Latin letters in 3araby: A threat, or an opportunity?

Latin letters in 3araby (Arabic) TEXT-messages: A threat, or an opportunity?

In the past, many believed that globalization had reached its peak once telephones were invented, then after airplanes had become commercialized, and even when man landed on the moon – but most did not visualize a future with the internet.

Now, globalization has reached our language, and many Arabs speak with English mixed in their sentences. In some places, that is encouraged. So, what happens when Arabic letters are abandoned entirely, and Latin letters are used instead?

Arabizi, now a common practice

Conventionally known as 'Franco Arabic' or 'Arabizi', 'e-language' is a term used to describe the vernacular of the web. It is the use of Latin characters to form Arabic words –or rather, it is a transliteration from Arabic– and has been on the rise proportionally with the internet.

The word Arabizi originates from merging ‘arabi’ and ‘engliszi’ (in reference to ‘Arabic’ and English'). Thus, numbers are sometimes used to replace sounds in Arabic words that are not found in English, such as ‘9’ to express a strong ‘s’ sound for the letter ‘ص’. Arabizi, then, allows Arab users to type ‘ktab’ or ‘ketab’ or even ‘kitab’ to express the same word, that is: “كتاب”.

This phenomenon began when mobile devices did not accommodate the Arabic alphabet, and people started using Latin characters via TEXT messages and chatting mediums instead.

In some universities, Arabizi is being taught to foreign language learners who want to travel to the Middle East and North Africa. In China, some universities have introduced the ‘Egyptian dialect’ as a subject for students who want to learn Spoken Arabic, as they find difficulty communicating in Modern Standard Arabic when they meet Arabs.

Is Arabic compatible with technology?

Many new words present in Arabic speech are foreign, and they are usually tech-related. Many are concerned about the status of the Arabic language and whether it can survive with new-tech and virtual reality, even though new words such as ‘artificial intelligence’ and ‘automation’ have already been Arabized and used in common media.

Though many are worried about the state of the Arabic language, the future remains bright. Many initiatives are being introduced throughout the world in celebration of the Arabic language. Even in Finland, Arabic language classes are being fully-booked.

Abjadiyat: an Arabic learning app

Because a language is formed by its people, it’s important to accommodate to future generations – and introducing Arabic from an early stage through engaging apps is a great way to do that. Through such initiatives, parents can rest their minds on the ‘negative’ effects of technology on their children.

A newly-launched Arabic app, Abjadiyat helps children from ages 2 to 8 to learn about the world around them through the Arabic language. The mobile application provides a holistic learning experience for children by creating a personal pathway for each child’s learning curve.

This way, children can learn Arabic through interactive content that is engaging and interesting. Addedly, children can read and listen to Arabic stories, and they can also learn mathematics, sciences, and morals through the interactive platform.

The application can also be used by teachers and parents to help students and children learn about the world in the Arabic language, as they can view detailed reports on the child’s performance.
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