learning Arabic

edited December 1969 in Faith Issues
Hi, as a convert I struggle with Arabic, never the less I have learned ways to get around this. I have seen many converts unable to stay, for sometimes it can be hard to endure.. I'm having a hard time deciding if I really want to learn, (firstly) but I sometimes get pressure from the people at the church, like they take offense to my not learning it. I have tried but life is busy, and I feel like even if I learn it, I'll only be able to have shallow small talk anyway, (which I don't really care for).. I do teach (assist ) in Sunday school so I'm learning enough for basic communication, and some of the prayers. I am curious if any converts have been able to learn it, and even the children who grow up in America, how is your ability to speak Arabic. ::)


  • Niki,

    I don't think you need to feel pressured into learning Arabic. The Coptic Orthodox Church has little to do with Arabic in terms of religion and faith.

    Remember that we Copts possessed our own language and culture which was bitterly altered when the Muslim invaders entered Egypt. There are even some elder priests in Egypt who refuse to use Arabic in the Holy Liturgy during the holiest of the parts (when the Holy Spirit descends and converts the bread and wine into the body and blood.)

    I personally was born in the USA of Egyptian parents, so your Arabic is probably as good as mine. Nevertheless, it is not required to be socially and religiously active in the church.

    Also, people like mikesl and Viva_XHMI are excellent examples of dedicated servants who create books, productions, web sites, etc. in English to help us English-only speakers.

    In sum, I don't think you should worry about it.

    God bless you
  • Thank you so much for your reply, and truly I feel the same, there are so many great resources, and I go to church to worship God, not (necisarily) socialize. And actually it may help me to stay focused on my purpose, even more!

    Yet there are some practicle reasons why it would be better, I'm big on unity, and afraid, for my sake many exceptions have to be made, not everyone appreciates this. (I'm sure you speak Arabic better than me, or at least you must understand when you are spoken to.. unlike myself.)

    I can not participate in the servants meetings, and womens meetings...

    God Bless you, and thank you. Please keep me in your prayers, to have peace, one way, or the other.
  • Nicki,

    I live in California and consequently do not know what happens in New Jersey in terms of women's meetings, etc., but there is a point of comfort in all this.

    You are a member of the first real generation of converts to Coptic Orthodoxy in the Western world. Of course, people have been converting for a long time, but the Coptic Church now is seeing a much higher conversion rate as it becomes more integrated with Western society.

    You must remember that the Coptic Church did not exist in the United States before the mid-1970s. From the 1970s until the mid-1980s, it was almost a rarity to see a Coptic liturgy or hymns in English. Most Copts thought they could live the Egyptian life speaking Arabic, utilizing Arab customs, etc., in America, but they forgot about their kids. lol In the end, Coptic children grew used to American society, and the church is now adapting with more and more English services, like liturgies, this web site, etc.

    So, I think you are quite blessed to be an inaugural member of this transition. Converts such as yourself are instruments of change in the Coptic Church. You help recognize that some of the things we do are not "Coptic" or "Orthodox" at al, but rather "Egyptian," which predominantly Islam-dominated.

    I wish you the very best in your path as a Coptic Christian and guarantee you that these language barriers will all disappear in the next few years, when English becomes the majority language in the Coptic Church.

    God bless you

  • Izaayak? Interesting points Niki. I am also a convert to Orthodoxy although to the Antiochian Orthodox Church and I am Puerto Rican. My church i very much more "Americanized " I guess than the Coptic due to the longer presence of Antiochian Orthodoxy here in the USA. Plus English is used in most churches dpeneding on popuilation. However we still have many Mid east brethren who are rightly proud of their heritage and speak Arabic. I am learning becuase I love the langauge. I use books.tapes and the awesome brothers and sisters in my church to teach me. However the most important I am learning is to always speak the language of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ..the holy language of Love. God bless you ahooyah (brother0! ;D
  • nicki,
    i know a couple of american people who used CDs to learn arabic, and honestly they are doing real good and their accent is just great, if you want i can find out what CDs these are and where they got them from. also if you watched the " Passion of the Christ" you would notice that there are some common words between Aramiac and arabic, that was interesting to notice, i am not crazy about arabic in a certain way, but it will keep you communicated with more people in church and not make you feel like a stranger.
  • sorry to get in to your conversation, but i've been trying to learn arabic also lately, but i'm not having that good of a time with it. Its pretty hard for me, but i where i could find those CDs that your talking about to learn arabic. Its because i'm on the computer most of the day so CDs would be most helpful to me. Thanks
  • hey

    I dont think its a problem you not knowing arabic, as a matter of a fact 10-20 years from now
    id bet a good majority of the church will only speak english, how ever I have been blessed to learn how to speak english and arabic fluently and most of the people back home in My church st marks (new jersey) barely speak arabic

    so i dont think its a worry, Try not to worry about what others think of you.

    Be true to thy self,


    You can all call me that I wish to keep my self annoymous
  • I was just at Barnes and Noble yesterday, and they had the CDs there, it is called Pimsler, and it should have the pyramids on it, make sure it is Egyptian arabic, since there is different dialects.
    I have to say i am not so crazy about learning it, but it is something the eases the communication between people here in the US and the rest back home, there is still lots of precious books that are in Arabic, not yet in English, and also it helps people new to Ortodoxy, and people born here to communicate with other people in the churchs here who do not know much English and still they need to feel welcome, and to be able to welcome the new ones, all in all it would be a way to keep people connected to each others for now.
  • Hey, you know what? Don't feel bad because you can't communicate in our mother tongue. Trust me, it's no biggie. Don't listen to those depressed freaks at your church who bug you about it. My brother and I were raised w/ Arabic as our first language. It stayed w/ me, but my bro lost it ALL. He can't understand a single word, no joke. NOT ONE. The thing is we were both born here, and I'm sure you were as well, but the older generation of people don't understand that. So, I know this might not help you learn arabic, but it should comfort you at least a little. If you ever decide to come down to the San Diego area, on a long term basis, there is a woman at my church who teaches Arabic at UCSD and some of the local JC's around here. So in case you're ever interested, her name is Sonia Ghattas-Salib or Ghattas-Soliman. I can't remember, it's one of those. Hope I was some help. Yalla, beace.
  • Hey Nicki,

    Don't feel like you have to learn arabic, God doesn't care what language you speak, so why sould we? Personally, I was born in Egypt, but moved to Canada at a young age. I can barely put two words of real arabic together and I don't think its important. I know its hard knowing that Egyptians can be fiercely proud of their culture/language and stubborn as well. But, in my church in Montreal we have those who speak only english, those who speak only arabic and those who speak only french. Things work out pretty well and they have come up with some pretty inventive ways to make everyone feel comfortable. As someone mentioned earlier, you're really a pioneer in the Church. Compared to most other churches, Orthodox churches tend to be a tad xenophobic, however, I think its great that westerners are interested in Orthodoxy. Good luck and God be with you. ;D
  • Hi! I was born in Egypt but came to America at a very young age and forget most of my Arabic. I could understand it quiet well and recently got the urge to learn how to read and write Arabic. I don’t think it is important to though. Most of the people at my church, St.George and St.Shenouda jersey city either speak it a little or don’t know any at all and the church provides for both. So I don’t think it is a big deal no to know Arabic.
  • hi,
    maybe i can help u guys by teaching u arabic if u want

    n.s. 16 years old
  • i think that would be a great idea!!!!!!!!!
  • Nicki, relax. Arabic is somewhat hard, but I learned it here in Canada even though I am of Arabic origin. I take lessons every Saturday. Don't pressure yourself too hard. If you try, you'll be able to learn. :D ;)
  • Hi, I know that this discussion is kinda old, but I'm new so.... Just want to say: Arabic is very very very hard to learn. I've been trying since as far back as I can remember and my parents have been trying to help with baby books and and alphabet sheet and everything. It is confusing but 19 years later I finally got it! So MarMar91, it might seem impossible but it really isn't. If u try and don't succeed try and try again (even if it takes 200 times). The reason I am saying this is because it is really rewarding now. There is nothing as wonderful as being able to follow the mass in English Coptic and Arabic! (Coptic really is easy, it's a lot like english). I was born in the U.S. so I had no way of getting the hang of it. I knew just as much about reading arabic as Nikki, but if there is a will, there is a way. If u have any motivation, keep going for it, but don't worry if u can't. Afterall it's not that big of a deal in the U.S., and it is very hard (we all know that).
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