This gorgeous calligraphy spells "al Arabiya" — which means "Arabic" in English; at least I think it does.
Six weeks' learning to write and pronounce the Arabic alphabet, I'm feeling like a child. An illiterate one. And the feeling is lousy.
In Israeli-Arab towns and cities that I passed on frequent trips to the Lower Galilee last spring, the signage is in Arabic only. That's it, I decided somewhere between Tamra, Daburiyya, and Mount Tabor. I will learn Arabic basics, at least.
Now, between my Arabic 101 class at Evening at Emory and lessons on YouTube, I'm off to a great start. Here's what I mean.
I dream of watching Sesame Street in Arabic (5 days a week, with frequent repeats of each show). This way (I continue dreaming), I would painlessly learn not only the alphabet, numbers, and colors but also basic lessons in human relations: fairness, kindness, and respect for self and others.
Karen Armstrong writes (The Bible: A Biography), "... Modern philosophers of language have argued that 'the principle of charity' is essential for any form of communication... Even though [others'] beliefs may be very different from your own, 'you have to assume that [they are] very much the same as you are,' otherwise you are in danger of denying their humanity."
A core lesson that Sesame Street has been broadcasting nearly forty years.