A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, May 21, 2010

More Discussion on Arabic

There's yet another article on the need for better quality books and content in Arabic, one of a number we've noted recently, and like many of them, the article is in English.

UPDATED: A commenter links to a post on "The Death of Arabic in Lebanon" which is worth your time and also introduced me to a blog I didn't know. I'll use his link to remember a time I actually heard a Lebanese businessman manage to get three languages into only four words in a phone call: "Pourquois are you za‘lan?" (Why are you angry?)

And speaking of languages, it has been brought to my attention that there was an empty post up with the headline "Worlx" on it earlier today. That's what I get for posting before having coffee; it was just a mistake. Have a good weekend.


ck said...

I wrote a bit about the fall from grace of Arabic in Lebanon (link below). Given the colonial past and the western influences in that country, the fall of Arabic is at least understandable. More surprising is the status of the language in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

If you are with only Saudis, Arabic is the norm. But with all of the foreign workers here (the town is pretty much kept running by Indians and Bangladeshis), knowing Arabic hardly helps in getting around. Living in Jeddah, it is better to know English (go figure).

I am sure that in other parts of the country it is different - Jeddah is considered the most liberal and international city in Saudi. But the inability to practice my Arabic is Saudi is surprising to say the least.

Here is the link:

Michael Collins Dunn said...

Al Lisan:

Thanks for the link. I've put in in the original post along with my own favorite remembered multilingual Lebanese usage.

ck said...

Thanks for the shout out. Another good example of mixing languages in only a few words is the very Lebanese way of saying goodbye:

Yalla bye. 2 Languages in 2 words!

Another good example is the new Jad Choueiri song, with the distinct Lebanese Arabic, French and English (though predominately Arabic).