Saturday, February 5, 2011

In which study habits are again considered

I've been studying Arabic a lot lately because 1) it is great and 2) I am taking the CSET for Arabic in May. Making and keeping a study strategy is a constantly evolving process for me. Things that used to work don't work any more, I find a better way to do things, I get bored of other things, etc. Also, what worked for me for Spanish isn't necessarily going to be what works for me for Arabic. For example. it's a lot easier for me to pick up a book in Spanish and proclaim "We're doing this!" and get reading. Arabic intimidates me more and it's hard for me to want to read because it just makes me feel like there's so much I don't know and that it's impossible to know everything. Also, the dictionary work on Arabic is time consuming. It's easy to use something like Word Reference for Spanish, but their Arabic dictionary is not very good, so I have to do it the analog way and actually use the dictionary. Arabic dictionaries are their own kind of special, but that's a topic for another time.

The last few weeks, I'd been working on Standard Arabic: An Advanced Course. I like this book a lot, but it's hard to just plow through a textbook and anything will get boring if you do the same thing every day. The good of this book: it is mostly reading and it is arranged by topic. So one chapter was on Muslim Spain (my favorite) and they had a short introduction in English, then a series of paragraph-long readings in Arabic, then progressively longer Arabic passages, some with comprehension questions and then a long one at the end asking you to write a precis.

This week I started working on the Anthology of Arabic Literature, Culture and Thought from Pre-Islamic Times to the Present. What I really like about this book is it seems really comprehensive and it's not in chronological order. Instead of starting with the extra-difficult pre-Islamic poetry, it starts with some awesome modern poetry and then goes into modern novels. Later, it introduces older literature. I'm actually really enjoying the poetry. One of my friends suggested that I read more poetry to ease into reading more, but I complained that poetry is all figurative language and rhetorical devices, and thus difficult. However, despite being all figurative language and rhetorical devices, poems are short (mostly). So, that's really a lot more accessible. I'm really enjoying the poems of Nizar Qabbani and I ordered one of his collections of poetry.

Here's one of his love poems, with my shitty translation of it.
تعري ... فمنذ زمان طويل
على الارض لم تسقط المعجزات
تعري ... تعري
انا اخرس
و جسمك يعرف كل اللغات

Disrobe ... since it has been a long time
 Miracles did not fall to the ground
Undress ... undress
I am mute
And your body knows every language

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