The Arabic Language and the Arabs

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The Arabic language is beautiful. It is majestic. Personally, I was an ardent defender of it (even though, there were barely any attackers). I have stood atop the podium and recited verses upon verses of poetry. Real Arabic poetry, not the ones popular in the Gulf these days.

But here lies the problem. Why do I have to say that it’s “real” Arabic instead of just saying Arabic?

You see, what I believed to be real Arabic (I’ll call it formal Arabic from now on or FA) is not spoken natively in all of the world. Let me repeat that, FA is not the native language of anyone. This is not an exaggeration. Yet the only real acknowledged language by the Arabs is FA.

Does having a language that no one speaks natively (let alone read or write it natively, or better yet using it to think) cause any problems for the people who cling so tightly to it?

The answer most emphatically is, yes.

To better illustrate that point, let me share with you this real story.

I (a person from Hijaz) along with a Libyan, and a Tunisian wanted to get some info from a Moroccan friend of ours. All of us being Arabs, this should not be a problem. Oh but it was. The Moroccan spoke English, French, and North West African Arabic (NWAA). The Tunisian spoke English, French, NWAA, and FA. The Libyan spoke NWAA and FA. I speak English, Hijazi Arabic, and FA.

The poor Moroccan had to give the info first to the Tunisian and Libyan in NWAA, then repeat it to me in English.

Taking a quick glance at the Arab world, I would say that there at least three distinct Arabic languages, each with regional dialects.

1. NWAA: Spoken by Libyans, Algerian, Tunisians, Moroccans, and maybe, Mauritanians.

2. Central Arabic: Spoken by Egyptians, Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese, Jordanians, Hijazis, and maybe Sudanese.

3. Gulf Arabic: Saudi (except for Hijaz), Yemen, Oman, UAE, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain.

As for Somalia, Djibouti, and Comoros, I’m not sure what do the people there speak natively, so I really don’t know where to put them.

The following article compares FA with Latin in Europe during the middle ages, and it is an apt comparison. I encourage you to read it. It delves deeper into the issue.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/johnson/2013/06/arabic

What do you guys think? Does the benefit of having one unified language outweigh the fact that the majority of Arabs do not speak, read, or write it adequately?

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