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Proposal: Arabic Language

This question recently made me wonder about this proposal: http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/62022/arabic-language/67683#67683 whereby it essentially asks for a map between Quranic and MS Arabic.

This has got me wondering: how would we deal with the differences in dialects?

Most Western Arabic learners will infact be using Quranic Arabic, for example every Arabic learning course I find is in fact for Quranic Arabic, not MSA.

This could, of course, cause misunderstandings and irregularities on the site for people who are expecting MSA but are infact getting classical, resulting in incorrect questions and answers.

But this discussion might not end there, since there are many variants of Arabic you could extend this to many more situations, and all dialects that this site might attract.

I see three solutions currently:

  • state in the question what dialect it is
  • tag the dialect, MSA has a tag and classical has one
  • Assume ALL questions and answers are MSA or classical

The last one is one that is actually implemented by SE itself whereby it assmes UK English as its default English dialect but that is possible since the differences between US and UK English is merely omittance of letters and the conversion of "s" to "z".

So what would be the way to deal with this problem?

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    Are you talking about stuff being written in dialects? or are also talking about questions being asked about the dialects? – مجاهد Aug 7 '14 at 14:31
  • @مجاهد bit of both actually, but I can see how if one question asked in say, MSA and answered in classical could pose a poblem. – Sammaye Aug 7 '14 at 14:31
  • @مجاهد but I can see how the solution to this will directly reflect all usage of dialects, from answering to asking about them – Sammaye Aug 7 '14 at 14:34
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As for questions in regards to the dialects (and into their details), they should all be on-topic. As for writing in these dialects, then this should not be allowed. We may not speak properly according to the rules, but at least we could write correctly.

The only place I can see the usage of dialects when we go to beta possible, is chat. But for the main site and meta, they should be written in clear فصحى, which I guess is meant by "Quranic Arabic" and "MSA".

So to simply put it, the default dialect for the site when we go beta should be that of Qureish and those closest to it.

If a post is given in a certain dialect it should be edited. If a question is asking about a dialect or something in it, then it should be tagged with the name of that dialect for example: [tag:اللهجة-الشامية] , the dialect could also be mentioned in the question.

  • Ok kool, so to place it a taggingg system I know and love, Stackoverflow, they put a tag per language on there, for us it would be a tag per dialect; sounds good. – Sammaye Aug 7 '14 at 14:46
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    It is فصحى not فصحة. – Ghasan Sep 18 '14 at 14:33
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I am strongly for allowing dialects of Arabic as subjects of queries.

I think it is bad policy to start a stackexchange community by ostracizing those who want to write in some dialect. Well understood in the Arabic world everybody writes in MSA, but also everybody speaks in dialect, all Arabs live in some "dialectal" environment, and foreigners travelling in the Arabic world have to deal with dialects. IMHO this is reason enough for useful questions about dialects to be raised and answered. And sometimes the best way of formulating a question about dialect, is in the dialect itself.

I believe that one should let people write in (and care about) whatever form of Arabic they want (MSA or dialect, written in Arabic script or some transliteration) as long as they tag their question properly as concerning (or being written in) a specific dialect. And time will show whether the community will tend to be MSA-only, or rather dialectal, or both.

After all, you can not evacuate the fact that every native Arabic speaker necessarily speaks at least one dialect, and that this dialect may be much more important than MSA for him/her in his/her daily life. And dialects make Arabic culture richer, they should not be considered as a "necessary evil" or as a "handicap", as some MSA-purists do consider them.

The other solution is to consider renaming the community into "Modern Standard Arabic Language" so that misunderstandings are avoided.

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    I agree a good tagging system could solve this – Sammaye Jun 10 '15 at 0:56
  • There are already so many resources for formal arabic. I signed up primarily for dialectic topics. – Dr. Beeblebrox Jul 1 '15 at 11:56
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I am strongly against any dialect.

The main purpose of this proposal is to build a huge platform where we have to use the Arabic Language so we can get it in use again and teach all those who wantour correct language!!

I, personally, hate the fact that none of the arabs uses the correct Arabic language. We ,instead, use the street-Arabic (dialects). We have to be all against it, not to help each other using it! At least, we are still using the Arabic language in most of our books, media stations and websites.

As this will be a formal port to all learners, it HAS to be in the correct formal Arabic, and only the correct formal Arabic. (which is referred in the question as Quranic Arabic).


Note: If you guys will decide to accept any small point to the dialects in the coming site, please, do let me know, so I will ,sadly, uncommit this proposal.

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    Even though the site itself should, yes, be Quranic however, a scholarly question on a certain dialect should surely be allowed? – Sammaye Jun 11 '15 at 19:40
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    If you have such strong opinions about languages (which you pejoratively call "street-Arabic") used by hundreds of millions of people on a daily basis, then I would advise this stackexchange forum should be called "Modern Standard Arabic Language" because otherwise, if you call it "Arabic Language" then it does include dialects, since what is spoken in Morocco and Egypt and Iraq is called Arabic whether you like it or not. I hope other members of the community are less absolute on the issue of dialects than you. – yannis Jun 12 '15 at 19:32
  • @yannis unfortunately, I myself speak street-Arabic. Actually, the Arab world is full of many different dialects, that's why I said there is no arabic speaks the correct Arabic. <br> The Arabic Language is the one used in Quran. However, the dialects, you like, were created by the occupations which the arab world suffered in the old eras, where many accents and dialects were mixed. To not extend in this dispution, what type of dilects questions will you accept? and which exact dialect will the foreigns learn in the coming site? – F. Julian Jun 15 '15 at 13:14
  • @Sammaye well, can you, please, give me some examples of those acceptable dialects-questions? – F. Julian Jun 15 '15 at 13:16
  • dear @F.Julian, from a linguist's point of view, when a "dialect" is spoken by tens of millions of people, when it has its own stable morphology, grammar, syntax and semantics, then it is considered as a language per se. If you search in bookstores like amazon, there are many books for learning "Moroccan Arabic" or "Egyptian Arabic" or "Iraqian Arabic". I'm not saying we should undermine MSA by promoting dialects. I'm just saying that dialects are cultural wealth. The Quran has been written 1400 years ago, Arabic language has evolved ever since, like any other language, and dialects are part – yannis Jun 16 '15 at 5:10
  • of its evolution. Having a common written language form and different oral ones is a very interesting particularity of the Arab world, we should accept it and take advantage of it, instead of imposing "linguistic purity" on everyone. As for your question, I guess that questions like "how do you express this in dialect A", "how are verbs conjugated in dialect B", "is there a dual in dialect C", "where does this expression of dialect D come from", "what would be the proper MSA form for this dialect E sentence", "when do I switch from dialect to MSA" etc. are reasonable questions to ask… – yannis Jun 16 '15 at 5:17
  • If you mean by MSA the Quranic one, then yes, the only good question is "what would be the proper MSA form for this E sentence", others you can easily find using google. But, I want to ask you, is there any grammar rule in any dialect? what is the idea of learning the dialects? you'll use your own dialect in your country, even if you went to another Arabic country, everyone would understand you (except for Moroccan dialect maybe). Then please, let me know which exact dialect will the website teach the learners? – F. Julian Jun 16 '15 at 6:11
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    I think you are seriously underestimating "dialects". They have indeed grammars and syntaxes (see, e.g., goo.gl/ix1BOJ for a Grammar of Moroccan Arabic). Well understood they have never (or rarely) undergone any standardization process, but they are stable and have had a long evolution, so they can be considered as languages in the same sense that French and Italian and Spanish at some time evolved from Latin (to lead the comparison even farther, French has been oral only for a long time and started to be written in 842). Finally, the website is not there to teach but allow exchanges. – yannis Jun 16 '15 at 9:44
  • Actually I can think of an acceptable dialect question relating to nuances, especially if you have read the news recently bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-33111934 which has even fooled many Arab speakers because of dialect differences. – Sammaye Jun 16 '15 at 11:48
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    Not to mention that classical Arabic may be the language of the Quran, but Egyptian is the language of Egyptian movies with Farid El Atrache or with Faten Hamama as well as (some) Oum Kalthoum songs, and Lebanese is the dialect of Fairouz songs. And Warda has sang in Algerian. And then there are so many beautiful movies in dialect, one would like to follow without subtitles. These are reasons enough to give people a reason to invest time and energy into dialects, as a complement of their MSA knowledge. – yannis Jun 16 '15 at 16:07
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    Why would dialectal question make you uncommit? Allowing dialect questions does not prohibit any question about your interests. A more open community does not limit you in any way. Why would StackOverflow allow only questions about C++ and not Java? Why would this forum exclude high-quality questions about any form of the Arabic language? – Dr. Beeblebrox Jul 1 '15 at 12:01
  • @jabberwocky your example is different. C++ is like Egyption accent in front of Java which is the Morrocan one for example. At the end, both are under the same title (Accents). However, Arabic is only one language not many different languages. It is a LANGUAGE, and it's which we want our next website about. Accent is not a language. I am just against increasing the disputions between the Arab countries! I know there are more serious issues between Arabs but, accents make part of this big conflict! Don't they?! – F. Julian Jul 4 '15 at 16:56

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