A governmental campaign cites the need to protect the language, but neglects to address how this mother tongue can forge its way into a world where new terminology is constantly created.
The Lebanese Ministry of Culture has launched a campaign called “You Speak from the East, and he Replies from the West” aimed at preserving the Arabic language. Part of their motivation comes from a frustration of dealing with students who answer questions asked in Arabic using French or English. It’s important to note the campaign is focused on the preserving Arabic in Lebanon, but addresses a bigger problem in the Middle East.
While Arabic is the official language of Lebanon, a majority of its population speaks French, while the younger generations are gravitating more towards English. Looking at the Middle East as a whole, poor Arabic speaking and writing skills are usually products of private schooling, which typically leads to minimal contact with formal Arabic, a unifying linguistic force for all Arabic-speaking countries. Another important factor is the fact that cultural institutions need to engage with public and private schools in a way to enable them to create new words. This will enable Arabic-speakers to communicate in their mother tongue about current trends whether it’s regarding social media or poetry.
Examples of major areas where Arabic terminology is quite limited include the internet, pop culture, and technical jargon in film, philosophy, and science. While the campaign serves the purpose of reminding people to master their mother tongue, a deeper concern for bringing Arabic into contemporaneity life is more likely to work as a long term solution, as it would help Arabic language become the language of choice when younger generations communicate amongst themselves.