ancient forest wrote:
I think that learning the other Saudi dialects would be useful as a backup if there are not enough Najdi dialect materials available. The other Saudi dialects are the Hijazi dialect on the west coast and Gulf Arabic on the east coast. Probably, I would start with the FSI Saudi Arabic (Hijazi) course.
Learning MSA should also be useful. The transliteration of the Arabic script can be helpful at first, but do yourself a favor and learn the Arabic script. It is not as hard as it initially seems because it is completely phonetic. Therefore, it is possible to know how to pronounce each word correctly just by looking at the script although you may sometimes need a dictionary to know how to pronounce the short vowels (diacritical marks). That is because the short vowels are not written in most books.
I have used the FSI Saudi Arabic (Hijazi) course a little bit, and found it to be excellent. I did not get really far in it because I have mostly been learning Egyptian and Levantine Arabic. Right now, I am going through the course 'Speaking Arabic: A Course in Conversational Eastern Arabic (Palestinian)' by J. Elihay. Also, I read books in Classical Arabic and read the BBC to get practice with news articles.
Thanks ancient forest, this is all usesful information
I certainly like the sound of Arabic being phonetic, that will work wonders for my learning style, knowing my approach to French unknown words when reading. I had decided to learn the script, as I’d read elsewhere, similar comments to yours, in that it’s not that difficult really.
I’ve now read several comments in various places online with regards to transliteration with varying degrees of disappointment at times (their disappointment not mine). Some have been disgusted with it, others slightly bothered, some even appreciative. In defence of transliteration, what I’ve read is that dialects should be taught with transliteration (but not MSA) as dialects have never been written languages, thus any symbolic representation of Arabic dialects ought to be done in whatever writing system aids the learner as they are simply not written languages. How true this is, I am unsure. Perhaps if they are not written languages, teaching standard MSA script and applying it to dialect might keep all parties satisfied, but then again, perhaps Modern Standard Arabic script doesn’t represent the phonetics of Arabic dialects, hence transliteration?
As for transliteration for MSA itself... Your opinion affirms my suspicions in that it would likely be useful in the beginning, but one ought to get away from transliterating (with regards to MSA) relatively quickly. I don’t have any problems with this, although I foresee I could be hammering the sounds of the Arabic alphabet into my head via my own little IPA/transliteration mix for some time (prob create my own reference chart or something).
Using the Hijazi FSI course (thanks for your opinion of it btw) sounds like a feasible idea, but in practise I’m unsure how far apart the Hijazi and Najdi dialects are (more research needed).