Page:A short guide to Syria (1943).djvu/9

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THE ARABIC LANGUAGE

SOME Syrians speak English, or at least a little English, but the native language is Arabic and you will need to know a little of it to get along well.

The Arabic language is spoken by millions of people living throughout the coast of North Africa and the Near Eastern countries. There are, of course, differences between countries in these regions both in the use of certain words and in the way they are pronounced. But these differences are easy to understand and to learn. You won't be able to read Arabic signs or books because they use a different alphabet from ours.

You won't have to learn many words since in everyday Arabic a few simple words and phrases go a long way. The majority of Syrians themselves use perhaps only a few hundred words—and they get along pretty well on that.

At the end of this guide, you'll find a list of words and phrases and some idea of how to pronounce them. Even it your pronunciation isn't too good, it will please the Syrians to have you even attempt to talk to them in their own tongue. And they'll like it especially if you use their polite salutations—they arc very polite themselves.


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GETTING ALONG WITH THE SYRIANS

THE Syrian people are friendly to us now. If Hitler's agents should turn them against us, the consequences might be very serious. They are the people who can supply water if they like you«or poison the wells if they don't. They can guide us through mountains and desert, or lead us astray. They can tell us what the Germans are doing when they like us, or tell the Germans what we are doing if they don't like us. If they like us, they can get rid of the German agents among their tribes. If they dislike us, the Germans might arm them and give us a lot of grief.

Maybe you understand now why it is so important for you to learn how to get along with the Syrians and keep them our friends.

You can do this chiefly by understanding their customs,