When I first started learning Arabic, all I wanted to do was read.
And not because I love to read.
I don’t mind reading, but let’s be honest.
I’m a modern girl.
I decompress just like the rest of y’all, by binging new episodes of Love is Blind on Netflix and scrolling on my phone for far more hours than I’d like to admit.
I wish I could say that I decompress by curling up on a couch with a good book and a cup of joe, but that’s just not me these days.
Still, ever since I started teaching myself Arabic in 2020, I’ve been dying to read in dialect.
Well, because I knew that was how I learned English.
When I was a child, my mother — a teacher — would bring home stacks of books and I’d read them again and again until the books had broken covers and ragged pages.
Books like Amelia Bedelia, Where the Wild Things Are, or Maniac Magee to name a few.
And while I struggled in school with certain subjects, I was always a great reader. And being a great reader molded me into a great writer and great speaker of English, without much effort.
Also, as I’ve talked about on Marhabtain before, much of my approach to learning Arabic has been inspired by the work of linguist, Steve Krashen.
His research has proven that reading skills are one of the biggest determinants of fluency in any language.
Simply: Krashen has proved how one of the most chill ways to become fluent is to just read and read and keep reading.
And since I knew I wanted to reach fluency from the start, I had to go for gold!
I’m scoured the edges of internet (if that’s even possible!) and found memes and YouTube comment sections and even a few graphic novels that were written in Levantine.
But I never found what I really wanted — an English-language novel translated into Levantine Arabic and not Fusha.
So what did I do?
I worked with a team to create for all of us, the first ever English-language novel translated into Levantine Arabic. And it’s has a free audiobook that comes with each purchase.
The book is a Sherlock Holmes mystery — The Hound of the Baskervilles, originally written by the GOAT himself Sir Conan Doyle.
And it’s available for purchase, now. Yes, right now. Go here to find it or keep reading to learn more.
So here are some answers to the questions about that book that may be popping up in your head right about now.
10 FAQs About the First-Ever English Novel Translated into Levantine and Where to Find Your Copy
1. Is the book bi-lingual?
Yes! Each page includes the original English-language text on the left and the Arabic text on the right. We used this structure so that you can use the English to understand the Arabic and vice-versa.
Also, all of the Arabic has the vowels written in, so you never have to worry about pronunciation.
The Hound of the Baskervilles: Part 1 is about 100 pages.
Here’s a sample of the text and audio.
2. What about an audiobook? I’d like to listen as I read!
Don’t worry. We got you. Each purchase of the book comes with a free audiobook so that you can listen as you read. And I’d suggest that after reading a chapter, listen to the audiobook as you’re going about your daily life. You’ll notice how much more easily you understand the story and vocabulary.
3. Where can I get a copy?
We’ve created a site called Real Arabic Bookstore where you can purchase your copy of the book, and future books as well.
4. “Levantine” is a broad descriptor. What exact dialect is it in?
The text is translated into the Syrian dialect. But the translation was written in a way that will be accessible to those learning Lebanese, Palestinian, and Jordanian, as well.
Additionally, while much of the English has been translated directly, many of the passages have also been translated into a more simplified manner. These simplifications retain the essence of the English text, and will also show you the ways the simple ways that native Levantine speakers express complicated English ideas.
Ultimately, it’ll help you learn to speak Levantine more clearly and efficiently.
5. Who exactly translated the book?
The book was translated by Majd Al Rishani, a professional translator from Damascus, who I am lucky to call a dear friend and sister. She’s a genius, in my honest opinion, and you just might feel the same way after see the amazing work done to translate this book. You can find out more about her here.
Also, thank you to Amer Al Rafea, co-founder of the Real Arabic Podcast, which many of you know — for be a co-collaborator/-dreamer on this project with me.
And of course to another dear friend, Omar Al Saiegh for always being a guiding voice and mind.
6. Why did you choose this book?
Firstly, The Hound of the Baskervilles is one of the most iconic stories from the Sherlock Holmes series. We wanted to choose a story that many people might already be familiar with. This would help you be able to follow the plot of the book as you read.
Secondly, the original author, Sir Conan Doyle is an incredible storyteller, which is why the Sherlock Holmes character has been consistently popular for over 130 years! We knew that we had to give you a story that was a funny, gripping, page turner. You deserve nothing less than a book that will keep you engaged.
7. Is the book physical or digital?
The book is a digital book. As soon as you make your purchase, you’ll immediately get an email with a link to download the book and free audiobook.
8. What level is the book? Can I read it?
Personally, I’m not a fan of thinking about language skills as “levels” because we all have wildly different perceptions of what “beginner”, “intermediate”, and “advanced” actually mean. Additionally, most novels contain content that is accessible for all learners and content that is most accessible to advanced learners. This difference is exactly why each page of The Hound of the Baskervilles includes the original English text and the translated Arabic text side-by-side. That’s how we help you bridge the gap between what you know and what you’re still learning.
In the end, I think the real questions to ask yourself are:
- Do I know how read in Levantine or not?
- Am I comfortable with my reading skills or not?
- Do I understand the link between reading proficiency and fluency or not?
- Am I ready to pursue a deeper level of fluency or not?
If you’re like most people, you’d say “No, I don’t read well, but I understand that reading is helpful to become more fluent, and I’d like to become more fluent in Arabic.”
If this sounds like you and you can read the Arabic alphabet, then yes. You can read this book.
9. How long should it take me to finish the book?
This entirely depends on your own reading speed. Part One is about 100 pages. For most people, reading in Levantine will be a marathon, not a sprint. But over time, trust that the reading will get faster and faster for you.
The point of reading for fluency isn’t necessarily to understand every word, but rather to read as much as possible so that you can start to understand and recognize words more quickly.
This is the exact same philosophy I used when I started immersing in TV shows or radio in 202o. I wasn’t trying to understand every word. I was trying to listen to enough TV and radio that eventually listening would become more natural to me. And ultimately, it did.
In short: When you purchase the book, keep reading and turning the page. You will be deepening your fluency just by simply doing that. And of course, you can always re-read later on.
10. Will there be more books in the future?
There’s no doubt about this. Right now we’ve released Part 1 of The Hound of the Baskervilles and in the coming months, we’ll release Part 2.
Well, that’s all for now folks! I hope you’re as excited about this as I am!