Reviews by jjmhtp

Yalla! Let's Learn Egyptian Colloquial Arabic Verbs
3 stars
Good resource with an unusal approach and some flaws

The review is based on the freely available extract of El Dik, Dina; Iskander, Emad (2021). Yalla! Let’s Learn Egyptian Colloquial Arabic Verbs. ISBN 978-977-416-909-0 available here.
The approach to give all the Egyptian Arabic verbs and their forms in Arabic script seems to be more or less unusual in the sphere of Egyptian Arabic grammar books. I think it is useful though as it gives morphological information that is harder to derive from romanizations. Moreover, the words can actually be found in real life in written form, so it is useful to learn them in Arabic script. This makes it easier to recognize them in such a context. On the other hand the book uses Arabic spellings adapted to pronunciation that are not found in written texts in the wild. Maybe a combination of Arabic script and transliterations would have been a superior approach.
Sorting the verbs by frequency of their usage looks like a very good order for studying the most common verbs first.
The “Grouping of ECA verbs” (pp. XI–XIV) in the introduction is a nice overview. Unfortunately, it might evoke the impression to list all existing patterns maybe with exception. This is not the case and should have been mentioned clearly I think. Many verbs with defective, hollow or doubled roots and as such their underlying patterns exist for forms where the given list leaves those out.
Quite some smaller mistakes in the introduction (“**Form I” should instead read “*Form II”, p. XIII; I think I’ve seen more that I failed to note down) undermine the trust in the reliability of the book that might appear at more critical content harder to spot).
The price of 25 GBP is sadly quite high.
Given the mentioned drawbacks, the books still looks like a helpful resource for students aiming to improve their understanding of Egyptian Arabic verbs, especially due to the used order by frequency and the use of Arabic script despite its artificial spelling.

5 stars
Very friendly hostel at the Corniche

Hostel with very friendly staff at a very central location. Rooms are clean, there are two connected huge community rooms and a community kitchen. The beds are spacious. Big For the price of LE/EGP 200 per night there are options for single rooms in hotels nearby – one might choose depending on the preferences.

4 stars
Friendly local hotel

Very friendly staff, speaks Arabic and English with varying proficiency. Room is clean. There are two Wi-Fis, one is very sluggish, the other one works fine. I haven’t found any non-smoking area, staff is easygoing. Towels are handed over upon request. The place provides what is necessary.

4 stars
Very useful bidirectional online dictionary for Egyptian, Levantine and Maghrebi Arabic

(This is a probably very subjective review by a novice student of Ammiya (colloquial variety of Arabic).) Though – of course – not exhaustive the website is a very useful dictionary for looking up words or phrases in Egyptian, Levantine and Maghrebi Arabic. Arabic words are given with Tashkil and plurals are provided. Partly, very colloquial words or phrases can be found, which is especially useful.
Things that could be better:

  • The data isn’t published under an open license, but “All rights reserved” (unlike for Wiktionary).
  • The direction of language of input isn’t recognized automatically, so it has to be set and possibly switched manually.
  • The source of the data isn’t really clear to me. is only partly helpful. It seems the main author, Hossam Abouzahr, isn’t a philologist, that might be an advantage, but also a risk so to say. And unlike for Lane’s Lexicon which is quoted on the page this dictionary hasn’t been printed by a 19th-century publishing house. So here we don’t have any external warrantor for the accuracy of the information. Also, what are the criteria for a word or phrase to be added? Are there any corpora used? Would be good to know.
  • The roots take to much space, on a small (phone) screen this means a lot of scrolling and less overview.
  • JavaScript is needed for the website to work (unlike for Wiktionary).
  • The website sends data to Google.
  • Abbreviations like “ECA” (Egyptian Colloquial Arabic), “S”, “P” etc. should be linked to some place or use the <abbr> HTML tag to resolve them. There should at least be a list of them and their full representation.
  • British English spelling like “labour” doesn’t find anything.

Specific advantages:

  • Handy implementation of (parallel or single) variety lookup. Keyboard navigation isn’t possible to select the checkboxes though.
  • Website without (external) ads.

There is also an app for Android and iOS (the latter for $3.99 in the US App Store), seemingly also no open source version of the app.

Altogether, for me, the website has become indispensable for studying and to augment my vocabulary of spoken Arabic. As is good on itself, but especially good in the face of the sparseness of alternatives for the varieties of Arabic.

3 stars
Nice selection of churches, information outdated, horrible arrangement

It is nice to have this book as a compendium on the Madrileñan churches. The texts aren’t of especially high quality, not footnotes are used. By now (2021) many of the opening hours in the 3rd edition from 2019 are wrong, I wonder if they were updated for the new edition.

Big problem is the order of the churches by style. It is hard to find a church even if you know its name – and many of the churches have more than one name. This could be fixed with alphabetical registers of persons and buildings – both are missing. The small maps for some entries and the routes at the end of the book aren’t a replacement for a map that would list the churches together, this is missing as well.

Copy-editing wasn’t too diligent it seems. Not even formats are coherent (“18:00” and “20,30” in one line (3rd edition, p. 360)).

With three quarters of a kilogram weight it is unnecessarily heavy to carry on visiting tours, lighter paper would have been better as well as a hardback format.

5 stars
Friendly fair trade fashion shop

Staff is very friendly, prices are high.

5 stars
Great encyclopedic museum

A great encyclopedic museum with well described objects and free admission.

5 stars
Friendly and good bakery

A friendly and good bakery with Turkish staff and some Turkish products like simits.

4 stars
Great collection of pre-Columbian and Spanish American objects with a ridiculous narrative framing

The museum houses objects from pre-Columbian times that are several thousand years old as well as colonial objects and 20th-century objects of native Americans, many of them beautiful and informative.

The framing of the accompanying texts and their concept of history is outrageous though. Problems of the commons American and Spanish history since 1492 are barely expounded. 18th-century paintings showing racial typologies are displayed without comment on their racist content or their context. The later parts of the recommended tour deal with aspects of culture of the Americas like “marriage”; it is quite odd to see topics dealt with for the area of countless different cultures on two continents in thousands of years.

Fortunately most objects have labels with a title, material description, origin and inventory number, sometimes also a descriptive note.

5 stars
Great museum

Great place, awesome objects, well lit, well described.

The Spanish and English object descriptions on the website are often more detailed than those of the printed guidebook. So if you have internet connection and read Spanish or English they deliver profound and free information.

A few more benches inside would be nice. Unfortunately, there are no lockers for small bags. As with many museums nowadays the security check-in is annoying.