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Video - TV Tunes – Moody and Mooda

February 8th, 2011 10 Comments
In today's episode of TV Tunes, we go through a short animation about a boy trying to get attention from his family who are all busy with their own errands. Watching the clip is like a theatrical musical experience, except you will learn plenty of Arabic along the way.

Desmond says
Wed 9th Feb 11@10:24 am

This video is well suited to the needs of intermediate learners. The vocabulary is typical of everyday conversational Arabic, and the syntax is relatively simple. The sound quality, however, is rather unsatisfactory. Mohamed's voice is loud and clear, but one has to maximise the sound volume and remain close to the computer in order to understand the Arabic text.
berry says
Thu 10th Feb 11@09:39 am

nice one,love it.
Fri 11th Feb 11@04:20 am

Really excellent learning tool and lots of fun! One question. The boy says "Ataqra li qussatan..."
What is the function/meaning of "qussatan" instead of just simply "qussa"?
Desmond says
Fri 11th Feb 11@03:54 pm

@ hexagonmoon

"-an" is an indefinite accusative ending. Let's take another example. If "a dog" is in the nominative case you say "kalbun", but if it is in the accusative case you say "kalban". This has never been explained clearly in any of the podcasts although inflexional endings like "-un" and "-an" are extremely common.

It remains to add that the definite nominative ending is "-u", while the definite accusative ending is "-a". "The dog" (as opposed to "a dog") will be "al kalbu" in the nominative case and "al-kalba" in the accusative case. This would be a good topic for a podcast devoted to Arabic grammar.
Sat 12th Feb 11@10:50 am

Yeah I've heard those case terms before when I was in Arabic classes, but I don't understand when or how to use it, or what exactly it means... Can anyone explain?
Desmond says
Sat 12th Feb 11@10:28 pm

@ hexagonmoon

Yes, I can explain what is mean by “case”. Case is a grammatical category which is used to identify the syntactic relationships between words in a sentence. Case is more important in some languages than in others. In English case distinctions are relatively unimportant, but in languages like Latin, German or Arabic they are of crucial importance.

Let’s consider a few English examples to begin with. We say “He read the book” (not *“him read the book”) and “I showed it to him” (not *”I showed it to he”). “He” is in the nominative case, while “him” is in the accusative case. In “He read the book” the pronoun “he” must be in the nominative case because “he” is the subject of the sentence, and in “I showed it to him” the pronoun “him” must be in the accusative case because it is governed by the preposition “to”.

I’ve never attended a course in Arabic, but I know how the Arabic case system works. In Arabic, as in English, the subject is in the nominative case, and the direct object is in the accusative case, so if we want to say “The boy read the book” the noun meaning “boy” will have a nominative case ending, while the noun meaning “book” will have an accusative case ending. In the text presented in the video the word for “story” has an accusative ending because it is the direct object of the verb that corresponds to “read”.

In Arabic, however, the rules that govern case usage are sometimes different from the rules that apply to other languages. Take the verb “kaana”, for instance. “Kaana” belongs to a group of words called the “nawaasikh” (converters to accusative).

If you say “The boy is tall” in Arabic, the word for “tall” will be in the nominative case (“tawiilun”), but if you replace the present tense by the past tense (“The boy was tall”), you will have to use the verb “kaana”, and the word for “tall” will be in the accusative case (“tawiilan”). Is that clear enough?
Desmond says
Sun 13th Feb 11@08:37 am

@ Mohamed

I have a question about the term ﻏﻤﻴﺿﺔ (ghumayda). When I ran a Google search I found that the term in question is a frequent headache for translators. Some people say it means “hide-and-seek”, others say it is “blind man’s buff”, and yet others claim that Arabs use the same term for both games.

I’ll explain the difference between the two games, then you can tell me which game would be termed ﻏﻤﻴﺿﺔ. Hide-and-seek is a game in which one player covers his or her eyes while the other players hide, and then tries to find them. Blind man’s buff, by contrast, is a game in which a player whose eyes are covered with a piece of fabric tries to catch and identify the other players.
Mon 14th Feb 11@05:34 am

Thank you Desmond for the thoughtful explanation. I've noticed that this video adheres to Modern Standard Arabic rules and vocabulary. Is it less common for these case endings to be pronounced in dialects like Levantine?
Desmond says
Mon 14th Feb 11@08:48 pm

@ hexagonmoon

The language used in the video is stylised. In authentic conversation people don't sing or make use of rhymes.

In the video the case endings are particularly important. If they were omitted the rhymes wouldn't work.

In Modern Standard Arabic the use of case endings is determined by two factors: (1) register and (2) education.

(1) Register

If someone goes on national television to make an important announcement or deliver a long speech, case endings will be used because an important speech delivered in colloquial Arabic would sound rather ridiculous. Similarly, university lectures and sermons will normally be in very formal, almost classical Arabic. In highly formal Arabic the use of case endings is virtually obligatory.

If you listen carefully to the advanced podcasts you'll notice that Ehab and Mohamed are more likely to use case endings when talking about serious subjects like grammar or literature. When the tone becomes more familiar, however, case endings tend to disappear (e.g. at the end of an "idaafa" construction). Incidentally, Ehab makes some very interesting comments on case endings in the podcast about "idaafa".

(2) Education

Uneducated Arabs are very unlikely to use case endings on a regular basis unless they are reciting a prayer or a piece of poetry. They will have considerable difficulty in expressing themselves in MSA and will constantly lapse into dialect.

In Arabic-speaking countries case endings are often used by people who are anxious to show that they are well-educated or upper-class. Case endings make language sound formal and can be used to make uneducated people feel inferior (just like the use of RP in England, which is still a very class-conscious country).

There is quite a good section on case endings in A. A. Ambros, Einführung in die moderne arabische Schriftsprache, pp. 131-134. If you can read German you ought to have a look at that book.

It is interesting to compare the use of case endings in German and Arabic. The German case system is much more complicated than the Arabic system. All nouns, adjectives, pronouns and articles have to be declined, and there are very difficult rules for adjective endings. While only a few Arabic case endings are obligatory, it's absolutely impossible to drop German case endings. Everybody has to use them, and most people manage to use them more or less correctly. In recent years, however, I've noticed a marked increase in the number of mistakes made by German schoolchildren and students, and I often have to correct case endings in texts written by native speakers of German.
Zacheriya says
Sun 8th Jan 12@12:26 am

This was fantastic. I think a realistic aim for many of us is to understand Al-Jazeerah children's channel as the arabic is both MSA and not as complicated as Al-Jazeerah news.

Please do more cartoons like this one!
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