Why I study Arabic : Whenever you make a new acquaintance you’re bound to get the question, what do you do? And whenever I get that question I hestitate a bit, because answering that you study Arabic is not the answer most people expect. To be fair, most people think it’s cool, but there’s still a kind of inherent weirdness to studying Arabic and I feel like I owe some kind of explanation for my interest. Sometimes you also get discencouraging questions such as: why would you study that? Why you study Arabic?
I mean, why wouldn’t I study that? Afterall Arabic is one of world’s most spoken languages and it’s one of the official languages of the United Nations. It’s also the liturgical language for the world’s second biggest religion, Islam, and more importantly, learning Arabic helps you build friendships with a lot of wonderful Arabic-speakers. Unfortunately many people lack the motivation to learn a language since they only want to learn it to further their careers instead of as a way to make friends and connect with others.
By learning another culture’s language you will appreciate it more. Sadly, Middle Eastern culture, and especially Islamic culture, is constanstly depicted as backwards, and as something lesser than, say, European culture. The Middle East has traditionally been seen as an antagonist to Europe. Sadly, this discourse has dehumanized the Middle East, making it easier for us to close our eyes to people’s suffering. You would hope to think that this is a thing of the past but we only have to look at the travel ban passed recently in the United States to conclude that that is not the case. Islamophobia is on the rise.
Getting more people to learn Arabic, and about Arab culture, is a way to combat this. We need to better the relationship between our two different cultures, and when I say that I mean mostly at a political level, everyday people get along just fine, what we lack is political leadership.
That’s why its very comforting to see so many internationals here at the Excellence Center in Hebron who are learning Arabic. Hopefully we can influence people back in our countries and make them see things from a Palestinian point of view.
But of course, the biggest reason as to why you should study Arabic is because it’s great fun! -Einar from Sweden