Thursday, June 2, 2016

Arabic Lesson

Screenie from al-Jazeera yesterday.

The Bear is bored here in Damascus. But Bears can be patient.

The Bear thought you might enjoy learning a bit of Arabic. Look at the squiggly lines above the picture. Reading from right-to-left it would sound sort of like:

ar-raiees as-suriee bashar al-assad m'a al-dub al-amrekeeya

The familiar "al-" definite article gets pronounced "al-" in front of some letters, but for others is modified by dropping the "L" sound and replacing it with the sound of the first letter in the word, for ease of pronunciation. So "al-raiees" gets pronounced "ar-raiees" (the president)..

It says: "President of Syria Bashar al-Assad with the American Bear." "al-dub," the second word from the last (right-to-left remember), means "the Bear." The last word is "al-amrikeeya," whose meaning you can probably guess.

Arabic is in the same family as Hebrew, and share triliteral roots, which are fascinating. In fact "dub" means Bear in Hebrew, too. The root has to do with a type of smooth movement. The Arabic word for "tank" comes from the same root as "Bear" -- "dababa," or crawler.

The Bear prefers to believe these ancient semitic roots allude to the Bear's graceful and silky manner of moving.

The other fun thing about triliteral roots is how standard modifications are used to make words. You have probably heard the word "madrassa." It means "school." An "m" is added to a triliteral root to make a word that means "the place where whatever the root means happens." What do you suppose the consonental root d-r-s or "darasa" means? To study. Therefore, a "madrassa" is a place of study: a school! A slightly different standard modification of the same root will make "teacher," instead of "school."

Now you are as bored as the Bear is.


  1. Not bored. If I can ever get fellow birds here, they would have much more to say than I on such topics.

    Since you like playing with semitic languages, Great Bear, look up the translation to charity and the related root words in Hebrew sometime. Then relate to scripture and salvation history. Then relate to FrancisMercy.

  2. Your next post is on the new Pope Video or we set up bear traps every twenty yards...

    1. Oh, dear, is it that time already? They were late last month.

    2. Okay, the Bear watched it. First impression was that it actually wasn't too awful. It was kind of sweet. It didn't say governmental programs were the answer. They did not use the usual three-part format, place too much reliance on montages and stock footage, or use the same synthesized score. Definitely more creative.

      It did not have an American or northern European vibe, but the Bear didn't mind. It was shot on location, probably Buenos Aires.

      Okay, so what am I missing? Do you have a different take?

    3. I think that's right. I mean there are the usual annoying things--no mention of God or the Church (I think), no black people, annoying leftist buzzwords like "solidarity" and "encounter," etc., complete exaggeration of the "problem" in so far as there is a problem. But in some sense, yes, it's the least objectionable of the six.

    4. They have a major continuity error in the video. The man's hat is missing when the musicians show up and put their hat down, and the cardboard is setup differently.

    5. You mean other than being super cheesy? That being said, I'll take the cheesy over the hereseesy any day.

    6. Video --> *left eye twitches*

  3. Bergoglio's best video yet. Forgot to look to see if he hid his cross again.

    1. Those Unknown Unknowns are the worst--take it from Rumsfield. Known Unknowns can at least be managed.

    2. Oops I accidentally hit done before I typed my name. Please don't bite or claw me.

      Seattle kim

  4. aw now you made me go look at the thing. brb


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