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陈凯访谈 - 自由/专制/语言/毛像 Kai Chen Interview on Glazov Gang

in 陈凯论坛 Kai Chen Forum 不自由,毋宁死! Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death! Fri Mar 14, 2014 8:43 am
by fountainheadkc • 1.385 Posts

The Glazov Gang-Kai Chen's Escape From China's Tyranny.

Jamie wrote: "NEW BLOCKBUSTER Glazov Gang with China's Basketball Superstar Kai Chen Kai shares his journey out of the tyranny of communist China to the liberty of America, explains how language shapes totalitarianism and freedom, how Obama has annihilated America as a moral leader in the world, and much, much more. Don't miss it!

Last edited Fri Mar 14, 2014 4:14 pm | Scroll up


RE: 陈凯访谈 - 自由/专制/语言/毛像 Kai Chen Interview on Glazov Gang

in 陈凯论坛 Kai Chen Forum 不自由,毋宁死! Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death! Tue Mar 18, 2014 7:36 am
by fountainheadkc • 1.385 Posts

Exclusive: Arabs’ Language Oppression Squelches Intellectual Growth

by DR. SAMI ALRABAA July 31, 2009

We Arabs not only suffer from lack of political and religious freedom, and economic backwardness, but we also suffer from a huge language and thinking problem, which hampers civilized change.

The Arab countries have two levels of language: local Arabic, i.e. national and regional, called language varieties (dialects) versus Standard Arabic. There is Egyptian spoken Arabic, Syrian Arabic, Saudi Arabic, Moroccan Arabic, etc. These dialects are our mother tongues. They are, however confined to daily spoken conversations. We are not allowed to use them in writing, especially in books, print media, school textbooks, and other official documents.

Standard Arabic is the official language across all Arab states. It is not, though, our mother tongue; actually no one speaks this language as a mother tongue, we begin learning it at school at the age of 6 or 7. It is our second language as opposed to our national and regional spoken Arabic which is indeed our mother tongue.

As Standard Arabic has been the language of literacy in the Arab countries for 1400 years, used in poetry and translating scientific books into Arabic (especially during the so-called golden ages), it developed a huge repertoire of vocabulary. Spoken Arabic (dialects), on the other hand, has been stigmatized, colloquial and remained limited to simple daily conversations. The bulk of its vocabulary stayed poor.

However, when you ask an Arab what their mother tongue is, they would misleadingly say, “It is Arabic,” meaning Standard Arabic, which is not true. Spoken Arabic is our mother tongue.

Both varieties/levels of Arabic share some vocabulary, which very often are differently pronounced. They also completely differ in terms of grammar and sentence structure.

Middle Eastern Arabs in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, and Palestine use similar spoken Arabics. When they meet and talk they easily understand each other despite diverse local vocabulary and pronunciation variations.

North African Arabs speak almost a completely different spoken Arabic. A Syrian speaking to a Moroccan or Algerian, for instance, would maybe understand five percent.

Standard Arabic is for all Arabs a lingua franca; it is like Latin to the Spaniards, French, or Italians whose national languages stemmed and developed from Latin. As the Roman Empire ruled Spain, France, Italy, and Portugal, Latin was the language of education and science, but people in these countries, due to widespread illiteracy, used their own spoken dialects of Latin, exactly like Arabs are doing.

As Arabs from the Arabian Peninsula invaded what became today’s modern Arab countries, they imposed Arabic as the official language. Local languages like Aramaic, Pharaohnic, Cananic, and Hebrew were banned. As the majority of people in these countries were illiterate, they managed to learn a kind of Arabic, i.e. spoken Arabic, exactly like the Caribbean natives who learned English; a kind of broken English that is grammatically, and in terms of pronunciation, different from Standard English.
Standard Arabic, the official language across the Arab world is archaic, with an archaic grammar and method of analysis and teaching.

Therefore, Arab students find it extremely difficult to learn this language, struggling with its grammar and rigid structure. Arabic Language Councils and the Muslim religious establishment have been adamant against allowing any language reform. They have claimed that it is the language of the holy Koran and hence it is sacred.

While languages like English, French, and German have gone through linguistic reforms, Standard Arabic has not. While all these other languages have incorporated modern vocabulary and modern structures, Standard Arabic Councils have employed a purist custodian role.

Sixty percent of Arabs are still illiterate or semi-literate and thus they are ostracized from reading and accessing education. The majority of Arabs sparsely read. They hate the pedantic structure of Standard Arabic. Their lack of command of this language forces them to do so. It is like Latin to Spaniards if they were forced to use it.

Standard Arabic is an artificial language. We Arabs do not identify ourselves with this “language.” We are not native to it.

People around the globe, especially Westerners, enjoy reading books because these use a language which is theirs. It reflects their mother tongue, culture, and mindset. Some books become bestsellers, but in the Arab world we lack this natural phenomenon.

In a comment on an article I posted on an Arab site, Wafa Sultan tells the story of her illiterate mother. An Iranian friend spoke Standard Arabic to her mother, but the lady did not understand a word. He was shocked and asked, “How does she understand the news on TV and the radio (which use Standard Arabic)?” Wafa answered, “She doesn’t.” The man concluded that the poor woman is not only imprisoned within the walls of illiteracy, she is ostracized; she does not know what is going on.

Using one’s mother tongue is a basic human right. The UN Charter stresses that. Humans have the right to use their mother tongue, or at least one that is close to it. The Kurds, for example, have been denied this right for decades. And we Arabs are still denied this right. We are forced to use a second language.

Both the Muslim religious establishment and pan-Arabists insist on preserving Standard Arabic as the official language for religious and political reasons.

The religious establishment insists on using Standard Arabic and its sheikhs sound well read and knowledgeable of a language which the majority of Arabs do not understand. Hence, Muslims clerics sound like scholars, and the language of the Koran sounds like really Godly.

Pan-Arabists claim that Standard Arabic is a factor of unity among the Arab countries.

The truth of the matter is Arab societies have little in common, maybe backwardness and oppression. They are different in terms of language and culture. They all were colonies of the Muslim empire, subjugated by Islam.

Linguistic research has shown that language and thought go together. When an Arab wants or has to express themselves in a formal setting, they think in their dialect (spoken Arabic) and try to formulate their thoughts in an alien language (a second language), i.e. Standard Arabic. They stumble. Their dialect is poor. It is not equipped with conceptual terms to explain abstract matters, and their Standard Arabic is poor.

For example, when an Arab politician like Amr Mousa, Chairman of the Arab League, improvises a statement he speaks Standard Arabic as though giving strenuous birth. He tries to accommodate his thoughts, embedded in spoken Arabic, into Standard Arabic formulas which rarely make sense. You have to figure out what he tries to say. The result is hazy statements. More often than not, some Arab politicians say things which they do not mean, but they sound literate.

This is one of the reasons why Arabs, in particular politicians, are so confused and vague. They do not know what to say, and if they say something they are not in command of what they say. They lack command of a rich modern means of expression. Therefore, they use repressive means to govern. They lack a flexible, resourceful, sophisticated means of argument. As they do not possess a persuasive language, they resort to repressive violent measures.

In an Internet forum in Arabic, the majority of contributors hailed the idea of reforming the language situation in the Arab world.

Among other things I suggested melting both spoken Arabic and Standard Arabic in one language. As times passes by, this new language variety would be internalized by everybody and at the end of the day we would have a literate mother tongue through which we think and express ourselves. We do not need to switch between the language we think in and another that is alien to us. Only then Arab thinking would match the reality on the ground. We will be able to say what we really think.

A person who uses a resourceful means of expression as a mother tongue thinks more clearly. And this is exactly what is missing in Arab societies.

FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Dr. Sami Alrabaa, an ex-Muslim, is a professor of Sociology and an Arab-Muslim culture specialist. He has taught at Kuwait University, King Saud University, and Michigan State University. He also writes for the Jerusalem Post.

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