The Issue of Dialectal Arabic

The main issue of current Arabic language is the dialectal spoken Arabic versus the formal written Arabic. The first does not have a standardized grammar. This paradox shapes the linguistic space in Arabic countries.
The question is about the choice, because the problem should be resolved by two options: 1- providing a grammar for dialectal Arabic in order to be standard languages or 2- standardizing Arabic to turn into daily speaking language. Finding a solution to the question is necessary in order to unify the logic of speaking.
It is clear that unification leads to formal written Arabic, but the difficulty is the absence of a common standard speaking language for actual speech. Also, it is not easy to construct a new multiple grammar for undetermined dialects in Arabic countries, and in this paper, I will illustrate three points:

1- Standard classical Arabic and its cultural status.
Arabic language was formed historically by three or five tribes in Arabia after the Qur’an was revealed in Arabic; it was unified and took a sacred status by becoming the language of the holy text.
After Islamic expansion in the times of Muhammad’s companions, Arabic started to formulate its grammar rules and its script became more articulate. Finally, Arabic language took its big extension with: 1-conquests 2- Scholarly development 3- using in administration.
The current question is: can classical Arabic be scientific language? can formal Arabic be the language of modern science, trade, and administration?
The majority of children in Arabic societies have education in formal Arabic language because all of Arab countries constitutions affirm that Arabic is the first and official language of the state.
There exists a global feeling that the master of other languages, English mostly, is needed to get real scientific researches. Therefore Arabic language became principally for daily communication, politics, and for cultural interests.
Arabic language took the central position in media and political debates. Also, it contributes in official festivals by poems and declamation.

2- Current dialectal Arabic and its social function.
People in Arabic countries communicate by their local dialects, by using inherited spoken language that contains mostly Arabic words origins, but in diverse syntaxes.
Arabic dialects have special and different historicity, and sometimes are varied in one country, individuals feel more homogenous with dialects than standard Arabic when clamming opinion or expresses feelings; some of deep meaning can’t be voiced but by dialects.
Arabic dialects certainly are very advanced image of classical Arabic, and in the same time a mix of many other languages that people in Arabic countries interacted with, in the past as: Phoenician, Egyptian, Numidian, or in actual time as: English, French, Turkish..

3- The probable future of Arabic language: classical and dialects.
When dialects are the best tools of expressing identities, the classical language became secondary for people interests, and when classical language is the tool to express in the scientific research or public business, the most important question will be: how can standard language be more near to the daily life speaking? And do dialects can be canonized by grammar?
This question seems very difficult to be resolved, but it is important to extract some of insight points:
a- Classical Arabic can be developed (or modified) in order to be nearest to people.
b- Dialects should be more unified across Arab countries to facilitate understanding between peoples.
c- Trying to determinate rules for dialects, toward approximation of it to standard Arabic.
d- Standard Arabic should be interacted widely with actual languages to enrich it scientifically and administratively.
Finally, phonetic differences between dialects in Arabic world are very varied, but have one origin: classical Arabic (with existence of two different dialects: Amazigh in the west of Arabic world and Aramaic in the east), and the challenge is concerning the ability of the classical language to be installed in the daily life speaking and feelings? Or its destiny will take the way of Latin language in Europe?


(*)- This paper was proposed for the ІІІ International Round Table «CURRENT TRENDS IN PHONETIC STUDIES» Kyiv Phonetic School, April 2019

داخل الملتقيات
مايو 2021
د ن ث أرب خ ج س


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