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Touring Libyan Blogs: Is the Arabic Language Dead?

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Libya, Digital Activism, Education, Ethnicity & Race, Freedom of Speech, Governance, Ideas, Language, Migration & Immigration, Politics, Religion, Technology

Usually Libyan bloggers talk about varied and different topics – whether they are mundane or not. A recent supposedly anodyne post by Lebeeya in in which she was describing how her colleagues loved her chocolate cookies [1] and congratulated her by touching wood to ward off the ‘evil eye’ sparked a debate about the so called ‘death’ of the Arabic language.

It all started when Lebeeya said: ” SAY ” Mashallah” people…. STOP saying “TOUCH WOOD”, say mashallah.” (The Arabic phrase ma sha`a allah [2] indicates acceptance of what God has ordained in terms of good or ill fortune that may befall a believer). This prompted blogger Suliman to comment that [3]:

“I think your coworker used “Knock on wood” instead of “Mashallah” because of the prevalence of American pop culture throughout the world, including Islamic countries like Oman, Saudi Arabia, Libya, etc. My observation is that young people like yourself do not find what they need in the dead tongues of Arabic, Berber or Swahili. Those languages are rooted in cultures that do not promote individuality and self expression, and as a result, it is not uncommon that young bloggers, even in Arabic countries, freely express themselves in English. It works better for them, as it does here for you.”

Mani took the initiative to further elaborate on his own blog [4]and defend the “life” of Arabic and other languages.

“Free choice is all about the freedom of the individual to choose.. by being free, we mean that the person uses their own head to think, observe, reason their way through life and choose a course of action accordingly..”

Here again the comment section became pretty lively.

The ball rolled and was picked up on Ghazi's blog Imtidad [5].

“Recently I've been preparing a study on Libyan Blogs on the Internet. Until now I managed to count 76 blogs written by either Libyans in or outside Libya, or expatriates living in Libya and writing about it, and one of the main results is that the majority of blogs use English only or in conjunction with Arabic or Libyan dialect as the main language to write in their blogs. 55 blogs write in English only, 11 blogs use both English and Arabic, and only 10 blogs use Arabic only.
My question to bloggers is:
From your opinion why are you using English or Arabic Language only?
And why the majority of Libyan blogs use English Language?”

The debate at times became very heated and bitter by detractors who were out to prove that Arabic is the language of terrorism and others who assert the validity of this language as that of the Quran. If you have the courage I recommend you wade through all the comments as it makes for an interesting read guaranteed to make you think more deeply about your language.

What is the conclusion then? Has globalization succeeded in killing Arabic? Is it the language of terrorism as opposed to English being synonymous with freedom?