What is the position of the Arabic language

Arabic language

Due to its widespread use and global importance, Arabic (A.) is one of the major world languages. The early history of the language is still largely unclear. Inside the semit. Languages ​​(which are usually combined with Ancient Egyptian, Kushit. Languages ​​and Libyan-Berber to form an earlier "semit.-hamit.", Today commonly known as "Afro-Asiatic.") The A. is now mostly combined with the «Old South» A. and a «Northwest Semitic.» Branch (especially Aramaic and Canaanite, including Phoenician and Hebrew) of the group of "central Semites." Assigned languages. Eastern Semitic (especially Akkadian), the so-called "Modern South Arabic" and the "Ethio-Semit." Opposite group with which the A. shares important characteristics due to its proximity. Linguistic monuments from preliminary stages of the so-called "classical" A. (see below) can be found in central and northern Arabia (Thamudic, Lihyanite, Safaitic, approx. 5th century BC - approx. 4th century CE). Today as "A." The designated language is based on northern arab. Idioms documented since the 4th century C.E., as well as in the pre-Islamic language. Poetry (Arabic literature) and the Koran. This A. became with the expansion of the Arabs and Islam in the 7th century far beyond the Arab. Carried out from the peninsula and comprehensively standardized by grammarians and lexicographers since the 8th century, it became the "classic" A. Its status as the language of the conquerors, its prestige as the language of revelation, its high adaptability and that since the 9th century thanks to lively translation activity The integration of the scientific language of antiquity established the classical A. for centuries as the carrier of a cross-regional Islam. (but partly also Christian and Jewish) culture. As the language of cult, religious learning, science, literature, administration, etc., it also influenced the languages ​​of other Islamized peoples, especially Persian and Turkish (Iran. Languages, Turkish languages). - The A. is written from right to left (Arabic script). A number of throat sounds (ḥ, kh, ʿ, gh, q) and the so-called emphat., Dull consonants (ḍ, ṣ, ṭ, ẓ) are noticeable in the sound structure. The A. belongs to the type of root-flexing languages. The stock of forms is characterized by mostly 3-consonant word roots that have a basic meaning and of which by vowel distribution, among other things. Word formation means nouns and verbs are generated. So there are z. For example, for the root k-tb ("to write") the nouns kitāb ("book"), maktab ("place where you write; office, desk"), kātib ("writing; writer, writer") and verbs like kataba («Write»), takātaba («write to one another»), aktaba («dictate»), istaktaba («ask to write»). - Since the 19th century, the classic A., after having previously lost its importance in some areas, was consciously promoted by intellectuals intent on a cultural upswing (nahḍa) and subsequently adapted their vocabulary and expression to the requirements of the new Time on. Like the classic A., the New Standard Arabic that is created in this way is primarily a generally binding written language. In addition, there are several regional languages ​​and their respective local dialects (comparable to the situation in Switzerland with standard / written German, Swiss German and e.g. Zurich German). In the arab. Countries you learn the uppercase / writing-A. not until school. Except in religious cult, it is only used in a formal context (speeches, lectures, news programs, etc.) or for purposes within Arabia. Understanding spoken if the idioms used by the speakers diverge too much and communication is impossible. Mother tongue and thus also the language of everyday life, of thinking and feeling (unless Berber or another non-Arabic language) is the variant of one of the Arabic. Regional languages ​​(main language regions: North Africa, Egypt, Levant, Iraq, Central Arabia). These colloquial languages ​​differ considerably in terms of sound, vocabulary, form and sentence formation. a. from Hoch-A., depending on the distance, but also among themselves. Because it is widely used in many films, the Egyptian-A is best used nationwide. Roger that. Most A. speakers consider colloquial language to be random and incorrect A. This means that they only define their mother tongue as negative. Attempts to upgrade the ʿāmmīya (Arabic: “the popular”) were made before the “Arab. Spring »regularly one of the arab. Unity betraying separatism or a turning away from Islam accused, although it has long been a literary rule as well. Had conquered place as the language of theater, film and extensive dialect poetry. Since the anti-authoritarian uprisings of the Arab. Spring »and with the increasing influence of the Internet, the once virtually unshakable primacy of Standard Arabic has been shaken, so that the colloquial languages ​​are now v. a. in social media, but increasingly also in the literature market. In the Maghreb, where in colonial times the role of an educational, scientific and literary language was largely occupied by French and the A. had regained territory in these areas in the years after independence, the position of the high and colloquial languages ​​is compared to the French and native Berber idioms now renegotiated everywhere. Outside the arab. In the world, learning the language of the Koran (therefore mostly in Koran schools) has always been a sign of piety and brought great prestige. In a Europe that is increasingly Muslim. Has to integrate refugees into his societies, however, attending Arabic courses is not infrequently interpreted as an indication of a lack of willingness to integrate, if not a readiness for religious extremism.

Literature:
Guth, S .: The main languages ​​of the Islamic world, 2012, 41 - 133. - Kogan, L .: Genealogical Classification of Semitic, 2015. - Weninger, S. (Ed.): Semitic languages: an international handbook, 2011. - Fischer, W .: Grammar of Classical Arabic, 1972. - Fischer, W./Jastrow, O. (Ed.): Handbook of Arabic Dialects, 1980.

Author:
Prof. Dr. Stephan Guth, University of Oslo, Islamic Studies, Oriental Philology, Conceptual History

Source: Elger, Ralf / Friederike Stolleis (eds.): Kleines Islam-Lexikon. History - everyday life - culture. Munich: 6th, updated and expanded edition 2018.