Somehow, despite my extreme whiteness, I’ve always been drawn to the tall, dark, and handsome type. I got lucky my junior year of college when I met a man who was all three of those things, plus funny, smart, kind, and totally into me. It was pretty much love at first sight. In an effort to make a good impression on his family, I signed up for Arabic 101 hoping to be able to communicate with them. It was terrible, and I didn’t learn much of anything except the alphabet, and the words for “book” and “door.”
I kept the textbook from the class, and about a year after we got married, tried to pick it up again with his uncle teaching me. Also terrible. The only real lesson I took away from that attempt is that being a native speaker of a language does not make you qualified to teach it to others.
The State Department lists Arabic as one of the hardest languages for English speakers to learn. Even if you study an hour a day, it will take over 6 years just to achieve a level of proficiency that would allow you to survive day-to-day life in an Arabic-speaking country. SIX YEARS. It makes the effort seem almost totally futile.
But then last week, I discovered this blog. The guy used to work as a military translator, and has since taught himself several other languages. He compares language to an ocean, and while you can never master it, you can still have a good time and accomplish a lot by using it to the best of your abilities.
With this view in mind, I’m going to take another stab at learning Arabic, and document the process here along with tasty recipes, hilarious anecdotes, and whatever else I feel like posting. Yes, 6 years is a long time to become proficient in a language. But instead of trying to master the whole language, I’m going to just enjoy the process, and hopefully form a closer relationship with my in-laws. Wish me luck!