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.

Nov 23, 2012

What Does Near Native Proficiency Mean for MSA

Copyright © 2010 Aleya Rouchdy, All Rights Reserved

David Wilmsen’s email on Arabic-L (9/29/2012)  made me go back to my neglected blog and add his comment as a post for AATA non-members.
The subject  was  What doesNear Native Proficiency Mean for Modern Standard Arabic.”
David seemed annoyed (correctly so) by the diction in job announcements in the field of Arabic teaching.  In general job announcements incorporate the statement “native or near-native command in MSA is required.”
Wilmsen’s question was “what would a native command of Modern Standard Arabic mean in the context of a language with no native speakers?” He further adds “Is this kind of boilerplate some sort of dodge for eluding the appearance of discrimination by national origin?” 
I don’t think the intention is to discriminate by national origin because I was in a position whereby I hired a number of Arabic language teachers.  The candidate’s national origin was never considered. As a matter of fact there were non-native speakers who were as good if not better than some of the native speakers!
Paul Roochnik still on Arabic-L stated “near native would be the ability to shift effortlessly from on register of the language to another.” As for Kassem Wahba, he wrote, “nobody knows what this term means,” which is a good answer to the question ‘what does a native or near-native speaker mean?’
 I would like to conclude with a humble suggestion. Why doesn’t AATA come out with a simple statement to be considered in future job announcements for job seekers, taking in consideration the ‘fluency’ of the applicants as Roochnik stated?
OK, I am sure some would consider ‘fluent’ too broad of a term!!!!!!


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