Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Why I'll Never Learn Arabic

In today's class, we learned that there are approximately twentyhundred words for shoes in Arabic.

So, for example, dress shoes are "kundera." But there's another word for flip flops,  and another for wedges, and another for running shoes. Surprisingly, there is also the word "boot," which is a type of shoe, but not a boot. Converse shoes are just called "converse."

So after trying to write all of these down, I threw up my hands in despair and asked "what's the generic word for 'shoe'?"

"Hitha," answered the ever-patient Ghadeer.

"Hitha?" I repeated. "Hitha means 'shoe'?"

"Naam, hitha," she responded.

"So I can just say hitha when I'm talking about shoes?" I asked.

Ghadeer made a face and answered "No. Nobody actually says hitha."

Reason #101 why I will never actually be able to atakallam arabi.


Just US said... [Reply]

I am surprised any women learns to speak Arabic if one of our favorite words becomes so complicated!

Shannon said... [Reply]

And that pretty much sums up my experience with every language I have tried (unsuccessfully) to learn.

Connie said... [Reply]

I think that it's ok to pick the one word you like best for the whole category, and use that for everything. I mean, if all SUV's can be classified as 'Jeeps', all running shoes are 'Nike' and all soft drinks 'Cokes'... then all shoes can be 'kundera'! (and this attitude is probably why I'll never be a language teacher!)

Dorothy Handelman said... [Reply]

I feel your pain. Wonder how many words there are for foot sizes?.....

Always happy to read about all your comings and goings and cultural conundrums!!

Please. Write your own stuff.