An Arabic kind of day

Today was a busy day fill with all sorts of Arabic types of things.

First thing this morning I had a quiz in my Arabic 1101 (Beginning Arabic) class. After the quiz I realized that I originally wrote down the correct letter on two different words, but then proceeded to change the letters to the wrong letter. Don’t you just hate it when you second guess yourself. You see in Arabic, letters change shape depending on where they fall in a word (at the beginning, middle and end) and then you even have two letters combining to get to get a non-letter the “laam alif”. Plus certain words can be masculine or feminine and then you need to know where certain symbols (like the fatha or damma) fall on a word, but they are usually not printed. Here I thought Spanish was confusing! Its a great class and what I am really finding really interesting is how many Arabic words sound very similar to Spanish words or how many words I already know.

Then later in the afternoon I went to a talk by Dr. Nabil Matar on ‘Christians in the Arabian Nights‘. It was an interesting lecture and he discussed the different translations of Arabian Nights and how the stories are really about a culture that is remembering its past. The parts that I thought were of interest were of the evil blue-eyed people, the mention of ‘China’ (and what did China means to the people that originally wrote Arabian Nights?) and all the stores that have to deal with sex. I have read parts of Dr. Matar’s books “In the Lands of Christians: Arabic Travel Writing in the 17th Century” and “Turks, Moors, and Englishmen in the Age of Discovery,” so it was nice to hear him talk live and in person. It was also nice to hear that he has a new book coming out in October on Arabs in Europe.

Question: Does admitting that you watched the original Battlestar Galactica mean that you are old? I was talking to one of my student workers today about the new version of Battlestar Galactica (a totally excellent show, by the way) and made the admission that I had watched the original show and one of them called me old. Grrr..or perhaps “Frak”! My responce should have been, like Indy, “Its not the years, sweetheart, its the mileage.”