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For the arabists 20, October 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Syria.
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Something for the arabists, even part-time, recalcitrant, dopey and forgetful arabists like myself. Translation here.

 

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Arabic: so near and yet… 26, May 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
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Hat tip: V Arabic

Qatari proverb of the day 21, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
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مو كل حملة بولد

Not every pregnancy yields a boy => aka => not every effort is successful.

An especially gracious hat tip for Mr Abstract JK, thegulfblog’s Qatari Arabic expert in residence.

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Law to protect Arabic 21, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Gulf.
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Plans are afoot in the Emirates to protect the Arabic language. The perceived loss of ground of Arabic to English stems from several factors.

  • The language of international commerce, trade etc is English. The Gulf’s headfirst dive into the very heart of these worlds in recent years, has therefore, forced Gulf countries to improve their English to the point where it is the language of the vast majority of business.
  • Emiratees are a minority in their own country. The lingua franca for all – Europeans, Arabs, Asians and even Americans – is, therefore, English.
  • Also, because the Emirates need so many foreigners, their systems, companies etc need to accommodate the English language in order for skilled Westerners to do the necessary jobs.
  • English is generally taught better in schools than Arabic. Arabic teaching is taught through rote learning and memorization. English language teaching, however, has advanced and is far more interactive.
  • Countless interviews and conversations in the Gulf tell me that English is fast becoming the language of choice of the younger generation to the severe detriment of Arabic. Access to Western culture and Western travel are two precipitants of this.

Feel free to add to (or argue with) the list…

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The death of the Arabic language? 26, March 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Middle East.
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Many people in the Gulf that I’ve spoken to in recent years fear greatly for the future of the Arabic language. This is to some perhaps surprising. It is difficult to countenance the notion of a people forsaking their own language when it is such a key feature of their religion, life and culture. Yet although Arabic will clearly never disappear, fears of its increasing marginalisation are real.

Abbas Al Tonsi, known to many an Arabic student for co-authoring the Arabic language text-book Al Kitab, has verbalised these fears. There are primarily two factors at play.

Firstly, the march of the English language, the lingua franca of business and economics as well as a whole host of other spheres, is continuing apace. In – as they say – an ever more globalized world, a firm grasp of English is becoming ever more important. Gulf countries are switching their education systems from Arabic-focused to English-focused to supply their future generations with one of the key skills enabling them and their country to compete effectively: English.

Secondly, compounding this problem, Al Tonsi places the blame on Arabic schools whose teaching styles, as anyone who as been in a government school in the Gulf can testify, leave a lot to be desired. Rote learning, drilling and grammar and emphasized ad nauseum, which is quite at odds with more advanced and interactive methods used in teaching English.