It has been one of the most productive weeks of the Arabic language marathon, as I’m the person who really enjoys to make lists, arrange lists, enhance lists and rearrange them. The task was to prepare a list of the most used words in Arabic, so I was preparing a minilex in Memrise. I'm extremely satisfied with my efforts, as there was no such list for Jordanian dialect available online.
What is Minilex?
A Swedish polyglot Eric Gunnemark in his book “The Art and Science of Studying Languages” described several levels of studying the language. He emphasizes that there’s a basic vocabulary with the most important 500 words that one has to memorize, to reach the survival (touristic) level. This book is quite popular in Russia, and there are various minilex lists for various languages online. It’s one of the most productive ways to start learning the language, if you want to streamline your Arabic, this method is one of the best.
Jordanian Arabic Minilex
When I’ve checked minilex first, it seemed to me I knew a lot of words from it. And it might be awesome to have a basic vocabulary of 500 words. Yet, with Arabic it turned out to be almost 800 words. Why? Because you have to know the plural forms of the nouns. And just during this week I had some important and extremely confusing discoveries about Arabic:
1. There’s no infinitive of the verb as I wanted to imagine the infinitive form. Instead of it, you should use the verb in the past tense, third person masculine. Here was the point when I wanted to cry.
2. There’s so called "maSdar" (مَصْدَر) – a verbal noun that contains the action but has no person or time information. It’s like a gerund form, and it helps you to know how any Arabic verb is conjugated and what forms it takes.
So, for all English infinitives of the verb, I’m including three forms to my minilex in Arabic: maSdar (“going”), past tense 3p. sg. masc. (“he went”) and 1p. sg. in present tense (I go). Exciting, isn’t it?
Why to Use Memrise?
I think I also have to mention Memrise, as a main platform for learning languages. The core of such studies is the spaced repetition of the word you need to memorize. In my young ages we used actual flash cards to learn the words, now it's not necessary to prepare physical cards on paper, thanks to the spaced repetition software. I was already using Memrise for Italian and I was satisfied with results, so I have decided to go on with it. You can check other options, such as Anki, Duolingo, Quizlet, it's only a matter of preference. Nowadays everybody is "into" his mobile, so you can download Memrise app and dig into Arabic vocabulary.
Where to Get Jordanian Arabic Minilex?
At the moment I have finished half of my Jordanian Arabic Minilex (360 words) and placed on Memrise platform, you can join and learn Jordanian Arabic Minilex with me, it’s free and contains the audio made by a Jordanian native speaker for each word. At the moment it’s focused on transliteration, with English translation; in the future I’m planning to make an Arabic-English minilex.
Also, if you are a beginner and studying colloquial Arabic in Jordan, it might be great to combine our efforts and prepare Jordanian Arabic Miniphrase list, including 300 everyday phrases in Jordanian Arabic. Send me a message on Facebook or Instagram if you want to join.