The state, and future, of the Arabic language: a conference at Birzeit University

Conference analyzed the progression of the Arabic language in today’s technological whirlwind

Professors from the departments of Arabic Language and Literature and Languages and Translation at Birzeit University convened on May 5, 2018, to explore the evolution of the Arabic language, within the context of the vast technological shifts of this age, and the difficulties and challenges that these transformations present, in a symposium entitled “The Arabic Language and Interdisciplinary Studies.”

The professors, joined by students from various disciplines and courses with interest in the Arabic language, discussed Arabic’s relation to artificial intelligence, machine translation, modern media, legal language, and rhetoric in social media. 

Speaking on behalf of Dean of the Faculty of Arts Dr. Majdi Al-Malki, Dr. Sami Sha’th – assistant to the dean – noted that the symposium is a continuation of the Department of Arabic’s remarkable efforts to encourage research and publication. 

“The papers presented here explore several facets of the Arabic language within a broad perspective that addresses multiple complex issues and presents future considerations for debate,” added Sha’th, quoting Al-Malki. 

Chair of the Department of Arabic Language and Literature Dr. Mousa Khoury highlighted the department’s research-focused strategy, saying that the professors tackle research issues with a renewed vigor each and every year. 

“I know full well that the Department of Arabic Language and Literature has one of the most competent, active research teams, who delve into translation, linguistics, semantics, semiotics, and many other areas of language analysis. This breeds an environment of positive competition among our professors and faculty members,” said Khoury.  

“It should be noted,” Khoury further commented, “that our department is an interdisciplinary one through and through. We have professors that teach in the Palestine and Arabic Studies Program, in the Languages and Translation Department, and in the Faculty of Graduate Studies, among others. It is such interdisciplinarity that allows us to view multifarious issues from a well-rounded perspective.” 

The symposium comprised three sessions. The first, chaired by Dr. Ibrahim Abu Hashhash, featured Dr. Nasserel-Din Abu Khdair and Ahmad Shayeb, who discussed “Issues of Machine Translation from English to Arabic on the Morphological Level: Examples from the Media – A Descriptive Analytic Study,” and Dr. Abdoul Karim Abu Khashan, who presented his paper, “The Lake by the French Poet Alphonse de Lamartine as a Model.” 

The second session, chaired by Dr. Mahmoud Atshan, highlighted Dr. Nasralla Alshaier’s “Legal Drafting Between the Laws of the Language and the Language of the Law,” Dr. Mashhour Mshahreh’s “The Fundamental Rules of Grammar and Their Manifestations in Legal Drafting,” and Dr. Ammar Shibli’s “The Language of Full and Limited Power of Attorney in Ramallah and Al-Bireh’s Court of First Instance.” 

The third and final session, moderated by Dr. Thabit Hamed, introduced for discussion Dr. Gadeer Kharoubi and Manal Hassan’s “Typologies of Rhetoric on Social Media Platforms and Their Effect on the Arabic Language – Social Rhetoric on Facebook as a Model,” and Dr. Fadi Assida’s “Linguistic Interaction Through Social Media Platforms – Facebook as a Model.”