purely linguistic grounds they would likely be considered to constitute more than one language, but are commonly grouped together as a single language for political and/or ethnic reasons (see below). If considered multiple languages, it is unclear how many languages there would be, as the spoken varieties form a dialect chain with no clear boundaries. If Arabic is considered a single language, it perhaps is spoken by as many as 280 million first language speakers, making it one of the half dozen most populous languages in the world. If considered separate languages, the most-spoken variety would most likely be Egyptian Arabic, with 54 million native speakers still greater than any other Semitic language.
Arabic Levantine is spoken in: Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine
Arabic Levantine has no known alternate names.