Register  Login  Active Topics  Maps  

Is Arabic underestimated?

 Language Learning Forum : Specific Languages Post Reply
75 messages over 10 pages: 1 2 3 4 57 ... 6 ... 9 10 Next >>
Cavesa
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 3366 days ago

3277 posts - 6778 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 
 Message 41 of 75
10 July 2015 at 3:00am | IP Logged 
Yes, I was about to ask a similar question. From what I've read about Arabic, it looks like MSA is still the language of literature. So, is it possible to practice the dialect by reading? Are some authors using their dialects instead?

I am a reader of the mezzofantiguild blog like probably many htlalers(Donovan, who writes it, was even engaged to an Egyptian girl while living in the country) and the founder writes about Arabic a lot obviously. He created a resource on the dialects http://www.talkinarabic.com/start-here/ and in some of his posts, if I remember correctly but I may be mistaken, he heavily advocates learning the dialect first and learning with audio mostly, as if the MSA was actually an obstacle. It is actually strange to see such opposite ideas. Do you think this approach could be actually better for some learners? Sure, for someone who knows right now he is gonna move to a particular country, but other than that?

Emk, I agree that the some of the things mentioned are a bit risky to write, concerning the rules, but they were all relevant.
Htlal like learners don't learn Arabic as often as one would guess for the "polite" reasons, such as difficulty, lack of materials, the dialect trouble, and so on.
Average Joe learners, which are the language learning majority filling the language schools, do not learn Arabic as often as one would guess for the "impolite" reasons, such as not seeing Arabic as the money source and not seing Arabic language, culture and natives as an asset to their personal lives. That's the simple true. They don't usually even get to know there are some dialects and whether or not there are movies in the language.

the original question was:
Quote:
But it still seems unpopular, do you think it is underestimated as world language?

I'd say no, it is not being underestimated, it is just being generally disliked because a language is never being viewed separately from the culture, history, politics and economics.

Actually, there are many more languages that are far less popular than they should be, following some common sense criteria, such as the number of speakers. Arabic is not the only one by far. To illustrate:
-Russian. Do you think there are as many learners as there should be, considering the number of natives, the importance etc? I don't think so, the language's popularity is heavily influenced by tons of not difficulty related stuff. Sure, it is on the rise now (as there is now a generation or two that don't remember the cold war or being overruled by the ussr and therefore see it more in the business context), but it is still much less popular than even Italian.
-Polish. It should be one of the popular third languages of europeans but it is not. It is quite a large, important country with tons of economical international ties. But in this case, the "stereotypes", which are much more distant from reality than in case of Arabic I'd say, are the cause. It is not popular even among Poland's neighbours.
-Portuguese. Despite the huge importance and rise of Brasil in today's world, despite having the popculture learners crave, despite having great touristy destinations, it is still much much less popular than the other big romance languages. I would guess it is less popular than Italian in most regions of the world. And in this case, it is obviously to large extent fault of the PR of the countries, which is something in common with the Arabic countries. There is a network of "Alliance Portugais" (I cannot remember the real name) but it obviously fails to get as much attention as AF, Cervantes or the Italian institutes.


The two main groups of learners (for easiness named "htlaler-like" and "avegare-joes") have different main reasons not to give Arabic the fair share of attention and the situation will develop differently for each, in my opinion.
-htlaler-like learners are likely to learn Arabic more often in the years to come because there are new resources being made and we in general tend to take difficult languages and different cultures as a challenge.
-average-joes wouldn't surprise me if they were learning Arabic even less often in the years to come. The trend won't change until the PR, the politics, the crisis and all these factors change.

P.S. now you've all tempted me to learn arabic on top of all my studies, how cruel of you :-D

Edited by Cavesa on 10 July 2015 at 3:03am

6 persons have voted this message useful



basica
Senior Member
Australia
Joined 1893 days ago

157 posts - 269 votes 
Studies: Serbian

 
 Message 42 of 75
10 July 2015 at 3:34am | IP Logged 
regarding dialect first vs MSA first, I have noticed the trend where natives almost
always advocate MSA to being with, while learners like Donovan recommend the opposite. I
have met plenty of learners who have said that, including Donovan and Benny.
3 persons have voted this message useful



kanewai
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
justpaste.it/kanewai
Joined 3246 days ago

1386 posts - 3054 votes 
Speaks: English*, French, Marshallese
Studies: Italian, Spanish

 
 Message 43 of 75
10 July 2015 at 10:21am | IP Logged 
On reflection, the Eastern Mediterranean had a couple potential 'world' languages that
were reduced in scope by war and conquest.

Here's the Greek speaking world at the peak of Byzantine power:

.

The Venetians (Fourth Crusade) and Ottomans put an end to that empire.

And if the Venetians had kept their "empire of the sea" then maybe Venuto would be
considered "Italian" and Toscana a dialect. But again, wars and conflict weakened the
republic too much for it to survive into the modern world.    



I've been looking for links on what the 'world' languages (the languages of science,
literature, and diplomacy) back during this period. I haven't found anything
definite, beyond that the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II was famous for speaking six:
Latin, Sicilian, German, French, Greek, and Arabic. Which I thought was a cool
factoid, if a bit of a tangent.
1 person has voted this message useful



hp230
Tetraglot
Newbie
TunisiaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 2050 days ago

30 posts - 63 votes 
Speaks: German, Arabic (classical)*, French, English

 
 Message 44 of 75
10 July 2015 at 10:54am | IP Logged 
kanewai wrote:
hp230 - I know that most movies are in dialect, but how about books? When Naguib
Mahfouz or Alaa-Al-Aswany (The Yacoubian Building) write, is it in Egyptian or
MSA or some blend of the two?

Those are the only two Arabic authors I've read. I can't even name any others. Are
there any others we should watch our for?

Cavesa wrote:

From what I've read about Arabic, it looks like MSA is still the language of literature

Indeed, unlike movies, 99% of books are written in MSA. Books written in dielects are considered as 2nd class books and they are not popular among the reading community, simply because it's not usually serious stuff.

As for authors: Najib Mahfoudh, Taha Hussein, Ahmed Amin, Gibran Khalil Gibran, Mikhail Naimy, Tawfik El Hakim, Mouloud Feraoun, Kassem Amin, El Manfalouti, Mahmoud Taymour, Tahar GuiGua, Tayeb Salih,....
and for feminin plumes: May Ziadé, Huda Shaaraoui, Nawel Saadeoui,...

These are some of the big names of the 19th-20th centuries. I grew up reading their writings and it was really a great pleasure.

Cavesa, I think practising dielects with reading isn't a good idea. Is there enough learning material? I don't think so ( maybe the egyptian and lebanese dielects are the most available ones though). Speaking with natives would be IMHO the fastest and the most efficient way. Donovan's initiative is really great, I don't know about it's efficiency, first we need someone who have tried it to judge it.


Edited by hp230 on 10 July 2015 at 10:56am

3 persons have voted this message useful





Iversen
Super Polyglot
Moderator
Denmark
berejst.dk
Joined 5060 days ago

9078 posts - 16471 votes 
Speaks: Danish*, French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Esperanto, Romanian, Catalan
Studies: Afrikaans, Greek, Norwegian, Russian, Serbian, Icelandic, Latin, Irish, Lowland Scots, Indonesian, Polish, Croatian
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 45 of 75
10 July 2015 at 11:08am | IP Logged 
I actually had a peek into a TY Arabic during my study years in the late 70s, but when I saw that wowels mostly weren't written in common texts I concluded that this wasn't a language you could learn without a teacher - you would need someone to hammer the spoken language into your head before you could even start reading. And already back then I preferred learning the written language first so Arabic was out.

Since then I have to some extent learnt Slavic languages like Russian where the accent hops around like popcorn in a popcorn machine without ever being written (except in dictionaries), but for some reason this isn't seen as quite as problematic as not knowing which wowels should be used where - maybe because we are used to writings systems which are deficient in their accent markings, but we are not used to not knowing which wowels we should use.

In the 70s I wasn't aware of the problem with MSA versus dialects, but this would definitely complicate matters - like if the Romance world still used everything from Classical Latin to more or less hardcore SMS versions of the modern languages for its writings, but spoke in a variety of vernaculars.

I like to read about history, but I haven't ever let history decide whether I should study a language. Speakers of a number of my languages have been doing gruesome things to each other for centuries, but for me the relevant thing is the situation now - not who killed who years ago. And here Arabic has a problem because of the current turmoil in a number of countries, but just twenty years ago there were ugly wars on the Balkan Peninsula, and that hasn't stopped me from traveling in that region nor from studying Serbian (and indirectly Croatian).

I have actually travelled in Syria while it still was a fairly peaceful country under the ironfist of Hafez Assad. Back then I visited not only Palmyra, but also Aleppo with its Christian churches, and I visited the town Maalula, where they still kept Aramaic alive. Heaven knows how the situation is there now! The availability of safe traveling opportunities with possible interaction with the local population is an important factor, and religious wars and terrorism is bad PR even for those countries where such activities aren't common.


Edited by Iversen on 10 July 2015 at 11:20am

9 persons have voted this message useful



Cavesa
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 3366 days ago

3277 posts - 6778 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 
 Message 46 of 75
10 July 2015 at 6:53pm | IP Logged 
hp230 wrote:
Cavesa, I think practising dielects with reading isn't a good idea. Is there enough learning material? I don't think so ( maybe the egyptian and lebanese dielects are the most available ones though). Speaking with natives would be IMHO the fastest and the most efficient way. Donovan's initiative is really great, I don't know about it's efficiency, first we need someone who have tried it to judge it.


Thanks for all the info, it is appreciated!

I think you've just described a huge obstacle in learning Arabic. Sure, noone contradicts the fact that the best way to learn a language is to move to the country and live trully among the natives, but most learners just cannot do that. I think I am by far not the only one who finds speaking with natives, under the non-immersion conditions, hard to come by. It is horribly expensive to pay a tutor for the whole learning journey (and harder for time management than self-teaching with ready made tools), it is expensive to visit the country regularily (and in this case it is not safe as well), and finding language exchange partners is not easy when your native language is not popular for the natives of your target language.

I think that is what has been keeping me from trying Arabic and it might stay the main reason during the next few years. Finding the time to learn a different language is an issue, true, but this is more important. I am fairly sure I can learn on my own, in my free time, mostly at home, any of the difficult languages that is supported with enough courses, grammars, tv series and books. It might take me years but that is not an issue. But I am unlikely to seriously study a language I might desperately need a teacher for.

Tools like the Dovonan's site for dialects might be a huge step towards the change. And there are courses for the dialects being published. But with the books being in MSA, it is still gonna be difficult.

I wonder: what do you think is gonna be the linguistic outcome of the today's crisis?
Will millions of Arabs exchange the language for a better life in Europe and therefore diminish the Arabic native base with all the consequences?
As large crowds of Arabs are moving to other Arabic countries and more crowds are moving together to totally non Arabic speaking countries, do you think the dialects will mix? Or is it more likely some dialects will prevail due to Arabs from various countries being stuck together in the immigrant communities? Do immigrant Arabs in Arab countrieslearn the dialect of their new country?
Or is it possible that the solution to dialect mixing will be new rise of the MSA?
2 persons have voted this message useful



ScottScheule
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
scheule.blogspot.com
Joined 3585 days ago

645 posts - 1176 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: Latin, Hungarian, Biblical Hebrew, Old English, Russian, Swedish, German, Italian, French

 
 Message 47 of 75
10 July 2015 at 7:17pm | IP Logged 
Cavesa wrote:
I wonder: what do you think is gonna be the linguistic outcome of the today's crisis? Will millions of Arabs exchange the language for a better life in Europe and therefore diminish the Arabic native base with all the consequences?
As large crowds of Arabs are moving to other Arabic countries and more crowds are moving together to totally non Arabic speaking countries, do you think the dialects will mix? Or is it more likely some dialects will prevail due to Arabs from various countries being stuck together in the immigrant communities? Do immigrant Arabs in Arab countrieslearn the dialect of their new country?
Or is it possible that the solution to dialect mixing will be new rise of the MSA?


I don't have any answers, but I will use the opportunity to once again plug the work of Philip Tetlock, who has shown that people, even experts, are really bad at predicting such things, sometimes making predictions no better than random guesses. I know it sucks, because it would be nice to predict such things, but it's really hard.
2 persons have voted this message useful



Zireael
Triglot
Senior Member
Poland
Joined 3008 days ago

518 posts - 636 votes 
Speaks: Polish*, EnglishB2, Spanish
Studies: German, Sign Language, Tok Pisin, Arabic (Yemeni), Old English

 
 Message 48 of 75
10 July 2015 at 8:52pm | IP Logged 
Quote:
The level of enthusiasm displayed by people when you go beyond the few basic words on
the back of your travel guide is priceless.


I have a few such memories in my log even though I'm nowhere close to Luso's level.

Quote:
From my position in Tunisia, I can say Arabic is giving up it's place to French and English since the school programs are giving more importance to foreign languages. In the University, non-literary studies are all taught in French and English [...]
This negligence of the language is for me the cruelest thing that ever happened to Arabic. Even the dialects are getting seriously affected by other languages, half of the words I speak during the day are french mixed up with the Tunisian arabic.


Judging by my Tunisian friends, this is indeed the situation in the country. I wonder if it's the same in other Maghreb countries/former French colonies?

---
Also, bookmarked Mezzofanti guild and talk in arabic sites, who knows, they might come in handy.

Edited by Zireael on 10 July 2015 at 8:55pm



1 person has voted this message useful



This discussion contains 75 messages over 10 pages: << Prev 1 2 3 4 57 8 9 10  Next >>


Post ReplyPost New Topic Printable version Printable version

You cannot post new topics in this forum - You cannot reply to topics in this forum - You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum - You cannot create polls in this forum - You cannot vote in polls in this forum


This page was generated in 0.3594 seconds.


DHTML Menu By Milonic JavaScript
Copyright 2020 FX Micheloud - All rights reserved
No part of this website may be copied by any means without my written authorization.