Abu Musab al-Zarqawi would be proud. Osama would probably shed a tear of joy. Their goals of global jihad and killing/slowly driving the infidels insane are coming true in a way they never expected: scores of Western students who are being beaten senseless by Arabic grammar.
I took Modern Standard Arabic I in the States a few summers ago. It was an intensive course, and I worked hard–but I still came out with an A. I’m now taking Literary Arabic, a more grammar-intensive version of the MSA I learned a few years ago, and I think my brain cells are all ready to commit suicide en masse. I have never encountered so many rules–and exceptions to the rules, and other rules that sometimes override the first set of rules, but only under specific circumstances–nor so many verb types. I didn’t think languages were allowed to have such ridiculously complicated structures. Why was there no cosmic oversight of language development?! I don’t understand how God could be conniving enough to construct something so convoluted. But in fact there was no oversight, and thus, the Arabic language came into being.
And so did the giant verb chart. And so did the broken plurals. (Every singluar noun has a plural that is constructed with different vowel patterns, thus yielding a totally different word.) And then I became enamored with the Middle East, and realized that I needed to learn these Godforsaken semitic languages. My mother was totally right in asking me why I couldn’t have fallen in love with English Literature; at least that wouldn’t involve difficult languages and living in politically turbulent countries. I’m fine with the politically turbulent countries bit, but Arabic may prove to cause the demise of many a so-called infidel: as we prepare for our final next week, all the grammar rules may actually carry on al-Zarqawi’s legacy by making us, at the very least, cry our eyes out.