Why a great teacher is important in Arabic Language Learning
Updated: May 23
Arabic is a category 7 language. That is the highest level of difficulty in language learning. What put Arabic at level 7?
The bipolar nature of its communication.
Arabs speak one way. Their vernaculars and dialects are the modes of daily communication. It gets more complicated in that the vernaculars have grades and types. The city, the peasant farmer, the merchant, the Bedouin, whatever heritage precedes the speaker and each individual village and city have their own vocabulary and pronunciation. The city dialects are more accepted and chic. In the Levant, the city dweller will drop the Qaf, will not stress the Arabic Dåd, Tha and S making their dialect more palatable and dropping those telltale Hijazi consonants.
Giving their brand of Arabic a more refined air.
You must also think why the bipolar diglossie ? It’s identity and roots. Aramaic and Roman still exists with the Palestinian, Syriani is still on the Lebanese and Syrian tongues. In some places the linguistic influences all mix with Turkish. You can still sit down at a table in the north of Palestine eat the local greens with utensils and flatware that’s have Turkish names. All the little utterances and pronunciations betray the fact that these borders are just current figments of political imaginations
Hejaz Imperialism and the growing influence that Arabic would have ,gave way to the major tribal lines and linguistic distinctions. The locals held on to their vernacular leaving the new systemized Arabic for reading, writing and liturgy.
No matter what message and codified ethics and laws an imperialist has or thinks he has, An imperialist is an imperialist. Islam and its former pagan adherents came to an area that already had an identity and Languages. That had already mixed and shared with the Hejaz. The new book they carried still did not change what was there. The Hijazi Bedouins setup garrisons, these same garrisons would later make them sedentary Bedouins in the Levant and their offspring started one the biggest divisions in Palestine- Alqais wa Il Yaman. Qais Tribes would choose to adhere to speaking true Arabic and taking on its culture or they would be Yaman and reject all that was Qais. Arabic has now become political. It had become a splintered identity and tribes. This brand of Arab was different and would now have their own story to tell in their new Arabic and culture.
In learning Arabic- the value of the insight and nuance that the native speaker can offer and especially one who is trained teacher; are immeasurable
For the vernaculars and the daily spoken Arabic you will learn from the teacher is not recorded or documented. It is handed down orally and only through interaction. The dynamics and influences of daily life dictating vocabulary tides and inflective ebbs. Spoken Arabic is learned through exchange not in schools. You bargain and ask for hands in marriage in spoken Arabic. You tell stories of exile and of a place that everyone knew and is not now – Palestine.
Spoken Arabic or corrupted Arabic has an added twist. Dissemination has been innovative The local vernaculars have been Latinized. There are two methods of written delivery- Latin and Arabic symbols mixed with Arabic numerals. Now the dialects and the words that were isolated in villages and areas are moving through the Ethernet and at unpredictable speeds. So much so that many scholars feel that the real Arabic is being lost or replaced.
This brings us back to the teacher namely the Palestinian teacher.
This teacher has not only nuance and the living dynamic language but they have those dialects that have become La Lingua Franca. The Palestinian dialect spread through its largest professional pool; its teachers.
Those people who were rendered stateless and in exile, went to work as the region’s teachers. The biggest export and commodity that Palestine had was its supply of teachers and its language skills from being the center of pilgrimage and trade paid off finally paid off when they needed it most.
I had a hard time learning because so many were afraid of teaching me wrong. There is such a purism in teaching Arabic. So much so that many leave out the vernaculars and the spoken language when teaching
That corrupt spoken layer is just testimony to the history and the migration of Arabic. So I had my arsenal of refined Lebanese and peasant Arabic but none told me that no book would understand me
For Arabic learning to be comprehensive all its facets should be presented because it will only lead to more appreciation for this language that can exist on so many levels and forms