Questions for Discussion Blog

Enrollments nationwide for Arabic language classes in institutions of higher education have risen well over 100 percent in recent years, and the number of colleges offering Arabic instruction has nearly doubled. This is probably because the amounts of people who immigrate from Arabic-speaking countries to different continents, mainly North America, Europe, and Africa, have made this an important goal to institute within these institiutions of higher education. They understand that they are able to learn easier and comprehend better if the choices institiutions offer these courses. Also, many people from these different continents who are not native Arabic speaking people see the increased rise of Arabic-speaking people in their native countries and have decided to want to learn different variations of Arabic languages, like Amharic, etc., and would like to be able to communicate better with these peoples who know live in closer proximity to them. Business, international business especially, is one of the main other reasons why Arabic is being concentrated on and offered in many institutions all over the world. In order to do business with these different groups of Arabic-speaking people, it is much more respectful to be able to converse with these people in their own language in order to make them feel better at ease. Many people who are not of an Arabic background or ethnicity may also understand the rules of cultural infiltration that is so rampant all over the world. The theory of cultural infiltration says that if one is able to speak the language of any group of people than it is alot easier to assimilate into their society.

For any person who says that the languages of American Indians lack well-defined sounds, orderly grammars, and extensive vocabularies, they must know that they sound extremely ethnocentric and ignorant. This is the same things that have been said about the languages of the African continent as well as the creoles of the Caribbean. Many of the people who share these bigoted and arrogant views about these languages are looking from an obviously Eurocentric perspective. They are comparing and contrasting their own European languages to those of native and indigenous people. They are basically saying that since the grammar, syntax, and vocabulary of many of these American Indian languages are virtually “incomparable” to those of the Germanic, Scandinavian, and Romance languages generally found to be spoken on the European continent, then they are “unintelligible” and “uncivilized”. They are looking from an ethnocentric, essentially racist and uninformed point of view. If these people would take more time to understand that many of these American Indian languages had remained unchanged and unbothered for centuries before the ruinous contact of European colonizers and barbarians, their views on these many, many groups of diverse American Indian languages are founded in stupidity and prejudice. Views on the languages and the cultures of native and indigenous peoples all across the world must be changed. This is 2015 and there is more than enough people and tools readily available to contact these people (no matter if many of the Europeans from the fourteenth century and beyond have extinguished and brutalized these human beings to the point of communicative extinction) in order to learn more about their languages. They can learn not only more about their respective languages but also about their cultures. This is long overdue.

Morris Hale wrote that “the sounds. . . we emit when speaking are produced by complex gymnastics.” Considering that people speak effortlessly and sometimes too fast, Halle made that statement because it is very much akin to the acrobatics that are frequently done in gymnastics. In gymnastics, many of the gymnasts, acrobats, and tumblers can twist and turn and rotate from one acrobatic trick to another. A gymnast can start tumbling a pass in a forward direction, like with a front handspring or an aerial walkover to a round-off, and suddenly end up doing a series of back handsprings to a full double twisting layout. Language is just like this for native speakers. Native speakers of a language instinctively know which sounds are very important for them to enunciate and which sounds they may leave out and still be understood by the person they’re speaking with. The sounds, the rhythm, the cadence of a native speaker in their respective language sounds very, very different from a person who is not used to speaking the language and is learning it for the very first time. For instance, in Haitian Creole, many people who are not familiar with the Haitian Creole language say that it sounds as if the native speakers are “singing”. They say that it is very noticeable to stay attune to the rhythm and the cadence, the ups-and-downs of the language. It is very apparent to hear. We have a saying in Haitian Creole for a non-native speaker who speaks very slowly or over-enunciates words that they don’t even know that they don’t need to enunciate or pronounce even: we say that they “pale lou” or “speak heavy/speak like a foreigner” instead of allowing it to “koule tankou dlo” or “flow like water” which many of us in and outside of the Haitian diaspora possess.


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