Egyptian Book Reviews: Ancient Egypt & Egyptian Arabic Phrasebook

Book Review

by Mary Kay Radnich

Ancient Egypt: Life, Myth and Art

Joann Fletcher

Stewart, Tabori and Chang 1999
New York, New York

Stewart, Tabori and Chang are known for their lavishly illustrated art books and ANCIENT EGYPT, part of the Life, Myth and Art series is no exception. Each page of Joann Fletchers text is accompanied by both beautiful photography and illustrations.

In keeping with the series title, various topics are covered in the text, ranging from the River of Life, glyphs, of how art and nature were seen by the ancients, as well as their religion and myths. Rites, festivals, magic and mysteries as practiced in ancient times are explored and an entire chapter is devoted to the "Realm of Osiris."

While this book is certainly not a scholarly, comprehensive tome of Ancient Egypt, it is a worthwhile addition to ones library or as a gift for a budding young (or old) Egyptologist.

Joann Fletcher, PhD, is a freelance Egyptologist and Director of the NILE educational organization. She teaches regularly in northern England and for the University of London, the British Museum Education Department, the Egypt Exploration Society and Egyptian Embassy Education and Culture Bureau. Her publication list includes The Way to Eternity: Egyptian Myth (1997) and Oils and Perfumes in Ancient Egypt (1998).


Lonely planet language survival kit

Scott Wayne

Lonely Planet 1990

As has been discussed in Tour Egypt Monthly and elsewhere on the Tour Egypt website, one of the best ways to prepare for a trip to Egypt is to learn a little Egyptian Arabic. Egyptian Arabic is the most common form of Arabic in the Middle East and North Africa, largely due to the influence of Egyptian TV, radio and movie culture. Its nice to be able to greet someone on the street or to say thank you in the native tongue for a small kindness. Its also helpful to be able to emphatically say, "La! Shukran!" (No! Thank You!) to that street vendor whose merchandise just doesnt interest you.

The most convenient way to learn a few phrases is to purchase a phrasebook for the Egyptian Arabic language. Lonely Planet Publications delivers a small, nicely done little phrasebook for the reasonable sum of .

While the beginning of the book gives you a simple lesson in the Arabic alphabet and grammar, the useful phrases are arranged topically, such as Greetings & Civilities, Small Talk, Food, etc. There are also simple illustrations as well as some explanatory paragraphs in each section. All translations are in transliterated English as well as Arabic script. At the end of the book is a vocabulary section, so that you can look up common words with ease.

What this book does not have, is a vocabulary section at the end with the words in transliterated Arabic English and Arabic script English. The Rough Guide Egyptian Arabic Phrasebook ( Sept. 2000 review) does have these sections. That phrasebook is slightly larger and a few dollars more.

For the once in a lifetime tourist, I think the less expensive Lonely Planet Egyptian Arabic Phrasebook would be a great little addition to your travel pack and will bring you lots of fun and good experiences, interacting with the local people. If you want to learn a little more Arabic but are not yet ready for a full course in Arabic, then try the Rough Guides Egyptian Arabic Phrasebook.

And, if you desire to learn to read Arabic script, then see our following book review and consider this one as a place to start.

Your First 100 Words in ARABIC

Beginners Quick & Easy Guide to Demystifying Arabic Script

Mahmoud Gaafar

Passport Books 1999
Chicago Illinois

I like to browse in bookstores and a few weeks ago, my daughter and I were visiting the local Borders Books. I also like to see whats new as far as travel guides, language learning systems, history books really anything pertaining to Egypt or the Middle East. When I discovered Your First 100 Words in ARABIC, I was surprised and thrilled.

I was thrilled because, to me, the biggest stumbling block to really learning Arabic is the script. Beautiful to look at, but nearly impossible to decipher. You read right to left, a challenge for my brain, as well as the letters being composed of swooshes and dots with hooks and tails.

This workbook is reminiscent of something my daughter would have used in first or second grade, to learn English words. Very elementary, with flash cards, matching games, puzzles and something called "scriptbreaker tips" to help you get the hang of deciphering this beautiful but different alphabet. The whole idea of the book is to help you learn to visually recognize and distinguish the component of the Arabic alphabet.

Elementary? Childish? Maybe. But also, very, very helpful. Short of finding a class or private tutor in Arabic, this little book may be the next best thing to increase your knowledge and recognition of one of the worlds most visually beautiful languages.