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My friend is going to Jordan on a trip and he'll visit several cities. As a favor he owed me he promised to get me some books that I crave.

Can you guys tell me where are some places across the country where he could get me some books for a good price, preferable second-hand?

Edit: to be more specific, I am mostly interested in dictionaries, grammar books and other works pertaining to language in general, especially Arabic-to-other or other-to-Arabic (either MSA or Jordanian variety), published within the last century.

Obviously there are multiple bookstores in Jordan, but I don't know how my friend will plan his trip so I don't know ahead of time where to send him—instead we agreed that I'd provide him with some places and he'll try to fit them into his plan.

However, I don't speak Arabic plus I am not so sure how many second-hand vendors advertise themselves on Google Maps, hence my humble request to the community :)

  • Books in English? – Roddy of the Frozen Peas Oct 16 '18 at 13:46
  • @RoddyoftheFrozenPeas in any language :) – MrVocabulary Oct 16 '18 at 15:16
  • @user568458 – edited my question to answer yours :) – MrVocabulary Oct 16 '18 at 15:16
  • @MrVocabulary Great, it's an answerable question now :-) unfortunately it has already attracted four close votes already and the title still sounds too broad so it will probably attract a fifth before I can finish an answer... Can you reword the title? – user568458 Oct 16 '18 at 15:59
  • @user568458 done. But it's weird – I have asked similar questions for other countries in the format I employed here initially without attracting any downvotes… – MrVocabulary Oct 16 '18 at 16:51
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The good news - Jordan and particularly Amman have seen a huge increase in the number of students coming to learn Arabic (particularly since Damascus and Cairo became less desirable locations...), so there's a growing amount of material available for people interested in languages.

Cheap?

The bad news is, it tends not to be cheap and second-hand language related books are often quickly hoovered up by incoming students and tend to be sold person-to-person at language schools or via social media. There aren't many places to buy second hand books that I'm aware of that are likely to be of the right type:

  • Souk Jara is a very pleasant open-air market in downtown Amman near several popular tourist areas, has many stalls selling books, almost all in Arabic and mostly aimed at a local market but may be of some interest, and generally quite cheap including some second-hand book stalls
  • The Amman Pasha Hotel has a book exchange of books in many languages. So, cheap, but they're probably mostly pulpy holiday books left behind by guests. But you might get lucky.

I've seen a few small second hand books / bric-a-brac shops but they understandably mostly sell things along the lines of religious texts and Arabic-language accountancy course books from 1995.

In many languages?

So you might need to compromise on the "cheap" part. There are plenty of large bookshops that have language-related materials and sell books in multiple languages. Expect prices to be like an expensive European country (e.g. Scandinavia).

  • Books@Cafe is well worth a visit. As well as being a well-stocked multi lingual (mostly English and Arabic) modern book shop, it is also a very nice cafe and restaurant with views over central Amman. It's not far from Souk Jara and the Rainbow Street area.
  • The Good Bookshop is also in the same area. Not been but it's well regarded.
  • There are many more but you'll find as much info on various listings pages (example) as I could give. Most large shopping malls contain a bookshop with books in English as well as Arabic (plus other languages, occasionally) and there's usually a small languages section.

Specifically about languages?

The question asked for bookshops rather than specific books, but something that might be of interest is that some of the Jordanian language schools and institutes have taken to printing and selling their own materials. This is because Jordanian Arabic (which is a branch of Levantine Arabic, which is a branch of colloquial Arabic aka Ammiya) has very little in the way of quality learning materials, so they've taken matters into their own hands.

One in particular is from Diwan Baladna, a small independent Arabic school / cultural institute. They have two books out which can be found in most large bookshops but would be very hard to find outside Jordan:

enter image description here

"The Unprecedented Spoken Arabic Dictionary" I imagine would be of interest to any curious person with an interest in languages. The main part is a huge compendium of idioms, with literal translations in English as well as the colloquial meaning, organised by theme, for example:

People (negative) - Selfish/Arrogant

  • I tell him it's a bull, he says milk it. Said of the strong-headed person who asks for something that cannot be fulfilled and does not understand anything except what he desires.
  • He limps in front of crippled ones. Said of the person who tries to display knowledge in front of those who have more knowledge than him.
  • continues

The 'dictionary' part of the book is not of much use if you don't read Arabic script (there's no transliteration, but there is an audio CD), but the idioms are a great read even to non-Arabic-learners.

It might also be worth asking at some of the language schools. I don't know any through personal experience, but the French Institute is well regarded for Arabic (despite the name!).

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    "I tell him it's a bull, he says milk it." -- this is fantastic, even in English. – Roddy of the Frozen Peas Oct 26 '18 at 0:22

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