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An Arab Language Primer for Brazilian Kids

Every Arab child should know the meaning of the words "buchar", "buza" and "lêr-rebe", which mean "popcorn", "ice cream" and "toy", respectively, in Arabic.

These are some of the words existing in the book "Pinceladas da Lí­ngua írabe para Crianças" ("Touches of Arabic for Children"), by Moysés André Bittar, Brazilian and descendant of Lebanese.

"I wrote the book thinking of my children. I want to maintain the bonds with the Arab culture," said Bittar, who is a lawyer and works in Campinas, city in the state of São Paulo, southeast Brazil.

The book has seven chapters that bring short dialogues, with simple, everyday phrases, as well as illustrations. He used the Latin alphabet to write the words in Arabic.

"The words are written in a way we can read them," said Bittar, who chose the closest sounds to the Portuguese language for the construction of the phrases and words in Arabic, according to the pronunciation in Portuguese. One example is the Arabic word "mar-rabá", which means "hello".

In some chapters the author also presents explanations on sounds that don’t exist in Portuguese, like that of the words ending in "h", which sounds like the "r" sounds in Portuguese.

Over the 64 pages the reader learns greetings, names of foods, numbers, dates, animals and day-to-day phrases. In each chapter, the author writes about a different aspect of the Arab culture, as well as something on the vocabulary referring to the theme discussed. "I wrote the book thinking about the children, but it works for adults too," said Bittar.

One of the curious things the author explains is that in the Arab countries there are many names composed of three parts: the name of the person, followed by the name of the father and the name of the grandfather.

Self-taught and Fast

In spite of being descendant of Lebanese, Bittar didn’t learn Arabic at home. The author is self-taught. "I learned Arabic reading books and listening to cassette tapes. It took me about four months to learn," stated Bittar, who says he studied two hours every day during this period. "I also learned writing, but not thoroughly, because my aim is to communicate myself," he added.

To check if he had really learned Arabic, Bittar travelled in 1997 to Lebanon, where he spent ten days, and on the following year he went to Morocco, where he spent another ten days.

"I went to see if I had learned and it worked," he said.

The idea to write the book came to him last year, when Bittar started training his small children to speak Arabic. In eight months, the book was ready. Launched on the 23rd of June, the book already sold about 200 copies.

For Bittar, the book may be used by any Brazilian who wishes to learn the first notions of the language. Bittar also emphasizes that the Arab language is different in some countries and, in the book, he gave emphasis to expressions used in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

Some words in the book

Assad – lion
Badi arúh al mat-raf – I want to go to the museum
Chucran – thank-you
Mualém – professor
Ralib – milk
Saiara – car
Sanniúra – doll
Tábe – ball
Uên a súk – where is the market?

Service

Pinceladas da Lí­ngua írabe para Crianças
Publishing house: Komedi
Price: R$ 20 (about US$ 9.30)
Telephone: +55 (19) 3233-6618

Anba – www.anba.com.br

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