Archive for October 25th, 2013

“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”

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: 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?

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

10-25-2013 6-55-56 PM

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”.

10-25-2013 6-57-24 PM
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”.
10-25-2013 6-59-34 PM
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:

The Straw that broke the Camel's Back

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:

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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