Finally, The National has a piece about the (so-called) death of Arabic that really gets me.
I was unmoved by stories about Arabic’s declining use in the Emirates and Qatar; I ignored Bahaa Taher‘s woe-is-Arabic sighs; I felt superior to Lebanese university students who didn’t know their alef, bey, teys.
After all, I see the world from Egypt. Here, the elites may converse in English and put their children in “language” schools, but Arabic is still the language of life, literature, and bad television soap operas.
But, as I said, The National finally found a way to get to me. Today’s piece by Achraf El Bahi evokes a continuing post-colonial trend of seeing English—and even more so, French—as more erudite, classier, more beautiful, more useful languages than Arabic. These (in some countries more than others) are becoming the everyday languages, while Arabic is left with the working class and the classroom.
All languages change. Oftentimes, this change appears to us oldsters as a decline. This linguistic divide is much more worrying to me—in its possibilities for misunderstanding and mis-translation—than any supposed decline.
On a personal note: My six-year-old son brought home two Goha graphic novels from his Arabic teacher, which he has delighted in reading (or reading with a parent). Highly recommended.