TEDxDubai: English language threatens Arabic!

I was away in Scotland this weekend and read this article in the Gulf News (whilst it rained for the whole day and night, you know what I was wishing for some Gulf sun!) and now that I am back I thought it is important to share this with my readers. What a claim, what a title and I can hear both supporter and critics screaming for and against these 4 words! What type of threat and why? Who says so and how? I’d like to hear what the readers think about this claim.

I am hoping to have some ‘free’ time in the next few weeks and post up a specific study of the situation of Arabic in the UAE. On that note, a while back I mentioned that I was writing a book chapter, well it’s out (this month)  and you can see the contents page & the introduction to the book here.  I discuss the sociolinguistic situation of Arabic in the Gulf countries based on experiences and opinions of Gulf students themselves. I also discuss some of the problems and reasons why Arabic language is seen to be under threat and I offer some solutions. I will not spoil the rest for you, if you do get the chance then get the book and read my chapter and those written by others in the book. This topic of Arabic being lost is a topic that intrigues many and causes concern for some, it is difficult to predict precisely what the fate of the Arabic language amongst its speakers will be. In this Gulf News article, the person making the claim has hands-on experience with what the state of Arabic is in the Middle East through her 30 years of teaching. 

I have pasted it below here, for you to read without editing: ————–

Dubai: English is taking over the world, says English teacher Patricia Ryan Abu Wardeh. And its status as a global language comes at the expense of other languages, she argues.After 30 years of teaching her native language in the Gulf, Abu Wardeh has come to the conclusion that while English is an important language, its status as a global language is overshadowing other languages, including Arabic.

These sentiments have built up over the years she has been teaching, but she has never made them public until given the opportunity by Technology, Entertainment, Design’s, (TED) Dubai affiliate, TEDxDubai.Abu Wardeh, who works at a university in the UAE, presented her ideas at a Dubai TEDx event. Her presentation is one of the few such talks in Dubai that has been posted on the global TED website.Her views gave way to a debate. Most people welcomed them but there was some strong opposition.

“The idea evolved over several years of teaching English and doing specialised assessments. I’ve seen so much change in that it has become an absolute must to have a high standard of general English to be able to enter any decent university,” she said.As she cited in her talk, the number of languages in the world is expected to fall from 6,000 today to 600 in 90 years. She attributes this to the dominant status of English.

Testing programme

She singled out English testing programmes for denying students from non-English speaking backgrounds the opportunity to study at the best universities in the world, which happen to be in English-speaking countries.”Who am I to say to this [non-English speaker]: thou shalt not continue on this path. Go back and try again,” she said, adding that she once worked for such a testing programme but decided to quit for ethical reasons.

It horrifies her that English teachers are allowed to make doctor-like decisions that can determine the fate of a student’s career. “It’s ridiculous,” she says.A system in which an English teacher can have the authority to turn down a “potentially brilliant” physicist, is deeply flawed, she notes. “It’s a very expensive process anyway, so you already dismiss two-thirds of the world’s population.”

While the testing entities say they are non-profit-making, Abu Wardeh claims language testing is nevertheless an industry.”They are making a lot of money for a lot of people,” she said. A global language that everyone can speak would be nice, she says, but the language is likely to be that of dominant powers and cultures, and will come at the expense of some of the endangered languages of the world.

This trend towards English at the expense of native languages is particularly worrying in the UAE. Abu Wardeh says she regularly asks her Emirati students what language they speak at home, and is often surprised to learn that it is English.”These people will speak to their own children in English. It only takes one generation [to lose a language],” she says.

No real gain

In other instances, she has found English teachers telling parents to speak to their children in English at home. Some of those parents are therefore forced to speak to their children in the broken English they know, resulting in a loss in Arabic skills and no real gain in English skills.

Dubai is exceptional in terms of the weakening status of Arabic in homes, she says, attributing the trend to the demographic make-up of the city.She places some of the responsibility on government authorities too. Most of the higher education institutions in the UAE use English as a language of instruction, which has led some to complain about the disappearance of Arabic from higher education.

“It’s purely pragmatic [to switch to English in the region] because they want to get on in the world and be global; I see that, but you shouldn’t lose what you’ve got,” she said.Abu Wardeh is one of the few people who spoke in Dubai and is featured on the TED website.

Others include her son Jameel, who brought the Axis of Evil comedy tour to Middle Eastern television screens, and Naif Al Mutawa, the Kuwaiti creator of the Islamic inspired The 99 comic book series that has now developed into an animated television series. Both Al Mutawa and the younger Abu Wardeh debuted with TED talks in Dubai.

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It is a natural course for languages to change and gain new vocabularies and concepts as the world advances. But to lose a language is so very sad, and as discussed previously on this blog there are efforts in place to document these dying languages. Abu Wardeh makes many good points in her speech and I think language planners and researchers into Arabic language need to take note of what she says, and perhaps it might be an idea to read more on her claims because here they are brief.

source: http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/education/english-language-threatens-arabic-1.810984

The need for more books in Arabic- not just translations of foreign novels

Legs up and reading a book
Image by Gael Martin via Flickr

Good morning everybody, hoping everybody has a nice weekend the weather seems to be getting nicer, I hope it stays that way so on the Race for Life day it can be pleasant. There is one dilemma that exists for Arab speakers and that is uninteresting material to read, and then people end up not reading at all. I found an article in The National addressing the issue of the availability of reading material in Arabic. There is a plethora of translations of all our classics such as Charles Dickens, the Bronte sisters, Jane Austin and even George Orwell. It’s always my habit that when I go on holiday I like to visit the main bookstores and over the years as I have visited the Middle East I noticed the book stores are more apparent and there are more of them which is a good thing and maybe an indicator that someone somewhere is reading! Of course until you go in then you can tell the contents and usually the materials they sell are; post cards, key rings, factual books about the country in question, magazines (plenty of them on everything from cooking, furniture, make-up to computers mainly in Arabic but some in English too) self- help books (many are translations from English), and novels in English, their translations and other wonderful Arabic novels. There is of course the canonical works of Arabic grammar, literature, and Islam that are always available and some of the printing is beautiful with their wonderful calligraphy-pressed covers and exquisite borders in the inside pages; you have to hold yourself otherwise you might end up buying the same book three times! Children’s books are mainly in English and the ones in Arabic are in Classical Arabic which most kids can’t read. I know that whilst doing my degree many of my colleagues would buy kid’s books in Arabic to revise grammar and help themselves learn Arabic- that shows the level of Arabic (children’s books in Arabic are so fun you don’t need to be a kid to read them!). This article below is the story of a mother who struggled to buy suitable reading books for her kids…. have a read to see what she had to do (no editing was done)

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Why are so few reading Arabic books? Tahira Yaqoob and Shadiah Abdullah (Writer) 

Last Updated: Apr 23, 2011

As an Arabic-speaking mother of three, Abir Ballan was eager that her children be familiar with their mother tongue. Yet when the 35-year-old public health worker scoured libraries and bookshops in search of entertaining children’s books in Arabic for her oldest son, Zein, then seven, she came up against an unexpected stumbling block: although plenty of translations of adult English literature filled the shelves, there was very little in the way of original, engaging fiction for young inquiring minds.

Undeterred, Ballan, who is originally from Beirut but lives in Dubai, set about writing a children’s book herself, turning the “crazy stories I used to tell my children to make them laugh” into lively printed form. Today she has six hugely popular picture books in print, including Fie al Ittihad al Quwa (United We Stand), which tells the story of National Day in the Emirates through a child’s eyes, and Ahlum An Ankoun (I Wish I Were).

But while her success story has inspired other writers and created a fan base of youngsters hungry for more creative fiction in their mother tongue, the obstacles she was forced to overcome represent just a fraction of a widespread problem: why are so few people reading Arabic books?

The scale of the problem was spelt out in a recent survey on reading habits in the Middle East. Commissioned to mark World Book Day last month, it produced depressing results for any Arab writer or publisher: only one in five read on a regular basis and among those under 25 – nearly 65 per cent of the 3,667 questioned by Yahoo! Maktoob Research – about one in three seldom or never read a book for pleasure.

Broken down by country, the results make equally uncomfortable reading. In an Arab League table of readers by nation, the UAE comes fifth behind Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco and Iraq. In the Emirates, just 22 per cent of people regard themselves as regular readers. Most of those were well into their 40s and older.

Behind the figures is a sense that Arabic, at least in written form, is in serious trouble. The causes are complex and much debated. A diaspora, particularly among young educated professionals, means many young Arabs educated and living abroad are more comfortable writing in English.

A general lack of educational opportunities, particularly among poorer Arabs, is also to blame. Research for the Arab League estimates that about 100 million people – almost one in three – struggle to read and write. A recent Unesco report found that in the UAE, one in 10 people is illiterate.

Then there is something more intangible but equally damaging: a culture based on globalisation that is increasingly dominated by foreign-language products. Films, magazines, TV programmes, the printed word – everything that is culturally shiny and enticing to young minds. Among young Emiratis, the most popular section at the Book World superstore in Dubai Mall is English translations of Japanese manga comics. One result is that, as Ballan found, there are simply not enough books being published in Arabic, particular for children and teenagers. It is a chicken-and-egg situation. The market is not big enough to make it worthwhile, so there are not enough people writing.

“The quality of Arabic books is not of the standard of English books, which are nicely illustrated and cater to children’s emotional needs,” she says.

“Arab culture does not promote reading. I do not think parents see the importance of reading to their children in Arabic unless they are learning the alphabet. They do not see that books need to be read for fun, too.”

———The article continues…..please feel free to read it at the link below.

It’s great that she did something about it. If there is no incentive to read or a culture (as is claimed here) that does not push for kids to read they will not read, not as kids and not as adults. As linguists like to say, it’s always the attitude a good and positive attitude promotes better language learning and so on. The attitude must change, and if it does not then they will always say that Arabic is in danger of dying! I can go on and on about the benefits of reading not just for social gains but psychologically, for intelligence purposes etc… but it’s not the place and most people know this anyway. I can’t imagine what the world would be like without books!? There are efforts to address this lack of Arabic books for children, many publishing houses are taking this seriously, I am hoping that in a few months time when I go, the bookstores will have a better variety in the kids’ section. It might be a few years until a shift takes place, and I am sure it will (how that will impact or change things is to be seen) so we’ll see how that goes.

sourcehttp://www.thenational.ae/news/worldwide/why-are-so-few-reading-arabic-books

Arabic language day- A Twitter perspective

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

After more than 200 tweets I decided to post something on the fact that  it is Arabic day today ON TWITTER, so I thought I’d share the news. Speakers of the Arabic language celebrate their language on this day [though I have not checked out the origins of the day yet] and they make it an issue to raise awareness about different issues surrounding the Arabic language.

The things people are doing today is, for example, all twitter users are writing only in Arabic and are apologising to their non-Arabic speaking followers for their use of Arabic only, for example- Dear Non-Arabic speakers/readers tweeps: Today is #ArabicDay so please tolerate the Arabic tweets for the day 🙂 .. Have a wonderful day 🙂

I think most people are tweeting in Classical Arabic only- which is great because you get to see people’s language skills. There are excellent quotes about Arabic as a language, as an item that defines a people, a people who are proud to be speakers of Arabic.  SO what happens now is that someone makes a cup of tea and tweets that in Classical Arabic with all the right grammar and diacritics I’ll paste it here for readers of Arabic-ما أجمل اللغة العربية , قمت باعداد كوباً من الشاى he writes here- how beautiful Arabic language is, I have made a cup of tea… and it’s all grammatically correct. Another example- في طريق العودة للمنزل #Arabicday— trans- on my way back home.. Which makes me wonder how would they have written it if they were not making an Arabic emphasis?  In English perhaps.

The issue of identity comes up in the tweets aswell اللغة هوية ….اللغة حضارة …. #ArabicDay trans– language is identity….language is civilization. It seems language is seen as a marker of identity by this speaker and as a  foundation of civilization and culture. An issue that is often discussed in Linguistics in how does language reflect identity and so on.  There are also other tweets that demand everything to be written in Arabic and not with English letters or what they call Franco-Arabic [which I think is what we refer to as Arabizi] they think that it spoils Arabic and English interesting.

The most interesting aspect of these  tweets and wall posts is not in the praise of Arabic language- no- it is actually in how the speakers are critical of their neglect of Arabic. They criticise themselves and how they are not using Arabic as much s they should be- but the nice bit is that it is all in Classical Arabic…which really emphasises their point.

The criticisms or points that people point out are the same ones we have discussed here on the blog. So I’ll try my best to sift the best ones, it’s hard when there are 93 tweets a minutes going up. Here is one from a Saudi tweeter; criticizing the choice of universities in not using Arabic as a language of instruction for Arab students, especially if it is a subject like Computing and he sees this as wasting the life of the student whilst his Arabic could have improved.

 #arabicday المناهج الجامعيه في كثير اصبحت بلغه غير لغتنا .. يضيع عمر الطالب في الجامعه يدرس الماده على انها لغه اضافيه وهي ماده كمبيوتر مثلا

Another critical one- يقول أحد المستشرقين : ليس على وجه الأرض لغة لها من الروعة والعظمة ماللغة العربية=#ArabicDay

ولكن ليس على وجه الأرض أمة تسعى بوعي أو بدون وعي لتدمير لغتها كالأمة العربية —he says ‘one of the Orientalists [someone who writes on Arabic issues but might not be an Arab themselves] says- There is not a language on the face of the earth with such beauty and greatness like Arabic, but there is not a nation on the face of the earth that consciously or unconsciously works to destroy its own language like the Arab nation’. WOW- it is a heavy statement to make and there are those who agree with him and others do not.  One can see the passion with which such tweets are delivered, he went out of his way to find and type up this quote…seriousness here.

I will not make this a very long post it was just something I thought I’d share for those interested and since it is in line with the blog’s topics. Generally, Arabic speakers feel that they are neglectful of their language and they feel that they have to do something about it.  I wonder if this will become a permanent day each year….

Source- Twitter [if you have an account you can go in and see]

Are we over anxious about the demise of Arabic? I think not

A Dictionary Of The English Language
Image by oemebamo via Flickr

It has been some time since I last posted, but thank you for all the emails and messages about the previous posts. Sometimes people feel that perhaps those who fear for the demise of Arabic are over anxious and as a result cause panic or insecurity in the people. You would think given the status and spread of English that those who speak English, or even speak for English would never feel that it was under threat. Well think again! I recently came across an article in the Independent newspaper written by Charles Crawford who was formerly the British ambassador to Sarajevo, Belgrade, and Warsaw- where he shares his fears about the neglect of language. Usually I choose a piece that concerns Arabic directly, but this article made me think about Arabic and how its speakers use it today. Below I have pasted the article without any editing, then I’ll discuss my thoughts on it- enjoy!

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Charles Crawford: Language is a tool which must be kept well-honed to do its job

Language does not decay unless it ceases to be used for communication. It changes, sometimes other people’s usage (or mistakes) grate upon those who say it differently, but the language itself is not in any danger.

Language has existed for thousands of years, performing its function adequately, without any care or attention at all, and most have never been subject to it at any time in their history.

A rabid free-marketeer like myself can have little complaint if things indeed change, and millions of people don’t mind too much, if at all. Although I do object to my own language and identity changing because the state has effectively nationalised large parts of the teaching of English and simply can’t do it properly.

I can not shake off the thought that language is a tool. And tools if neglected can just get blunt, or wear out, or otherwise be less good at doing some vital jobs.

If we start to “lose” spellings and grammar as currently constituted, and therefore some of the innermost subtlety of expression which together have made English such a towering force for human advancement round the world, aren’t we all just poorer? We have fewer tools to do the mass of possible jobs with precision.

It’s as if Rembrandt had only 10 brushes of varying sizes, instead of (say) 16, after a thief steals six. Sure, he’ll manage to do a fine portrait. But it could have been even finer with those extra tools available. And he is diminished and demoralised if he knows that. The issue is all too evident in the quality of writing now being served up in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and across government by the nation’s top graduates. A non-trivial proportion of it is unusable and sent back for reworking: it is simply not precise enough. As a result, a product is produced which is less good and less clear and less authoritative than it could have been.

Sure, not much changes. But standards help keep us all on our toes. And if a general sense of unstoppable ‘declinism’ sets in for our language (and so our very thought) as for everything else, that looks and smells like decay to me.

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Short, precise and really I think he makes many valid points. As I always say, the number of speakers of a given language means nothing if the language is not being used correctly and therefore becoming weaker. His worry about English language may be ridiculed since English is a major world language, to the point that others have suggested that English marginalises other languages and often kills them off!  But the worry and concern about his language, is real for him and is legal. In previous posts we saw how people thought that Arabic have millions of speakers why the worry that it will die?  Well I think Charles Crawford just answered that question for us.

His description of language and its life and development is correct, and his view that language is a tool is a view that many linguists including myself hold. It is a tool first and foremost of communication with other people, it allows one to express themselves and so on. But if the language through which you are supposed to express yourself goes unchecked and ‘mistakes’ ( I say mistakes with inverted commas since some linguists do not believe in mistakes as such, any language use for them is right as long as it is right for the speaker..mmm..not sure?) continue to be made by speakers then the language will decline. My quarrel is always that if one claims to speak a language and they think their identity is presented best through that language, well then why not perfect it? Why not learn it well and present yourself through it with confidence? For many Arabic speakers there is this struggle between speaking and identifying with Arabic as their mother tongue but then having no confidence or interest in improving their diction, syntax or grammar and between wanting to learn and perfect their English (which is problematic in itself) since they see that as the door and bridge to their financial success?!

 But I think that Crawford’s article is a lesson in foresight and true understanding of what it means to speak and own, yes own, a language through which you see the world and through which you communicate with the world. If your language declines you decline as a person, as a society and it is not an exaggeration to say as a civilization too! How can you contribute to humanity if you can’t communicate well in any of the languages you claim to know? Watching movies in English and reading a text you understand in English does not determine your level of spoken or written proficiency, mastering the language is another different world- one in which you need to consciously engage and learn by intent. Being born to a family that speaks language x does not give the speaker a guarantee in proficiency either- there has to be a degree of consciousness in both language acquisition and communication.

So are those who feel that Arabic is in danger of decay, decline or death (the triple‘d’) over anxious, unwise, and over exaggerating? I think not. Language is to be looked after like any other living organism; since it lives it can also die. Since it lives it needs care, attention and to often be checked ensuring that ‘standards’ don’t fall, because if that happens then decline of the language means cultural and intellectual death of its people. I rest my case.

  As usual I’ll be glad to discuss this further with any of the readers; I do appreciate your emails, feedback and notes of encouragement- thank you.

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Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/charles-crawford-language-is-a-tool-which-must-be-kept-wellhoned-to-do-its-job-1892290.html

Furthr reading:

Skutnabb-Kangas, T (2000) Linguistic genocide in education or worldwide diversity and human rights? Mahwah :Lawrence Erblaum Associates inc.

Crystal, David (2000) Language Death. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press

Knowles-Berry, Susan. 1987. Linguistic decay in Chontal Mayan: the speech of semi-speakers. Anthropological Linguistics 29:332-341.

Dorian, Nancy C. (1978). Fate of morphological complexity in language death: Evidence from East Sutherland Gaelic. Language, 54 (3), 590-609.

Zuckermann, Ghil’ad (2009) “Aboriginal languages deserve revival”. The Australian Higher Education.

Aitchinson, Jean. (1991). Language change: progress or decay? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dalby, Andrew. (2003). Language in danger: The loss of linguistic diversity and the threat to our future. New York: Columbia University Pres

Al Qasmy: “Arabic is key to identity” the fight to revive Arabic in the UAE

Another post showing the importance the rulers in the UAE are putting into reviving Arabic language among their people. Below is a post about showing that, slightly different from the previous post about Jordan. —————————–

SHARJAH // Arab parents should encourage their children to express “joys, sadness, defeats and victories” in Arabic, or risk separating their young ones from a rich cultural heritage, Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed, the Ruler of Sharjah, said yesterday. Celebrating Arabic Language Day at the Cultural Palace in Sharjah, he said, “It is very important for Arabs to learn Arabic as it is part of their identity.”

A study by Zayed University last year showed 80 per cent of young Emiratis believed the Arabic language defines their identity. The study was conducted among 200 students at the university. However, it also revealed that 53 per cent of the respondents preferred to watch television shows in English. “Regrettably, focus on the Arabic language is waning despite being the major component of the Arab identity and the strong preserver of our heritage,” the state news agency WAM quoted Dr Sheikh Sultan as saying.

“Increasing care of the Arab communities about the foreign languages to communicate with the world should not eclipse our attention about our Arabic language”, he said, citing common Arabic language errors and frequent use of foreign languages among youth. “The language we use to express our joys, sadness, defeats and victories is inseparable part of our own selves.” The UAE was among several countries that celebrated their language as part of the global Mother Language Day, initiated by Unesco.

Dr Sheikh Sultan has written several books and plays aimed at protecting the Arabic language. He promised financial and moral support to help Arabic language projects in the emirate.As part of the celebration, the Sharjah Museum organised an exhibition, “Calligraphy as an Art”, in which tools used in Arabic calligraphy were displayed.

“The Arabic language with its distinguished linguistics holds the strength to promote nation building and strengthening cultural ties,” said Manal Ataya, director general of the department. “Arabic is also the language of the Holy Quran, the basis of our unity, and the mirror of our present and future.”————————————- END

The study at Sheikh Zayed university is interesting in that 80% of the students felt Arabic defined their identity and yet they preferred watching tv in English. It might be because there is no good tv in Arabic? That’s an uneducated statement with over 100 satellite channels can one really not find something to watch? Mind you maybe that’s the problem?!  It might be because the education system does not encourage or support them to use Arabic and instead rewards the use of English? All these factors play a role in determining how a person views their language in reference to other languages. At least Sultan al Qasmy is taking serious steps to address this problem that he and his fellow rulers find disturbing. So maybe in the future Arabic language will re-flourish once again in the Emirates…who knows? Thanks for reading!  

source: http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100222/NATIONAL/702219846/1342/FRONTIERS

Jordan: Giving Arabic its rightful place?

Petra's Treasury (al-Khazneh) in southern Jordan.
Image via Wikipedia

The Jordan Times reported that the president of the University of Jordan, has urged lecturers to do their utmost to speak formal Arabic in the classrooms. This has been met with mixed feelings as some people agree whilst others are skeptical of the idea. Below, as usual I have pasted the article without editing…

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Standard vs. colloquial Arabic debate surfaces on campus

By Thameen Kheetan

AMMAN – Several students at the University of Jordan (UJ) have criticised UJ President Khalid Karaki’s suggestion that standard Arabic be used in lectures, while many professors welcomed the idea. Last week, Karaki sent a letter to the university’s teaching staff asking them to “do their best to… refrain from utilising colloquial Arabic [amiyya] inside lecture halls,“ because he said amiyya usage affects the national Arabic identity.

“Using the colloquial in addressing each other, in addition to being lax on standard Arabic grammar… is an indication of bad taste and intellectual shallowness,” said the president, who is an Arabic language specialist. He noted that amiyya has become widespread at the expense of formal Arabic, and considered this a threat to the Arab world’s “cultural identity”.

Several students said they would not accept lectures in standard Arabic because they are not used to it in their daily lives and it could lead to difficulties in understanding the course material.

“It’s weird, students will laugh at each other when they speak classical Arabic in class,” 20-year-old Haneen Bisharat told The Jordan Times. The business major pointed out that standard Arabic could be used in language classes that are obligatory for all Jordanian students, as well as optional lectures and activities in order to preserve the classical language, which she admits is fading out.

“I do not agree with the president,” said history student Rami, 21, who added that although he understands the standard Arabic, “I would face difficulties since I am used to amiyya”. Second-year marketing student Zuhdi Abu Issa agreed with him.

“The colloquial dialect creates an atmosphere of fun and comfort,” he told The Jordan Times, and described standard Arabic as “strict, formal and depressing”. Saba Obeidat, who studies theatre, explained that the colloquial makes her feel closer to the professors “as if I am talking to someone in my daily life”.

But many lecturers were partial to Karaki’s proposal. Political science professor Omar Hadrami believes amiyya undermines the language and affects Arabic thought. “It has been taking the place of standard Arabic and the biggest danger is that English words like ‘hi’ and ‘hello’ are being introduced to amiyya,” he told The Jordan Times.

Noting that the president’s suggestion is “very applicable”, he said, “I can feel this in my lectures, during which I always try to speak standard Arabic.” Geophysics and seismology professor Najib Abou Karaki also lauded the idea, but said it would take time to be totally applied on campus.”The main goal should be to make the student understand… it’s OK to adopt classical Arabic as a general trend,” he said, adding that it should be applied in a “flexible” manner so that the language used in lecture halls is also acceptable to students coming from different Arab countries, “who don’t have to master the Jordanian dialect”.

Abeer Dababneh, an assistant professor in the faculty of law noted that many lecturers employ a mixture of standard and colloquial Arabic.She said the implementation of standard Arabic would be difficult in the beginning, but over time, “people will get used to it and won’t find it strange”.”In an academic frame, there should be a formal atmosphere because we are not talking about personal issues,” she told The Jordan Times.

Not all students, however, are averse to the idea.Among them is Obada Shahwan, who studies Sharia (Islamic studies).”Of course I agree… the Koran came in classical Arabic and we should protect our language,” the 22-year-old pointed out.

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The most positive aspect about this article is that at least the difference of opinion is in which type of Arabic to use, not the fear that Arabic is not used- something I have not shown for a long time. As far as I know the Jordanian education system emphasises the use of Arabic as a medium of instruction making their students strong and proficient users of their language. They excel in literature, science, and in learning English, and their English is very good which reminds me of a theory in second language acquisition (L2) that states- one’s proficiency in their mother tongue (L1)  will determine their level of proficiency in the second language (L2). So could it be that their English language is so good, often better than those in other Arab states who learn English from nursery, because they were well grounded in Arabic?  Anyway that’s a whole different topic, maybe we can discuss it next time.

 Due to the fact that their Arabic language is so good many of the Arabic teachers in the Gulf schools and universities are Jordanian (and Syrian, Yemeni and Egyptian which gives one an idea of the place Arabic takes in their education system and yet they too worry about the demise of Arabic!) and their early Arabic instruction allows them to be able to teach Arabic at advanced levels.  Both sides acknowledge the importance of Arabic and yet have good arguments for their point of view, I hope that these types of discussions can continue because at least Arabic has been put on centre stage and is not fighting to reclaim its rightful place in an Arabic speaking country.

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Source: 

http://www.jordantimes.com/?news=15959 (The Jordan Times)

The ultimate model of Arabic language? The case of the Qur’an

The weather is great here and I managed to get myself that cup of tea! With time on my hands I thought I’d post something, before going on holiday I read a book by Hamza Tzortzis with regards to Qur’anic Arabic. It is great that he has also posted similar material on one of his blogs, as promised I did say that I will be posting some material based on how the language of the Qur’an (Arabic language) is viewed so here it is! This post is written very well and the topic is treated systematically, of course being a Muslim he has a degree of expected awe for the Qur’an; though I cannot see that affecting the contents of what he writes. I recommend anyone who is interested in Arabic grammar or the language of the Qur’an to read it, as a starter or introduction.

Draft 0.3 By Hamza Tzortzis hamza.tzortzis@theinimitablequran.com “As a literary monument the Koran thus stands by itself, a production unique to the Arabic literature, having neither forerunners nor successors in its own idiom. Muslims of all ages are united in proclaiming the inimitability not only of its contents but also of its style….. and in forcing the High Arabic idiom into the expression of new ranges of thought the Koran develops a bo … Read More

via/source:  The Inimitable Qur’an

It would be great to get some comments on this if not here then at least on his blog. I was writing something similar but having found the material already blogged I thought why not re-blog it? Happy reading!