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A2 - Essay Example

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Language plays a very important part in human culture because it codifies the way that people see the world, giving them categories and descriptors that they share with each other, building up a collective perspective which circulates within and across tribes, nations and…
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Discuss how and why language plays an important role in the Arabic culture. Language plays a very important part in human culture because it codifiesthe way that people see the world, giving them categories and descriptors that they share with each other, building up a collective perspective which circulates within and across tribes, nations and alliances over the centuries. In the case of Arabic, the language exerts an influence on modern Arab culture both in terms of retaining the old values of the past and building new connections in the globalized world of today.
The rise of the Islamic religion with the life of the prophet Mohamed in the sixth century brought a sense of unity to speakers of Arabic in the region around the Arabian Peninsula. Mohamed’s life and teachings were written down, and in the centuries after his death, many scholars wrote interpretations and commentaries, preserving the letter of his teaching as well as explaining its meaning for subsequent generations. As the religion spread, so the Arabic language inevitably spread with it, bringing the values and customs of this region to very different areas. To this day Muslim children are taught to recite verses of the Qur’an, learning the ancient words and preserving the older, classical form of the language which serves as a lingua franca in every country where Islam is an important religion.
There is also a great value in preserving the philosophy and literature of previous centuries for modern people to read. The ability to read classical Arabic is a mark of superior education because it represents a prestige form: “it is a cultural force which unites all Arabs” (Nydell, p. 91). So long as people strive to master this ancient language and culture, they are able to benefit from ancient wisdom and reflect on the common heritage that they share.
This linguistic and religious fusion creates unity across the globe, since many Muslims do not speak modern Arabic as their native language, but still learn classical Arabic for religious purposes. In the modern world, therefore, there is a common Arab heritage passed on through the language, especially in the Middle East and North Africa, and this can be seen for example in the giving of certain names to people and places (Suleiman, p. 143). Names such as Mohamed or Ahmed are given to boys in many countries, and this maintains an obvious connection with the ancient heritage of Islam.
There is also evidence, however, of the divergence of the spoken language into different dialects, and this has served to differentiate different strands of Arab culture. It has been a source of misunderstanding and conflict through the ages (Chejne, p. 961). Literary works have been written, and films have been produced, which neighbouring countries cannot fully share with each other because the language is so different. There is an on-going tension between a drive to preserve conservative values and culture, as in Saudi Arabia, for example, and a drive to modernize them, as can be seen in the demonstrations and political upheavals in the so-called “Arab Spring.” Language is at the heart of these debates, and it reflects both the unity and the diversity of this ancient culture, as it evolves into the twenty first century.
Reference List
Chejne, Anwar G. The Arabic Language: Its Role in History. Minnesota: Minnesota University Press, 1969. Print.
Nydell, Margaret K. Understanding Arabs: A Contemporary Guide to Arab Society. Boston, MA: Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2012. Print.
Suleiman, Yasir. Arabic, Self and Identity: A Study in Conflict and Displacement. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. Print. Read More
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