A few months ago, I wrote a post about language, which was inspired by the fact that I was, at the time, applying to a summer language program. I never did any follow up to that post, but yes, I did make it into that program, and so I have been a student of the Arabic language for a week and a half. And what a week and a half it has been. Other than the fact that I’ve been out of school for six years, so having to retrain myself to think academically has been a bit of a challenge. (What do you mean, I have homework?) Nevermind the fact that Arabic? Yeah, it doesn’t really have vowels. Vowel sounds, yes. But actual letters dedicated to the work of vowels? Not so much. Except for the one, unless Y is a vowel, which is debatable.
Anyway, these days I am in class for 20 hours a week and so far, I have learned to read and write an entirely new alphabet, along with a few hundred words, and how to string those words together into rudimentary sentences. Reading is a laborious task, and I try to remember back to my early childhood, to see if I can recall if it was this difficult before. Probably yes, though now, glossed over by years, it seems like that couldn’t be possible.
Despite (or perhaps because of) the challenge, this has been a fascinating experience. As I said in my previous post on the subject, I have a thing for language. And I am enjoying getting all these tiny pieces and figuring out how they all fit together. Finished with the alphabet, we’ve moved into the thrilling world of grammar (no, really), which is the best part, since it is through learning the grammar that I get to learn how the language thinks. This is the part that I love.
By the end of the summer, I will have completed the equivalent of a year of Arabic study. It’s an exciting thing, and I’m glad I’m getting to do it. I don’t have anything particularly literary to add at this point, but I thought I’d just follow up what I wrote before with a little something on how nice it’s been to get out of the repetitive simplicity of my usual everyday life and do something difficult, just for the sake of pushing myself. A good way to spend my summer vacation indeed.