By Liliane Nakad
Arabic is an official language spoken in more than 22 countries, with over 300 million people who are Arabs. Arabic speakers are becoming more and more numerous, Yet their classical language is at risk and fails to modernize.
Being a native Arabic speaker myself I had to learn another language in addition to the Arabic at the age of 1 in order to be able to join any school in Lebanon since all schools teach Arabic and a second language, French or English from preschool and a third language in middle school.
With Arabic, there is a big difference between the classical, written form of the language and the colloquial spoken dialect.
The classical language is almost never used in conversation – it’s only heard on the news, in official speeches, and some television programs.
As a result, many young Arabs struggle with basic Arabic reading and writing skills, and it is not uncommon for students as old as 16 or 17 to speak only broken Arabic.
Delete the grammar
I started to learn Italian at the age of 15 when i arrived to rome. My Italian teacher asked me information to assist some of his friends who wanted to master Arabic after having taught at the university. I met four students who asked me to give them refresher courses. After two years, I could write in the school newspapers and I had a biweekly column in one of them, while my students still struggled to learn to read Arabic. I remember one of them then told me: “We taught you our language in two years and now you are able to write and speak it while we have not yet succeeded to learn Arabic.”
I was disturbed because I served with them in the same method as that used in college and because my students were not young children. Literary Arabic is first a written language, not spoken. Most Arab writers manage to master it after the age of 40 years because language proficiency requires more time than for European languages. The grammatical analysis is in fact the main problem of our language, because it is a barrier that exhausts teachers, while blocking the possibilities for mastery of reading and writing.
A wider problem
The problem is seen in several parts of the Arab world where foreign schools are common – the UAE, Jordan, Egypt and most North African states.
Lost in translation !
The history of the Arabic language.
The Arabic language is native to the Arabian Peninsula, where it became the seventh century, the language of the Qur’an and the liturgical language of Islam. The territorial expansion of the Arab Empire in the Middle Ages and that of Islam have widespread use in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe (Iberian peninsula, Sicily, Crete, Cyprus, territories she disappeared, and Malta where the Maltese is a special extension). First spoken by the Arabs, that language which geographically spread on several continents sociologically extends to non-Arab people and is today one of the most spoken languages in the world. It is the official language of more than twenty countries and several international organizations, including one of the six official languages of the United Nations.
Four Pillar Communication’s approach to Arabic is one of a kind:
As both partners are initially translators, we have been acknowledging the challenges to that problem since Arabic is one of the main languages into which we translate, and we have a team of in-country translators, all native Arabic speakers from Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt who used the Modern Standard Arabic known to this region as “fus-ha” and consult with each other on each and every project in order to deliver the best translation and staying faithful to the source. Our translators go through a 3-part test before they are recruited, the first one is a general linguistic skills test, the second is a translation tools test and the third one includes subject matter test.
We praise ourselves as we deliver top notch translation and by all means our quality assurance process in compared to none.