Arabic resources

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Arabic resources

Post by quendidil » Sun Aug 17, 2008 3:51 am

Can anyone here recommend any resources for Arabic that you've found useful? Preferably free, or at least affordable on a student's budget.

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Post by Twpsyn » Sun Aug 17, 2008 4:10 am

I don't know of any good resources on the internet. If you go to a used bookstore (or Amazon) you may be able to find good textbooks on the cheap; for my language study I always use several texts in conjunction, and I have found the best Arabic textbooks to be Al Kitaab (more inductive) and Elementary Modern Standard Arabic (very dry and grammar-heavy, but rich). Teach Yourself is, suprisingly, not all that bad, but I would only use it as a supplement. You might also look at the Hippocrene 'Beginner' series, which generally puts out good titles, and the Colloquial book; neither of which have I used myself, as a disclaimer. Unfortunately, textbooks are expensive, but they are a one-time investment that will last you a long time (all of the above are for MSA; finding good cheap dialect resources would be even cheaper). Past the intermediate level, of course, your best bet is a course or a native speaker friend (cheapest resource of all!). Beyond that, I'm afraid I can't help you (not being at an advanced level yet myself).

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Post by quendidil » Sun Aug 17, 2008 7:40 am


Oh, yes, and I forgot to mention that I'm primarily interested in Classical Arabic or MSA, not the dialects. I'll give Al-Kitaab a look.

I learnt the script a few weeks ago from "Very Simple Arabic Script", although I'm currently still unsure on the pronunciation of the emphatics. 'Ayin, Ghayin were fairly simple to reproduce after a bit of listening to minimal pairs with the help of audio files on wikipedia but they don't have those for the emphatic consonants.

Are those resources vowelled by the way?

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Post by Twpsyn » Sun Aug 17, 2008 2:41 pm

Al Kitaab is vowelled in the vocabulary, and only occasionally in the texts (with a tricky word or two). Likewise Teach Yourself, which however relies heavily on transliteration in the vocabulary and grammar sections. These two books are training students to read every-day unvowelled MSA, not the Koran. The big orange book (EMSA) is vowelled more liberally, and seems to give you a more formal, classicalish version of MSA.

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Post by annis » Sun Aug 17, 2008 5:00 pm

I'm a big fan of Wheeler Thankston's An Introduction to Koranic and Classical Arabic. All the texts — even the Qur'aan — are not voweled, but every example in the grammar discussion has a romanization beside it. It's layout will be familiar to anyone used to the customary way Greek and Latin are still taught.

It's mid-priced, but you can also purchase the answer key.

I've not really kept up on classical Arabic web sites, which are mostly Islamist in focus.

Right now I have a lovely case of bronchitis, but once that's past I'd be glad to talk you through the emphatics via Skype or something. One hint about them, though — they are mostly noticed by the effect they have on surrounding vowels.
William S. Annis —
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;

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Re: Arabic resources

Post by mingshey » Sun Aug 17, 2008 6:07 pm

quendidil wrote:Can anyone here recommend any resources for Arabic that you've found useful? Preferably free, or at least affordable on a student's budget.
There's the FSI language courses. Arabic here.

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Arabic resources

Post by Faylasoof » Mon Aug 18, 2008 2:33 am

Thackston’s book is great, but my favourite beginning-intermediate Arabic grammar (for both Classical and MSA) is: A New Arabic Grammar of the Written Language by John A. Haywood and H. M. Nahmad. Perhaps best tackled after either Thacktson’s or Teach Yourself Arabic etc. Separate key, as for Thacktson’s.

Surprisingly, until recently, this has been available as a free download. See link below, under “BEGINNING – INTERMEDIATE? grammar. If you have trouble getting it, contact me.

… and here is something out of an Arabist’s dream!

Resources for Classical Arabic and MSA on the Net
[Forum for European and Asiatic languages]
[Arabic sub-forum from above]
[One of the biggest list of Arabic learning resources on the net!]
[Practise your reading and LISTENING skills in more than 20 languages, Arabic included. Intermediate to advanced levels]
[A huge list of Arabic books for Palestinian students from Grade 1(fully vowelled) to Grade 12 (unvowelled - actually the vowels are dropped much earlier). All in DOWNLOADABLE, PDF format! From basic textbooks to more advanced books covering all kinds of subjects,e.g. the Arabic language itself, history, geography, civic studies, Quranic and Biblical studies, science & technology etc., etc.]
[Many books on Greek-Arabic philosophy and its history (PDF or Word format) in Arabic and English. Provides links to other sites (in English and Arabic) on the subject. Not for the beginner]
[The complete Arabic Bible (Old and New Testaments) as PDFs. Includes many MP3 and Real Player AUDIO files too]
[A rich collection of Classical Arabic (unvowelled) books – online reading only! Has many books on purely “secular? topics, including travel literature, philosophy, humour, stylistics etc. Requires (free) registration. Intermediate to advanced level]



1. A Grammar of the Arabic Language, by: Haywood (1965) (pdf)
[A New Grammar of the Written Language by Haywood and Nahmad – the best beginning-to-intermediate level grammar, once the script is mastered. Still used in many university level Arabic Depts. in the UK.]

Available here:


2. E. W. Lane's Arabic English Lexicon
[Edward Lane’s Classical Arabic – English Dictionary The most comprehensive Classical Arabic-English Dictionary. All 8 volumes as huge PDF files!]

3. Hans Wehr (Translation by Milton Cown) 1976 Dictionary (PDF)
[Best pocket dictionary for MSA – words listed by ROOT order]

4. Al-Mawrid - rowhi ba`albaki (pdf)
[Larger Arabic-English dictionary with ALPHABETICAL listing]

5. Dictionary of Koran, J. Penrice (1873) (pdf)
[Well-known, short dictionary of the Quran by John Penrice. Also gives usages when needed. Etymology only rarely.]

6. Wortbat Porter 4th edition (pdf)
[Concise (too concise for me!) Arabic-English lexicon]

Available here:

((Let me know if anyone needs these. Some links may be dead! They were working until recently but I had trouble opening a few of them earlier today.))

ALSO GO HERE: ... pe%3Atexts

Of these, I’d go first for Thatcher’s Arabic Grammar of the Written Language: ... 00hardiala

Key: ... r033344mbp

[Haywood and Nahmad’s book of the same title is actually an update and revision of this. Both links working.]

A Grammar Of The Arabic Language; (1863) by Duncan Forbes ... b025203mbp
[Good grammar with prosody]

A grammar of the Arabic language (1874) by the great Arabist, Edward Henry Palmer
[A very useful reference with a really great section on prosody]

Arabic grammar : paradigms, literature, exercises and glossary (1895) by Albert Socin ... 00socirich
[Great for paradigms! Also good basic glossary]

A grammar of the Arabic language (1904) by Robert Sterling ... 00steruoft

Short and simple:

Arabic reading lessons: consisting of extracts from the Koran, and other sources, grammatically analysed and translated; with the elements of Arabic grammar ([1854]) ... 00daviuoft
[Simplified grammar with Arabic-English interlinear text at the end]

A practical grammar of the Arabic language : with interlineal reading lessons, dialogues and vocabulary (1891) ... 00shidrich
[Very much simplified grammar. Also with interlinear text]

Arabic simplified : a practical grammar of written Arabic in 200 lessons : with exercises, test-papers and reading-book (1921) ... 00upsouoft
[Probably no key]

Handbook of modern Arabic : consisting of a practical grammar, with numerous examples, dialogues, and newspaper extracts ; in a European type (1895) ... 00newmiala
[For those not comfortable with the Arabic script]

Later, for more advanced grammars, these:

Caspari’s “A grammar of the Arabic language? (1896)

Vol 1 ... 01caspuoft

Vol 2 ... 02caspuoft

[Best, usable advanced grammar of Classical Arabic and same as William Wright’s 2 vol grammar that you can by in print:
Very detailed. Includes a comprehensive section on prosody. Very useful. Links working!]

For a shorter version of these, try Thornton’s:

Elementary Arabic: a grammar; being an abridgement of Wright's Arabic grammar to which it will serve as a table of contents; (1919)

Vol 1 ... 01thoruoft

Vol 2 ... 02thoruoft

Of the rest, Mortimer Sloper Howell’s “A Grammar of the Classical Arabic Language? is regarded as the ultimate Classical Arabic grammar in English, but is just too detailed to be of any practical use. Though as a reference tool it would be hard to beat.
utlub ul-'ilm min al-mahad il al-laHad
[Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave]

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