Archæology

The assorted finds of Artefact Publishing

March 25, 2005

Arabic script — strictly optional

I have started learning how to read and write Arabic, and I have noticed one thing in particular: you can leave lots of things out. For example, initial hamza, short vowel signs, and shadda. Taken together with the fact that initial alif (ا) can stand for any short vowel, this means that the word ابن could be transliterated as: ibn (which it really is), abn, ibna, ibana, ubina, ubbana, ibinni, etc. Seriously, the number of possibilities is well over a hundred.

Given that this does not cause enormous, crippling confusion among readers of Arabic, I am guessing that Arabic’s use of consonantal word roots (just add vowels and other hangers on to get different but related words) means that context provides most of the necessary disambiguation. In any case, it’s a nice script, even if I much prefer the printed form to the handwritten one (which looks a bit messy).

Posted by jamie at 10:39+12:00 | Comments (3) | Permalink

March 14, 2005

What good lectures?

Later this year, I will be doing some lecturing, and in thinking about what and how I will be presenting, the question occurred to me: what can I do in a lecture better than, for example, handing out an article for the students to read? I can think of two things immediately:

It’s unlikely that I am a good speaker (having never lectured before; my only real exposure to talking in front of groups is tutoring, which is rather different (though sadly not different enough)). It’s also unlikely that I’ll get much feedback (unless I get a stereotypical mature student in the audience). What other reasons are there for giving lectures rather than using some other form of communication? And what can I do to play up the benefits of the advantages I’ve listed?

Posted by jamie at 15:09+13:00 | Comments (9) | Permalink