Arabic Script Resources
Wolof language Arabic script materials
An important method of communication in Senegal
Why Arabic script?
Many wolofphones in Senegal and elsewhere can read and write their own language in Arabic script, and many prefer to read in this script than in Roman script (abc’s). Arabic script materials increase interest even among wolofphones who can’t read it, because the script helps them recognize that a text is holy. Each booklet contains the text of the story in both Arabic script and Roman script.
The booklets are just right for doing Discovery Bible Studies. With these books you can have a mixed group of Arabic-script readers, Roman-script readers, and purely oral learners. For more on Discovery Bible Studies, see the Contagious Disciple Making site, and get the English, French, and Wolof how-to’s here.
The booklets are formatted for printing on A4 size paper. The printed booklet folds so that whichever script you are most comfortable reading faces front. Jump to the chronological set using the buttons below to choose a booklet or grab all the booklets at once. Directions for printing are at the bottom of this page.
The text of the booklets is from the WorldVenture translation of the Bible. The booklets contain extracts of the published Wolofal versions of the Scriptures, which contain the entirety of the text of those books. Genesis, Exodus, Psalms, and a one-volume Luke & Acts are available. For more information on obtaining these books, email me.
Jump to the section you need:
Because there are several sounds in Wolof that don’t appear in Arabic, different regions in Senegal have adapted differing conventions for how to write the c, the g, the ñ, and other sounds. This enabled folks who had learned the Arabic characters to communicate with each other through writing. But because each region developed its Wolofal writing style independently, often people who learn to read in one region have difficulty reading works written in another region’s writing style. These two books offer readers an refresher to Arabic script.
In the late 90’s and early 2000’s the Senegalese government went through a process of research that culminated in an official alphabet for use all over Senegal. It uses the most widely used characters and in some cases introduces new ones for greater clarity. The government character set has a few advantages over the old regional styles:
With explanations on the orthography
AS & RS letters with words and images
These two booklets can help you help your friends orient themselves to the text if they are a bit rusty. The pronunciation guide reproduces the explanation on the text that comes in the full printed books. The primer contains pictures that match with corresponding AS and RS letters.
- National standardization means greater possibilities for sharing: As the government alphabet becomes more widely used, it will enable people from all over Senegal to read works published in any region.
- Differentiated vowel sounds: Regional styles use a few vowels to stand for all, so an a is pressed into service for a as well as à, the character used for e is used for e as well as é, and the character used for o is used for o, ó, and u. The context determines the sound in each of these cases, but the government system has a different mark for each of these vowels, so is less ambiguous for the reader.
- Elimination of consonant combination letters: Regional styles use locally-defined single letters to stand in for Roman script consonant combinations like ng, nj, mb, mp, etc. The government style uses the consonants themselves, so is easier for new readers who have only learned Arabic and not learned the locally-defined letters.
Although most readers read a regional variant of Wolofal, it takes most readers just a few minutes of coaching to pick up and appreciate the government system. This booklet explains in Wolofal the rationale behind the government writing system and introduces the new characters. It is in both Wolof and Wolofal, which enables those who read both to choose which to read. In addition, it enables Roman script reading friends to be able to read along if necessary to help Arabic script reading friends make sense of the new characters.
Download the whole chronological set at once here (60 Mb) or download just the ones you need below.
Genesis 6-9, 11
Genesis 11, 15
Genesis 18, 21, 22
Exodus 2, 3, 4
Exodus 4, 6-9
NT book 1
NT book 2
NT book 3
NT book 4
NT book 5
NT book 6
NT book 7
These are from different ministry related needs – if you need a portion transliterated let me know.
AS & RS
AS & RS booklets
Printing the booklets
The files are set up to be printed as booklets, so all you have to do is print it double-sided. This can be a challenge, as printers’ interfaces are different, but using Adobe Reader makes things easier.
To get started, open the document in Adobe Reader. Go to File, and then Print. This dialog will pop up. There are four things you want to check.
- Actual Size
- Print on both sides of paper
- Flip on short edge
If you see that there is not a percentage on the right side, you know you’re on the right track. (You can click on the image to see it full size.)
Now it’s on to printing. It is very important for Arabic-script readers to have materials printed on pastel colored paper rather than bright white, which is too hard to read in bright sun. Many paper stores sell pastel-colored paper at very close to the same cost as white paper.
You’ve told Adobe Reader that you want to print on both sides, so hopefully your printer will help you along here.
My printer, for example, prints out all the front side pages, and then gives me this message telling me what to do. If your printer does something different, or it doesn’t come out right, try turning the paper around the other way.
To check if things have turned out right, follow the page numbers and see if they printed in the correct order.
From there you can fold the pages, and staple them. If you don’t have a large stapler, you can staple on the edge with it closed. There is extra room on the inside margin to allow for this. If you have a larger stapler, you can fold the pages inside the stapler to staple right on the fold/spine of the booklet. The side that you fold in will get a bit bent, but it should relax pretty quickly. Experiment with the methods described and see which you prefer.