This Teach Yourself Arabic book was first published in 1943 by English Universities Press, and should not be confused with the modern Teach Yourself series.
As with Thatcher’s Arabic Grammar, this book was written for an audience better versed in English grammatical terminology, and this is even more apparent in Tritton than in Thatcher. The book assumes a relatively high level of general linguistic ability, and is thus extremely concise in its explanations.
Another thing it has in common with Thatcher is the less than optimal ‘look’. It’s not just the superficial things like the choice of font and the layout, which simply make the book harder to read, but also the decision to give broken plurals in the vocabulary lists using a notation system (e.g. (a) after a noun or adjective means that its broken plural is on the pattern af’āl), and the excessive use of transliteration rather than actual Arabic script when giving grammatical explanations.
In short Tritton’s Teach Yourself Arabic is not the best book to start learning Arabic from. Having said that, it is a wonderful supplement to use alongside another textbook such as Haywood and Nahmad. The vocabulary and exercises are much more classical in tone (although unfortunately the grammar points covered in each chapter aren’t consistently tested in the exercises) and broken plurals are given right from the start.
Although this is one of the smallest Arabic textbooks reviewed, it nonetheless gives grammatical points and useful structures which aren’t easily found elsewhere, such as the use of the preposition min with both the interrogative and the exclamative kam.
The concluding section of the book gives the following sound advice: “It is important to remember that Arabic is essentially simple, however complicated it may appear on the surface.” We would echo that view. Tritton’s textbook is a good introduction to some of the more overtly classical or literary structures in Arabic, and bears testimony to how classical Arabic can still be made accessible to the modern student.
We recommend that after going through our Arabic Grammar course, and perhaps also working through Haywood and Nahmad for further practice, Tritton would be a good resource to take your Arabic up another notch.