Thursday, December 27, 2007

"Arabic speakers, a dying breed in the Arab world?"

"Arabic is the fifth-most spoken language worldwide, with 206 million native Arabic speakers in the world and more than 20 million people speaking it as a second language. But many Arabs feel that globalization has affected their native tongue negatively.

"Arabic, especially classical Arabic, or fus'ha, is a fading tongue between its native speakers, or at least it is becoming less important than it once used to be. Classical Arabic, though the language of the Holy Quran and used in books and formalletters, is now left to the sophisticates. Ali, a 22 year old Kuwaiti, thinks the reason behind the declining standard of Arabic learning is that people associate other languages such as English with better education and career prospects. [...]

"Ali, who is a graduate from a bilingual school and currently studying English literature at Kuwait University (KU) is an example for many other young Kuwaitis and Arabs who would forego their native tongue for a more global language. Though Ali talks Arabic well with a Kuwaiti dialect, he admits that he prefers to speak English among his peers. At home, we usually talk Arabic together, but my sisters send me emails and text messages in English rather than Arabic. And I talk with my friends most of the time in English, he said. [...]"

"Arabs talk in different dialect depending on their region and country. Certain dialects are more difficult to understand than others. For example, Egyptian Arabic is considered the easiest dialect to understand because of the flooding of Egyptian movies and songs, while Algerian dialect is usually considered the most difficult and complicated because of the inclusion of French. That's why classical or literary Arabic is the unifying platform for all Arabs, regardless where they come from, to communicate without misunderstanding. But many Arabic native speakers cannot speak fluent Arabic, in their own dialect, and don't read or write well in classical Arabic. Poor education and fast-moving technologies are some of the reasons behind the declining interest in learning Arabic.

"The English language is becoming the competing language to Arabic now. There is a decline in learning Arabic in public schools now especially in grammar and dictation. There is no love to the language and there is nothing interesting in the curriculums for students anymore, said Abu Mohammad, a Syrian Arabic teacher in a public school in Kuwait.He sees the reason behind this decline or lack of interest in learning Arabic is a shared responsibility between the parents, teachers and the students themselves. 'There is a negligence from the students' side and no cooperation between the teachers and the parents; the parents don't bother to come to schools and check on how their kids are doing, and some teachers' qualifications are minimal so they don't care if their students didn't do well,' he said. [...]"

Source: Kuwait Time (Kuwait), December 27, 2007