Middle Eastern Studies Dept.: Arabic in a Changing World
As a student from the Middle East, I would have never imagined that I would go to the States to learn more about the politics and culture of my own region… Yet, ever since my first term at Dartmouth, I have already (1) taken a course in Middle Eastern Politics, (2) considered minoring in Middle Eastern Studies (MES), and (3) attended almost all of the MES department’s events (check out: “We Meet A-List Directors… for Class!”).
Despite it being a relatively small department, the MES department at Dartmouth has been very active, holding various events in which they invite renown authors, artists and scholars to hold panel discussions and give lectures at Dartmouth.
This past week, the MES department has especially shed light on the theme of “Arabic in a Changing World,” introduced by Mahmoud al-Batal,
Another topic we discussed is the question of dialects. There are two main forms of Arabic: Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) - used formally and in writing - and the ‘colloquial’ dialects since Arabic is spoken differently in different Arab countries. The dialect, I personally speak in is Hijazi (of the Western Saudi Arabian region). As a drill instructor myself (click here to see my blog about ‘drill’), I have often wondered how students would apply Arabic in conversations and day-to-day use, so being able to discuss that with an expert in Arabic language teaching was absolutely informative. Prof. Al-Batal simply suggested: “Teach them your dialect!”
Of course, this multi-faceted, complex issue could not be explored in one session alone. The MES department held another event: a panel discussion with guest speakers Mahmoud al-Batal and Kristen Brustad, Prof. Al-Aswani, Prof. Fishere, and Prof. Chahboun. Each presented their opinion on the matter, after which the attendees - both students and professors from other departments - joined in on the debate.