Modern Standard Arabic Revolution Erin Johnson TEDxUMontana
Audience applauds Very early on in my career as a high school student of Arabic, my class hosted a visitor from Egypt. As a class full of novices, we listened to him speak in rapid, fluent Arabic, with almost no comprehension of what was going on. This came as no surprise, as we were still attempting to master the alphabet, but what took us by a great amount of surprise was that our instructor seemed equally clueless as to what our visitor was trying to share with us. What came to light soon after was that our visitor was equally clueless.
When our instructor tried to reply to him in Arabic. The two spoke in English more frequently than they did in their supposed home languages of Arabic. What I was experiencing that day in my classroom is a dialectual barrier that mars speakers of many languages, but Arabic in particular. It has been an unbelievably common experience in my time as a student of Arabic. Dialectual barriers are a huge issue when it comes to forming connections, not only interpersonal connections between two people, but international relations between countries. How can countries be expected to solve problems together, to work in unity, if they can’t even communicate.
For the past several years that I’ve been studying Arabic, I haven’t been studying any one particular dialect, but instead a revolutionary, new, manufactured kind of dialect known as Modern Standard Arabic, or MSA. Modern Standard Arabic is a dialect that is derived from Classical Arabic, the ancient language of the Quran, and it’s absolutely revolutionary in that it allows speakers to communicate across dialect lines. The Arab world can be highly divided when it comes to dialectual differences. The experience like the one I had in my classroom is an everyday experience for many speakers of Arabic,.
Because of their dialectual differences. Even in everyday words, we see confusion arise between speakers. Take this word for example a very simple word in Arabic, it only means minute, but even in the simple word we see that there is a massive difference in pronunciations from country to country. Take, for example, Syria. There, along with in parts of Oman and Kuwait, they would pronounce this word dawkeekaw with a very hard kaw coming from the back of their throat, and that would be in contrast to nations like Jordan, as well as parts of Kuwait,.
Where they would pronounce this word dahkeeka in the front of their throat, with a very soft keh, and that would all be in even greater contrast to parts in the north of Egypt, where they would pronounce this word daheeuh and leave out any kaw or keh at all. These misunderstandings can lead to hilarious circumstances in which, for example, a person may ask for a pen, the word kullum in Arabic. Egyptian speakers of this dialect would pronounce this word allum instead, which means pain to most other Arabic speakers.
So when an Egyptian of this dialect says, Hey, may I please have that pen another may interpret him as saying, Hey, please give me pain. audience laughs All of these dialects, however, are in even greater contrast to those in the south of Egypt, where we see that this word would be pronounced duhgeeguh using a guh noise. This is a sound which isn’t used by most Arabic speakers at all, let alone in this particular word, and we’ve now reached the level where not only can these people not understand each other in certain circumstances,.
They may have issues recognizing that they’re speaking the same language. What is so interesting about these dialectual differences is that they so often spawn from cultural differences. Take the example of Morocco. There, their Arabic is highly influenced by the French and Spanish languages, and the same can be said for their culture. They’re highly reliant on tourism, and trade between European nations is a must. This is in contrast with their neighbors of Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya, who have a very strong Berber influence on their Arabic, indicative of their farming and ruralbased history.
Egypt is again interesting in this circumstance, in that that they both have one of the most distinctive accents of Arabic, remembering those left out kaws and kehs, and that they largely control the film and television industries of the Arab world. That means that people who speak Arabic from all around the globe come to pick up bits and pieces of this Arabic dialect, just by tuning in to their favorite television show, or watching their favorite film. I believe that the singular best example of dialectual differences, though, comes from the nation of Iraq.
Within Iraq, to start with the relatively simple, they speak at least four distinct dialects of Arabic. But what makes Iraq so unique is that they have notable minority populations that bring their own languages to the table, most notably, those being, the Turkmen and the Kurds, who speak Turkish and Kurdish, respectively. These groups, for the most part, speak Arabic also, but their loyalty does not lie with the Arab countries that are tied together with Arabic. Instead, it lies with the home country where their other language is spoken.
For the Turkmen, this means that their loyalty lies with the nation of Turkey, and even for the Kurds, that means that their loyalty lies with the yet unrecognized nation of Kurdistan. We can see that Iraq is dividing itself upon many lines, and has conflicts too numerous to mention in a single TED Talk, but language is definitely one of these barriers. Iraq is dividing itself along dialectual and language barriers, and it doesn’t exactly paint a bright picture for the rest of the Arab world. After all, when the rest of the Middle East and North Africa are similarly divided with their dialects,.
How can we expect them to not also violently splinter, as Iraq is currently Despite this implication, I am unbelievably hopeful for the future of the Arab world, and that’s largely thanks to this one idea that I mentioned earlier, known as Modern Standard Arabic. Modern Standard Arabic is now being taught in the majority of schools around the Middle East and North Africa, and it’s been adopted as the official language by every nation in the Arab League, as well as several other nations around the world. Linguists tend to criticize Modern Standard Arabic,.
Say that it has no chance of sticking around because it’s no ones mother tongue. It’s no ones home language. It’s too manufactured. However, I believe that this very concept is exactly what makes Modern Standard Arabic so revolutionary. Modern Standard Arabic doesn’t tie speakers to their home towns or to their home nations, but instead it allows them to make connections around the world, around the globe. Modern Standard Arabic is now also the most commonly taught form of Arabic being taught in the Western world, which means that as my peers and I educate ourselves on Arabic,.
We are educating ourselves on a language that will allow us to communicate with individuals from around the globe, not from just a certain region, not from just a certain town. I’ve often heard the comparison that speaking Modern Standard Arabic before its widespread adoption was akin to Shakespearean speeches in modernday America. I think how archaic and oldfashioned this idea is really highlights why it’s so brilliant. It’s not often that the youngest generation would take up something so oldfashioned, but I think that we did makes a mark that this is a revolutionary idea.