Welcome to the Arabic Language Discussion Forum

Being a retired professor of Arabic and Linguistics, I have elected to publish an archive on how the Arabic language is used in America and across cultures.

I hope to establish a dialogue with people interested in the language, the teaching of the language, the learning of the language, and the interaction of Arabic and English while learning the language.

I am also interested in having a discussion as to the use of Arabic within the contexts of globalization.

Arabic is very much a language that binds a culture and defines a people. This blog is dedicated to understanding how American use, learn, and teach the Arabic language, and how Arabic, in Arab countries has been impacted crossculturally.

Dec 28, 2009

Language and Identity


What happens to speakers of Arabic who immigrated to the USA and whose language became a minority language?
What is the role of Arabic, a minority language, in shaping the ethnic identity of Arab-Americans?
In Europe there are investigations and discussions regarding the rise of Arab identity, and to the threat it might cause to the prevailing European national identity. There are discussions as to the rising role of Arabic and/or Islam and it’s playing a major role in building an Arab/Islamic identity.
Is Arabic in its American Diaspora facing the same path of other diasporic contexts of the language, such as Moroccan in Holland or Algerian in France?
Most studies of minority languages or ethnic languages are consistent in their conclusions that the use of ethnic language gradually decreases with successive generations due to the process of assimilation. There are certain events, however, that might lead to an ethnic revival.
Fishman (the Rise and Fall of the Ethnic Revival: Perspectives on Language and Ethnicity, 1985:114) wrote about the attrition of ethnic languages such as French, German, Italian, Polish, Spanish, and Yiddish in the United States based on 1960 and 1970 census data, and stated that most who claim non-English mother-tongues no longer use them. Except for Spanish, the attrition rate of the other languages is 36%, while for Spanish it is 19%. This is, of course, due to the large number of those who claim Spanish as mother tongue, and due also to the continuous waves of new immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries.
Arabic speakers in the Detroit metro area share with Spanish speakers these two factors: first, the continuous arrival of new immigrants in their neighborhoods. Second, a large number of Arab-American speakers maintain that Arabic is their mother tongue.
I have conducted a survey of 79 Arab-Americans students studying standard Arabic as a foreign language at Wayne State University: 77out of the 79 stated that Arabic is very important to them. The subjects gave the following categories of reasons for their interest:
38% Ethnic identity
34% Religious affiliation
33% Fulfilling a language requirement
24% The importance of Arabic from a global perspective
5% The influence of parental advice
Hence, ethnic identity and religion are indeed major factors contributing to an increase in the use and learning of Arabic among Arab-Americans, whether at home or as a foreign language in schools and universities.
Standard Arabic acts as a unifying force among all speakers of the language. It is a common denominator that is bringing Arab speakers together, whether in the Arab world or among ethnic groups in the Diaspora. It is an expression of identity. Thus, the standard form of Arabic creates a sense of ethnic identity among Arab-Americans who belong to different speech communities. It is a language from which members of the different speech communities draw support and upon which they build their Arab-American ethos in the Diaspora. Hence, it creates a bond of solidarity and an ethnic identity that raises a feeling of ‘us versus them’.
I came across an article written by Mohammed Almezel in the Wereview (December 25, 09). It is a case whereby Arabic is sought in search of identity. It is the case of the Comoros.
The Union of the Comoros consists of four islands in the Indian Ocean. They declared their independence from France in 1975. Almezel wrote, “The Comoros government has lately been promoting the nation’s Arab heritage …. The majority of the Arabs are believed to have come from Oman and Yemen. The country derives its name from the Arabic word Qamar meaning ‘moon’. The islands are known in Arabic as Juzur al Qumur, which means ‘Islands of the moon”( Almezel). Furthermore, almost 98 % of the islands population is Muslim.
Arabic is still in its infancy. The local language is Shikomoro, a blend of Swahili and Arabic. Officials speak French.
Almezel quotes a high school teacher as saying, “…I am African, of course, but we are also Arab and we try to regain our language…” Unfortunately, Arab countries are reluctant to embrace the Comoros as an Arab country. When they do, they will find that the process of Arabization has already started for the people of the Comoros who want to revive and preserve their ‘Arab identity’.
The above discussion deals with two different cases of Arabic as an ethnic language. However, in both cases identity is sought. The first case of an Arab identity surge is that of a community within a country - the Arab-American community in the United States. The second case is about the identity of a country within a large community – the Arab world .



Copyright © 2009 Aleya Rouchdy, All Rights Reserved

Nov 30, 2009

Modern Standard Arabic as a Second Language

Copyright © 2009 Aleya Rouchdy, All Rights Reserved

In the previous post "Which Arabic Ought to be Taught," I discussed the ongoing debates between Arabic professors about how to begin Arabic teaching, i.e. the use of colloquial versus MSA.

Recently, I read an article I thought might be of interest to all of us, and specially to those teaching Arabic to Arabic speakers.

A study conducted by Dr. Raphiq Ibrahim and published in the Journal of Psychology Research and Behavior Management examined the "cognitive status of spoken Arabic versus MSA in the brain."

Dr. Ibrahim concluded that MSA is "expressed in the brain of an Arabic speaker as a second language and not as a mother tongue."

I have always discussed with my students, the difference between MSA and colloquial, and pointed out exactly what Dr. Ibrahim has stated in his study. However, my discussions were not based on any concrete research. It was simply common sense.

It is, however, important to examine the learning of Arabic, both literary and spoken, within the proper domain of language acquisition: first and second language acquisition.

Doesn't this imply that the instruction of Arabic to Arabic speakers ought to use new techniques?
Specially the teaching of Arabic in the Arab world.

Read the whole article on Dr. Ibrahim's study in Science News, and do post your comments.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091104091724.htm

Nov 18, 2009

Which Arabic Ought To Be Taught?

Recently, there have been discussions in Egypt about the diglossic nature of Arabic, about the teaching of Arabic in schools, about the difficulties students face when learning Arabic, and about the methods used to teach the language. As a result students graduate from high schools or colleges with poor knowledge of their own language (see post, 10/12/09, Demise of the Arabic Language in Egypt).
Maher Hasan wrote in Al Masry al Yom an article entitled “Intellectual Struggle: Egyptianization of the Language” (9/4/09). He stated that the struggle about the nature of the language is one of the oldest ‘literary ‘struggles. Lutfi El Sayyed, Hasan said, wrote seven articles in Al Jarida (1913) about the Egyptianization of the Arabic language. So did his students, Mohammad Hussein Heykal and Taha Hussein. Abdel Rahman Al Barquqi and Mustafa Sadeq Al Rifaa3i who defended the sanctity of the Arabic language vehemently opposed them.
Maher Hasan concluded by saying that the Arabic language has profited from the diverse views exchanged between such luminaries as Lutfi Al Sayyid or Al Rifaa3i. Each aspect of the language is contained in its own domain. The colloquial has a domain, and the FusHa has another domain, and none is superior to the other. Borrowing from each other is allowed except the borrowing of common expressions (mubtathala), according to the author.
Reading this article rekindled in my mind the unending debates in the USA among teachers of Arabic about the diglossic nature of Arabic, and the teaching of the language. Discussions were conducted in the summer of 2007 on Arabic-1. It all started when Mustafa Mughazi announced, on Arabic-1, his program at Western Michigan University. He stated that the “first semester he teaches exclusively a colloquial dialect in the Arabic script. The second semester will continue the dialect and introduce MSA as a written language. Second and third year courses will focus mainly on MSA. Study abroad programs will focus mainly on the dialects”(Arabic-1, 6/1/07)
Different opinions were expressed following Mughazy’s message. The exchange of ideas held on Arabic-1 were between Mustafa Mughazy, David Wilmsen, Nimat Hafez Barazangi, Jeremy Palmer, James E. Bernhardt, Fred Cadora, Dina El Zarka, John Joseph Colangelo, Ola Moshref, Abdulkafi Albirini, Waheed Sami, Michael Schub, Haider Bhuiyan. Antonia Gimenez, Munther Younes, Jackie Murgida, Karin Ryding, Klaus Lagally, and Ahmad Khorshid. I hope nobody was left out!
The different discussions exchanged were interesting. I wish they were all gathered in a monograph as ‘The Dilemma of Teaching Arabic to non-Arabic Speakers: Different views, “ and circulated among students. It will make them think that both MSA and a colloquial are features of the same language, and as David Wilmsen wrote” to be deficient in either one is to miss half of the rich culture of Arabic.”( Arabic-1, Colloquial First 6/19/07)
Hence, the debate about how to begin Arabic teaching, i.e. the use of colloquial versus Fusha, seems to be perennial.
In my humble opinion every teacher of Arabic should consider what motivates, and what is most useful for his/her students, and then use the most appropriate feature or features of the language: colloquial first, colloquial and MSA, or MSA only.
Arabic is not a dead language. It should be taught in such a way as to reflect culture as a whole with all its diversity. It certainly needs a talented teacher who can joggle gracefully the different varieties of the language.
The moral of the story is that one should be aware that there isn’t a single way to begin Arabic teaching.
Comments will be most welcomed.



Nov 2, 2009

Language and Religion

Copyright © 2009 Aleya Rouchdy, All Rights Reserved

A call for papers to be published in an issue of The International Journal of the Sociology of Language prompted me to write this post. The theme of the issue is "Language and Religion." It is, nowadays, a very a propos topic.

The question is how does religion impact a language? This can partially be answered by examining, as an example, the use of Arabic in the US.

Religion is one form of identity, and when identity formation is sought, the need for ideological support arises. There is no question that there is a religious revival among Arab Americans Muslims, and Muslims in general in the US. It is an extension of the religious revival that has occurred in the Arab world and Muslim world.

The cause of such revival, although interesting, is not the topic of discussion on this post.

The question is how does religion play a role in the maintenance /shift of the Arabic language among Arab American Muslims?

Most studies of minority languages or ethnic languages are consistent in their conclusions that the use of ethnic language gradually decreases with successive generations due to a process of assimilation. There are certain events, however, that might lead to an ethnic revival. Religion is one such event.

The earliest groups of Arab Americans, those who immigrated after World War II, Christian and Muslims, tried to disassociate themselves from their ethnic heritage, especially its language, because of how they were viewed by others. Actually, as a reaction to the prevailing anti-ethnic feeling and the pressure of conformity and assimilation, some Arab Americans went so far as to Anglicize their names to escape discrimination at work or when applying for jobs, such as: Mohmad became Mike, Saleh became Sally, Bushra became Bouchard...etc.

Since the mid 1960s there has been a shift toward acceptance of ethnicity. This shift is due to three major social changes, both in the US and the Arab world: the civil rights movement in the US; the convoluted political events widespread in the Arab word continue to provide strong reasons for immigration, hence, the number of fluent speakers is increasing in the US; the revival of Muslim identity has created a need for the language with which one can fulfill his/her religious duties. In other words, this revival of Muslim identity has created a special function for Arabic - a religious function - because only Arabic can be used to fulfill the obligation of the most important pillar of Islam, the prayer.

This revival of Muslim identity is apparent on Fridays in Dearborn, Michigan, where most mosques are full at the time of the noon prayer and where women walk to the mosques wearing Islamic attire.

Did the political events following the 9/11 attack on the US affect the maintenance of Arabic among Arab American Muslims? It did not.

Recently, in Detroit, there has bee a revival in the use of Arabic among Arab Americans. This revival is reflected in the increasing number of Arabic television programs, newspapers, and cable networks that transmit directly from the Arab world. Furthermore, national religious academies have been established; private schools, where Arabic and Islamic studies are taught, have been opened. Arabic as a foreign language is taught in some public schools. Moreover, there is a definite increase in enrollment in Arabic classes in universities in Michigan, as well as other American universities (see post 8/26/09 on Can Arabic Survive in America).

I would like to conclude this post by stressing the fact that although religion is related to the maintenance of Arabic in the US, increasing interest in the Arab world plays also a major role in the preservation and expansion of the language among Arab Americans and many Americans with no Arabic background. This is mainly due to political and economic reasons.

There are many other examples where religion plays an important role in the maintenance, shift or revival of a language.

Any contribution to this topic is welcomed.

Oct 26, 2009

Sequel on Spoken Languages - Foreign Scripts

Copyright © 2009 Aleya Rouchdy, All Rights Reserved

Professor Fallou Ngom commented on my previous post 'Spoken Languages - Foreign Scripts,' and sent me two articles where he discusses, among other things, the use of "Ajami" in Senegal. I will add the references at the end of this post.

Professor Ngom deals with the effect of a modified Arabic script on the phonology of African languages. He said that "the influence of Arabic in the languages he works with is primarily lexical, but the phonology of Wolof and Fuuta Jalon Pular, is virtually intact."

"Wolofal refers to the adaptation of the Arabic script to transliterate Wolof. It involves the addition of new diacritics (mostly dots called "tomb" in Wolof) on some Arabic letters to transcribe Wolof sounds that do not exist in Arabic. This system is widely used among older Senegalese Muslims." p. 110, quoted from his article on Etnic Identity and Linguistic Hybridization in Senegal.

According to Professor Ngom, the early spread of Islam (14th century) accounts for the "linguistic influence of classical Arabic. However, the Arabic language has never been used as a major medium of communication in the daily life of the Senegalese people. Its use was and is still primarily restricted to religious sphere." p.96, quoted from the article mentioned above.

Professor Ngom's research would be of great interest to anyone interested in Sociolinguistics.
Such as in the topics of languages in contact, borrowings, calques, creole, and/or identity and linguistic varieties.

References of articles written by Professor Fallou Ngom:

1. Ethnic Identity and Linguistic Hybridization in Senegal. Int'l. J.Soc. Lang. 170 (2007), pp. 95-111.

2. Sociolinguistic Motivation of Lexical Borrowings in Senegal. Studies in the Linguistic Sciences, Volume 30, Number 2 (Fall 2000), pp. 159-172.

Oct 23, 2009

Spoken Languages - Foreign Scripts



Kenneth J. Cooper’s article in the Bay State Banner entitled “Arabic” (10/21/09) attracted my attention, especially when I read the word ‘Ajami’ in the article.

Cooper stated that Fallou Ngom a Senegalese professor at Boston University disputes the idea that the slaves abducted from Africa could not read and write. They were writing in their own languages according to professor Ngom.

What made me add this to my blog, is the fact that Cooper in his article stated that professor Ngom “is training generation of scholars to understand that writing system, known as Ajami. It developed as a modified form of Arabic as early as the 10th century to spread Islam to Africans. The little-known script remains in use today from Senegal in the west to Zanzibar in the east.”

According to Cooper, Ngom’s aim in teaching Ajami is to view African history differently and that it “ would force people to rewrite many things.”

Alex Zito commented on the article (10/22/09) by saying that Ajami “is the term for using an adapted form of Arabic script to write an African language. Ajami, then, is not a language but a writing system. With the spread of Islam, says Zito, Arabic script was used to write the local languages: “thus Swahili Ajami in Tanzania, Hausa Ajami in Nigeria, Fulfulde Ajami in Guinea, Wolof Ajani in Senegal.”

Europeans missionaries developed writing systems for African languages using Latin alphabet. According to Zito, who is writing his dissertation on Wolof Ajami in Senegal, Ajami predates the Latin systems.

Hence, Arabic alphabet was used to write the local African languages. This reminds me of the Nubian language in Egypt written also in Arabic. However, in the case of Nubian the contact with Arabic has affected the Nubian language and led to a tip to the dominant language, Arabic. Interference has affected the phonology, morphology and syntax of Nubian in general.

What is of interest to me is Zito’s statement that it would be significant to find out “the extend to which people took their Quranic education and familiarity with the Arabic alphabet and used it to write their own languages, at the same time translating ideas and texts from the Arabi-Islamic world into their local cultural environments.” This is again similar to what happened to Nubian. Nubians are Muslims, and by learning the Quran they also learned Arabic, and the Arabic script.

Some missionaries did write Nubian using the Latin alphabet, however, Nubians themselves wrote their language in Arabic. Among them is the late Nubian, Youssef Sumbagh, who wrote a Nubian grammar and Nubian dictionary using Arabic alphabet.

I think that professor Fallou Ngom, as well as Alex Zito’s work on Ajami can lead to many linguistic discussions on spoken languages maintained by using foreign scripts.

Kenneth J.Cooper by writing the article on professor Ngom teaching “an adapted form of Arabic script to write an African language” has opened the door for a dialogue among linguists interested in discussing spoken languages maintained by using foreign scripts.

Oct 12, 2009

Demise of the Arabic Language in Egypt

Copyright © 2009 Aleya Rouchdy, All Rights Reserved

Recently in Egypt, there has been many discussions regarding the obvious regression in the teaching and in the use of the Arabic language.

In an Arabic TV interview in Egypt, Dr. Ahmad Darwish, member of the Academy of the Arabic Language,* began his discussion on the status of the Arabic language with a question: "why do we demean our mother tongue?"

Of course, due to the phenomena of language contact, Arabic-English, borrowings cannot be avoided, especially the borrowing of technical and scientific terminologies in both colloquial and fusHa. This is acceptable since it is time consuming to begin translating every technical word before pursuing any research or scientific discussion.

The major problem according to Dr. Darwish, lies in the educational system in Egypt that allows the regression of Arabic in schools. According to him "we are the cause students hate the language."

Many private schools do not teach Arabic in Egypt. The language in each of the private school (German, French, English) becomes the primary language of education. Even if Arabic is taught in some private schools, incompetent language teachers whose methods discourage students usually teach it.

Dr. Darwish concludes by saying that every civilized nation strives to protect its mother tongue, while in Egypt we are assaulting our language. Our mission in the Academy, he further states, is to make sure that the language 'is to be used as a gateway to national renaissance rather than being driven to the tomb.'

I could not resist adding this post after hearing the interview with Dr. Darwish on the Egyptian channel Al Masriyya.

Any comment will be welcomed.

*NB: The Academy of the Arabic Language in Egypt was founded in 1934 in order to develop and regulate the Arabic language.

Oct 7, 2009

دعاء مدرّسة لغة عربية تزوج عليها زوجها



اللهم اجعله مكسورا عندها منصوبا عندي
اللهم اجعلها من أخوات كانت .... وأجعلني من أخوات صارت
اللهم اجعلها مفردا واجعلني جمعا
اللهم اصرفه عنها واجعلني ممنوعة من الصرف
اللهم أجعل معاملتها بالشدة والجزم ..... واجعل معاملتي بالضم والسكون
اللهم اجعله عندها ظرف ...... واجعله عندي حالا

اللهم اجعله عندي مبتدأ واجعله عندها خبر
اللهم اجعله عندي فاعلاً واجعله عندها مفعولاً به
اللهم اجعله عندي مرفوعا واجعله عندها مجروراً
اللهم اجعله عندي معرباً واجعله عندها لا محل له من الاعراب
اللهم اجعله عندي جمع مذكر سالماً واجعله عندها فعلاً ماضياً ناقصاً
اللهم اجعله عندي فعلاً صحيحاً واجعله عندها فعلاً معتلاً
اللهم اجعله عندي ضميراً متصلاً واجعله عندها ضميراً غائباً ...........



Contributed by Arabic teacher Dunya Mikhail

Sep 27, 2009

An Observation on the Arabic Used in the U.S.A

Copyright © 2009 Aleya Rouchdy, All Rights Reserved

Language contact or language conflict situations explain the changes that occur in the Arabic spoken by first, second, and third generation Arab Americans.

Arab Americans are quite diverse. They have emigrated from different parts of the Arab World. They use different dialects. They constitute a linguistic community that incorporates many different 'speech communities.'

In the Detroit metro area there is an interesting double contact situation. Different Arabic dialects come into contact, as well as two different languages come into contact: Arabic and English.

What will then be the future of Arabic as an ethnic language in the American diaspora?

The diglossic nature of Arabic, colloquial versus standard, is a factor that ought to be taken into consideration when examining the future of Arabic as an ethnic language.

Standard Arabic acts as a unifying force between all speakers of Arabic who belong to different 'speech communities.' It creates an interesting relationship between the learning of Standard Arabic as a foreign language, and the maintenance of the different dialects. However, the learning of Standard Arabic will not prevent the changes that occur whenever, the different dialects or languages come into contact. These changes result into a lingua franca, that acts as a bond among Arab Americans.

Strangely enough, the rise of a lingua franca used by Arab Americans might lead to the maintenance, or learning of one's ancestral language - as a foreign language.

In future posts, I will give some examples of the Arabic used among Arabic Americans belonging to the different 'speech communities.'

Any comment or addition to the above post on the Arabic used in the U.S.A will be informative.

Sep 25, 2009

A Statement Made in an Egyptian Newspaper

Copyright © 2009 Aleya Rouchdy, All Rights Reserved

An Egyptian newspaper, al masry al yom ( 9/25/09), quoted a statement made by the American ambassador in Egypt, Mrs. Margaret Scoby.

The ambassador maintained that 43% of American diplomats working in Egypt do not know Arabic. She further said, that such inability will limit any form of communication between the diplomatic staff and the Egyptians, and prevent them from understanding the culture of the country.

Some countries make it a requirement that their diplomatic staff learn the language of the host country in order to be able to communicate with the people of that country.

Since the Arabic language is taught on many American campuses, it is in our interest to make sure that diplomats going to the Arab World learn the language in order to be able to communicate with Arabic speakers.

If one controls the language, one controls the mechanism of communication.

Sep 17, 2009

Arabic as a Foreign Language

Copyright © 2009 Aleya Rouchdy, All Rights Reserved
Is the teaching of Arabic as a foreign language in the USA on the increase?

When it comes to learning a foreign language, Arabic should be a choice for students at all levels.

Recently, there has been an increase in the number of schools offering the Arabic language. It was reported that in Kalona City, rural city in Iowa, "230 students from kindergarten to fifth grade...are learning Arabic."

Today, the Montana's News Station reported that the US Department of Education awarded Missoula County Public Schools over 700.000 in grant money to bring Arabic language into schools. The program was developed jointly by the University of Montana and the public school officials.

Opportunities to obtain funds for the teaching of Arabic in schools and colleges are, hence, available.

We need here in the US all the Arabic speakers we can have.The reference to Arabic as among 'the less commonly taught foreign languages' should be reversed. Both Arabic and Chinese ought to be among the most commonly taught foreign languages.

Sep 7, 2009

Arabic in the Business World

Copyright © 2009 Aleya Rouchdy, All Rights Reserved
The importance of learning Arabic in the business world is on the increase.

The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) launched an Arabic language version of its corporate website in order to create better communication and understanding in the world of business.

Furthermore, it was recently reported that Yahoo Inc. has acquired the Arabic website Maktoob. Such move will increase the use of Arabic online, since Yahoo stated that it will translate many of its content in Arabic.

Yahoo will reach millions across the Arab world. The company chief executive, Carol Bartz, said "the acquisition will accelerate Yahoo's strategy of expansion in high-growth emerging markets where (she believes) Yahoo has unparalleled opportunity to become the destination of choice for consumers." August 25, 2009

This is a reflection of the increasing global interest in the learning of the Arabic language. The knowledge of such language will facilitate linguistic and cultural communication in the business world

Sep 4, 2009

Globalization and the teaching of critical languages

Copyright © 2009 Aleya Rouchdy, All Rights Reserved

Despite the fact that the US consists of numerous ethnic and racial groups, its educational system has failed terribly to emphasize the importance of learning foreign languages and cultures.

Recently, however, there were discussions in the American media about the lack of American aptitude in understanding people in different cultural settings, and on the significance of learning foreign languages. The events of 9/11, the Iraqi war and the crisis in Iran and Afghanistan spurred such discussions.

In a statement by Dr. Robert O. Slater, Director of the National Security Education Program (NSEP), before the House Armed Services Committee (9/23/2008) stressed the need "to more effectively communicate in a wide array of critical languages" and to be more "adept and adroit in regional and local culture."

The NSEP "from within" the Department of Defense has been working with the US Education Department to create programs that will train Americans to be linguistically and culturally aware of other cultures.

In 2004 the Department of Defense and the Center for Advanced Study of Language at the University of Maryland sponsored a Language Conference to address the issue of how to increase the number of Americans learning critical foreign languages. The President formally announced the plan in January 2006 as the "National Security Language Initiative (NSL).

Presently, there are many federally funded programs that academic institutions have competed for and obtained. Many institutions have created effective educational language programs (see details in the full report by Robert O. Slate ,9/23/2008).

It is obvious that the study of foreign languages in our American academic institutions has taken a different path. The discussion of international programs offerings has been politicized, and the teaching of foreign languages and cultures is considered a contribution to national security.

Some academicians are still objecting to the NSL language planning initiative. However, we are all aware that the US is a leading power in advocating globalization, and that the American education system must drastically improve the "concept of global education." Hence, we have to train Americans to be linguistically and culturally more suave and aware of other cultures.

Do you have any constructive suggestions about the teaching of a critical language, such as Arabic, in American academic institutions?

Aug 26, 2009

Can Arabic Survive in America ?

Detroit has the largest Arabic speaking population in the US.
Is Arabic maintained among Arab Americans in Detroit? Can it survive the contact with English the dominant language?

The above questions were partially discussed in an article, I have written, entitled Language Conflict and Identity: Arabic in the American Diaspora in an edited volume "Language Contact and Language Conflict in Arabic."

Should Arabic as a heritage language be maintained?
For a good discussion I would like to add the following quotation.
"One's native language is so much a part of one's identity that to denigrate it is to effectively deny one's human ability to communicate" by Nessa Wolfson and Joan Manes in Language of Inequality.
The discussion should deal with identity, ethnicity, bilingualism, and the teaching of foreign languages in schools.

Copyright © 2009 Aleya Rouchdy, All Rights Reserved

Should Arabic be Taught in Schools ?

"By undermining the importance of learning other languages, we are losing an opportunity to educate our students to be better citizen of the world......."learning a language exercises the mind and enriches the spirit." Mario F. Guillen, Chronicle of Higher Education on July 27, 2009.

Arabic is spoken by over 300 million in the world today. The importance of the Arabic language propelled me to begin a discussion about the Arabic language in general and the Arabic language in the US.

Arabic is taught in many American universities and a number of government sponsored language schools. Actually, Arabic was taught in the US before the signing of the Declaration of Independence ( see Ernest McCarus in The Arabic Language in America edited by Aleya Rouchdy).

The question now is: should Arabic be taught in elementary, middle and high schools in the US?
For the sake of discussion,I would like to add that Chinese is taught in some middle and high schools.

Copyright © 2009 Aleya Rouchdy, All Rights Reserved