TEL AVIV – Writing in an English-language Saudi daily, columnist Ibrahim Badawood called on his compatriots to curb the growing trend of communicating with each other in English rather than their native Arabic, warning that failing to do so would lead to a loss of Saudi identity and “subjugation” by “our enemies.”
In the article “Talk to Me in Arabic,” published in the Saudi Gazette and cited by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Badawood notes that many young Saudis today either study abroad or work for multinational corporations and as such have become accustomed to speaking to each other in English. Describing the trend as “very weird,” he argues that English “has slowly become the language of communication in our society.”
He lambasts upper class Saudis for committing the “grave sin” of sending their children to international schools just to perfect their English. He claims that in some such families, siblings are unable to communicate with each other because “not all of them can speak good Arabic.”
“When these highly educated Saudis get together, they communicate in English as if Arabic is not their mother tongue,” he adds.
When you ask these people why they talk in English instead of Arabic, they come out to you with the most bizarre of explanations. Some of them will immediately say that English is the language of the age and the official language in most of the meetings and scientific gatherings. They will also say English is the business language all over the world and that a large number of researches and essays are written in this language. Regrettably, the Arabs have turned their backs on their own language. They replaced it with English for the most illogical of the reasons. By doing so, the Arabs have not only destroyed their language but have practically killed it and took it completely out of the stage.
Badawood continues by saying that the Arabic language is today suffering in writing, reading and speaking. He stated that the use of broken Arabic on social media highlights the problem.
“The Arabic many people use in their tweets is full of spelling and grammatical mistakes. This is a serious indicator that our language is going down the drain,” Badawood writes.
Arabic is a divine language. It is the language of the Holy Qur’an and is widely spoken around the world. A nation that does not take pride in its own language is a nation without an identity and can easily be subjugated. When a nation shies away from its own mother tongue, it can easily be contained. Its heritage and history will be stolen away from it. This is exactly what our enemies want from us. They want us to ignore our language so that it will be easy for them to control us. The enemies want us not to make Arabic the lingua franca of our school curriculum and to cancel teaching the language in our educational institutions.
Learning foreign languages is quite important, if not a necessity. We should be keen to learn foreign languages but this should not be done at the expense of our own language, culture and identity. Speaking in English has its special occasions and time. However, in our society, Arabic should be the means of communication. We should talk in Arabic among ourselves. So please talk to me in Arabic even if you are fluent in English.