DURUS ARABIJ - ARABIC LESSONS
The consonant-alphabet of the Arabic writing allows more interpretations than the
approximate phonetic writing of the western European languages. Also the syntactical
relations inside the linguistic usage are more ambiguous than in most of the European
On the other hand the "linguistic material" of the Arabic language is organized much stronger. It offers models, how to form from the constitutional consonants of a word family (for example k t b for the field of writing) verbs, adverbs, adjectives and objects: kataba - to write, kitabi - written, kitab - book (writing), katib - author (writer), maktab - library / desk (place of writings)
As well all words could be led to their three radical roots. There are more precise languages but hardly more poetic ones: The root of sadiq - friend, is sadiqa - to tell the truth, the root of scha'ar - poet, is scha'ara - to feel. masrah - the theatre, goes back to saraha - to beat into the open, madrasah - the school, to darasah - to devastate. 'athuba - sweet, is changing its meaning by doubling its second consonant to torment / tease / punish (aththaba). The symbol of doubling is usually not written. The correct version can only be read out of the context.
The DURUS ARABIJ have their origin in my study of the arabic language. Language
sets the possibilities and limits of thinking and (verbal) expression. What we cannot
say in words, we can hardly think. Behind the difficulties of translation is hidden a
basic problem of communication: For understanding a language it is not enough just to
understand the meaning of words and grammatical structures. We have to know too the
social context, the meaning of gestures, of the intonation (the speech melody), the idioms,
We can go one step further: In every conversation, not only between strangers, we have to make sure, that we interpret our words in the same or similar way. Human languages are so complex that in acts of communication the matter cannot be a definite translation but a common approach or convergence. Actually we are leaving now the sphere of poetry or philosophy of language and turn into the section of politics.
Berlin, August 7, 1995