Saturday, February 26, 2005

Lebanese, Potatoese, and Arabic Languages: I just read "Language Barrier" by Joseph Braude in, surprise surprise, the New Republic. (thanks Marc for sending me the article). The New Republic, to be fair, has a long and established record of hostility to (and ignorance of) Arabs and Muslims, and a consistent dedication to fanatical Zionism. It also "discovered" the brilliant phenemenon of Al Gore, as you remember. But the article is not only not original, but is quite lauphable. Anybody who is familiar with the writings of right-wing fascist Lebanese kook Sa`id `Aql knows these absurd claims. `Aql preached for years the writing of what he calls the "Lebanese" language in Latin, and wrote a book in Latin, and even fellow right-wing kooks in Lebanon thought that this was too kooky. `Aql believes that Shakespeare was of Lebanese descent, along with all other famous people in history. He believes that there are three "civilizations" in world history, and that the "Lebanese civilization" is one of them. He believes that Lebanon is one of the few "great nations" in the world. He probably also thinks that Uncle Ben (the rice dude) was Lebanese (he may call him Uncle Habib). I guess you get the picture. But this Braude guy was ovioulsy fed information, and I would be surprised if he knows any Arabic at all. How could anybody say that classical Arabic was "invented" 90 years ago? What kind of Arabic was the bible translated into and printed in in 19th century Lebanon by Christians? What language did Al-Jaziz, Ibn Al-Muqaffa`, At-Tawhidi write in? What language were the first Arabic newspapers in Lebanon written in but Arabic in the 19th century? This is the tune of fanatical right-wing propagandist Walid Phares (who I am told does not say on his c.v. that he was a member of the command council of the Lebanese Forces right-wing militia, and he lists on his c.v. languages he is fluent in as "Lebanese language and Arabic language"). If it is true that Fusha Arabic is not understood by Arabs in the region, why are books, magazines, and newspapers still printed in it? Are they all commercially crazy? In the article I also read this: "...Global Americana Institute, which seeks "to engage in translation, publication, and distribution of books on the United States in Arabic. The initial volume will be the key works of Thomas Jefferson." " That made me wonder. Will that esteemed Institute also translate Jefferson's "Notes on the State of Virginia" (in which he says "the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind" and he compares African-Amerians to monkeys?) Just wondering.