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20 questions for: Antoine-Robert El Dahdah (#1)

9273 roots: 20 questions for the grammarian Antoine Robert el-Dahdah (الدحداح) who put Arabic grammar in charts and tables.

Last updated: June 2, 2021

Lisān al-‘Arab (لسان العرب), the famous dictionary of Classical Arabic, contains 9273 roots (and 4,493.934 words). A huge playground for people who are passionate about Arabic such as…

Antoine-Robert El Dahdah

أنطوان الدَّحْداح

 The man who put Arabic grammar in charts and tables 

 – one of the greatest Arabic grammarians of the last decades 

  • Date of birth: 22nd of March 1930
  • Place of birth: Beirut, Lebanon
  • Place of residence: Beirut, Lebanon
  • Personal website: www.arabic-grammar.com

Born 1930; married to Lisette El Chemor; two children, Carole and Fares.

General El Dahdah is a graduate of: The Military Academy (Fayadieh, Lebanon); The Royal School of Artillery (Larkhill, England); L’École Navale (Brest, France); The Command and General Staff College (Fort Leavensworth, USA).

In the course of his career, Ambassador El Dahdah held the following posts: Aide-de-Camp to the President of Republic (1952). Artillery Battalion Commander in the Lebanese Army (1961). Commander of the Lebanese Navy (1963). Director Geographic Affairs, Ministry of Defense (1968). Director General of the General Security (1971). Lebanese Ambassador to Brazil (1987)

He has received the following decorations: Medal of Palestine 1948; Lebanese Merit; Order of the Cedar; Order of the Nile (Egypt); Order of the Independance (Jordan); Order of the Sun (Peru); Order of the Banner (China); Légion d’Honneur (France); Order of the Republic (Italy); Order Cruzeiro do Sul (Brazil).

Antoine-Robert El Dahdah
photo credit: Antoine-Robert El Dahdah.

 1. How would you introduce yourself to someone who doesn’t know you?  

Still learning at 88 (years old).

 2. What was the first Arabic grammar book you wrote? 

A Dictionary of Arabic Grammar in Charts and Tables.

 3. What is your favorite Arabic book (novel, etc.)? 

The prophet by Jibran Khalil Jibran.

 4. How much time does a native speaker of English need to master Arabic? 

Three months.

 5. What is your favorite Arabic word? 

“Ahlan wa sahlan”.

 6. Which Arabic word do you like least? 

Hanou – The sixth noun of the classical five nouns.

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If you don’t know what the five or six nouns are – here is a short explanation. The “five (six) nouns” (الأسماء الخمسة) are special in Arabic. They may mark cases by long vowels rather than short vowels. This happens in إضافة-constructions.

For example, her father: Nominative (مرفوع) is أبوها. Genitive (مجرور) is أبيها. Accusative (منصوب) is أباها. The five nouns are: father (أب), brother (أخ), father-in-law (حم), mouth (فم), and possessor (ذو). So which one is the above mentioned strange sixth noun? It is the classical word هَنُوْ. It usually denotes thing – particularly in a bad sense, something paltry. See Arabic for Nerds 2, page 37pp.

 7. Which Arabic dialect do you like best? 

Lebanese of course.

 8. What is your favorite Arabic colloquial word or expression? 

Khalleek Aal Khatt!

Stay tuned!

 9. What is your favorite Arabic quote or proverb? 

La Takrahu chay’an la’allahu khayron lakum (لا تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا لَعَلَّهُ خَيْرٌ لَكُم).

Meaning: A bad situation may have a silver lining.

 10. What is the best thing that was ever said about the Arabic language? 

Arabic grammar is a science.

Antoine-Robert El Dahdah
Antoine-Robert El Dahdah in his youth.
photo credit: Antoine-Robert El Dahdah.

 11. What is the best piece of advice you were ever given? 

What someone else does, you too can do.

 12. Which three people would you like to invite for dinner? 

Any 3 classmates.

 13. What was the last great meal you had? 

Kafta and Hoummos.

 14.What is your favorite city?  


Beirut where Antoine-Robert El Dahdah was born and currently lives.
photo credit: pixabay (RahelRizgar22).

 15. Which book would you give to a dear friend? 

Syntax in color of the Holy Koran by Abou Fares El Dahdah.

 16. What is your all-time favorite movie? 

Gone with the wind.

 17. What music do you listen to? 

Neapolitan Italian.

A trademark of Antoine El Dahdah: tables and charts. He explains Arabic grammar in a visual and logical way which makes it easy to understand and remember.

 18. When were you happiest? 

When finishing a book.

 19. What is your greatest fear? 

Losing my mind.

 20. What is your life motto? 

If you don’t progress, you regress.

Ambassador El Dahdah, thank you for your time.

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