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on 31 July 2002
This excellent book has been unfairly criticised. One of the most common complaints I hear from language teachers is that adult independent learners have little or no knowledge of grammatical terminology, and that this makes it very difficult to give quick and economical answers in the small ampount of contact time that is usually available. Anyone who has studied German or Latin (or even Spanish) will cope easily with Thackston's technical language, and those who have little grammar can learn about it with a bit of effort.
Thackston's elegant book is clear and economical, as well as being beautifully printed. The unusual approach of encouraging the learner to read unvowelled Koranic texts trains the eye to read the language as it is normally seen in books and newspapers, while using a limited vocabulary and material of great cultural and literary interest. This greatly reduces the feeling which most learners of Arabic experience of facing an unscaleable wall. Personally speaking, I find it a joy compared with cramming the endless wordlists in Schultz et al.
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on 26 June 2005
It's an excellent idea to make the student use non-vowelled words (with accompanying phonetic version) from the beginning.
But such terms as "enclitic" or "deflected" may be discouraging
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on 16 February 2009
If you're after a basic introduction to Arabic, then you should look elsewhere.

This book is designed for linguistics with pre-existing knowledge of language and its terminology. This book does not attempt to define any term with which a semi-decent linguistic should already know: 'elide', 'declension', etc, etc. This book is probably aimed at a learner who has already gone through the basics of modern Arabic, and who would like to progress onto the tougher Koranic Arabic.

This is what it does best. Without too much long-windedness and verbiage, the book has a fast pace, and takes no prisoners. However, there are plenty of exercises in each chapter - both Arabic-English and English-Arabic - before moving onto real Koran passages.

As someone has already mentioned, vowels are not marked in the exercises, and although this is good practice, still renders them too difficult to solve first time around without the sister Key to Exercises book.

However, I did get a real sense of achievement when completing the exercises and now feel that not marking the vowels can be sometimes a hand-holding device for the timid. I'd rather mark some in with pencil, then when I become more familiar with the words, rub the marks out.

Overall, excellent book. And don't forget the somewhat essential Key to Exercises book, sold separately.
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on 7 November 2001
This book is not written with a popular audience in mind. For it to be of any use to the reader interested in learning how to read Classical and Koranic Arabic, one has first to be expert with the theory of English Grammar. Elementary it isn't...
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