Alef, Baa, Taa, Thaa…

I’ve gotten a couple of nudges in the comments about my first Arabic class — specifically, the fact that I hadn’t written anything about it yet. Here’s the reason: there isn’t much to say. We learned the alphabet, and that was it.

It would be more accurate to say, though, that learning the alphabet was hard, much more difficult than “we learned the alphabet” makes it sound. Arabic has 28 letters not counting vowels (which we haven’t tackled yet) four of which sound a lot like “h” but aren’t. I can only make one of them — and that one thanks only to my many years of attempting German, which is handy for something after all. Who knew?

There was one funny thing about the class — the teacher didn’t know what to make of the fact that we were there for fun, and because we like to travel. Given that we have the State Department and myriad other government agencies with an international footprint here in DC, the most common reason to be taking Arabic lessons is “my job sent me.” At the end, she told us that we did better than total beginners generally do and credited the fact that we were there voluntarily.

She then assigned us lots and lots of lines for homework (five of each letter, to be specific), so she clearly wasn’t that impressed.