MSA - Tunisian or Egyptian dialect?

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by musicofthesun, Dec 6, 2012.

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  1. musicofthesun New Member

    Aslemma. :) I'm about learning modern standard arabic. Now i also want to look a little deeper into a specific dialect. Tunisian or egyptian. But i have no idea which one to choose.

    My overall purpose for learning arabic is the spoken. That i want to be able to communicate with people, understand music and television and because i love the language and feel very at home. Then some plus sites is that i also want to be able to read and understand the qu'ran.

    My reasons for considering these dialects specific are that my lovely man is tunisian, and when i'm with him i would love to be able to keep up when arabic with the local dialect is spoken and communicate in the language good.

    About the egyptian dialect, i think about this because it's so big. Many speaks it, many movies and much television is in this and also lots of music.

    There is just so much more material on learning the egyptian dialect online, than there's on the tunisian. So what do you think i should start learning along msa online now, egyptian or tunisian?

    I just think also if i learned the egyptian, because i think it would be easier for me online(i dont know?), but i then think that it would be good because i understand more also in the media, and i could still comunicate with the tunisian locals in this or what? And when i am in Tunisia it would then become easier to communicate in the arabic i know, msa and egyptian if i started with this dialect, and understand eachother and then be able to pick the tunisian language easy up by just simple beeing there and listeting to it.

    I'm very confused about where to start, as you can hear, so please help me out.

  2. ajamiyya عجمية Senior Member

    English - American
    Hello Musicofthesun,

    You seem to have grasped the advantages of learning Egyptian Dialect. All of the Dialects are Arabic, but most serious points of view concede that none of them is sufficient in and of itself to understanding the Qur'an. For that, you will need Fus7a, or you will become quite confused.

    People bicker back and forth about which dialect is closest to MSA and valid points can be found all over the map, so, which one is most "useful" isn't about to be settled. Arguments often boil down to "six of that or half a dozen of the other".

    Which dialect is the best fit for any particular individual is a different question, and it can best be answered by the individual analyzing and prioritizing what it is that he expects to use spoken Arabic for, seeking guidance from people (preferably several) who know something about Arabic, formal and informal, and trusting his informants.

    It is essential that you trust the people you consult with because, if you are truly a novice at Arabic, you have no idea how much there is to know about the language, despite what you might think based upon experience with other languages/language families. Arabic is the text-book example of a heteroglossic language.

    If you want to be able to communicate with your man and be understood in Tunisia, Tunisian is what you ought to learn. It won't get you very far outside of its immediate environs, though. There's no question that Egyptian is more widely understood than any of the North African dialects, and Tunisian has some unique features not found in Libyan, Algerian, or Moroccan. I hope you have access to a good instructor, for that will be indispensable. I understand that a lot of people are teaching via Skype, so you might find somebody that way. You may even find somebody who wants to learn Danish and be able to pay-in-kind.

    It takes a long time to achieve fluency in a dialect. It takes a long time to comprehend the chasms which differentiate Moroccan from Yemeni from Lebanese from you name it. I'll even throw Maltese in there, for the sake of argument.

    Having a solid understanding of MSA first will make it easier to learn whatever dialect(s) you settle on, and mastering any dialect before MSA will likely make it more difficult to master Qur'anic Arabic. Why do I think that? Because Qur'anic Arabic is multifaceted to a greater degree than spoken Arabic. It comprises moods, case, gender, and number in ways which are dropped in the spoken language. It is easier to simplify and consolidate than it is to elaborate and differentiate.

    I commend you on your ambition and wish you great success in your endeavors.

    If I were in the circumstances you have described, I would go with Tunisian rather than Egyptian. Comprehension always precedes production in language acquisition. Paradoxically, you will find that people understand you better than you understand them for a good long while. You are already multi-lingual, so your journey will be shorter than mine has been. I started out strictly with MSA because my goal was to be able to read historical and religious source documents without depending upon anybody else's filter. It became clear to me as time went by that I would never be able to have conversations which were not fraught with ambiguities or which had a prayer of taking on a normal course if I did not learn a dialect, and my life circumstances led me to learning Moroccan.

    I wish you good luck and hope my words may be of some value to you.

  3. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    وعليكم السلام ورحمة الله وبركاته

    Since you are currently exposed to tunisian, start with that - but make sure you carry on with standard arabic too, and try to spot what you are learning in the Qur'an.

    Egyptian is definitely useful if you enjoy watching series and movies, but it can be quite different from tunisian and it's more effective to learn when you have someone who you can chat with face to face. So I don't advise you think about it for now; there is plenty of learning material on tunisian, as well as series and movies - maybe your partner can help you look for that.
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