Purists alarmed at increasing popularity of Franco-Arabic

Updated 14 January 2015

Purists alarmed at increasing popularity of Franco-Arabic

Franco-Arabic, the popular language of communication for conversations and chats on social media sites, is increasingly being seen as a threat to the Arabic language, culture and identity.
While the language is commonly used in Egypt and several other Arab countries, it faces resistance from lovers of Arab identity and culture with campaigns such as "Write Arabic" and ‘Enough Franco."
A heady cocktail of Arabic and English written in the Latin script, Franco-Arabic or Franco has gained huge popularity among the youth who relate to it because of its symbols which they can adopt to Arabic. So for example, the symbol ‘3’ is used to represent the Arabic letter ‘Ayn,’ 5 for the letter ‘kha,’ 7 for ‘Ha’ and 8 for ‘Ghain’.
Discussing the reasons for the popularity of Franco-Arabic among the Arab youth, computer expert Ziyad Ata said the the youth who depend on the Latin script to learn computer techniques, become more familiar and feel at home with English keyboards which is one of the major reasons for Franco becoming popular on social media. Another reason is that in most private schools and universities English and European languages are used as the first language and the computer applications and other topics are also taught in those languages. A third reason is the availability of non-Arabic keypads which compels the students to use the Latin script even if they prefer the Arabic language.
A writer in Al-Riyadh Daily Mariam Al-Jaber warns of the risk to the Arabic language which stands in danger of large scale erosion if Franco continues to be widely used. She says that in the long run, Arabic may suffer the same plight as that of Hebrew and Persian.
She pointed out that boys and girls under 18 who are in their formative years, would find it hard to shake off the habit of using the foreign language instead of their mother tongue.
‘’There is hardly any justification for abandoning Arabic. If they find the literary language difficult, they have the option of adopting the slang which is far easier than Franco,’’ Mariam said.
Shedding more light on the issue, Family and Community Medicine Consultant and Vice president at King Khaled University Dr. Khaled Jalban said he noted with concern the increasing trend of writing Franco-Arabic or using the slang with Latin script as the means of quick communication on Facebook, SMS and mobile phones which is fast becoming popular among the young.
"Adopting Latin letters in the place of Arabic threatens our identity and culture. Using Arabic slang is a thousand times better than losing our cultural identity,’’ Jalban said, adding that a number of Muslim countries have replaced the Arabic script with Latin and even those who love to use Arabic are forced to use Latin script because they do not get keyboards with Arabic or because they communicate with people who do not like or are not familiar with the Arabic script.
He attributed the acceptance of Franco as the favorite language online because Latin is more user friendly on various computer systems than the Arabic script. Leading information technology companies such as Microsoft and Google provide translations of Franco texts into Arabic which helps the fast spread of Franco making it a threat to Arabic.
"The solution is to find ways to stop the influence of the Western culture on the youth who are weak in asserting their cultural identity. So the Arabic script should be incorporated on all computer systems and be made part of the curriculum,’’ he said.
Faculty member of Arabic Language at the King Khaled University Ahmed Al-Tihani said the use of Latin instead of Arabic is a threat to the Arab cultural identity. Arabic language is the incubator of values that developed the Muslim Ummah’s identity and it is one of the oldest living languages on earth.


Saudi, GCC artists explore relationship between man and architecture

Updated 10 December 2019

Saudi, GCC artists explore relationship between man and architecture

  • A large number of art and culture enthusiasts attended the opening ceremony

RIYADH: Deputy Minister of Culture Hamid bin Mohammed Fayez inaugurated an art exhibition titled “From Within” on Sunday evening, at the Diriyah Industrial Zone.

A large number of art and culture enthusiasts attended the opening ceremony. The exhibition will run until Dec. 26, and includes artworks by 27 artists from the Kingdom and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

The artworks in the exhibition deal with the relationship between man and architecture, and how one can affect the other. They also explore human experiences over time, and the nature of society reflecting on patterns of architecture. 

“From Within” includes a variety of artworks in many mediums: Paintings, sculptures, videos, and installations that raise questions about the relationship between architecture and human behavior, and how human experiences and the nature of society reflect on the substance of civilization development.

FAST FACTS

• The artworks in the exhibition deal with the relationship between man and architecture, and how one can affect the other.

• ‘From Within’ includes a variety of artworks in many mediums: Paintings, sculptures, videos and installations that raise questions about the relationship between architecture and human behavior.

It is a part of the “Quality of Life” initiatives — programs that are designed to achieve the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 scheme. It is also part of a comprehensive plan developed by the Ministry of Culture to transform Diriyah into a contemporary arts area exhibiting art from the Kingdom and across the globe. 

The exhibition emphasizes the role of the ministry in supporting high-level artistic and cultural activities. The exhibition also highlights the ministry’s pursuit to open doors for artists to showcase their talent and creativity to local and international audiences.