Monday, February 24, 2014

PART ONE: Is the Arabic Language Capable of Coping with Technical Modernity ?

By Sodium

On February 22, 2014, I had the opportunity to watch a talk show on the Internet, (, and the talk show is called in Arabic " Noqtit Hiwar " which means " Point for Dialogue/Discussion.

The whole dialogue or discussion was about whether or not the Arabic language had/has the capability to cope with the technical modernity of our time. Mr. Muhammad Abdelhameed, was the anchorman or moderator of the show. He received telephone calls from across the globe, but mainly from the Arab countries. Each caller had given his or her own opinion about the Arabic language capability or incapability.

Mr. Abdelhameed had done a good job, as an anchorman and moderator in keeping his comments neutral, through out the whole time allocated for the show. I truly had enjoyed watching Mr. Abdelhameed's performance and hearing the different views and opinions of the callers and the guest of the show who was Dr. Muhammad Abdelhaleem, Professor of  Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies at London University. And there was another guest by the name of Ezat Abu-Alnaja, Professor of Arabic language at Ein Shams University in Egypt. Professor Abu-Alnaja communicated with anchorman/moderator Abdelhameed by telephone. Both professors were positive in their comments about the capability of the Arabic language. Although what both professors had stated was well known to me, I must admit that I was delighted by, and appreciative of, what both professors had said about the Arabic language's capability.

Since I have a great interest in the Arabic language and have a degree of capability in reading it, speaking it and writing it, I have felt that it is incumbent upon me to add my points of views to the constructive discussion that was conducted by Mr. Abdelhameed. And in attempting to contribute to the discussion in a comprehensible manner, I was compelled to divide what I had in mind to say into two parts. The first part deals with what the Arabic language has already proven what it has been capable of, in time past. The second part will mainly cover the requirements in conducting scientific researches and studies, in any language, whether that language is Arabic, English or any other language. This post covers only PART ONE:

My two cents contribution to the discussion can be summarized in the following points:

~  The deficiency is not centered in the Arabic language, as some callers had claimed, but in the mindsets of those individuals who have no idea what the Arabic language has done for the progress of humanity in all endeavors of human achievements, in time past, when Europe was living in its own Dark Ages, while the city of Baghdad had invented the Street Lights to enlighten the streets of Baghdad and enlighten the whole world with its technical knowledge and discoveries in medicine, chemistry, astronomy, mathematics and above all theoretical and experimental sciences of optics.

~  The concept of " Sifr " which means the concept of " Zero. "was invented in Arabic and by Arab/Muslim mathematicians. So was the concept of  ' Logarithm. "   A world without " Zero " and " Logarithm " might have been a world of chaos and confusion, although it has remained chaotic and entropic, even after the discovery of the " Zero " and " logarithm, " but without the " Zero " and " Logarithm " it would have been even more chaotic and entropic. Just imagine the difficulties that might have been encountered by the current international banking system, if it had/has no idea that there was/is a number called " Sifr " meaning, " Zero." 

~  Today's laboratory sophisticated scientific instruments such as Infrared Spectroscopy, Ultraviolet Spectroscopy, Mass Spectroscopy, and Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy could not have been possible without the theoretical and laboratory experimentations in the Sciences of Optics which were invented by ibn Al-Haytham, the father of the Science of Optics and who wrote all his scientific discoveries in the Arabic language.

~  There are certain Arab universities, in the Arab world, that teach medicine, engineering, mathematics, chemistry, physics, thermodynamics, botany and zoology in Arabic and at the same time teach also foreign languages such as English and French. Hence, one may ask: why not the rest of the Arab universities do likewise, instead of complaining that the Arab language is incapable of coping with technical aspects of the modern age ?  Just a simple question.

~  As one reviews the Japanese research works, in Chemistry for instant, as translated into English and published in highly respected American journals , one marvels at the determinations of the Japanese to publish their scientific discoveries in their own Japanese language. A language of a country that was bombed by Atomic weapons at the end of WW II and was left in total destruction and defeat.

~  It is well known that the Chinese language is a very difficult language to learn. And yet, the Chinese scientific researches and publications are being done and written in the Chinese language, and not in foreign languages.

What has been going on in the Japanese and Chinese languages when it comes to technical and scientific researches and publications, the concerned people of the Arab world must take notes.



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