Sunday, 24 October 2021 01:15

Multilingualism, the traditional form of cultural exchange

Sunday, 20 December 2020

On the occasion of International Migrants Day and International Arabic Language Day, the CCME’s digital platform Awacer TV organized, on Friday 18 December 2020, a live broadcast on the theme "when languages combine with the Arabic language to bring people together".

Mr. Hossain Bouzineb, professor Emeritus at the Mohammed V University in Rabat, translator and historian,Ms Kawtar Amiri, professor-researcher at the Institute of Spanish-Portuguese Studies in Rabat and MrJean Pruvost, French lexicologist and author, answered to Ms Ghita Zine, journalist at Yabiladi (news website).

During this panel, the participants discussed the contribution of the Arabic language to the French and Spanish languages and explained that multilingualism and a deep knowledge of one's own language and that of the other are the demonstration of pluralism and living together within societies.

Spanish, a "rather recent language whose first words were constructed towards the end of the 7th century", is one of the languages "which has benefited most from the use of the Arabic language", said Mr. Hossain Bouzineb, the first Moroccan to join the Spanish Royal Academy.

He said, the contribution of the Arabic language to the " maturation of the Spanish language is interesting because, in addition to the lexical dimension, it has helped to forge structures that have made it possible to express scientific concepts".

The genesis of the Spanish language, which was in practice relegated to popular expression, "was thanks to the Arabic language": "the languages of the people do not have the capacity for abstraction because this is a characteristic of a developed language, and it is by translating from Arabic that the Spanish language was able to acquire this dimension". Thus, through translation, Spanish has been able to adopt all the terminology of the Arabic language.

Although language teaching in Morocco began recently, interest in the Arabic language in Spain is a historical fact. Since the 15th century, the country has known a whole movement of Arabs who had been teaching in Spanish universities. Even nowadays, "if we make a comparison, there are more Arabic departments in Spain than there are Spanish language departments in Morocco.

In this sense, the researcher and professor invites Moroccan academic institutions to be more interested in the language of our European neighbours, because "when you don't know the other person, there is a fear that develops, which can only be overcome if you make a step towards their culture and language".

For her part, Ms Kawtar El Amri explained the work carried out by the Institute of "Spanish and Portuguese-speaking Studies" to highlight the common heritage between Morocco, Spain and Portugal. She quoted Professor Abdesslam Okab's publications on the Arabic origin of Portuguese words and the influence of the Arabic component in the evolution of the Portuguese and Spanish languages, works which show that "history and language are inseparably intermingled".

When speaking of neologism, "it is not a very recent phenomenon but one that goes back centuries": "several studies confirm that the Spanish language has a vocabulary of predominantly Arabic origin, a phenomenon that originates between the 9th and 12th centuries, a historical era in which the West experienced a period of obscurantism and was influenced by knowledge, mathematics and sciences promoted by Arab scholars".

In our times, "exchanges between the two shores are increasingly intense, bringing about changes in societies which in turn bring about interaction between languages and individuals", explains Ms Kawtar El Amri, who states that " multilingualism makes it possible to be more inventive, to create new visions and that translation has an essential role to play in spreading knowledge and bringing people on both sides of the Mediterranean closer together".

Mr. Jean Pruvost's interventions focused mainly on the impact of the Arabic language on the French language.

"Arabic is the third borrowing language, a long historical process that has been going on since the 9th century through 7 pathways", said the French expert.

"The first path is that of the Crusades, when Europeans discovered the world of North Africa and were seduced by artistic refinement, by traditions but also by the Arabic language", a trajectory that will then be overturned to give birth to the second path of transmission: that of "the Arab conquest, in the other direction, from a religious point of view, which will sweep through North Africa, Gibraltar and then Spain. French will then use both organisational and religious words".

When talking about neologism, "it is not a very recent phenomenon, but one that dates back centuries": "several studies confirm that the Spanish language has a vocabulary that is predominantly of Arabic origin, a phenomenon that originated between the 9th and 12th centuries, a historical era in which the West experienced a period of obscurantism and was influenced by the knowledge, mathematics and sciences promoted by Arab scholars".

In our times, "exchanges between the two shores are increasingly intense, bringing about changes in societies which in their turn bring about an interaction of languages and individuals", explains Kawtar El Amri, who states that " multilingualism makes it possible to be more inventive, to create new visions and that translation has an essential role to play in spreading knowledge and bringing people on both sides of the Mediterranean closer together".

Jean Pruvost's various speeches focused mainly on the influence of the Arabic language on the French language.

"Arabic is the third borrowed language, a long historical process that has been going on since the 9th century through 7 pathways," said the French expert.

"The first path is that of the Crusades, when Europeans discovered the world of North Africa and were seduced by artistic refinement, by traditions but also by the Arabic language", a trajectory that will then be reversed to give rise to the second path of transmission, that of "the Arab conquest, in the other direction, from a religious point of view, which will sweep through North Africa, Gibraltar and then Spain. French will then borrow organisational and religious words".

The third and "one of the most important paths is the learned path. The Arab civilisation was very advanced, from Spain to Cordoba, with Averroes in this case, who transmitted words of medicine, algebra, etc. to us. ». At the same time, a fourth route was opened, the trade route, which marked the settlement of the Arab civilisation in Spain".

From the 19th century on, there was also the path of literature through which thoughts were translated, beginning with Chateaubriand, Victor Hugo or Lamartine. Then came other paths "which are unpleasant but which were active, those of colonisation and decolonization, which brought back several new words, especially in the fields of war, gastronomy, etc".

Commenting on the draft agreement signed between Morocco and France on the teaching of the Arabic language within the framework of the International Teaching of Foreign Languages (EILE), Jean Pruvost said "a language lives through its progress in concrete areas and through the open thinking it offers".

" Learning a language like Arabic or any other language means raising the debate ". In this sense, it is necessary to make the difference between the transmission of Islamic religion and the learning of the Arabic language, "all learnings are welcome because they enable people to be enriched and to build beautiful friendships", he concluded.

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