The adoption of the word “trend” by the Arabic Language Academy in Cairo, and its inclusion in the Arabic dictionary, sparked a state of strangeness and controversy among linguistics experts and other Arab academies, regarding the limits and criteria for the cross-fertilization of the Arabic language with foreign languages in response to modern developments, and whether there is “diarrhea” or “lexical laziness.” » By adopting imported foreign words, or do the semantic and functional standards impose their linguistic needs?
Asharq Al-Awsat posed these questions to a number of specialists and language experts:
Dr.. Khaled Fahmy (professor of linguistics and expert at the Arabic Language Academy in Cairo): Cultural significance
Before clarifying what the experts of the Arabic Language Academy said regarding the word “trend,” it is worth noting three fundamental dimensions that govern the general context of the process of receiving any developments in the Arabic lexicon. The first dimension is the psychological dimension. We are a nation in crisis, suffering from real and existential frustrations, after we lived a historical moment extending for about 8 centuries in which the Arab nation was the producer of science and the creation of knowledge, where the Arabic language was absorbed by the languages of the earth, and there was another side to the civilizational coin, which is “ “Arabization,” which is the opposite of Arabization. The world’s dictionaries are full of words of Arabic origins. This takes us to the second dimension, which is the civilizational dimension. We are a nation that does not produce a machine or a theory, and therefore we do not produce a language. This is what can be described as the nation’s cultural health. The third dimension is the chaos of the Arab street, as there are no controls at any level, the most important of which are ethical and professional controls, and those that govern specialization and science.
Dr. Khaled explains that these dimensions are fertile ground for provoking crises, as the Arabization process has historically been linked to specific procedural steps, starting with erasing the trace of the foreign word, where specialists introduce pure Arab vocabulary, as happened with the word “car,” and there is another criterion by which it is done. Referring to an Arabic meter for the foreign word, such as the meter of “maf’al,” just as the ancient Arabizer put the word “television” in his Arabization of the word “television,” where he preserved the central sounds in it, and transformed them into the meter of “maf’al,” so it became “television.”
As for what happened with the word “trend” and the controversy surrounding it, we could theoretically activate Arabic alternatives such as “top”, “popular”, or “most widespread”, but the Arabizer Al-Jama’i saw that keeping the word “trend” with its foreign sounds and appearance is more indicative of The cultural meaning expressed within the framework of media culture and means of communication. In the eras of the Islamic Renaissance, the science books of Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd contained foreign words “boeotics,” synonymous with poetry, and sciences such as “mechanics” and “dynamics.” They found that these words were more semantic, but the difference was that at that time there was no civilizational crisis. They knew that borrowing those foreign words would not harm them.
There is an established law in the Linguistic Academy known as the “Arabization Procedures” Law, and the Academy saw that the use of “trend” in its foreign verbal form is a complete scientific indication of the scientific and cultural context in which it is used, which is the context of social communication.
The language dies when approaching grammar and sentences, and not by approaching the limits of the dictionary. All the world’s dictionaries expand and cross-fertilize with other languages, and foreign dictionaries are full of words of Arabic origin. The cultural impasse is that the opposite is what is happening.
Dr.. Dalia Saudi (academic specializing in translation studies and linguistics): Necessity and luxury
Linguists distinguish between two types of borrowing: borrowing of necessity and borrowing of luxury. Borrowing necessity is such that the particular fact it describes is difficult to express in the receiving language. As for luxury borrowing, it is something for which alternatives can be found in the receiving language. Excessive use of it indicates lexical laziness, stagnation of imagination, and an inability to exploit the derivational ability of the mother tongue. Like all excessive borrowing, it does not lead to wealth, but rather to deprivation. This is an unwelcome dimension today in light of the problems that the Arabic language suffers from among its people before it suffers from them on a global level. Therefore, I see that “Trend” and its sisters are a threat to the Arabic language in the era of globalization, in which every people defends their language. Hebrew, for example, was a dead language. But David Ben-Gurion insisted on reviving it.
The issue is deeper than just the Arabization of a word… The thinker Antonio Gramsci used to say: “Every time the linguistic issue is called to the forefront of the scene, this means, in some way, that a series of other problems will inevitably rise to the surface.”
The issue of “trend” calls for the issue of identity. Some commented in English! This is a natural linguistic phenomenon. Some mocked the state of anxiety that prevailed upon hearing the council’s decision, and it extended to other Arab councils. The issue is simply: Do we in Egypt still consider ourselves Arabs? What is the status of Arabism today in the components of our complex identity?
Then are other languages, specifically English, now threatening Arabic in our homes and schools? As well as adopting local colloquial dialects? Will classical Arabic die at the hands of colloquial language? Are colloquial translations significantly different from “Trend” and its sisters in the field of destabilizing identity and confusing the language of writing?
I do not deny the idea of interaction between languages, as there have been many channels of linguistic cross-fertilization throughout history. Linguistic cross-fertilization in Egypt was evident at the beginning of the twentieth century in the presence of foreign communities. Did this affect the classical Arabic language at that time? No, because the boundaries were clear between the written language and the spoken language. Because the war between languages was not this fierce. As for the Arabic Language Academy in Cairo today coming to add to the dictionary – that is, to the language written in classical Arabic – foreign words that are being Arabized in a hurry, such as “trend” and “trends,” under the pretext of facilitation, then this would shake the foundations of the language and demolish the confidence of its people in its capabilities and institutional embrace. For the mentality that has not escaped the captivity of cultural alienation.
In short, this type of Arabization that does not follow the rules of Arabization does not expand the specificity of the language, nor does it give it openness to other languages as much as it blurs its features that create its specificity, and eliminates its conventional weights.
Dr.. Sayed Ismail Deif Allah (Assistant Professor of Literary Criticism at the Academy of Arts in Egypt): Arabization or surrender to reality?
We usually appreciate the efforts of Arabic language academies when their experts and scholars demonstrate their ability to find Arabic equivalents for words or terms that have been on the tongues day and night and people do not find an alternative to using them, especially if people accept the Arabic counterpart with approval and it gradually replaces the foreign language. Among these examples that we must remember of the jurisprudence of successful councils are: the car – the phone – email – social networks – digital platforms… etc. At the same time, we appreciate the habit of councilors accepting foreign words and acknowledging that they have become part of the Arabic language and are no longer foreign words expelled from the classical arena. This includes accepting words such as computer, telephone, etc. My point in speaking is that finding an Arabic alternative is a commendable effort because it is Arabization through translation, and approving the use of foreign pronunciation is Arabization also because it is an introduction to the Arabic language on its terms, not an acknowledgment of its inability nor a surrender to the dominance of the English language over all the languages of the world. Acknowledgment is an act of the councilors, and they are not forced to do so, just as people are not forced to abandon a foreign word as long as it performs a life function for them that they cannot find in another word the ability to perform.
It is important to remember that linguists in the Arab heritage, since Al-Khalil bin Ahmad and Sibawayh, were besieging foreign words, isolating them from Arabic words, and calling them foreign words, and that this isolation did not mean not using them, but rather it meant acknowledging their existence while recalling their non-Arabic origin, and recalling the requirement that they acquire an Arabic garb in order to It becomes Arabized so that whoever pronounces it is not accused of having a melody, and one of the most important conditions is that it adapts to Arabic meters and makes changes in the phonetic structure of foreign words in order to adapt them to the conditions of the Arabic language to accept Arabized words in it. Hence, Arabization was and still is evidence of strength and a means of strengthening at the same time, that is, evidence of the power of the Arabic language when it controls the foreign word and wears it as its own, and a means of strengthening the Arabic language at the same time because introducing modern life and scientific terms through the gateway of Arabization is like pumping new blood into the arteries. Language, so people feel that their language is alive and responds to their linguistic needs and is not a dead language like other languages that were mummified in texts and did not take to the streets and struggle with other languages on the tongues of their children.
I believe that unanimously approving the word “trend” is a type of borrowing that reveals weakness, laziness, and surrender to the status quo. In my opinion, the majority vote to accept the word with its phonetic structure and its popular connotation on social media is a mistaken vote, because the claim that there is no Arabic alternative to the word is based on the absence of an eloquent pronunciation that is suitable as an alternative to the word “Trends,” while the users of the word do not claim that they are eloquent nor that they speak classical. They are closer to the colloquial Illuminati than to the classical heritage. Thus, the appropriate translation of the word in the context of the classical classical heritage becomes “trends,” for example, while in the context of the colloquial Illuminati, which the Council is hostile to and does not resort to in order to confront the flood of foreign words, we find people speaking if they want a positive or neutral connotation about the talk of the hour or the issues of the hour, but if They wanted the negative connotation, so they defined “trends” as “nonsense,” so we hear someone say, “What’s the matter today?”, which means “the trend.” I know, of course, that borrowing the “trend” is more beloved to the hearts of many councilors than the “hiri” of many people!