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.

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


  1. I think the thing that makes America unique is that people have been able to preserve their culture, their native foods, traditions, and language.

    Of these heritage items I believe that language is the first to deteriorate. An example of this is the much more mature Italian-American community, where the traditions of food and culture are preserved, yet a small minority of the community speaks Italian, especially the younger generation.

    The loss of the native language has implication to the younger generation's understanding of the culture. For example, a key element of Arabic culture is humor, and Arabic jokes, puns and riddles are impossible to translate to English. Therefore the loss of the language removes the younger generation's ability to comprehend a key component of the culture.

    So in my opinion, the Arab-American community is fairly new as an ethnic group especially when compared with the Italian and Irish communities. The Arab-American community still has the opportunity to preserve the language since many of the younger generation still speaks Arabic. The language creates a sense of belonging for the entire community, but does not prevent the integration of the community into the larger American society.

  2. An excellent comment, and I would like to add to your statement about humor.

    Humor is a very important tool in the teaching and acquisition of the different nuances, cultural and linguistic, a student faces while learning in a second language.

    Once a student has mastered the humor in a second language, he/she would have also a command of the language itself.