vendredi 30 novembre 2012

How to Learn Lebanese Arabic

You might be interested in this short article I have written recently on how to learn Lebanese.

If you want to learn the Lebanese language, you might be wondering where to start. You probably are a descendant or a friend of one of the 15 million Lebanese spread around the world, or you wish to visit the Middle-East for tourism or for business.

The first thing to know is that Lebanese is a spoken language. It is quite different from Arabic which is a written language. This difference has led so many linguistics and historians to argue about whether Lebanese is a derivative of Arabic, or whether it is a language in its own right, derived from Syriac and Aramaic, and simply influenced by Arabic, Turkish and French.

Without entering this debate, we simply observe that for a foreign ear, ie. for someone who knows neither Arabic nor Lebanese, the two structures are sufficiently different that they can be considered as two distinct languages. Therefore, if you wish to learn a language in order to communicate with a Lebanese person or more generally a Middle-Eastern person, then you will need to learn Lebanese.
If you want to be able to read books, religious scripture, or official newspapers, then you will need to learn Arabic.

The advent of Internet and social networks has made Lebanese people use the spoken Lebanese language in writing to exchange over email, facebook, or by SMS and Twitter. In order to write their spoken language on these media, they use Latin letters. Lebanese spoken language can therefore be written using Arabic script, as well as using Latin alphabet. This is called Romanization.

Many scholars have attempted in the past to create a formal Latin alphabet for Lebanese. Such alphabets included specific accents on letters in order to convey the specific pronunciation of Lebanese. These systems have all remained academic attempts and never got generalized. The only system that works today is one that uses only English letters (with no accents). You can find this summarized on:

If you want to learn the spoken Lebanese, I recommend you find a website that uses the English alphabet to write Lebanese words; otherwise you will embark on a lengthy journey of learning first the Arabic script, then the complex Arabic grammar. You can find a list of such websites on:

If you want to know more about the Lebanese Arabic language, you can visit the following page:

About the author:

I am in the information technology business. My personal hobby is to understand the structure of the Lebanese spoken language, for which I have written a grammar and developed the site is for those who want to learn Lebanese online, no matter whether you call it Lebanese language, Lebanese dialect or Lebanese Arabic.

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