[ExI] Arabs don't read
pharos at gmail.com
Sun Jul 20 19:36:22 UTC 2014
On Sun, Jul 20, 2014 at 4:56 PM, Harvey Newstrom wrote:
> Literary scholars actually consider the Classical Arabic (of the Quran)
> and the Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) to be two separate languages.
There is a recent interesting New Yorker article about Arabic.
Earlier Disney films (from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" to
"Pocahontas" to "Tangled") were dubbed into Egyptian Arabic, the
dialect with the largest number of speakers in the region, based in a
country with a venerable history of film production. Generations of
Arabs grew up watching Egyptian movies, and the Disney musicals
capitalized on their familiarity with this particular dialect.
This time Disney decided to dub "Frozen" into Modern Standard Arabic.
Modern Standard Arabic is very similar to Classical Arabic, the
centuries-old lingua franca of the medieval Islamic world. Today, it
is the language of officialdom, high culture, books, newscasts, and
political sermonizing. Most television shows, films, and
advertisements are in colloquial Arabic, and the past several years
have seen further incursions of the dialects into areas traditionally
reserved for the literary language.
It's tricky to describe the quality of a literary text in a formal
language to a speaker of American English or any other language that
does not contain the same range of linguistic variety as diglossic
language families like Arabic, Chinese, and Hindi. One way to put it
is that Modern Standard Arabic is even less similar to regional Arabic
dialects than the English of the King James Bible is to the patter of
an ESPN sportscaster.
The Arab world, however, is no longer culturally unipolar, with most
of its films and music originating in Egypt. The most popular soap
operas of the region are Syrian, North African films are staples of
the festival circuits, and some of the largest media conglomerates are
based in the Gulf. This is to say nothing of the effect that the Web
and social media are having on the penetration of Arabic dialects into
written communication, which is incalculable.
The age of the Arabic vernacular is here; someone just needs to tell
the talking snowman.
So it seems that the literary Classical Arabic is dying out among the
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