Linguistic and cultural needs of Arabic heritage learners

“Linguistic and cultural needs of Arabic heritage learners,” in M. al-Qada’, and F. al-cUmari, eds., Dawr al-Maharat al-Lughwiyya fi Taclim al-Lugha. [Role of the language skills in the teaching of Arabic.] Amman, Jordan:  Dar Kunuuz al-Macarifa, 2015, pp. 509-528.

 Tackling a knotty but crucial issue, Hussein Elkhafaifi examines deep-seated and protracted challenges of language planning in the Arab world. The long legacy of variation and language shift in spoken Arabic has led not only to the evolution of fixed boundaries between vernacular and written Arabic, but also to vigorous attempts to monitor, control, and update the written language, especially its lexical resources. Academies dedicated to strengthening and extending the lexicon of Modern Standard Arabic have existed for a century or more in several Arab countries, but have faced problems in dealing with modernization and expansion, challenged not only by the vigorous thriving of vernacular Arabic, but also by competition from Western languages such as English and French, especially in higher education, where wholesale borrowing of terms seems to continue unabated.

Arabic linguistics encompasses a range of language forms and functions from formal to informal, classical to contemporary, written to spoken, all of which have vastly different research traditions. Recently however, the increasing prominence of new methodologies such as corpus linguistics and sociolinguistics have allowed Arabic linguistics to be studied from multiple perspectives, revealing key discoveries about the nature of Arabic-in-use and deeper knowledge of traditional fields of study. With contributions from internationally renowned experts on the language, this handbook provides a state-of-the-art overview of both traditional and modern topics in Arabic linguistics. Chapters are divided into six thematic areas: applied Arabic linguistics, variation and sociolinguistics, theoretical studies, computational and corpus linguistics, new media studies and Arabic linguistics in literature and translation. It is an essential resource for students and researchers wishing to explore the exciting and rapidly moving field of Arabic linguistics.

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