Tag Archives: Arabic

Missing Words

Nine Words…and Six More

A couple of months ago, Cracked magazine ran a piece lamenting the “grievous holes” in the English language and suggesting nine foreign words that might go some way to fill in the gaps. What an appealing selection, even if the list fails to include any Arabic. I’ve taken the liberty of choosing a few of […]


Speak Egyptian

In the above video (Egyptian Arabic with English subtitles), teenage polyglot Timothy Doner, featured last week in The New York Times, talks about his own Arabic study and some of the different uses of formal and colloquial Arabic. While I personally don’t agree with his rigid division between the two, his abilities are impressive, especially […]


Arabic is the Best Language

At More Intelligent Life, Economist Middle East and Africa editor Josie Delap, sings the praises of Arabic: To a native English-speaker, searching for a language to learn and probably inexpert in the dark arts of grammar, the simple Romance languages with their common-sense syntax might seem obvious choices, perhaps even those of Scandinavia with their […]

Dragon - Arabic calligraphy

Origins: Arab Spring

I’m gearing up to do more Arabic-related posts on this blog and, by way of an introduction, I’d like to propose a new, additional meaning to the phrase ‘Arab Spring’. As it is, Arabs speaking in Arabic appear to prefer some variety of ‘Arab revolutions’ (??????? ???????) or ‘Arab uprisings’, even though “Arab Spring” may […]

Top Goon

So Little Time, So Many Links

First up, the revolution will be televised: Click on the image above (or here for the Arabic) to see a trailer of Top Goon, puppet political satire from Syria. The Guardian dubs 2011 the year of the translator and The National considers the “steep upwards trend” in Arabic literature in translation. If you ever wondered […]

The Arcadian Library (book cover)

More Pleasures of Imperialism

The Arcadian Library is an anthology, but the world it evokes sounds like so much more: a hidden library containing “one of the finest dedicated collections of books ever made about Western entanglement with the Middle East.” From The Times Literary Supplement: The earliest items are medieval manuscripts, but there are also many incunables, translations […]


Russell Peters in Beirut

Footnotes: 1. Arabic endearment ‘Habibi’ (?????) is as likely to mean “dude” as its literal sense of “my love.” 2. For more on BO18, read this excerpt from my book, a profile of architect Bernard Khoury


Links 5 – 16 October

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Dec. 2000 GQ profile of Hank Williams III via Send Me a Story Atul Gawande in the New Yorker on how coaching has helped him reach a new personal best MERIP’s Maroz Tadros with an important report from the front lines of Egypt’s Bloody Sunday Translated Egyptian author Alaa al-Aswany on bigotry (original […]