Languages are the most important factors in forming nations because they are vectors of thought and expression. They constitute a communication tool, a reference for the nation and its cultural heritage. They are made of consciousness and arise from the activity of thought and translate its meaning.
Let us look at one of the most important problems which arise in our contemporary time and which upset the cultural landscape of the Arab world and its noble language, namely the question of the plurality of Arabic dialects.
The question is whether the Arabic language will disappear to give way to a multitude of heterogeneous dialects. One against the other is a perpetual fight to know which will be the language closest to the Arabic language or if this beautiful language will be enriched and impregnated with all these dialects to give us a full new fragrance or flavours rooted in its majestic history.
The situation of the Arabic language
Dr Abdulaziz Maqalih (Yemeni poet, critic and university professor) emphasizes that the almost total absence of the literary Arabic language is a danger not only for the Arabic language but also for the unity of the “nation. Arabic ”in their cultural and spiritual dimensions.
The risk is to make the Arabic language a language emptied of all its consistency without any foundation. Just as well, it can become the single language of multiple nations. Each provided with different dialects but without any link between each other.
This vision completely excludes the contribution of dialects to the Arabic language. If we look closely, we realize that the Arabic dialects intermingle with the Arabic language by an application, above all, by applying certain rules of literary Arabic grammar. Like all the languages of the world, it is not a unique set at all levels.
We will find a literary and scientific Arabic on the one hand and a more popular level. At one point or another, we will have to ask ourselves the question: “what balance should we have between the two?” “
This differentiation in Arab countries sometimes meets limits. This is what we see, for example, in countries that have undergone physical and linguistic occupation, such as certain Maghreb countries.
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The upgrading of literary Arabic in these countries began with a strong Arabization policy at the level of education and administration, to such an extent that a great gap opened up between the dialectal Arabic language. And the official language of the country. To verify this, you have to walk around the cities of the Maghreb to ask the question, “where are we?” Because the difference is immense between these institutional practices on the one hand and traditional ones on the other.
Of course, on official aspects, the literary Arabic language predominates and remains the common language that brings together all the Arab countries. We note, however, that Arabic dialects prevail in all unofficial and popular aspects.
The dominance of local dialects
Today, the linguistic reality in the Arab world reveals the dominance of local dialects. We find, on the one hand, a mixture of dialect, Berber and French for the Maghreb and on the other hand, the dialect and English in the Mashrek. For local dialects they dominate over most models of communication in Arab countries, both through the language used in class (sometimes on teaching aids), or on radio and television (the media ), in movies or songs (popular culture), or even in magazines and newspapers. Not to mention certain languages such as English or French, which are very influential in the stages of the university and pre-university education, on social networks and in certain stores.
Seen from this angle, we can believe that the Arabic language will disappear, leaving a mosaic of dialects taking precedence as the official language.
Historically the language has always been fueled by the various local dialects. Local dialects are the reservoir of the Arabic language. The latter has always been a learned and noble language, while the local dialects represent the popular language used by the population in their everyday lives. On this aspect, the literary Arabic language draws from this rich and very dynamic reservoir to strengthen itself and represent the evolution of society.
Also, the literary Arabic language represents a common base used naturally by a large region of 22 countries. This is a significant weight, especially since this region has a common history that binds them together. A present with insurmountable challenges without active cooperation between them. The future of this nation is in its union, and this literary Arabic language is the one that will cement these nations. Cultural, political and economic cooperation will only be strengthened thanks to this common language and especially used naturally by all its members.
The Al-dirassa Center offers online Arabic, Quran and Islam courses for non-Arabic speakers. If you would like to join our class, please get in touch with us.