Hillelson’s Sudan Arabic

Hillelson's  Sudan Arabic

Sigmar Hillelson was an official in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan from 1911-1933.
In 1930 his Sudan Arabic, English-Arabic Vocabulary was published by the Sudan Government. The book remains an good source for foreigners learning Sudan Arabic but today is quite hard to come by. I like the way the book includes vocabulary used in the provinces of Sudan as well as words that were then becoming a standard Sudanese Arabic- how Arabic was being spoken in Omdurman.

It is fascinating to see how the language has changed since Hillelson’s day. For instance I don’t think anyone in Sudan today calls a car an “automobiil” Instead we use the word “‘arabiyya” or the classical Arabic word “sayyaara”
Sometimes you will hear old people call a hospital an “isbitaalia” but most people now call it a “mustashfa” So language keeps on changing and evolving.

Most of the words in this vocabulary book are still in current use. Yet there is a need for an update! A correspondent by e-mail has passed on word that a professor in the UK is working on producing a new one.

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