English words creeping into Arabic
Thread poster: Steve Booth

Steve Booth  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:00
Member (2007)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Feb 23, 2008

Hi
i have been listening to some Aljazeera interview shows recently and have noticed a trend for English words and phrases to creep in to the middle of a dialogue. Occasionally it is just one word in English, yesterday i was listening one and right in the middle of a dialogue the speaker said in English 'Whether we like it or not' then reverted back to Arabic and the rest fo the dialogue was in Arabic.
So I was just wondering what people thought of this especially as the program is aimed at Arab speakers some of whom may not know english
Apart from in countries where french is widely used is there ever a tendency to throw in random words in other langauges.

Steve


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translationlove
Arabic to English
very good notice Feb 23, 2008

actually i think this is the case in all Arab countries..some words of English is frequently used nowadays..such as "whatever", "say" and "definetely" and i think this is not good at all..so i agree with u steve.

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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:00
English to Arabic
+ ...
They're definitely creeping in Feb 23, 2008

Yes, English words are definitely creeping into the spoken Arabic language.
You'll find that certain simple words are used even among people with very little or no knowledge of English at all and have almost established themselves in the Arabic language. Some people use more difficult English expressions to show off how "cultured" and well-educated they are, others use it more naturally with people of similar education because that's how they were brought up. But it's definitely a rising trend.

The use of English expressions on TV is usually frowned upon, for obvious reasons - because it's Arabic TV and because it should be understood by everyone, even those who don't speak English. In "respectable" TV programmes, if the guest uses an English expression the presenter will immediately say the Arabic translation (if s/he knows it!).
However, TV channels in certain Arab countries seem much more tolerant of the use of English and French expressions, even by the presenters. Partly, I think, these presenters may be acting naturally, speaking as they usually would, and they haven't been instructed by the producers to stick to speaking Arabic. But mostly I think they are showing off their "good education", and assuming the audience of their programmes will be just as well-educated as they are - and if there happens to be someone out there who doesn't understand the English/French expressions they're using, then that's their own fault and maybe they should be watching other programmes made for less educated people!! So I think there's a lot of arrogance involved.


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Sam Berner  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 09:00
Member (2003)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Teaching by creeping Mar 31, 2008

Well, if a word gets mouthed often enough, people take notice and learn it.

Hundreds of words "crept" into English from Arabic, and enriched our language - maybe we are paying the debt back now? I would like to think so.

It is good if people learn a foreign language, it widens ones scope and world view. English (and French) use to be for the elites - I believe everyone should have access to as many languages as they can get hands on. The more the merrier. It brings the world together, allows people to understand each other, makes us more accepting (I hate the word "tolerant"), better read, and brighter.


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:00
English to Arabic
+ ...
Interesting point Apr 1, 2008

Sam Berner wrote:

Hundreds of words "crept" into English from Arabic, and enriched our language - maybe we are paying the debt back now? I would like to think so.

It is good if people learn a foreign language, it widens ones scope and world view. English (and French) use to be for the elites - I believe everyone should have access to as many languages as they can get hands on. The more the merrier. It brings the world together, allows people to understand each other, makes us more accepting (I hate the word "tolerant"), better read, and brighter.


That's an interesting point you're making, Sam. Throughout history languages have been borrowing from each other and it's retrospectively seen as a normal process in the development of languages. We Arabs in particular are very proud of the number of Arabic words that have made it into European languages. But we become very defensive when the process is reversed. And it's not just the Arabs of course, the French, the Germans etc are also trying hard to resist the inflitration of the English language.
I think one reason for that is that with all the ongoing innovations new words are appearing every day, so it's not such a gradual process anymore. Unless you have a single pan-Arab committee doing a kind of "border control" job to immediately deal with any new terms and Arabise them in a way that the whole of the Arabic speaking world would be happy with, you'll end up with a multitude of Arabic versions of that term (which we already have for "mobile phones" for example). Sometimes the choice of an Arabic term happens naturally and finds general agreement, but very often it's just easier to adopt the English term. So of course people are starting to get upset because of the sheer numbers of such words - not really creeping in but more like flooding in.
The other reason is the one I referred to above, which is the use of everyday English as a way of boasting one's education and social status (even if some don't really have these). This is a really despicable trend and has to be stopped. Far from "bringing the world together", as you say, it's alienating a lot of people and making them feel inferior. And the so-called "elite" that's using the English language in that way actually has no interest in bringing the rest of society closer to them. In fact, if the rest of society should begin improving their English language skills in order to understand this elite, the elite would probably turn their attention to Norwegian, to make sure they still have something that sets them apart!

[Edited at 2008-04-01 09:42]


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