Kallimni ‘Arabi Bishweesh selected best Arabic textbook


AUC Press’s Kallimni ‘Arabi Bishweesh has been selected from hundreds of recommended Arabic language learning resources as one of five "Best Arabic Books" by Tutorful, the UK-based online platform which enables parents and students to connect with tutors. 

Kallimni ‘Arabi Bishweesh: A Beginners’ Course in Spoken Egyptian Arabic 1 by Samia Louis is an innovative coursebook for teaching absolute beginners Egyptian Colloquial Arabic (ECA), the spoken dialect most widely understood in the Arab world. Louis, an experienced Arabic instructor and course developer, trains students through highly structured lessons in the crucial skills, with particular emphasis on listening and speaking, using real-life situations and expressions. The accompanying audio files carry recordings of the dialogs and exercises in each chapter, made by native Egyptian speakers.

This textbook is the first part of a complete six-volume series called Kallimni ‘Arabi. It teaches all levels of ECA, from beginner to advanced, to speakers of Arabic as a foreign language. 

“Publishing good Arabic Language Learning textbooks is one of our priorities which is why AUC Press is delighted to see Kallimni ‘Arabi Bishweesh listed at the top of the “Best Arabic Books” in Tutorful’s recent editorial,” said Dr. Nigel Fletcher-Jones, AUC Press director.

In her article “The Expert Guide to Learning Arabic: Tips and Tools for 2018,” Rachael Sprague, Student Enrichment editor, dispels common language myths about learning Arabic, offers “6 Steps to Fluency,” and advises students to “utilize every great resource possible” to learn the language. Her editorial recommends Arabic alphabet applications, Arabic language and culture blogs, and Arabic learning textbooks. “Kallimni 'Arabi Bishweesh is perfect for beginners,” she writes. 

“More and more people are learning Arabic and AUC Press is always looking for new and innovative ways to facilitate the learning process,” explained Trevor Naylor, AUC Press's associate director for sales and marketing. 

AUC Press publishes a large selection of Arabic Language Learning books, for both ECA and Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). Its most recent titles include Kilma Hilwa: Egyptian Arabic through Popular Songs Intermediate Level and Musiqa al-Kalimat Modern Standard Arabic through Popular Songs: Intermediate to Advanced by Bahaa Ed-Din Ossama, both of which give students the unique opportunity to learn Arabic through the songs of iconic Arab singers.   

June 2018


Remembering Denys Johnson-Davies (1922–2017) one year on!

The name of Denys Johnson-Davies was well known to me long before we met: in my early days in Egypt, of the few works of Arabic literature available in English translation, many bore that resonant name on their title page, below that of the author. So when he first came to the offices of the AUC Press in the late 1980s to discuss the publication of a new translation, I was meeting a celebrity. His trademark swept-back mane of ivory hair was matched, as usual in those days, by ivory linen trousers, a white cotton shirt, and perhaps a light cream summer jacket—an image, abetted by his aristocratic vowels, that tricked you into thinking: the Englishman abroad. But he was no colonial type. He had mastered both Classical and Colloquial Arabic, loved Arab life and culture, and counted many of the Arab world’s greatest writers as his close friends. The Muslim Brothers could tell the difference: when Denys was an unintended casualty of a bomb they had planted on a Cairo street, they brought flowers to his hospital bedside to apologize.

The first manuscript I remember working on with Denys was his translation of Mohamed El-Bisatie’s short story collection A Last Glass of Tea, and over the years there were many more. His early manuscripts were typewritten on onionskin paper, which he then amended heavily in his elegant but often barely decipherable handwriting in black fountain-pen. These pages were then given to the Press’s typesetter, who had a miraculous gift for correctly untangling challenging handwriting and accurately interpreting lines drawn through and across the text and into the margins (and sometimes onto the back of the sheet) that indicated deletions, insertions, or replacements of all kinds. The resulting clean printout was then my starting point, as I marked my editorial changes in blue in my own much less elegant and even more indecipherable hand. Denys would review my edits, and we would both add further scribbles and lines before asking the typesetter to make the changes to the file.

Through this process (later refined by the introduction of word processors and then computers), we developed a comfortable and productive translator–editor relationship, as I began to understand and admire what Denys always insisted was the art (not science) of translation, and as he came to appreciate the art (likewise) of copyediting. Our work together, which often involved looking back at parts of the original Arabic text in order to smooth out passages in the English, led at some point to Denys suggesting I try my own hand at translating a novel. This had never occurred to me but Denys was persuasive, and it was only due to his continued kind encouragement and support that my first translation was published in 1998.



In his study going through his archive                                         Reading the local newspaper





With translator Humphrey Davies                                                With friend and writer Mohamed Al Maghzanghi


The list of writers introduced to us in English by Denys Johnson-Davies reads like a Who’s Who of Arabic literature from the forties to the noughties. This unrivaled contribution to the global path of Arabic writing was showcased in his last AUC Press publication, the justly celebratory volume Homecoming, which brought together a wide-ranging collection of Egyptian short stories he had translated over an astonishing span of sixty years. Working with Denys on this manuscript was rewarding, enlightening, and fun—as it had been on the first one, so many years before, and on all the others in between. What a privilege to have known this extraordinary man, not only as a translator but as a mentor and a friend, for the best part of three decades.

—By Neil Hewison, translator and former AUC Press associate director for editorial programs

All photographs of Denys Johnson-Davies reproduced by kind permission of Paola Crociani and Neil Hewison.


May 10, 2018


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