Eeey, Meeny...

Saturday 28th January, Sunday 29th January

If you've ever wondered how muslims know which way to face when praying, wonder no more. How do they know which direction is Mecca? They guess.

Another of life's little mysteries solved, when the most obvious answer turns out to be the right one.

Apart from that, a decidedly uneventful weekend. Most of it spent trying to figure out the rules of which vowels go where in arabic words. And once again the obvious answer is true: there aren't any rules.

Which means, on the principle that the long vowel or diphthong is in the emphasised syllable, and if there isn't a long vowel, the emphsais is on the first syllable of di- or tri-syllables, and the ante-penultimate syllable if there's more than three...

...this means there aren't any rules for determining word stress from the written form either, and the above principle is therefore meaningless.

So, why don't arabic dictionaries and wordlists aimed at the beginners include vowel points? Children's books do it. The quran does it. Inspiring messages spelled out in sequins on cushions do it.

"Hot" is /ha:r/. "Cold" is /ba:rd/. Or /ba:rad/, or /ba:rid/, or /ba:rud/, or possibly even /ba:raid/ or /ba:raud/. But my list of 1000 most useful arabic words won't tell me which.

Could the most obvious explanation be right, that professional teachers of arabic are just as useless as professional teachers of english when it comes to knowing what students need? Probably.

Is this the reason Arabic disco sounds different to western glitchcore?

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