Reading arabic - easy made
Marhaban ! Welcome to my little Arabic Class!
Please imagine I was Mehmed from Al-Qahirah in Missr.
What? Where? Unknown? ...
No, no, you know this town, perhaps better as Cairo in Egypt.

Are you a Philatelist and have difficulties to distinguish stamps from Libya and the Lebanon, Iran and Iraq? No problem, I can help you. If you want to we can also talk about turkish, syrian, arabic and afghan stamps later....

Oh - you only collect stamps from Europe? So you don't collect motives?
You do?
Well, quite often that is already close to arabic written stamps. And unless they aren't translated (italian, french, english) you'll have fun looking them up in a catalog!
You are not a a philatelist?
Then I am especially thankful for your interest. At the latest when you spend your vacation in the shadow of the egypt pyramids or in the sunny tunesia you are an arabic analphabet, so some basic knowledge should not harm.

Let's begin to compare: the arabic writing has more things in common with the european writing than you might think. It has 29 letters plus some small hooks and dashes. And in Europe you have 26 letters and in some countries (Germany, Spain, France, Iceland, Poland etc) also some additional letters with hooks and dashes. Just have a look:

Our letters are placed between two imaginative lines, some reach above, some reach below, that is quite similar.

The most important difference is wether there are 1,2 or 3 points below or above the letter. In Europe it is important wether the letters contain circles or dashes, wether the dash is long or short, at the left or at the right or at the top or at the bottom or whether there is no dash at all:
a, b , d , p , g , i , l , o from this point these two writings are quite similar.

The most important differences are the following :
1) We write from the right to the left.

2) The capital letters are at the end, not at the beginning.

3) In Europe there are printed and written letters, we have only one kind, the written one, that means the letters are always interconnected, that's why you cannot write arabic letters vertically.

4) Some letters cannot be connected or you might mix up something. This causes gaps even in a word, not only between words.

5) We abbreviate a lot. Short vowels are not written = "Short vowls. ar. nt. wrttn."
But english knows many abbrevations as well: SUV, GOP, Gov't, Intern'l, etc, etc.
But I don't want to bore you with trifles.

Lets do some reading exercises, for the philatelists pleasure we'll take texts from stamps. We start with countrynames.
The words Libya and Lebanon look quite similar. And it is important to philatelist that many stamps of Libya do not contain the roman written name of the country.

Libya ist written in arabic "Libia" as well, but, of course from the right to the left.






That's a bit strange but easy to read.

Al- l i b i ah = the Libya " L i b i a " , Libya , two beautified writings

Lets compare this with the word for Lebanon, called "Lubnan" in the Middle East (according to FISCHER - Worldalmanac).
Do you want to see examples with stamps ?





The short vowel "u" is not written down, as you remember, leaves only "Lbnan".

" L(u)bnan" in beautified writing
    N -a-n-b-l

L (u) b n a n   al - k (a) b i r =
Greater Lebanon, is to find on older stamps

This text is written in the angular Kufi-Style, not in the curved Naskhi-Style :
  ah-i N -a-n-b-l l-A     / the republic the lebanesian = al- dsch(u)mhuriah al- l(u)bnaniah

Can you identify the letters you learned so far ?

As I mentioned at the beginnig, my country Egypt in arabic is called "Missr" , that is written as M-ss-r, the doubel "ss" stands for a sharp "s". We have another letter for a simple "s".

r - ss - m

"mssr" 1x in beautified writing, 2x curved

As you see the european writing is based on the geometry of circles, lines, triangles and angles. Writing in arabic, we use floating lines that remind us of sanddunes and wind.
We also like to beautify the words with small hooks, points and miniletters. I end the first part of the cours with this example:

This texts are written on stamps from Jordania, both lines contain the same letters!
 al- m(a)ml(a)kah al- urd(u)nniah al- hasch(i)miah = Hashimitic Kingdom Jordania

Please just enjoy the nice shape. You can't read this yet, so please don't even try since you don't know the spelling yet.

Mehmed from Al-Qahirah says to you: "ila al-liqa" ....... good bye !

translations are made with kindly assistance by Thomas Otto
arabic class, second page
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