“Moa’bite, why are you using English not Arabic? You should be faithful to your mother language” Am I traitor?

The famous Italian poet Dante, in his masterpiece Divine Comedy, reserved the lowest place in hell for Traitors"

The famous Italian poet Dante, in his masterpiece the Divine Comedy, reserved the lowest place in hell for Traitors”

Reference: http://danteworlds.laits.utexas.edu/circle9.html
Source of photo: A flickr account of samlkelly.

I heard comments expressing a similar idea to the above title of my post. I am not surprised that so many people notice that I am using English a lot. But what makes me surprised is that I often get asked why “English” not “Arabic”, that I should “repent” and use the Arabic language instead of the English language, and rarely, that I am not faithful to Arabic and Arabs by using English a lot. I got the last comment of such kind less than three hours ago. As a result, I decided to write about this issue to clear myself from the possible allegation of being a traitor, and according to Dante’s Divine Comedy, be qualified to be placed in the “lowest place of hell”.

Firstly, let me show why my friends and acquaintances notice that I use a lot of English:

1) Most of my Blog posts are in English: At least 90%.

2) My mobile phone language “was” always in English (until I started learning German three months ago. Now, my mobile phone language is in German. That doesn’t make a big difference! After all, it is not in Arabic)

3) I write SMSs to my friends mostly in English.

4) Facebook: Firstly, the language of my facebook was always in English (again, now it is in German). Secondly, most of my facebook posts are in English (You can check my facebook profile here: www.facebook.com/fromearthwtihlove). Thirdly, most of my facebook comments are in English.

5) Since at least 7 years, I almost never read Arabic novels or books. You can click here and go to a page in my Goodreads accounts showing a short list of the books that I read, currently reading, and will read; all in English.

6) I am fond of reading quotes and proverbs in English. As a result, when I say them, I do that in English and later do the translation (if needed).

These screenshots are examples of online comments that I got because of writing in English: The first three are part of facebook messages. The last one is part of an email. I removed the identity of whoever wrote each comment. I have to point out how lucky I am to have as “friends” these people who wrote these comments. The way they placed their “disagreement” of my using English a lot is really very civilized and show how open-minded they are. Can one find a lot of of such Arab Tpeople?




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My friend wrote: “hahahahaha… It is weird that you in Arabic wrote … “

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My facebook friend wrote (actually, this is an official in Jordan Medical Association. I suggested something to him in a lengthy facebook Message written in English): All thanks and respect for your efforts. May Allah bless you. I preferred that the writing and the explanation is in the Arabic language… by the language of Daad”.

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My friend wrote: “Jameel, why are you talking in English my friend. There is a saying which I like. The people imitate those who subdue them. And the rest of the JD is with you. The rest of the JD is with you is a colloquial expression meaning that you have the rest… This is only for notification”.
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The Arabic writing of my friend’s email: “Read Sawtoo Safeer Al-Bolbolee for Al-Asma’ee so that you know the meaning of real Arabic! Stay with love”

I hope that the above gave an idea what some Arab people think of me as a result of using English in the settings described above. But what I like the most is the looks and the comment that I once heard from one of my colleagues in medical school. That was almost three years ago. My colleague saw that my mobile phone language is not in Arabic. At that particular time, it was in French. I thought that I add new information to my three-year-long school studying of French.

My colleague: “Why is your mobile phone language in French?”

I answered with one reason: “To improve my French?”

After a pause, and with very resentful looks, my colleague said: “But Arabic is your mother language. You should be proud of it!”

I did not understand why my friend deemed me as being not proud of Arabic. I answered with a question, “We are learning medicine in English, why?”

The conversations ended there because something or someone interrupted us. As a result, I was not able to give my friend all the reasons behind my phone language being not in Arabic.

The comments did not stop that day. Later on, each time a person made a comment regarding why “English not Arabic”, I started to repeat my reasons. I feared being stamped as a traitor! It is enough that I am not Muslim. Christians, to some, are looked at to be pro-western (well, in a way, such an allegation is true for some Arab Christians. You can read this previous post of mine here).

Because of fearing social alienation, and because of being tired of repeating my reasons of using English, I decided to write the reasons in a main page in my Blog. That was exactly in 20/06/2013. The reasons made it to my Blog after I got the comment shown in the last photo above. I wrote back the following email to my friend:

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The day in which wrote my reasons: The straw that broke the camel’s back!

I made a lot of changes to the explanation posted in my Blog, including before less than two hours. Now, I am happy because I think that I was able to state my reasons in a nice way. This way, I will be defending my position strongly and will be saving my time from repeating my reasons. Every time a person comments on my using English, I just send him a link to the page that contains my reasons.  This is an example of my reply to the person who made the comment less than 3 hours ago:

official-in-the-jordanian-medical-association

Welcome doctor, … I do not write in Arabic since years. I got used to quickly writing in English. They always ask me why I write in English. However, I have many reasons:”

[Update 17.11.2013]: With writing my reasons of using English in the “Who is Moa’bite” section/page, I caused that page to be very long. This is what I had feared before I got a feedback with that today.Now, the reasons are published in a separate post in my Blog called: “Why is it a huge disadvantage to Blog in any language other than English?“. I will keep updating the reasons there.

Through writing my reasons, I am not trying to promote the English language and to make people do similar to what I do. I am just trying to let people know that I have my reasons… logical reasons 🙂 This does not mean that I am sure that they will convince you, but at least, I hope that you will think that they are logical ones. Aren’t they? If not, why?

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Why not blog in Arabic?

Arabic is my mother language. I respect it just like I expect that most people respect their mother languages. However, to publish in Arabic, or in any other language other than English, is a disadvantage:

  • Firstly: “The strength of a language is from the strength of its owners قوة اللغة من قوة أهلها”. Arabs are weak in this part of history. As a result, their language is as weak as they are. On the other hand, English-speaking countries have been ruling the world since tens of years now (The USA and Britain). As a result, English is the lingua franka of this time of history. So, by writing in English, I am not only addressing Arabs, but the greatest majority of people on this planet in this part of history. If I were living almost 800 years ago, I would be writing in Arabic. If I were living 1,500 years ago, I would be writing in Latin. If I were living 2000 years ago, I would be writing in Greek, etc. For every time in history, there is a great nation ruling most of the world. The language of this nation is naturally the language of science, politics, literature, etc. As a result, it is wise to use the language of the most powerful so as to address the largest group of people.
  • Secondly: The number of new publications in Arabic (whether in literature or science) is almost negligible compared with those in other languages. This also runs on the number of books that are translated into Arabic each year. As a result, it is better to practice English more (in writing) and hence, be able to read and comprehend all of these new publications that come out almost every minute. By writing in English, I am not only expressing  an opinion, but also, I am improving my English.
  • Thirdly: An Israeli general is reported to have once said: “Arabs do not read. Even if they read, they do not understand”. I don’t know if hatred was the reason behind saying this, but statistics show that Arabs in this part of history do not read a lot and that the bestselling books in Arabic sell only in thousands of copies. So, if I write in Arabic, I am not limiting myself with to a small audience (Arabs and Arabic-speaking people), but also, I am limiting myself with an audience that is mostly not fond of reading.
  • Fourthly: I really do not understand the argument that because something is your own, then you need to think of it in the highest standards. “It is your tribe, language, religion, country, etc. and you must think of it as being the best“. No, there are tribes better than mine, there are languages better than mine, my religion is not perfect, let me stop here :) .

So, if you are to write a book in the future, or if you are simply to write a single article to share your opinion with the world, why risk writing it in a language other than English? Why not to have the “world as an audience” by writing in the strongest language nowadays?

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5 Comments:

  1. بتحداك إذا بتنشر تعليقي:

    الله يلعن الإختراع اللي إسمه مدونات… اللي خلت أعطت أشكالك الفرصة لنشر هكذا تفاهات!!!

    • صديقي العزيز،

      شكرا لك على إبداء رأيك. ولكن بالنسبة للتعليق، لك ولقراء هذه الصفحة أن يقرروا مدى تحضره.
      أنا لا أعرف، هل هي من التفاهة أن ينشر الشخص وجهة نظره، حتى لو كانت ضعيفة وهزيلة وخاطئة؟
      التفاهة الفكرية هي أن لا أعطي الشخص الذي أمامي الفرصة ليعبر عن رأية. خصوصا وإذا لم يجبرني على سماعه. هذه المدونة شخصية، ولا أتوقع أنني أو أي شخص آخر يجبرك على قراءتها.

      أخيرا، وهو الأهم، إذا لم تعجبك أفكار معينة مما كتبت، كان الأحرى بحضرتك أن تفند هذه الأفكار بأسلوب منطقي. ويا ريت كمان حضاري!

      على أية حال، شكرا على التغذية الراجعة بخصوص المقالة. سأنشر لك ما تريده من تعليقات أخرى في المدونة بدون أن تتحداني أن أنشر… ولكن لي أمنية صغيرة… حاول أن توضح سبب وجهة نظرك 🙂

      بخصوص طريقة صياغتك لتعليقك، فأتوقع أنه إذا ستقل قيمة شخص ما من تعليقات كالأعلى، فأتوقع على الأغلب أنها ستكون تلك للذي كتبها! مع كل إحترامي وتقديري.

      أهلا وسهلا.

  2. حسام عابد

    كلام جميل يا جميل مع انك بتلف و بتدور حول نقطة لكن لا تصلها و ايضا مع احترامي ما اقنعني…انا معك الدراسة بالانجليزي و كثير من الروايات الجميلة بالانجليزي و اللغة الاولى بالعالم هي الانجليزية..و مش غلط انو نستعمل الانجليزية و نتقنها لأنو حاليا لا يوجد بديل لانو الامة العربية الان امة نايمة..بس هذا لا يعني انو نحكي مع بعض بالانجليزي او نبعث مسجات بالانجليزي او انو نلوم الناس اذا كتبت كتاب بالعربي و نحكيلهم ليش ما استغليتوا وقتكو بعمل ابحاث او كتب انجليزية!!.. اذا كل واحد عربي بفكر انو يتبع الاقوى و يكتب بلغتهم و يحكي بلغتهم بحياتو ما بتقوم للعرب قايمة…برضو لازم يكون في بالك انو الشغلة لا تمت بصلة للدين و الاعتقاد..في ناس كتير بنادوا بالقومية العربية يا جميل…مسلمين..مسيحيين..ملحدين..بس برضو بنادوا بالقومية العربية..لانو هذا انتا. .عربي و رح تظل عربي..في شغلات الواحد ممكن يغيرها و في شغلات مش ممكن…و الاستسلام و الاذعان و التبعية لامة و للغتها لانها اقوى عمرو ما بكون حل

    • My friend Dr. Hussam,

      Thank you very much for your beautiful comment. It is your right to disagree with me.

      Firstly, to summarize your comment, I can see that you did not prove wrongs any of my reasons. In defence of the point of view that you are supporting, you only mentioned many reasons why one should master his mother language (in your case, Arabic).

      My reasons for using English:
      *** 1) As a result, it is wise to use the language of the most powerful so as to address the largest group of people.

      2) By writing in English, I am not only expressing an opinion, but also, I am improving my English

      3) So, if I write in Arabic, I am not limiting myself with to a small audience (Arabs and Arabic-speaking people), but also, I am limiting myself with an audience that is mostly not fond of reading.****

      I will address some points that you raised in defense of one’s mother tongue:

      #.بس هذا لا يعني انو نحكي مع بعض بالانجليزي او نبعث مسجات بالانجليزي او انو نلوم الناس اذا كتبت كتاب بالعرب: In my article, I specifically addressed this point:

      “Through writing my reasons, I am not trying to promote the English language and to make people do similar to what I do. I am just trying to let people know that I have my reasons… logical reasons”.

      I am not blaming people for not using English. I am blaming those who blame me for using English!

      #اذا كل واحد عربي بفكر انو يتبع الاقوى و يكتب بلغتهم و يحكي بلغتهم بحياتو ما بتقوم للعرب قايمة: The same runs on any language in the whole world. If the speakers of these languages adopted English, then no nation would rise? Maybe! But my point of view, is that one should master the strongest language spoken in his time! This can be achieved by always using it; similar to what I am trying to do!

      # و الاستسلام و الاذعان و التبعية لامة و للغتها لانها اقوى عمرو ما بكون ح: If someone tried his best to imrpove his English language (which is something very hard and requires much more than I am doing), then this does not necessarily mean that he is expressing و الاستسلام و الاذعان و التبعية لامة. It is only that one, in any time in the history, should master the “lingua frank” of his time!

      # .في ناس كتير بنادوا بالقومية العربية يا جميل…مسلمين..مسيحيين..ملحدين.: I used to like the idea of Arab Nationalism. However, since many years, I look around me and see that the Arab World is becoming not more welcoming to any one who is not: Muslim, Sunni, and has arabic ethnicity. Is there a place for non-Muslims in the Arab world? Shi’ites? Kurds? Yes, you can stay in the Arab world. However, you are not treated in the same way as the majority. So, this is what I feel sometimes. The people around me are not accepting me as being “fully equal” to them. They are not many. On the contrary, they are few. However, for these few, for example, who are refusing to greet me with any thing that begins with “Good” or “Peace” (not to mention greeting Non-Muslims in their feasts), no one is disagreeing with them!. At least openly! The previous is another reason why I am over-using English: I feel disconnected from Arabs and the Arabic language! I am different! As a result, this is what I posted in the “About me” page in thsi blog, and in all my profiles that required me to write something about myself:

      *** To not a small group of my fellow Arabs, I am different because I was born to a Christian family. To another not a small group, this time of Christians, I am different because I was born to an Arab family. I believe this is the dilemma that each Arab Christian lives in. Nonetheless, I initially successfully resolved it by no longer identifying myself with any of the previous two groups (sorry!). For about 6 years after the establishment of this blog, I started identifying myself as a Human Being with no fellow Arabs or fellow Christians, but with fellow Human Beings!

      But, as years passed, I discovered how many human beings do not recognize other human beings to be as “human” as they are. They are not humans either because they are infidels, terrorists, black, uncivilized… so on and so forth of this endless human “creativity”. As a result, I finally settled to identify myself as a “Homo sapien” with no fellow Arabs, Christians, or Human beings, but with fellow Homo sapiens. Even if others did not think that you have the correct ethnicity, religion, color, etc, they can’t deny that you are all at the end equal…Homo sapiens brothers and sisters! ***

      Finally:
      # عربي و رح تظل عربي..في شغلات الواحد ممكن يغيرها و في شغلات مش ممك:

      Yes, I am Arab and will stay Arab. I cannot change that. I did not say that. On the contrary:
      بلادي وإن جارت على عزيزة .. وأهلي وإن ضنوا على كرام

      # What I can change is how perfect I speak English. This will open many opportunities for me. One of the greatest of these opportunities is having this Blog in English and having the greatest percentage of People on earth as a potential Audience! Not any other language in the world can give me this advantage!

      Best regards and thank you for your first-ever comment in my modest Blog 🙂

  3. I teach English as you know but all teachers of English including me and the guy who **** don`t have your ability of expressing our selves like you in English{my long sentence is the bright proof.
    *****

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