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Saudi Arabic

Saudi Arabic
(New! - CD-ROM Version)
This course teaches the Urban Hijazi Dialect, the most widely spoken and understood dialect on the Arabian Peninsula, and the one used for government and commercial purposes. This course was designed for use by diplomats, business people and serious language students. Upon completion of this course the student should have attained a working proficiency in the language. Students will be able to satisfy routine social and business requirements, be able to carry on conversations regarding a wide range of topics, and comprehend speech at a normal rate of speed. The book also provides students with the basic grammatical structures of the dialect enabling them to proceed to a greater mastery of the language. With 15 CDs and a book.

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About The Course | Design Of The Book

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About The Course

This course teaches the Urban Hijazi Dialect, the most widely spoken and understood dialect on the Arabian Peninsula, and the one used for government and commercial purposes. This course was designed for use by diplomats, business people and serious language students. Upon completion of this course the student should have attained a working proficiency in the language. Students will be able to satisfy routine social and business requirements, be able to carry on conversations regarding a wide range of topics, and comprehend speech at a normal rate of speed. The book also provides students with the basic grammatical structures of the dialect enabling them to proceed to a greater mastery of the language.

There are three major groups of dialects in Saudi Arabia - Hijazi, spoken on the western coast, in Jidda, Taif, and the holy cities of Mecca and Medina; Najdi, spoken in and around Riyadh, in the north central part of the country; and Shargi, spoken in the oil-rich eastern reqion. While the Najdi dialect enjoys prestige by virtue of its conservatism and relative closeness to Classical Arabic and the fact that it is the dialect of the royal family, the Hijazi dialect is used throughout the country for government and commercial purposes, and has become the most widely-understood dialect in the Arabian Peninsula. The Hijazi dialect is not "pure" Saudi Arabic, and reflects recent borrowings from other dialects, especially Egyptian, Jordanian and Palestinian; for this reason, sometimes one word or expression was selected from several which may be heard, and sometimes alternative expressions are introduced, since two or even three forms may be in frequent use.

Since there is no "standard" Hijazi dialect, this book reflects the dialect as spoken in Jidda. Whenever forced to choose between language usage in the other Hijazi cities and that of Jidda, the Jidda usage was given preference. A few of the most common words from Najdi and from other cities are introduced for recognition and identified as such. There has also been a preference for modern words and structures, despite the fact that this sometimes means rejecting an older, more Saudi usage. This dialect has been designated "urban" Hijazi to distinguish it from Bedouin dialects also native to the Hijaz region.

The pronunciation of some sounds in Hijazi is variable. There are three interdental consonants (variations of 'th') which may be pronounced as they are in Classical Arabic and in Najdi, as for example in /thalaatha/, or as they are in Egyptian and Palestinian, which would be /talaata/. Since the latter type of pronunciation is more common in Jidda, it will be presented. This is discussed further in the Pronunciation section.

After completion of this book, the student should have attained a working proficiency in the language (approximately S-2 level by the FSI rating system). In other words, the student will be able to satisfy routine social demands and limited business requirements, carry on conversations regarding a wide range of general subjects (asking directions, ordering a meal, giving personal information, making purchases, etc.), and comprehend speech about such subjects at a normal rate of speed. This book will provide a student with all the basic grammatical structures of the dialect, so that he will be ready to proceed on his own to acquire the speed and new vocabulary which lead to real fluency.

Design of the Book

The book is divided into 50 lessons, with every tenth lesson a review lesson. In addition to the 50 lessons, the book contains a series of appendices dealing with specialized vocabulary, social expressions, gestures, and Saudi names. There is also a glossary and an index of grammatical structures.

Each lesson (beginning with Lesson 4) has the following parts:

  • Dialogue
    The dialogues have been kept short and were designed to be practical and worth memorizing. Each dialogue should be memorized for recitation and practiced.
  • Structure Sentences
    In each lesson, certain words and grammatical structures are presented. Structures which did not appear in the dialogue will be illustrated in these sentences. Structure sentences serve the purpose of linking the dialogue sentences, which are necessarily limited in type, with the grammatical explanations coming up in the Grammatical Notes. They contain examples of new structures used in a sentence context.
  • Grammatical Notes
    New structures are presented and explained, with examples.
  • Vocabulary Notes
    Included in this section are only the new words which need the illustration of additional forms (for example, the present tense of a verb, or the plural of a noun). Words which are clear from their presentation will not be repeated here. The student is held responsible for all new vocabulary regardless of where it appears in a lesson, although it is recognized that some words are more essential for the students' own production than others. The instructor may determine which words should be learned for production and which are sufficient for the student to recognize passively.
  • Drills
    New words and structures are drilled by substitution, by the transformation of sentences (for example, from affirmative to negative), by questions and answers, and by translation. The part of a model sentence which is to be substituted is underlined.
  • Situations
    These are typical situations, with sentences given in English which the student should be able to reproduce in Arabic after mastering the lesson. This section may be used as a self-test at the end of every lesson.
  • Cultural Notes
    Where appropriate, comments on speech attitudes, situational behavior, or social etiquette are presented.