Monday, May 04, 2009

Dialects, broken Arabic and the Emirati society

The duality in the Arabic language (classical Arabic and local dialects) is not always a negative thing, said Dr Maryam Byshak, Professor of Linguistics and Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at UAE University "Having two systems to communicate in is an honour for speakers (language users). "

Dr Maryam has carried out important specialist research on the same topic says the language mirrors what is happening in society.

"Due to education and interaction with Arab residents in the UAE, Emiratis are pronouncing words correctly in their dialects," she said, referring to the habit of replacing letters by another in some Arabic dialects."

On the other hand Dr Maryam thinks that "foreign migration to the country has led to the use of broken Arabic in dealing with non-Arabs which has created a strange language on the street".

Dr Maryam thinks that one of the disadvantages of social change is "losing some national characteristics that distinguish the unique Emirati identity. It is not about being arrogant, but being special. We lost lots of national knowledge due to a lack of research and studies that documents dialectic vocabularies and related knowledge, which affects the national identity."

Dr Maryam expects that Arabic dialects will be upgraded as many Arabs are living in the UAE.
"Different Arabic dialects are becoming similar and returning to be a unifying element for all Arabs as it used to be," she said.

(I am sure she is not thinking about North African dialects. They will need some time to insert vowels into their speech before they become comprehensible to the rest of us "long-aleph" drawlers. )

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