x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Modernisation has diluted the power of Arabic

The attempts to reform the Arabic language have over the years resulted in a loss of the connotative meaning of certain Arabic words.

A reader praises the resilience of the Lebanese people as seen in cafes that are full of customers in newly rebuilt downtown Beirut.
A reader praises the resilience of the Lebanese people as seen in cafes that are full of customers in newly rebuilt downtown Beirut.

In her opinion article Arabic's importance should not require much translation (March 4), Maryam Ismail has touched a raw nerve. Yes, indeed, Arabic as a language has already lost its sheen and thunder. Language is the fundamental building block of any civilisation and culture. It is the conduit of expression and understanding. The attempts to reform the Arabic language have over the years resulted in a loss of the connotative meaning of certain Arabic words.

In trying to modernise the language, the Arab world has lost a very meaningful tool to understand the message of Islam and the culture of its followers. So stark is the situation that non-Arabic speaking Muslims are surprised and taken aback when they find that their Arab colleagues are unable to provide the right meaning and understanding of the classical works of Arab historians and poets, along with the Quran.

A renowned Harvard scholar of Islam, Sir Hamilton Gibb, stated that deterioration has struck the language as modernists try to make it modern: its leaders are for the most part men who have drunk from other springs and look at the world with different eyes. Ali al Allawi, a senior visiting fellow at Princeton University, has in his latest book, The Crisis of Islamic Civilisation, put forth what Ms Ismail points out in her piece: how insipid and bland this powerful and vibrant language will become if its root structure, grammar and the range of acceptable usage is diluted to make it sound like what is heard at restaurants, shops and work places. For example: "jinjal" for quarrel and "gir gir" for chatting. Syer Qamar Hasan, Abu Dhabi

The article Saaed's success catches on (March 3) described how the private company that responds to minor accidents in Abu Dhabi is expanding nationwide. However, their system of placing blame is faulty, especially when vehicles have been moved prior to Saaed's arrival. In this case Saaed officials listen to the statements of the people involved who either lie blatantly or just seem to see things in an alternative reality. Since they have limited English proficiency, they tend to believe those who can explain the incident so they can understand. Donald Glass, Abu Dhabi

I enjoyed reading Michael Karam's opinion article Lebanese banking: cigarettes, scary men and cold cash (March 4). I really appreciate his style of writing. More so, though, I want to thank Mr Karam for explaining to me how the Lebanese lira went from being worth 2.50 to a dollar to 1,500 to a dollar. I left Lebanon when I was very young during the early years of the civil war and that part of the story was always missing for me.  I really appreciate the imagery Mr Karam put in his story, such as Lebanese people carrying the bulky cash in big bags. It just reminds me of how much the Lebanese endured and how they keep enduring and adapting to whatever befalls them. Gladys Alam Saroyan, Abu Dhabi

I refer to the article IMF estimate puts Dubai debt at $109bn (February 28). Although some of these debts were lost in investments around the world, we can see that a big part of it has been invested in the infrastructure of the city. No one can take the streets, bridges and towers out of the city and in the long run all of these investments will pay off. Everybody has debts and everyone is requesting to reschedule. It is not the first debt crisis in the world and not the only one as we see in Greece and Iceland. Mohammed Musharbak, Sharjah

While Dubai's debt is large and further funds are needed for unfinished projects, Dubai still has strong potential to bounce back. As these projects are completed, sales money will start flowing in, which will cover part of the debt payments. Abu Dhabi will help further. Dubai is learning from its mistakes. Future growth will be more planned and should be equity-based versus debt-based. Asif Dada, US

In reference to the article Germans and Greeks get nasty over debt (February 28), I like what the Germans are saying about Greece "hiding their debts" but surely that applies to many countries in Europe. Take, for example, the UK. We have a $1.5 trillion debt. Where has that debt been hidden and for how many years? We have been living beyond our means and finally this has been forced into the open and we now know the truth. For years the "top people" were given multimillion dollar bonuses, and we have felt jealous. Now it is galling to know that we taxpayers are paying for all those luxuries for the few as the companies that paid them have failed and have had to be bailed out. I hope that one day we see a system where we do not have a few very rich people living on the backs of the hard working mugs like me.

Sergei Kuk, Dubai