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Home >> World
UPDATED: 11:17, February 20, 2007
Roundup: Arab nations urged to preserve Arabic language for children
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A three-day conference on the language of the Arab child in face of globalization, which concluded on Monday, has urged Arab nations to do more in protecting the Arabic language from "language pollution" for their children.

The Arabic language, which has some 260 million speakers in total, is the largest living member of the Semitic language family in terms of speakers. It is widely used by Arab people living in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Arabic language, though, has many dialects that diverge widely from one another -- both from country to country and within a single country. Colloquial, or dialect Arabic refers to the many national and regional varieties derived from classical Arabic.

In a new study released on Monday, Arabic language experts warned that words used in advertisements and foodstuff packages had negative effect on the quality of the Arabic language that was used by Arab children.

"Using colloquial Arabic and foreign words written in Arabic letters leads to the introduction of wrong words to the language, something which can harm the language known for its beauty and richness," according to the study.

The study, carried out on Libyan children, expressed regret that Arab children prefer to use slang and foreign words than use classical Arabic.

This trend can harm the Arabic, which has been in use for 15 centuries, the study said, warning against what it termed " language pollution" that is created by cultural invasion of developed countries.

The conference was cosponsored by the Arab Council for Childhood and Development and the Cairo-based Arab League (AL), which boasts 22 Arab member states.

According to Egypt's MENA news agency, the three-day gathering will focus on the role of the Arabic language in shaping the identity of Arab children and ways to maintain the Arab identity and encounter dangers threatening Arabic.

AL Secretary General Amr Moussa, in his opening address on Saturday, said that preserving the Arabic language was "a national duty and a collective responsibility which should be shouldered equally by the family, educational institutions and the media."

Moussa said there were fears of language atrophy in cultural circles and among the Arab elites concerned of the Arabic language, urging all parties to set down a strategy to preserve Arabic and help the Arab children to be closely linked to it.

The AL chief also said that Arab children must realize the beauty of their native language and express themselves through it with full confidence and clarity in their mother tongue.

On Sunday, the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) called for creating legal regulations to protect Arabic against "language pollution."

ISESCO Secretary General Abdel-Aziz al-Twigri said such a mechanism needs a political decision from Arab governments, according to MENA.

"It is wrong that the colloquial language prevails at the expense of classical Arabic," said al-Twigri.

Source: Xinhua

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