The plight of the Arabic language…a wound that refuses to heal

Ahead of “International Mother Language Day”, which falls on February 21 each year, we should start a serious conversation about the status of the Arabic language, especially because it is an occasion during which different languages ​​in different parts of the world Speakers speak. With the care and concern for what happened to their language, the “Arabic language” has many strengths, but it is not enough to make up for it, or it is not exploited well.

In this context, we cannot deny that the Arabic language suffers from complex problems, some of which are old, and which were presented and known, but did not find a solution for years, and some of which They are new, and have come to the fore in the mind, and we do not need to make a strenuous effort to stand upon them, diagnose them, and think of their solutions.

grammar development

Some of these problems are related to developing grammar so that it becomes easier and to avoid them it is a matter of improving the voice of Taha Hussain and others. Some of them relate to finding appropriate words that keep pace with scientific and cultural developments, and the terminology, concepts and terminology that globalization throws into the river of languages ​​almost every day. Some of them relate to simile, metaphor, hyperbole, image creation and finding a new eloquence in imagination.

There is a problem related to wandering behind linguistic etymology to create assumptions and methodological pathways. This matter has become one of the characteristics of research in the humanities in Arab universities and institutes. The researcher always starts running after the meanings of the linguistic derivatives of his words or concepts and in this he forgets the language and takes the help of ancient dictionaries. is a living organism that sometimes changes with changes in the social context.

The matter becomes worse when the ancient linguistic text becomes the determinant of modern thinking, drawing towards it, revolving around it and creating with it the guiding models and patterns of thinking.

But the problem is not limited to this, there is an even more difficult and difficult aspect related to the existence of the Arabic language. Colloquial dialects have brutally encroached upon it, and it has not stopped at the point of being transmitted orally, as it once was. Then most of the new generation started relying on it to express their opinions, status, thoughts and feelings.

Rather, the matter has reached some writers and here we are following what they write in raw colloquial language on social networking sites and we are surprised, especially because what they write is not in the form of dialogue. Who can impose local dialects. , but also in description, photography, analysis, imagination, expressing an opinion and declaring a position.

Some colloquial dialects have a tremendous ability to express and overcome many of the problems of the classical language, especially the Egyptian dialect, but in Egypt, let alone all the Arab countries, there is not a single colloquial dialect that That the proliferation of colloquial dialects and their excessive adoption will lead to confusion, and perhaps even obstruction. Communication among the Arabs from the sea to the Gulf.

generations can't read

In this regard I remember that a Sudanese writer, whose birthplace is Karmakul, the city of Tayeb Salih, distributed to us at a literary conference a short story that she wrote in the local dialect of the region where she comes from . I looked at the lines, but I only understood a little of them, and I couldn't figure out at all what the story was saying. Or I saw aesthetic images scattered throughout it, so I turned to a Sudanese writer from the north of the country and asked him what it meant, and I found that he too was clearly having difficulty understanding the story.

Naguib Mahfouz was aware of this issue, so he wrote in classical language, and he criticized those who wrote in colloquial language, even when it was necessary to communicate in the tongue of the characters and heroes of the narrative, Because this would lead to ambiguity, over time his works were disliked by many, especially those readers who are not familiar with colloquial Egyptian language. Arab.

A similar case can be found in the stories of Yusuf Idris, despite their grandeur, as they include a colloquial dialect related to his birthplace, which is the village of Al-Bayroom in the Sharqiya Governorate of Egypt. Some of these words have now left their local environment, let alone other Egyptian local environments, and even more so distant Arab environments.

Taha Hussein was aware of this, and so he criticized Idris for using colloquial language in his stories, and he did the same with others, especially playwright Noman Ashour.

Also, colloquial dialects are no longer as pure as they were, for example, a quarter of a century ago. Rather, a mixture of languages ​​has entered them, which some young people call “Franco-Arab”, in which Arabic letters have been replaced by foreign ones or numbers. Although it is difficult for people of my generation to understand what this writing means, we have found that young people know it with ease and simplicity, it creates wonder, and it tells us about the ruins that lie hidden. In the words of the Egyptian poet Farouk Shousha, who presented a popular radio program with this title, we call “our beautiful language”.

Furthermore, there are generations of graduates of foreign schools in Arab countries who have grown up unable to read or write Arabic properly. These people also communicate in English or French in daily life, or at least mix their Arabic language with foreign words, and some of them may stop you after them… For example, he Pronounces the English word to clarify its meaning.

In this regard I also remember that in the 1980s one of our colleagues at the Faculty of Economics and Political Science, who graduated from foreign schools, told us that he expressed his feelings for the girl he loved in Arabic. They could not express themselves in Arabic, and English helped them accomplish this task, even though the curriculum was in Arabic at the time, as English and French departments had not yet been established.

limited effort

Furthermore, foreign languages ​​have become widespread in marketplaces and on the streets, and have begun to displace or obscure the Arabic language in many countries. The signs of shops and stores, and the names of hotels and stadiums in many countries are written in English, French or other languages. And if some traders and stakeholders are polite, they may write the foreign pronunciation in Arabic letters.

This provokes many people who are jealous of the Arabic language, among them was once the late thinker Dr. Abdel Wahab al-Mesiri, who filed a lawsuit demanding that all advertising signs in Egypt be written in Arabic, but the lawsuit was ignored and forgotten.

Religious education, on the other hand, and at its head or at its heart, there is Al-Azhari education in Egypt, pays great attention to the Arabic language, especially since those enrolled in this educational path must memorize the Holy Quran and the famous Alfia Ibn In addition to the Maliki grammar, at least a thousand hadiths of the Prophet.

While some are calling for the abolition of this education to prevent duplication between civil and religious education, as well as to ensure that civil schools have a dose of religious or moral lessons, others There are also people who fear that such behavior will have a negative impact on the Arabic language.

There are also those who want religious education to develop their Arabic language, avoiding abandoned words or terminology that have outgrown the social environment and remain at the heart of ancient dictionaries and lexicons.

Writers and journalists attempted to develop a simple language that would be able to be understood by the largest number of readers. Naguib Mahfouz talked about the third language, or clear Arabic, which he resorted to, especially in the dialogue taking place in the tongue of the heroes and the characters of his novels and stories, especially if these are ordinary people. Tawfiq al-Hakim did the same thing in his plays and stories.

There have been people who took words that we thought of as colloquial and put them into the lines of their texts, considering them to be unquestionably eloquent, and at the forefront of these was the writer Yahya Haqqi, who was remarkably careful in his choice of words. Were careful. Narrative works, his critical writings and his journalistic articles.

But those concerned with developing the Arabic language to keep pace with the constant renewal and urbanization did not make sufficient and sufficient efforts to prepare Arabic to assist its educated and educated speakers in expressing their opinions. Rather, ordinary people have transcended institutions based on the guidance they receive about language, particularly language academies. Arabic in many Arab countries.

grave crisis

What makes all this worse and worse is that people create their own new verbal rhetoric, while most writers insist on using old metaphors, like someone saying “the straw that broke the camel's back”, While the camel is no longer the primary means of transportation in the age of cars, trains and planes, or someone describes the gentleman's face with the moon, and the brave with the lion, or someone else says, in the age of weapons “the sword Defenseless”, some of which went faster than sound.

This happens with Classical Arabic while colloquial dialects try to meet people's needs through lack of adherence to and abandonment of grammatical rules which can make rapid pronunciation difficult. Similarly, colloquial dialects have the potential to express the popular imagination through colloquial and Nabataean poetry, for example, as well as through proverbs, sayings, stories, biographies, epics, songs, poems, and so on.

The Arabic language is facing a serious problem. There are writers who are not good at writing it, there are judges who are not good at pronouncing it, there is stagnation in grammar and morphology, colloquial dialects are gradually increasing, and it is excellent at creating innovative metaphors. While it is neglected by foreign education, which contributed to its isolation and led to the mixing of its writing and pronunciation. As with words from other languages, the language of Dhad faces serious challenges. As years pass by, we open it like a new wound that never wants to heal.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.

Read Previous

Oleksandr Sirsky…a Soviet-era soldier who leads Ukrainian forces

Read Next

Amira al-Assouli…a Palestinian doctor defies Israeli gunfire to save a wounded man in Khan Yunis

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Most Popular