People in my Arabic class yesterday were talking about this New York Times story about an Arab-American army recruiter. A photo that ran with the story shows a T-shirt that reads "If you can read this" (in Arabic) and then below, "The National Guard needs you" (in English). But the grammar of the first line seems incorrect. Normally, after the conditional particle, the verb should be in the past, not the present. (I'd like native Arabic speakers to confirm this.) This would hardly be the first or most egregious mistake the US armed forces have made trying to communicate with Arabs..

Ursula Lindsey

Ursula Lindsey is the managing editor of the Arabist blog. She writes about culture, education and politics in the Arab world. She lived in Cairo from 2002 to 2013 and got her start at the ground-breaking independent magazine Cairo Times. She was the culture editor of Cairo magazine in 2005-2006 and served as special projects editor at the independent news site Mada Masr in 2013-2014. She is the Chronicle of Higher Education's Middle East correspondent. She contributes to the BBC-PRI radio program The World, and has written for Newsweek, The New York Times, The New Yorker online, Bookforum and the blog of the London Review of Books.