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Thread poster: xxxAnna Blackab
Arabic speakers speaking English - common mistakes
xxxAnna Blackab  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:17
German to English
+ ...
May 16, 2007

Hi

I am developing some training for public sector organisations to help them communicate better with people whose first language is not English.

For the purposes of the course, I would be interested to know if there are any common mistakes that native Arabic speakers make when they are speaking English or any words/phrases/grammatical constructions that they have difficulty with. An example from another language would be Russian where there is no word for ‘the’ consequently Russian speakers of English often miss out the word ‘the’ when speaking in English. Can you think of any examples of mistakes speakers of Arabic might make?

Any response would be gratefully appreciated.


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:17
English to Arabic
+ ...
First thoughts May 16, 2007

The one I can think of right now is the incorrect construction of questions, by not inverting subject and verb, eg:
"When I can call you?" instead of "When can I call you?"

Also, placing "the" before nouns where it isn't needed. e.g "The men are stronger than the women" and omitting the article where it is needed.

I'm sure there are many other such mistakes!


[Edited at 2007-05-16 17:20]


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:17
English to Arabic
+ ...
...and another one! May 16, 2007

Just remembered another very common one:

This is the girl which I told you about her yesterday.

-> The redundant use of the pronoun in the subordinate clause.


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Timothy Gregory  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:17
Member (2005)
Arabic to English
Prepositions May 16, 2007

preposition misuse:

Fill up a form
Sit on the table

etc.


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Alaa Zeineldine  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 21:17
Member (2002)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Misplaced plural May 21, 2007

He is a students.

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Alaa Zeineldine  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 21:17
Member (2002)
English to Arabic
+ ...
possessives May 21, 2007

"the meeting of today" (today's meeting)

"Hamid book" (Hamid's book)


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Alaa Zeineldine  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 21:17
Member (2002)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Outdated language May 21, 2007

This usage may be more related to people from South Asia. Using old fashioned or literary terms in daily language, e.g.:

expired (passed away, died)

stout (fat, overweight)


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Alaa Zeineldine  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 21:17
Member (2002)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Adjacent consonants May 21, 2007

Arabic speakers tend to modify adjacent consonants with an added vowel in the following situations (which do not exist in bona fide Arabic words):

Two or three consonants at the beginning of the word:

peragmatic (pragmatic)
estrategy (strategy)

Tree consonants anywhere else:

conecrete (concrete)

[Edited at 2007-05-21 21:41]


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mbrodie  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:17
Member
Arabic to English
+ ...
adding consonants May 23, 2007

I agree with last contributor, runs of unvowelled consonants are a problem, especially at the beginning of words: someone called Steve is invariably esteve, where you keep horses is an estable.
Arabic speakers also have difficulty distinguishing between b and p [as the latter does not exist in Arabic] and also between f and v [as the latter also does not exist]; they can't distinguish between the voiced and unvoiced in these letters.
Also agree with Nesrin: generalizations in Arabic are definite but in English they are indefinite: "Arabs don't like dogs" becomes "The Arabs do not like the dogs".

[Edited at 2007-05-23 18:59]

[Edited at 2007-05-23 19:00]


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Ahmad Batiran  Identity Verified
Saudi Arabia
Local time: 22:17
Member (2006)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Omitting Verb "To Be" أفعال الكينونة May 26, 2007

assalaamu 'alaikum

Hey!

I think one of the main and most important mistakes is the omission of the verb "to be".

Certain Arabic full sentence structures allow the no usage of "to be" verbs; actually it will sound so silly and wrong to use.

The Arabic sentences that has a verb other than 'to be' as the main verb, i.e. no 'verbalization of the main verb by to-be verbs' if we can name it as such, doesn't seem to have real problems with this omission.

For example, this is an Arabic three word [SVO] sentence (with a non-to-be main verb):
* علي _كتب_ الرسالة
* Ali _kataba_ arrisalah
* Ali _wrote_ the letter.

However, look now at this example of an Arabic two word sentence (with a to-be main verb in English):
* أنا علي
* ana Ali
* I _??_ Ali. (An elementry Arabic student omits the 'to be' verb, i.e. 'am').

I hope the point is clear! Of course there are many as well.

Do you speak Arabic?


Regards,

Ahmad


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escocesita
Local time: 21:17
English to Spanish
+ ...
Thank you for Arabic speakers typical mistakes May 31, 2012

I've just taken on a class of beginners English with a group of mainly Arabic speakers. I stumbled over this page looking for phonetic problems but have found the replies to be very useful for other points too. The information will definitely help me to understand the problems my students will be facing and will help me to prepare the lessons better. Thank you very much to all. I'm made a note now that Proz is not only good for my translating career but also my T E F L teaching career

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Don Hank  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:17
Member (2012)
German to English
+ ...
It's Pepsi, not Bepsi Oct 8, 2013

An Arabic speaking friend used the word Pepsi while speaking with me but he pronounced it "Bepsi". I assume that is because there is no P sound in Arabic. This is an important point if you are teaching English to Arabic speakers.

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Lamis Maalouf  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:17
Member (2006)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Few more common mistakes, though late :) Oct 24, 2013

Hello everyone,
I just saw this thread and thought to share a couple of things.
Most mistakes are due to translating one’s words literally from Arabic into English. That is why an Arab may say:
I and my friend went shopping
Instead of
My friend and I went shopping
This also explains what Nesrin referred to earlier. A statement in Arabic becomes a question by simply putting a question mark when writing it, and by simply changing your tone of voice when saying it. So if you say:
Anta Ahmad. The meaning is: “You are Ahmad.”
By just saying “Anta Ahmad?” The meaning becomes, “Are you Ahmad?”
So some may tend to ask using the same style in their mother tongue. Don't be surprised if you get asked, “You are married?”
Another common mistake is using a word that has double meanings in Arabic thinking it is the same in English. For example, the word “kabeer” in Arabic means both big and old, so a student may say that his teacher is very big and what he means is that he is very old.
One last common error (even by Arabs who claim to speak English well) is saying a friend of me/us instead of a friend of mine/ours.


Lamis


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Ahmad Batiran  Identity Verified
Saudi Arabia
Local time: 22:17
Member (2006)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Never later, Lamis Oct 25, 2013

Thanks! That was insightful.

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Lamis Maalouf  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:17
Member (2006)
English to Arabic
+ ...
One more Oct 25, 2013


Ahmad Batiran wrote:

Thanks! That was insightful.


Thanks for your encouragement, Ahmad, and here is one more that I see regularly even by colleagues participating in KudoZ. Most Arabs will address you as Mr. Ahmad, or they would say Dr. Ann instead of using the last name. Again it is due to following the Arabic pattern.

Lamis


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Arabic speakers speaking English - common mistakes






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