Learning an Arabic Accent
WHAT WILL YOU DOWNLOAD?
The download contains sixty-six (66) minutes of systematic instruction in MP3 sound files. You’ll also get a printable PDF of the instruction manual. It contains summaries of the audio lessons and full transcripts of the drill words, phrases, and passages.
WHAT WILL YOU LEARN?
You will first learn the inflection/rhythm, resonance (placement), and pronunciation of a general Arabic accent. You’ll go on to learn some variations the in the style and intensity of the accent. Here’s a brief summary of the training.
- Lesson 1 deals with this accent’s stress, pitch, and rhythm characteristics—particularly the lack of unstressed syllables with an intrusive vowel between some consonants.
- The 2nd Lesson teaches you how to position and move your mouth to create the resonance or voice placement of the Arabic accent.
- Lesson 3 shows you how to embed target vowel pronunciations into the placement and rhythms you learned earlier.
- The 4th Lesson takes you through drills for proper pronunciation of the accent’s R sounds, both before and after vowels.
- Lesson 5 shows the target pronunciations of several consonants and their relationship to intrusive vowel noted earlier.
- The Final Lesson puts it all together with several drill passages. Firstly, it reminds you about the voice placement. Further, it walks you through the pronunciation phrase by phrase before leading you into a normal speaking pace. It also explores a few basic differences between the accents of various Arabic-speaking regions.
MORE ABOUT THE ARABIC ACCENT
Accents from Middle Eastern languages differ noticeably in rhythm and stress traits from those of most native speakers of English. That’s why this program begins by teaching you that core. The Arabic language dominates in three different areas of the Middle East. The first—the Persian Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, and the UAE. Second—the Palestinian population of the West Bank. Third—Northern African states, primarily Egypt, Libya, and Morocco—though many Moroccans consider their dialect to be a unique language.
ARABIC ACCENT FOR TODAY’S ACTORS
- When should you use an Arabic accent? Many might think that every character whose native language is Arabic have its accent when speaking English. But consider scripts in which the characters would speak Arabic in their real world. That could happen both in scripts translated from Arabic or some originally written in English. In their non-stage reality, those characters would be conversing in their native Arabic, typically without the accent of a different first language. As such, directors must make artistic choices about what “brand” of English best represents “Arabic with no foreign accent.”
- In these situations, directors often prefer using “no accent,” i.e., the standard English of the performance country. Some might still request light accents to maintain both a flavor of characters’ real-world Arabic and the impression of fluency. This was the case on the TV mini-series Sadat, which I coached in the 1980s. Even in the conversations between Arabic-speaking characters, the actors used noticeable accents. The same artistic choice applies to using French accents for Molière, Spanish for Lorca, Norwegian for Ibsen, etc.