Arabic Language

Arabic is one of the most flexible and powerful languages out there.

If computerised translation technology evolved, then it stands to become one of the most dominant native tongues in the world.

-- VageesanSiva

But before then the computers will only talk to us in LojbanLanguage and everyone would speak it anyway...
From my neighbors I understood that the Arabic Language is like the "European Language": It has many different dialects, and speakers of one dialect may not understand another dialect. Or are you referring to the Literary Arabic? Wouldn't that be analogous to Latin?

-- YonatSharon

I agree that Arabic is a collection of dialects, though not of actually separate languages. Certainly someone who understands Egyptian Arabic, for instance, might have difficulty understanding someone speaking Arabic in Syria. I think that this applies more to people who have learnt Arabic as a second language, in one particular dialect, rather than native Arabic speakers from any part of the arab world, who, apart from certain idioms, would probably understand most of what another native arabic speaker was saying.
one of the most flexible and powerful languages out there

This is the sort of statement that makes professional linguists snort their coffee through their noses. It has been shown that all human languages are equal in terms of power/flexibility. TheerasakPhotha: See TuringEquivalent One may regard a given language as more beautiful than the rest, but that is a personal aesthetic judgement. FWIW, I find Arabic writing very beautiful.

one of the most flexible and powerful languages out there

Arabic is a beautiful language to both look at and listen to. It is also a wonderful language to speak. The grammar is actually quite simple but allows for rich, deep meanings to be communicated in a fairly compact way. With only a few words, you can express thoughts with many shades of meaning that in English would take multiple sentences. -- JayWalker

...are you referring to the Literary Arabic? Wouldn't that be analogous to Latin?

What is unique about the ArabicLanguage is that, unlike most other languages, the core of the language, the grammar, they way it is written, most of the vocabulary, is the same as it was 1400 years ago. This is due solely to the fact that the Qur'an, the Muslim holy book, was written in Arabic. Because the Qur'an is considered to be the actual words of God as trasmitted through his angel, Gabriel, it has remained unchanged and uncorrupted for 1400 years. To my knowledge, this can not be said of any other language (except maybe in parts Icelandic, which is more or less "Old Nors", a dialect from western Norway. Icelandic has remained rather unchanged for some 800 years). While no one speaks in the style of Qur'an in their daily speech, the majority of Arabic speakers, being Muslim, read, recite and hear the language exactly as it was 1400 years ago. So, unlike latin, which is no longer spoken and not written or read as often as it used to be, the ArabicLanguage is alive and well and will be as long as Muslims exist. A better analogy would be Shakespeare. While there are many differences between the English of that period and now, it isn't really very difficult to understand for a native English speaker. -- JayWalker

The French have tried this, over a shorter time frame. It's not working too well, apparently. Also, note that whilst the structure of the Literary Arabic language has stayed the same, it's not certain that the pronunciation has. It's quite likely that this has shifted over time.

I know someone from Jordan with whom I discussed Arabic loanwords in Hindi. I said that the word 'mausam' is derived from the Arabic word for 'weather', and the ultimate root of 'monsoon'; he had never heard of it, or anything like it before. The word for 'weather' in the Jordanian dialect was something else altogether, though I forget exactly what. He explained that it is possible that a Jordanian talking with someone from, say, Egypt "couldn't understand what the hell he was saying". -- TheerasakPhotha


"The grammar is actually quite simple..."

I don't know about that. My father is a professor of Arabic language, and even he makes cracks about the grammar. Of course, I never studied it for more than a couple years, so I can't offer a real firsthand opinion.

The script is lovely, though. Except when I write it...

-- SimonHeath


It has been shown that all human languages are equal in terms of power/flexibility. See TuringEquivalent

But we know that although all Turing equivalent languages can express the same computation, not all Turing equivalent languages are equal! There are other means of measure.

...which was my point when I wrote that TuringEquivalent remark. -- TheerasakPhotha

I don't know Arabic, but I know enough (human) languages to know that, while they may all be able to express all the same sentiments, they are likewise not equal. Ancient Greek could express nuance that is more difficult to express in Latin. Latin can express some things more easily using the subjunctive mood than modern English. (The subjunctive in English being archaic to the point of extinction these days.) In English, it is difficult to leave the number (singular or plural) of a noun ambiguous, but it is trivial in Japanese.

So, unlike latin, which is no longer spoken [...]

(^_^) Necesse est mihi dissidere. Saepe latine dico.

Cotidiane iurisconsulti latine dicunt.

-- RobertFisher


JayWalker seemed to have written: "It has been shown that all human languages are equal in terms of power/flexibility. See TuringEquivalent"

RobertFisher wrote: "But we know that although all Turing equivalent languages can express the same computation, not all Turing equivalent languages are equal! There are other means of measure."

TheerasakPhotha: "...which was my point when I wrote that TuringEquivalent remark."

RobertFisher writes: So, I take it the "See TuringEquivalent" was an insertion into JayWalker's comments by TheerasakPhotha? I'm so confused. attributed now

So you guys discount the SapirWhorfHypothesis when it comes to Arabic?

Apparently many modern linguists claim the SapirWhorfHypothesis is completely debunked. They further seem to feel that the observation that serial polyglots swap languages frequently, with the language chosen strongly correlated with the subject, is irrelevant to the question of the relationship between language and thought. Some people claim that the corelation between choice of language and topic discussed is irrefutable evidence of the medium strength version of the SWH. Linguists seem not to think so. This discussion belongs on the SWH page, not here. Refactor at will.

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