DAV arabic-conjugation

For a good introduction to conjugations, this is an Arabic verb chart:

Want to learn a new language? Don’t settle for just any language – why not challenge yourself and pick the hardest ones out of 6,909 living languages to learn!

Weird Worm has the list of the 4 Most Bizarrely Difficult (Major) Languages to Learn. Take, for example, Arabic…

So if you’re good at simple visual memorization, you’ll probably do fine at Chinese. Not so much for the other languages on this list, which all involve horrible, horrible conjugations. Conjugations refer to the alterations of a verb according to number, tense, gender and a whole lot of other stuff, and are hated by anyone who has ever tried studying a foreign language in order to impress an attractive exchange student.

Once you stop shaking in fear, note the focus on masculine and feminine. Arabic, like many European languages, has two genders for its nouns, even the non-human ones. For example, ‘sun’ in Arabic is a feminine word, and so the verb connected to it must be feminine. Also, any adjectives relating to gendered words (like the ‘bright’ in ‘bright sun’) must change to a feminine form. On top of all this, Arabic also has the extremely rare dual form, which means that you have to learn a new plural based on whether you have one falafel, two falafels, or a whole damn bunch of falafels.

But learning plurals is easy, right? After all, in English we usually just stick an ‘s’ on the end of words. In Arabic, not so much. Like many Semitic languages, Arabic has issues with vowels. It seems to think they’re not real, and can be changed around whenever you feel like it.

So Arabic has something called a ‘broken plural’, where the ‘real’ part of the word (the consonants) remains the same while vowels are shuffled around, pretty much at random:

Walad (boy) – Awlad (boys); Kitaab (book) – Kutub (books)

On top of all this, there are two forms of Arabic, classic and modern. The former being what you’ll see in books, the latter what you’ll have to use if you ever wake up from a hangover and find yourself in central Baghdad. So the Arabic you learn at school? Probably won’t sound anything like what you hear on the street when you’re desperately trying to find your way to the Green Zone.