Cultural Aspects of Arabicisation: Past and Present

Musallam Al-Ma’ani

Abstract


The aim of this article is to examine the cultural dimensions of arabicisation, past and present. The article traces the rise and fall of arabicisation and its ramifications for science, knowledge, research and education in and through Arabic. Arabicisation has been at the heart of linguistic and cultural debate since the dawn of Islam, a debate intensified when the Arabs and their new religion came into contact with different civilizations and cultures. The rise of the Islamic empire in mediaeval times consolidated Arabic and Arab culture, attracting scholars from around the world to research different areas of science and knowledge through the medium of Arabic, which in turn became, and remained for centuries, the global donor language of knowledge and learning. With the decline of the Arab/Islamic empire, however, Arabic and Arab culture started to lose their world standing. Today, Arabic and its culture occupy a marginal position when compared to other languageslike English for instance. For different internal and external reasons, Arabic has lost its status as the major language of innovation and creative thinking. But this is not because it cannot handle the concepts of modern civilization or is unable to express them; rather the cultural position of Arabs seems to be the main reason. Instead of being the predominant language of science and technology, Arabic has been competed by other foreign languages in its own territories. The widespread use of European languages, the languages of the colonizing powers, has undermined its role. Furthermore, the lack of pan-Arab policies on language planning has contributed to the emergence of different and often disparate models of arabicisation. Transformation in the objectives and scope of the process reflects the historical developments and decline of Arab culture from medieval times to the present day.

 

 


Keywords


Arabicisation; Islam; Islamic empire;Arab culture; pan-Arab policies on language planning

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24200/jass.vol2iss1pp21-30

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