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Ir R 1 A 





• ''Mi 

4 A V^^B E P 

For use of Military Personnel only. Not to 
be republished, in mhole or in part, without 
of the War Department. 

Prepared by 






Stuthern MBthodist University 


W8*hlniton, O. C. 




Iniroduction 5 

Ancient Land — Holy Land 8 

The Syrians " 

The Arabic Language ^4 

Getting Along With the Syrians 15 

Climate and Sanitary Conditions ...... 29 

Currency, Weights, and Measures 35 

Some Important Do's and Don'ts 37 

Hints on Pronouncing Arabic 41 

Useful Words and Phrases 45 

A Glossary 3° 

"If you give, give plenty; and 

If you strike, strike hard." 

Syrian Proverb 

YOUR UNIT has been ordered to Syria. Soon you will 
be standing on the shores of a sea or on a desert which 
has played a great part in world history. 

You, an American soldier, are now one of the countless 
fighting men, over the past two thousand years, who have 
tramped across this neck of land connecting Europe and 
Asia. Alexander the Great, Caesar, Napoleon — all have 
struggled on this land for world dominion. 

Here two great religions — Christianity and Judaism — 
sprang up. Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, Roman, Turk- 
ish and European civilizations have left a mark on Syria's 
sparsely inhabited lands. And for three centuries, waves 
of Crusaders from Europe fought the Saracens for posses- 
sion of this Holy Land. 

You are in Syria to fight — and to win — against Hitler, 
who seeks world domination. And a big part of your 

job is to make friends for your cause — because this is 
a war of ideas, just as much as of tanks, planes and 

You're here to prevent Hitler from taking over this 
strategic land. He's tried once and probably will again. 
That's why the Free French and the British occupied 
Syria in July 1941. 

Under the League of Nations, France was given a 
mandate over Syria after World War I. When France 
surrendered in World War il, German "tourists" began 
to filter into the desert. Then the British and Free French 
acted to protect the oil fields and pipe lines and guard this 
"land bridge" to Asia. 

Your coming will be welcome to Syrians. In fact, at 
the end of the last war, Syria sought to be placed under 
American mandate protection. And, too, many Syrians 
have been educated at the American University at Beirut. 
So, you arc in a friendly country and you won't have 
much trouble making friends, if you use ordinary horse 
sense in your dealings with the people of this land. But, 
with the best intentions in the world, you're likely to 
make serious mistakes, // you don't learn a little some- 
thing about Syrians and their ways of doing things. This 
pamphlet will help to give you a quick picture of Syria 
which may make it easier to gel along. 

This is a War of Ideas One of the ways to beat the Ax s 

n Sj a and n otl e parts of the Moslem vorld s to 
con nee the p ople that the Un ted Nat ons are the r 
fr ends Fron the outbreak of th s war Ax s mt ons ha e 
tr ed through the r propaganda ma h nes to k ndle a 
rel g ous ar ot Moslems aga nst Chr stians They hoped 
to spread a fire ot hate f om Turkey and "^rab a ail d e 

ay ac oss th North \ir ca coast TTie r plans ha e 
fa led because the Moslems deeply rel g ous kno that 
the Naz return to heathen sm s a threat to the r rel g on 
as veil as to others 

By show ng your understand ng of Moslem character 
and custon by your o vn conduct n your relat ons w th 
the Sy an people you can ma nta n the good reputat on 
that Amercans alreadj enjoy And you can n a ery 
effect ve way take the po son out of Naz propaganda 


WHEN you stand on ihe shores of Syria, with your back 
to the Mediterranean, you will be looking eastward across 
the great "land bridge" between Europe and Asia. Across 
it, for centuries, came caravans carrying silks, spices, and 
the jewels of the Orient to the western world. 

We're a bit spoiled now. In about 12 hours a ship may 
go through the 100-mile ditch in the sand, the Suez Canal, 
and start on through the Red Sea to India. And that ditch 
was opened only in November 1869, after nearly to years 
of hard work by the French engineer, deLesscps. 

Before then, and since the days of the Phoenicians, the 
long, dangerous, costly route was from Syria, through 
Iraq down the Persian Chilf to India. Then Sidon was the 
great Eastern Mediterranean (xirt from which the Phoeni- 
cian traders sailed to the Atlantic and even to Britain. 
Today, Sidon and its sister city Tyre are only small ports 
on the Levant Coast. In their place is Beirut (bay-Roor) 
the leading Syrian port, followed by Tripoli and Latakia 

The Coastal Cities. In these thriving cities, you'll see a few 
principal avenues, thronged with every kind of people 
of the Near East — merchants and fishermen, boatmen 
and camel drivers, talking several different languages. 


The people you'll meet are shrewd and well-informed 
as most trading peoples are, with a variety of manners and 
customs, picked up here and there. 

Beirut is a particularly cosmopolitan city, the seat of 
American University, an American Christian school that 
has had considerable influence in the spread of education 
throughout Syria. 

Latakia, despite its shops, hotels, movies, restaurants, 
and bathing beaches, is still a typical Syrian town. Its 
tiny stores are like cubby-holes in a wall and they offer 
their goods in flat platter-like baskets which are piled 
high with oranges, olives, or dates. Latakia is famous in 
America because it gives to us some of the finest tobacco 
in the world, used to flavor American brands. 

The Ordest City in the World. Back of the Lebanon 
Mountains, to the east, is a wide valley, and back of that 
the Anti-Lebanon range, marking the end of the fertile 
coastal section and the beginning of the desert. But here, 
like a "green island" in the desert, is Damascus, reputed to 
be the oldest city in the world, dating back to more than 
2,000 years before Christ. Called the "Pearl of the Desert," 
it is a beautiful city, with thousands of white houses, great 
orchards and gardens, high-domed mosques, and palaces 
and bazaars, thronged with a modcy crowd of Armenians, 
■ Greeks, and Arabs, and donkeys, camels, goats, and sheep. 
Sweetmeat sellers and auctioneers fill the thoroughfares 
with their noise and stir; eating shops are bedlam and the 
bazaars crowded. There the dukkans (duk-KAAN) 
(stores) are piled to the ceiling with calicos, mushns, and 
silks. On small, to-foot platforms, in front of each 
dukkan sit the merchants, cross-legged. Coffee sellers pass 
up and down, offering their wares. Merchants furnish 
their customers with cigarettes and coffee free, and gossip 
is always going— on crops or politics or what not. 

The great meeting place for the Moslems in Damascus 
is the famous Mosque — once a heathen temple, then a 
Christian church, and later held joindy by Moslem and 
Christian. Since the 8ih Century A. D., it has been 
Moslem, hut still contains the shrine of John the 


Baptist, revered alike by Christian and Moslem peoples. 
It is one of the most magnificent structures in the world. 
Costly rugs cover its vast stone floor and its roof is 
supported by marble pillars. 


You'll see a lot of the cities and their people, but it's the 
desert and the desert folk that give flavor to the land. 

THE desert Arab, ot tribesman, has few 

beyond coffee, sugar, and tobacc'o. Even on feast days he 
eats astonishingly little, and when no guest is present, 
bread and a bowl of camel's milk is about all he re- 
quires — and he can make long marches on that simple 
fare. It is said that the Bedouin (BEi>-win) is never with- 
out hunger. But when a notable guest is in camp, a sheep 
must be killed and a bountiful meal of mutton, curds, and 
flaps of bread is the order of the day. 

More than 250,000 Bedouins roam the desert fringes 
in Syria with their herds of camels and huge flocks of 
sheep searching for pasture. You'll be able to recognize 
the Bedouin by his flowing robes, his long head scarf and, 
frequently, by his long side curls. 

Desert Farmers. Less romantic perhaps than the Bed- 
oum or the warlike Jebel Druze (jE-bel drooz) arc the 
farmers, but they form the bulk of the 3'/i millions of 
people of Syria-Lebanon. They do a remarkably efficient 
job in getting what they do out of it. The average farmer 
just manages to sustain his family, and has little left over. 


I Syria average about $80 a year, debts 
are always large and mortgages heavy. 

Mostly the fanners live in small, compact villages built 
around springs or near other sources of water. To you, 
their methods may seem primitive, but at least one Amer- 
ican conservation expert has said that their method of 
terracing fields is one of the finest examples of soil con- 
servation in the world. And their wooden plow is well 
suited to the shallow, siony soil they have to work. 

A large proportion of these dtsert farmers are share- 
croppers or tenants, the land they till being held by land- 
lords who sometimes control several or more villages and 
vast acres of cultivable land. 

M ^\^\> p 



SOME Syrians speak English, or at leasi a little English, 
but the native language is Arabic and you will need to 
know a little of it to get along well. 

The Arahic language is spoken by millions of people 
living throughout the coast of North Africa and the Near 
Eastern countries. There are, of course, differences be- 
tween countries in these regions both in the use of cer- 
tain words and in the way ihty are pronounced. But these 
differences are easy to understand and to learn. You 
won't be able to rtad Arabic signs or books because they 
use a different alphabet from ours. 

You won't hj\e to learn many words since ineverj'day 
Arabic a few simple words and phrases go a long way. 
The majority of Syrians themselves use perhaps only a few 
hundred words — and they get along pretty well on that. 

At the end of this guide, you'll find a list of words and 
phrases and some idea of how to pronounce them. Even 
11 your pronunciation isn't too good, it will please the 
Syrians to have you even attempt to talk to them in their 
own tongue. And they'll like it especially if you use their 
polite salutations — they are very polite themselves. 


THE Syrian people are friendly to us now. If Hitler's 
agents should turn them against us, the consequences 
might be very serious. They are the people who can 
supply water if they like you-or poison the wells if they 
don't. They can guide us through mountains and desert, 
or lead us astray. They can tell us what the Germans are 
doing when they like us, or tell the Germans what we are 
doing if they don't like us. If they like us, they can get 
rid of the German agents among their tribes. If they dis- 
like us. the Germans might arm them and give us a lot 
of grief. 

Maybe you understand now why it is so important for 
you to learn how to get along with the Syrians and \eep 
them our friends. 

You can do this chiefly by understanding their customs, 


by treating them politely, and by being careful never to 
offend ihem through carelessness or ignorance. 

Courtesy. The Syrians make a gooJ deal of courtesy 
and politeness. If a man should kiss your hand or raise his 
fingers to his lips after shaking hands with you, don't 
laugh. It is his way of paying you a compliment. 

Americans slap each other on the back and jostle each 
other in fun. Syrians do not. Avoid handling them and 
do not cry to wrestle with thcni. Even if you think you 
know them well, do not touch their bodies in any way. 
Above all, nevilh strike a Syrian. They do not know 
how to box. You might think you were just sparring and 
knock a man down or even injure him. They would be 
certain to misunderstand it ant! word would spread rap- 
idly, as it does among people who don't read and who 
rely on gossip for information, that Americans hit people 
on the jaw. Besides, it is dangerous. Syrians, like most 
people of this desert world, know how to use knives. 
Never get angry at these people. It is one thing to issue 
orders and gel them carried out; it is another to rub the 
people the wrong way. Save your fighting for the enemy. 
You're here to fight with these people against the Axis. 

Manners. Private. Syrians, like most orientals, pay much 
attention to good manners. Moslems do not let other peo- 


pie see them naked. Do not urinate in their presence. 
They do this squatting and dislike to see others do it 
standing up. These things may seem trivial, but they are 

Manners, Public. You will find it difficult sometimes to 
distinguish manners from religious practices. Many Syr- 
ian customs are religious in their origin. Moslems live 
their religion far more intensely than most of us do. 
Begin by watching them carefully. 

Social customs enter into not only your personal rela- 
tions with Syrians you have met, but all public activities, 
such as buying in the bazaars, eating and drinking in 
public places, and the relations to women. Learn the 
forms of address on meeting people and use them. 

Understand that bargaining when making a purchase 
is customary. It is part of the social life of these people. 
They do not trade just for the money, but to meet with 
people, learn their ways, practice their own skills and 

judgments. To bargain intelligently is to show under- 
standing in values. They may treble the price they expect 
you to pay. If you pay it, they know you don't know the 
real values. But bargain politely. Most of these tradesmen 
know each other well and treat one another as host and ■ 
guest. Friendships result from trade. In the larger "west- 
ernized" shops, there is usually a fixed price. So, you 
won't have to haggle with them. 

Hospitality. The result of such contacts may yield you 
hospitality and friendship. It is customary for tradesmen 
to offer customers coffee and cigarettes. Do not refuse. 
Don't leave your coffee half drunk. Should you be offered 
a second and even a third, take it. But it is considered 
bad form to accept a fourth cup. If you Cake a fourth, or 
refuse a second or a third, your host will put you down 
as wanting in manners. This may seem absurd to you. 
So what? Your customs seem just as absurd to him. 


When in Rome, do as the Romans do, as the saying has 
been for thousands of years. 

A few things to remember about Moslem Syrians is that 
they do not eat pork and they do not drink liquor. This 
is a religious matter. Don't ask why. Respect it. You 11 
see something about this religious question later. As a 
social matter, politeness demands that you accept these 
things without question. So do not drink liquor in their 
presence. It offends them, especially, to see anyone drunk. 
Even as a joke, don't offer or urge them to drink hquor 

"Tfew rules are essential. Never touch the food until 
your host has said grace ("BismiUah") and then not till 
he has told you to. Eat only with your right hand--it is 
considered very rude to use the left, even if you are a 
southpaw. Do not cut native bread with a knife. Break 
it with your fingers. A servant will come along with 
basins and water for all to wash their hands after dinner. 

Women You will not find Moslem women in the com- 
pany Ladies generally remain hidden. It depends largely 
on who your host is, of course. But among Moslems, par- 
cicularly, women do not mingle freely w>ih men. The 
greater part of their time they spend at home and m the 
company of their own families. It is considered a very 



serious breach of manners to even inquire about the 
women. So even if you are invited to a home, you will 
not see much of the women. 

In public, many Moslem women go veiled. If a woman 
has occasion to lift her veil while shopping, do not stare 
at her. Look the other way. Do not loiter near them 
when at the bazaars. Do not try to photograph them. It 
will cause trouble. 

Never make advances to Syrian women or try to get 
their attention on the streets or other public places. The 
desert or village women may seem to have more freedom, 
but they do not. Any advances on your part are sure to 
mean trouble, and plenty of it. Syrians will immediately 
dislike you if you do not treat their women according to 
their standards and customs. 

These rules are important. Don't ma\e a pass at any 
woman. It will cause trouble. And anyway, it won't get 


you anywhere. Prostitutes do not walk the streets, but 
have special quarters. 

Religion. Questions regarding religion are as distasteful 
to Syrian Moslems as are questions regarding women. It is 
well to avoid any i(tnd oj religious discussion or argument. 

Two-thirds of the Syrians are Moslems, and the re^ 
maining third are Christian. The Moslem community is 
more or less set off by itself and recognized by its veiled 
women, the sombre, dignified aspect of the men and by 
their mosques. The distribution of Moslems and Chris- 
tians is roughly according to the boundaries of Syria and 
Lebanon. Lebanon is mostly Christian, while Syria is 
mostly Moslem. 

Both the Moslem and Christian groups are broken up 
into subdivisions or sects. One of the more important 
Moslem sects arc the Druze. The Druzc live in a semi- 
desert section in the south part of Syria called Jebel Druze. 
They keep very much to themselves, are a proud and 
reserved people, and are noted for their daring and 
bravery in warfare. 

The Moslems follow the religion founded by Mo- 
hammed. Do not call it the Mohammedan religion, for 
they do not worship Mohammed as Christians worship 
Christ. Mohammed is not God. Allah is God, and Mo- 


hammed only His prophet. The religion is called Islam 
and the people who follow it are called Moslems. There 
arc five fundamental principles of Islam: 

1. One God, and Mohammed the PROPHET. 

2. Prayer five times a day. 

3. Giving of alms. 

4. Fast of Ramadan. 

5. Pilgrimage to Mecca. 

Moslems pray five times a day no matter where they 
are at the moment of prayer. They bow in the direction 
of Mecca in Arabia, the holy city of the Moslems. At 
the mosque (mask) they how in prayer which consists 
of reciting passages from the Koran, which is their Bible. 
Giving of alms is a religious practice. 


All true Moslems observe a month of fasting called 
Ramadan. This period is similar to our Lent. In 1942, 
Ramadan begins September 12. In 1943, it will be about 
2 weeks earlier. During this period the Moslems do not 
eat, drink, or smoke between sunrise and sunset. Do not 
offer them food, or ask them to drink or smoke except 
after dark. Respect all hesitations or refusals without 
persuasion. Any drawing of blood at this time is to be 
avoided. Even an accidental scratch or nosebleed in- 
flicted on a Moslem by an unbeliever may have serious 
consequences. Remember that the Moslems' tempers are 
short during the strains of this month. They cannot be 
expected to work efficiendy. So go easy on them. Respect 
the observance of their holiday. 

Steer clear of mosques. Never smoke or spit near a 
mosque. To repeat a warning— a^-oirf any of reli- 
gious discussion or argument. After all, we are fighting 
this war to preserve the principle of "live and let live." 

Mecca. The fifth important ritual of Moslem religion is 
the pilgrimage to Mecca. So vital is this to Moslems that 
the railroad from Damascus to Mecca, in Arabia, started 
in 1901 and completed in 1909, was built entirely from 
subscriptions by the faithful from all over Islam to make 


easier the pilgrimage to the holy city. No "unbeliever" 
is ever permitted to enter Mecca. 

How to Get Along in (he Villages. On entering a village or 
farming district, there are definite rules of procedure in 
regard to introductions. No matter how small the detach- 
ment, the leader should find out whether or not the area 
is controlled by a landlord, called a "matik il-ard" (maa- 
lik il-ARD). If so, he should call on the landlord and seek 
his cooperation and friendliness. If the area is controlled 
by an absentee landlord, find out who is his representative, 
or "wakeel" (wa-KEEL) and make yourself known to 

Every village, whether or not it is controlled by a land- 
lord, has its mayor, who is called the "mukhtar" (mukh- 
tahr). On entering a village, the leader should introduce 
himself to the mayor and call at his house. If he cannot 
find the mayor, he should make himself known to the 
eldest man in the village, or to the priest in a Christian 
village, or the "imam" (I-maam) or "sheikh" (shaykh) in 
a Moslem village. 

You can usually tell a Christian village from a Moslem 
village by the simple method of observing whether the 
village possesses a church or a mosque. A mosque always 
has a minaret or tower from which prayers are called. 


If you find both a mosque and a church in a village, you 
will know that the community is composed of both Chris- 
tians and Moslems. In all probability, each group has its 
own section of the village. If you find yourself in one of 
these communities, be careful not to favor one group more 
that the other. If you buy goods, for instance, be sure to 
patroijize both groups. Treat, the priest and sheikh with 

The friendliness and cooperation you will get depend 
largely on your dealings with the influential citizens 
who have been mentioned — the landlord, bailiff, mayor, 
sheikh, or priest. They are the persons with the most 
authority and are the respected members of the com- 
munity. All transactions regarding supplies, quarters, etc., 
should be carried on through them. To disregard these 
local leaders would be considered a serious breach of 
Syrian etiquette and would incur the ill will of the whole 

communiiy. So treat the local leaders with respect at all 
times and entertain tlietn whenever possible. Another 
helpful person is the village watchman, the ''natour" 
(naa-toor). The watchmen are usually well informed 
on the local geography and gossip. They are often the .first 
to know of unusual happenings and can thus be very use- 
ful to you. But remember that it is the watchman's busi- 
ness to be suspicious of strangers. Therefore you must win 
his trust before he is willing to help you. A suspicious 
watchman will often give you false information purposely. 
This also holds true of the local leaders if they mistrust 
you. At all times it is to your advantage to make friends! 
Here are a few things to remember in winning the friend- 
ship of the villagers: 

Respect village property. Keep to paths and roadways. 
Do not enter cultivated fields or take fruits and vege- 
tables from orchards and gardens. Villagers depend on 
these crops for their living. Their margin of reserve is 
very sHm. Do not gather fuel without permission. It also 
IS limited. Each and every tree has its owner and wood- 
lots are sometimes the properly of the village. Sometimes 
the groves are considered holy and no person may touch 
the wood. It is even considered improper to sit under the 
shade of a tree. The Syrians themselves mosdy use dried 
animal dung for fuel. Learn to use this, 


How To Get Along in the Desert. If you are in the desert, 
remember tliat every bit of land is the property of some 
specific group of tribesmen. The leader of your unit 
should discover to what tribe or group the land belongs 

and seek out and pay a call on the sheikh or headman. 
Always try to obtain permission before taking water from 
desert wells. The Syrians have complicated water rights. 
Never be wasteful of water. It is their most valuable pos- 
session. It is likely to be yours, too. 


The tribesmen admire courage and resourcefulness. 
Let them see that you have these qualities. They will be 
grateful of any generosity you can show them, such as 
a lift along the road. Whenever possible, give the men 
and children empty tins or other items you :an part with. 
A discarded gasoline can, for example, is considered a 
proud possession. 

Mercy from God" 
— Arai> proverb 


THE climate of the coastal portion of Syria is a good deal 
like that of Southern California. The winters are cool, 
but not cold, with some rain, while the summers are 
warm and sunny. Orange and olive groves abound. 

Back of the coastal plains stand the forested Lebanon 
Mountains (remember the cedars of Lebanon in the 
Bible?) which are covered with snow in ihe winter. 
Skiing is a new and popular sport here. 

In the valley or "central depression" between the Leba- 
non and Anti-Lebanon mountains, the climate is some- 
what drier than the coast, and irrigation is often 
sary. The winters are colder and the summers 
This valley, however, is fertile and well cultivated. 
Wheat and other cereals are its principal crops. 

Unlike the forested Lebanons, the Anti-Lebanon range 
is bleak and barren, without much rainfall. It is a fitting 
approach to the desert, which stretches eastvi/ard from 
its foothills. Though this desert occupies by far the greater 
portion of Syria, it is only sparsely inhabited in compari- 
son with the rest of the country, because of its unfriendly 
and unfertile character. Yet the Syrian desert is not like 
the great Sahara desert in Africa, all sand and wasteland, 
but more like the deserts of the southwestern United 


States — a stony soil covered with light vegetation, and 
with waterholes at fairly frequent intervals. 

In a strategic way, the desert is perhaps the most im- 
portant part of Syria to the United Nations, because 
across it run the great pipelines from the oil fields of 
Iraq to the Mediterranean, and also because of its position 
as the gateway to Persia and India beyond. 

Sanitary Conditions. In genera!, Syria is a healthful coun- 
try. It even hopes some day to become known as the 
health resort of the Mediterranean, Slili, sanitary condi- 
tions in many parts of the country are not like those 
we are accustomed to, and certain precautions must not 
be neglected. A little knowledge may help to avoid 

Keep your hat on when you are in the summer sun 
in Syria. In this kind of a climate it is very easy to let 
yourself be burned and think nothing of it. But next 
day you are likely to wake up with black blisters and 
possibly fever and delirium. It is not necessary to wear 
a sun helmet; a service hat is usually suf&cient. But what' 

ever you wear, be sure that it shades the back of your 
neck as well as the top of your head. If you expose the 
back of your neck you are inviting sunstroke. Protect 
your eyes too. 

In the desert, be prepared for extremes of temperature. 
The days are very hot. The nights can be very cold. 

Boil your drinking water or see that it is properly 
chlorinated. There is adequate pure water in the cities 
of Beirut and Damascus (though not the open river 
water in the latter city, which is impure). 

Avoid eating unwashed lettuce and other raw un- 
washed vegetables. They may be contaminated by human 
excrement. Outside the cities, little progress has been 
made in sanitation. Wash raw fruits or peel them before 
eating them, because the skins may have become con- 
taminated by flies or by human contact. Keep all food 
away from flies. 

If you keep to these rules you will have a good chance 
of avoiding typhoid, paratyphoid, and dysentery— -all com- 
mon diseases in Syria. If you do get dysentery or diarrhea, 
cut your diet and include plenty of "Icben" (LE-ben). 
Leben is a sour milk product and is one of the most health- 
ful dishes of the country. It can be mixed with water and 
drunk as a cooling drink. Y( 
and it will relieve dysentery. 


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Do not tlrink unboiled milk at any timt:. 

Malaria is quite prevalent in Syria. It is carried by a 
particular kind of mosquito which breeds in marshy 
areas, uncovered wells and cisterns, and in shallow water 
pools along the scacoast. If at all possible, stay away from 
areas where malaria is common. When you can't do this, 
sleep under nets and keep your arms and legs covered, 
especially at dusk. 

Sandflies, which are smaller than mosquitoes and 
which can get through an ordinary inosquito net carry 
a slight three-day fever which is not serious but is weak- 
ening. It is known as sandfly fever. Sandflies are most 
prevalent in midsummer. Coating yourself with a light 
oil will give you some protection from them. 

Venereal disease is fairly widespread in Syria. Don't 
take chances. 

These are some general health suggestions. Your medi- 
cal and sanitary officers will give you others. 


Syrian Currency. The rate of exchange of Syrian money 
to United States currency varies, so that the table below 
can only give approximate ratios. The principal unit of 
currency is the Syrian pound, which is worth 460 in 
American money and is divided into 100 "piastres" {pee- 
AS'turz) or "irsh" (the Arabic word for piastre). The 
approximate values of the various piastre pieces are given 
below. An easy way to remember Syrian currency is to 
think of each piastre as being worth just about half of 
an American cent. 

I pound (u>o pi^s:ns) = j,6i ; pmsfri (called "J lm„c") = 

U. S, 2t u. s. 

JO pla!lrel=2-i( U. S. / fiaslre^'Ai U. S. 

jj p;j«r,/=tM- U. S. i4 piastre^ V,^ U, S 

,0 pkUKS^Si- U. S. 

Palestinian Currency. In some parts of the country you 
vvill also run into Palestinian currency, so you had better 
know something about its value, too. The principal unit 
of Palestinian currency is the Palestinian pound, which 
is worth approximately $4.00 in American money and is 
divided into 1,000 "mils." Like the Syrian piastre, each 
mil is worth aiiout half of an American cent. The table 


below will give you the approximate rates of exchange ot 
the various mil pieces. 

I pound (1.000 mils)=$4.00 ,0 mlls=i(f U. S. 

U. S. S ,mls=li U. S. 

100 niih^^of U. S. 2 mili^nM V. S. 

50 ™Jj = 2oC U. S. 1 mil='Af U. S. 
20 m,(/=8(' U. S. 

The Moslem Calendar. The official calendar o£ Syria is 
ihe same as ours. It is used for all business transactions. 
But the Moslems reckon time by a lunar (moon) cal- 
endar. So a given date in the Moslem calendar will vary 
trom one year to the next on our calendar. The lunar 
calendar is of no importance to us except in telling the 
time when Ramadan will occur. Ramadan is the Moslem 
Lent, about which you have read earlier in this guide. 

Weights and Measures. The metric system is used for all 
official measurements of distance and area in Syria. The 
unit of length in the metric system is the "meter" 
{meet-ur). which is 311.37 inches, or a lilde more than 
our yard. The unit of road distances is the "kilometer" 
{\ill-oh-meet-ur), which is 1,000 meters or Vt (a little 
over a half) of one of our miles. 

The unit of square measure is the "htet.Tre" {hecl{- 
tair), which consists of 10,000 square meters or about 2V1 

of our acres. A local square measure is the "dunum" (dl-- 
nim), which is equal to 1,000 square meters or about '/i 
of an American acre. 

The unit of weight in the metric system is the '"kilo- 
gram" (l{ill-ok-g!am), which equals 2.2 pounds in our 
system. A local measure is the "rotl" (ruhti). This unit 
varies from one locality to another. It ranges from about 
•yVi to 6^/2 pounds. 

Liquids in the metric system are usually measured by 
Ihe "liter" {lee-tur), A liter is a liltle more than one of 
our liquid quarts. 


Don't enter mosques. 

Never smoke or spit in front of a mosque. 

If you come near a mosque, keep moving and don't 

Keep silent when Moslems are praying and don't stare. 

Discuss something else — never religion or women 

with Moslems. 

Avoid ofiering opinions on internal politics. 

Shake hands with Syrians; otherwise don't touch them 
or slap them on the back. 

Remember that the Syrians are a very modest people 
and avoid any exposure of the body in their presence. 


Start eating only after your host has begun. 

Eat with vour right hand— never with your lelt. even 
if you ;ire a southpaw. 

Always break bread with your fingers — never cut it. 

Bread to the Moslems is holy. Don't throw scraps of it 
about or let it fall on the ground. 

Leave some food in the bowl — what you leave goes to 
the women and children. 

Eat only part of the first course — there may be four 
or five more coming. 

Don't give Moslems food containing pork, bacon or 
laid, or cooked in pork products. 

Don't eat pork or pork products in front of Moslems. 

Be pleasant if Moslems refuse to cat meat which you 
ofier. They may consider it religiously unclean. 

Don't give Moslems alcoholic drinks. 

Drink liquor somewhere else — never in the presence of 

Knock before entering a house. Tf a woman answers, 
wait until she has had time to retire. 

Follow the rule of your host. If he takes off his shoes 
on entering the house, do the same. 

If you are required to sit on the floor in a Syrian house 
or tent, cross your legs while doing so. 

When visiting, don't overstay your welcome. The third 
glass of tea or coffee is the signal to leave unless you are 
quartered there. 

Don't bring a dog into the house. 

Be kind to' beggars. They are mostly honest unfor- 
tunates. Give them some small change occasionally. 

When you see grown men walking hand in hand, 
ignore it. They are not "queer." 

Be kind and considerate to servants. The Syrians are 
a very democratic people. 

Avoid any expression of race prejudice. 

Talk Arabic if you can to the people. No matter how 
badly you do it, they like it. 

Shake hands on meeting and leaving. 

On meeting a Syrian, be sure to inquire after his 

If you wish to give someone a present, make it sweets 
or cigarettes. 

If you are stationed in the country, it is a good idea to 
take sweets and cigarettes with you when you visit a 
Syrian's house. 

Show respect toward all older persons. If serving food, 
the oldest person should be served first. 

Be polite. Good manners are essential among the 

Syrians. Be hospitable to Syrians whenever possible. Do 
not turn away callers. Serve them coffee or tea. 

Bargain on prices. Don't let shopkeepers or merchants 
overcharge you; but be polite. 

Be generous with your cigarettes. 

Above all, use common sense on all occasions. And 
remember that every American soldier is an unofficial 
ambassador of good will. 

^^v d 


THESE are pronunciation hints to help you in listening 
to the Arabic language records which have been supplied 
to your troop unit. They will also help you with the 
pronunciation of additional words and phrases given in 
the vocabulary below, which are not included in the 

Arabic is spoken over a great area in North Africa and 
the Near East. There are some differences between re- 
gions, both in pronunciation and the use of words. The 
dialect and words you are going to hear on this set of 
records arc Syrian and Palestinian and yoii will be un- 
derstood in Syria and Palestine and in the cities of 
Trans-Jordania and in Cairo and the Egyptian Delta 
region. If you should go on to other regions, where other 
of Arabic are spoken, you will be given further 
me. Don't worry about that now. 
rery difficult about Arabic — except 
uiac you won i oe able to read Arabic signs and news- 
papers you will see. That is because they use a different 
alphabet from ours. Therefore, the instructions and vocab- 
ulary below are not based on the written Arabic lan- 
guage, but are a simplified system of representing the 
language as it sounds. This system contains letters for 
all the sounds you must make to be understood. It does 


information at that t: 
There is nothing i 

not contain letters for some of the sounds you will hear, 
but it will give you enough to get by on, both listening 
and speaking. 
Here are a few simple rules to help you: 

1. Accents. You know what the accented syllable of 
a word is, of course. It is the syllable which is spoken 
louder than the other syllables in the same word. We 
will show accented (loud) syllables in capital letters and 
unaccented syllables in small letters. 

2. Vowels. These are the kind of sounds we represent 
in English by a, e, i, o, «, ah, ay. ei, oi, etc. Just follow 
the key below and you will have no trouble. 

a or A equals ihe a in pal usually, but if the inan you arc 

talking to doesn't seem to get you at first, try 
sounding it like the o in poi; sonieiimes it 
is pronounced that way. There is no fixed 
rule. You'll just have to listen and Itarn. 
(liN.iiiiplt: iij-HAM-ni meaning "do you 

AA equals tlic a in demand— iiat stretch (lengthen) il. 

(l^samplf: WAA-hid meanbg "one.") 
AH equals the a in jalhcr — but stretch it. (Example: 

NAll-'diii meaning "yes-") 
AI equals the i" in aisle— hw stretch it. (Example; 

Al-u/a meaning "yes.") 
AY equals the ay in day — but stretch it. (Example; 

WAYN meaning "where.") 

in Eni-lish 111 
shj,!it ihem IIi 
to learn 

1 the mv in now. (Example: AU-u/al meaning 

i tiK e in pel. (E.xample: WE-led meaning 

: the ee in feet— bar sirctcli it. (Example: ya- 

SUE-d, meaning "sir.") 
. the / in pit. (Example; ya-SIT meaning 


the o in go — but stretch it. (Example: /a- 
SOL-ya meaning "beans.") 

the CO in ioo/— but stretch it. (Example: 

SI/00 IS-mal( meaning "what is your name.") 

the II in put. (Example: ii'-ZVR-ni meaning 

the t, in/;// (L\ample mm FUFD /a^ mem 
m« pkase > 

The consonants are all the sounds that 
Pronounce them just as you know them 
should be pronounced Never 
3mt spicial consonant sound'; 


aring \our throat when )ou haie to 
. on the rcLords 

lu garble Li.t 


sh is like ihe sh in iliow. 

(') is 10 be pronounced like a slishl cough. Listen circfully for il 
(in ihc records. WIiliicvlt it is indicaictl. prooouncc il clearly, 
but do not pronounce it even accidentally where il is not indi- 
cated, or you will be misuiidcrsiood. 

s is always pronounced like the j in hiss. 


HERE is a list of the most useful words and phrases you 
will need in Arabic. You should Icain these by heart. 
They are the words and phrases included on the Arabic 
language records, and appear here in the order they occur 
on the records. 

CrMlfnsi and Ganwal PhratM 

Eng\hh—Simplijicd Arabic Spelling 

G™-,t <\:,y—na-H.hl-rA <«- you (lo a m 



/u'- KHAYR-ak evening— M^-jfl/ KH^YR 

Thank y.iu (lo a 


Sir— ya SEE-di 



Madam— )fl SIT 

T),ank you (to mo 


person)— K^r-far 


Please {to a min)—min-FUHD- 




Please (lo a woman)— min- 

No— L///f 


I)o vou undcrslan 

me— ^,/. 

Please (to more than one pci- 



I don't undersiand- 

Ew:use me (to a man)— «'- 



Please speak s 1 o 

w 1 y—min 

Excuse me (to a wo-nan)-r,-- 

FUHD-h/t. "i-k 




Excuse me (to more than one 

Wlure is— II'.JVjV ihc riiilroad sinion— IC^YJV 

,, rcinurjnt— TC^y.V 11- ii-nia-HAT-la 

MAr-\mi a \.m\a—WAYN BAYT it- 

a liottl— if.JVA* :l-0-T.lYL MA} 

Turn I i B h l— DOOR Ul-ya- Siraifiln ahead— DUGH-n 

MEEN Pl<^3«: paw— mm FUHD-lai;. 

Turn left— DOOR Ush-MAAL jar-ZHEE-ni 

Distances arc given in kilometers, not miks. One kilometer 
4 of a mile. 



Oaii—WAA'hid Vimr—AR-ba-a 

Two—it-NAYN nve—KHAM-si 

Three— TL^/J-/i 

But when you use the numbers wilh other words 
happens : 
One kilometer— *fe-/o-A/7- 


Two kilometers — kcc-io-mil- 

Three kilometers— TL^ /J 7 k"- 


F<.ur kilomcltrs— /(R-ia' k"-h 

Five kilometers— K//.-/JV/S /(k 

Nine— T/S-'a 

But notice again: 
Six kilometers — SIT l(ec-lo-niil- 

Seven kilometers- S^-i,' Ics'- 

Eight kilometers — la-MAAN 

Nine kilometers- TZ-ii' kee-lo- 

Ten kilometers— '^-jAflr ^ec-Zo- 


From eleven on, the same 
iting is used with the simple 



TASH k."'lo-MI-!ii 
Filleen kilometers — kjia-niis- 

TASH k."'lo-MI-lir 
Sixteen kilometers — lir-TA'SH 


.meters — m-bi'- 

TASH k"-lo-MI-lir 


TASH kec-lo-MI-iir 
rwenty kilometers— 'i>A-R££A/ 

Far "twenty -one," "ihirty- 
wo," and so fonh, you add the 
imple form of the numbers to 
he words for " twenty" and 

form of the word a 

Eleven kilometers— iA-D/C5H 

Twelve kilometers— K-JV^'5H 

Thirteen kilomeiers- //az-T^'SH 


Twenty-one kilometers- H'^//- 
hid i,-'ish-REEN /(ee-lo-MI-Ur 

Thirty kilometers — lla-TEEN 

Thirty-two kilometer s— ,/- 
NAY-N H-lla-TEEN k^c-lo- 

k I Ml 

Fifty k I m 

k I Ml 


f h i a li ti 

d ed— iWEE TAYN 

Two hundred kilometers— MEE- 

TAYN k'C-lo-MI-Ur 

For 250 jou say "couple o£ 
hundreds and fifty": 

For 255 yo" ™o"''' '"V "'^""^ 
pie hundreds, five and fifty": 

255 kdometers— MEE-T^yW „■ 
Ifhoms ,,'k.ham-SEEN k."-h- 

But tor 555 yo" 

"five hundred and five and 


555 kilometers— ^Aflin* Ml-yi "- 

libams u-lil'im-SEEN k'e-la- 

1000 kilometers — clj liee-Io-Ml- 

What is— 5H00. AYSfJ 

What's this— 5H00 HAA-da or 

I warn— fl/D ./; 

clyorelici— B/D-(J( fa-C^^- 

10 i^M—BID-di O-h'l 

Water— W /J/ 

Steak- 5T<(YK 
Potatoes — ba-TAH-las 
Rice— iH! 

Uejns (navy)— /o-SOL-ya 
Beans (horse)— fOOL 
Fish— 5^/-mfl^ 
Salad— S.-l-/a-/fl 
Milk— Au-LFEB 

Beer- BEE-ra 

A glass of hea—KAAS BEE-ra 

A cup of coHee—f'n-ZHAAN 


To find out how much tilings 
cost you say: 
How mMc'a.—'ad-DAYSH 


this — HAA-da 
Hiiw much does this cost— '111/- 

DAYSH bi-KAL-lil HAA-da 


■■ K—-ad-DAYSH 

Half past si 

Twenty of eight is said "seven 
and two thirds" or "eight ex- 
cept one third": 
Twenty of eight— SAB-'a ,,-ml- 
TAYN or TMAA-ni IL-la 
Quartet ol— IL-la RU-bi' 
Quarter of txvo— ir-.VWVJV IL- 
la RU-hr 

linutes to three— TLAA-li 

IL-la -ASH-ra 
At what time — Al-ya SAY-'a 

the movie— is-Sl-aa-ma 

At what time does the movie 

start— -^;-ytf SAY-a' bi-TIB- 

da is-SI-na-nia 
The train— i/-TK^YK 
lt:ive— i/-5^^-^r 
At what time does the train 

leave— ^;-ya SAY-'a bl-SAA- 

fir il-TRAVN 

Sunday— yOM il-HAD 
Monday— yOA/ li-\'AYX 
Tuesday— VO.l/ ii-TLA.I-i^ 
Wednesday- Y(L1.V( il-A!<.-l/<i-\ 

Thursdaj'— YfJW il-^lia-MEKS 
Friday— yOAf il-ZMVM-'a 
Saturday- yOM is-SEBT 

What is your name <io a 

\hh—FEE HA-da HON 

man)— SHOO IS-nial; 

BYlA-'ii ir-CLEE-si 

Wha. is your n;,nic (io a 

Goodbye {by person leaving)— 

woman)— JHOO IS-,>,ili 


My name i^lS-,m 

Goodbye (by person replying)— 

Does anyone litrt speak Eng- 




-An hie \ 

bank (of n-.^rl—s/iuhl 

spring (walet-hole, eic.)— 

Jarkness— ZL/L-m, 


daylimc (lighr)— no-H.'JHR 

the stars-^n-ZHOO.W (plural; 


Nl-shim (singular, 

ddd—HA-'ll, taarzh (plain) 

stream— ZH//D-^fl/ 

fi c~NAHR 

ihe sun— )>A-SH^iWS 

io Cit (wood )—lmrsh 

wind— H^-«'a 

day— yOiW 

day after tomorrow— /-aV BUK- 

g a — Aa 5H£EiH 
the g ounii— a«/ 

gully ( a n )— Z//0-™ 

day before ycstetda\— J £/■««/ 

hll— / 


lak— fl^/arfl 

evening— ,Vf /I -/fl 

month— 5H^-A<> 

moun a n—ZHE-bd 

morning— 5t;-*(^ 

Ihc 3n—lBA-l,ar 

nigh!— L^YL 

an—SHl J 

week— ZHW/--» 

I r—\1/mr 

year- 5/-«/ 

onths a 

Ihe Year 



AuKUsI- ^;.ffl 


September— ./V-LOOZ, 


Oalober—lliA-REEN AU-wal 


November— riii-REEN TAA-m 

May— Al-YAHR 

December— K A A-^OON All- 






h^>y—IVE-tcd or SUIJ-h 

in3n—n<:A.ZHAAL or Z^-ia- 

brother- fltA or KHAI 

»H (slang) 

child— WE-led 

mother— ;w 

daughter— ij'n/ 

sister— „i:/» 

father— J -ioo 

son- /-i,n 

girl— *;„/ 

«uinan— ,lW-ra 




head— ft^Hi 

back— D^-Acr 

leg— S^J^- 

eye— '^W 

finger- I/S-4fl' 


loot— IZH-ir 

teeth — SNA AN 


me—VS-ba- IZH-Jr 

hand— iTED 

usa and 



r„oni— O-rffl 

blanket— A- A'.-frfM 

Mair-.— O..J.,v,eA 

chair— KUA'-,-, 

stovi— (twking place)— 50-*fl 

door— S^^B 

ubk— T,mii'-/; 

drinking water— .1 /.-J/ -y// 


wall— «^/VT 


ivaic^r for washing- My*/ W- 




windo w—s/inb-BAAK 

uiier— z;s-rfi 

Dranjies — biir-dii- 'AAK 

bbaBC—"'fl'-f oof 

orange juice— 'i-^EfR /< 

uli(i,nwr — ■fl.--™-B/r;iT or 



pll'c— i,'An/-yO.V 

^,K!i,!K^— /-V-iA/J 

i^„i;,!,,[ i.iii-y.iiik 


jri!i.d iiiilh,— ;,.(-.'■■.;/! 

.,;;_,,.— .SU^'-^ar 

„d—J-/iU (L-.>okwl ii>.>.l) :«- 

uj— i/Y^/H-; 


wtxiL-co— i/(-:tA-KH.4.JA 

apes— V-nrti 

loniatncs — ban-DO O-ra 



clous— fei/-r£;rK/v 

>vmc— <j-flEro 



1 —ZHI 

sl»,|, Uioie)—,i,.l(-KAAA 

h— -t \fe£ 


— m /J£t B !-hi/ 


1 —ZHiA 


h ( 1 1 1~ lf.« 

vilbKC— VIA'-J-y or DAY-- 

IT — BOi 


1 pi —M-IKHI 

hottfl— O-T/JVL ... lo-KA 

h k (1 )—ZH4'izhi 

pig — i,hln-ZEER 





mosq uiiocs— Wyi,^ -MOOS 

btflbuj^s — hii' 



barber— yi,(/-L-(,'I' 

iarm.:,— If l-l. A Ah 

blac ksm ith— /»/(/- D./ // D 

shiicmaUef— ^f,n-D. .'R-,-A 

buichor— Ju-i-H^.:)A( 



sL-conJ— r.j,;-™; 

third— TAA-li! 






hek—s:,n-NAHR or KA-mar 


coal— SAH-li^o 



SKckw—gra-VAAT or KAB-ic 


xt> — 















good— TAI-yib or KWAI-yii or 

bad— ifl/-rjHL 
big— k'-BEER 
small— ifl-GHEER 
kii—SHMJAL or ya-SAHR 
i\ck—ma-REED or ■ai-'/AAN 
w<:ll— T^;-y;i or r.i.:h-S0OT 
hungry— ZHO-'^^W 

black— --IS-w.!^ 

blue— ^Z-ri 

high— -^H-Zi 

low— H'^W-'i 

d cep — -gha-MKE' 

shallow— m)>A gAa-MEE' (noi 

tol.t— B^^-r/rf (ihing) nr bar- 

DAAN (person) 
hot— 5H0fl (weather) SU-l(Aii'i 

(thing) SHO-BAAN (person) 
wci- ffl.i/>-L00t 
xpcnsivc — GHA A -h 
chap— ir-KHF.ES 
empty- F-^H-i^r ur FAA-ngk 
full— Jnfl/-y^/JjV 

he— HOO 
she— HEE 
they— Aum 

wh<>— jWEEJV 
what-^HOO or AYSH 

thest— Aa-OOL 


in— EEE 

up xo—li-HAD 

of— n./n 

with- mfl- or */- 



above— rO' 

nejr- j/jemi (adv.) or a-REiTB 

■A^iin—ku-MAAN MAR-ra 


behmJ— IF^-™ 

on that s\de—'A-k :hcmb Im- 

besldi— 3/ifwA 
beiow— (fl/j; 

on this sidt^'.^-/fl zhcmb HAA- 

tar— *fl-'EED 




m trom-'iid-DAMI 


less— fl--.-*L 

when— B'.iVA' or FAYN 

mae—AKur or ka-MAAN 




and- H/a or »- 

or— /lU or tflL-la 

but— L^^-tin 

that— In 

if— /-J« or I-ZH or LAV 



Every Day 

How do you say ... in Aral 


T.kIjv l^ [he fifrh nl June- /7- 

f.'EEE hit--OOL ... hil --A 


YOM KHAM-.^i \h-ZA\- 



What date is>— arf- 

Come hea— /a-VM/, L-Wj.V 


What day of thr wec'k 4Uitkly— U-',i^L i- 

^YSH ji-yaw? 


Co quickly-— ROOA a-WAAM ZHEE-/>a MJl lii/i-SHURB 

Whu arc you?— (to n>orc ihan one) 

\f!-:EN iat (ro a man) Brinf some food— 

MEEN IN-n (to a woman) ZHEEB I-sAi lil-A-h't (lo a 

SIEEN IN-m (to more than man) 

one) ZIIEE-ii I-shi (lo a 

What do you want?— womjn) 

SHOO BID'dali (to a man) ZHEE-bi, l-shi lil-A-kft (to 

SHOO BID-dik. (to a wojiun) more than one) 

AySH BID-kiim (to more How far is the camp?— arf- 

than one) DAYSH BYlB-'id it-KAMB 

[ding some drinking water — How far is the waitr?— oi/- 

ZHEEB MAI lish-SHURB (to DAYSH bi-TJB-'id il-MAl 

a man) Whose house is this?— ^/-A/fEN 





,,,rf_S„u,h Palestine, 6.;6 lbs.; O'-'fl— 2.817 lbs- 

North Palestine, 5.653 lbs. KEE-LO — t kilograin (i.jnjfi 

O-'EE-u— South Palestine, D.53 lbs. avd.) 

lbs.; North Palestine. 0.471 liihn (pronounced like Enp. 

lbs. ton)— I ton (metrte). or 

■un-TAHR — South Palestine, 2204.6 lbs. 

635.921 lbs.; North Palestine, 

565.159 lbs. 

Note: The metric system is in official use in Syria, but the old 
Arab weights still are used. Both in Palestine and in Syria these 
wdghts vary considerably from place to place and will have to be 
learned by experience. 

DK/l^' or f£E/;—26.67 inches kz-'lo-MI-lir—i kilometer (54 

(doih measure); 29.84 in. of a mile or jiKo.S feet). 

(building and land measure). AfEE/.— mile. 

DU-num— 1099.505(1 scjuarc A/EE-/ii— meter (39.37 inches). 

yards (land measure), or 

1600 sq. DRAAS. 


It IS often fuide to ttj to hnd , ut exact distantcs from the 
[(Ljjums bcLlllSL ihe\ h3\c little idea of j,.>.uraie expression 1 he> 
rtdl ottm rcpK ilut a place is ' t\vo cigarettes auaj, or about 
20 minutes (the time it takes lo smoke one cigarttte about lu 
rmnuub) Or the> nu\ rcplj that a place is so minj hours awas, 
bi which thc\ mean hours trjuhng b\ hor« donkev or camel 
More sophisiiuied Aribs cypress distance m metirs 01 kilometers 
or perhaps mdcs 

half a 

I (Palestine), about 



I P""""!. 5H/L-to— shilling (5 I 
ta--REE-la—^ mils (Palestine), (20 cents). 

also called IMS 'irsk, half a LEE-ra. WA-ra-'a~pou n d 

"■ '" (S4.02). 




ms tt-'iih-REEN -irsh—iLs 
bsKrs {II c-nu). 
m-SEEN ■irsh—so piasiers 
23 cen.s). 
l-ra, \VA-ra-'a — pound {46 

Translation — greetings to svria and 


Date Due 


" L