Specialists explore the Arabic language and its Semitic sisters in virtual seminar

A bilingual sign in Hebrew and Arabic that reads 'have a pleasant journey.' Getty Images
A bilingual sign in Hebrew and Arabic that reads 'have a pleasant journey.' Getty Images
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Updated 15 February 2021

Specialists explore the Arabic language and its Semitic sisters in virtual seminar

A bilingual sign in Hebrew and Arabic that reads 'have a pleasant journey.' Getty Images

DUBAI: The languages of Arabic and Hebrew have a lot more in common than you might think. They are both of Semitic origin, they share some letters of the alphabet and some Hebrew and Arabic words are the same, among other things.

Based on these similarities, The Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre hosted a virtual seminar that explored the similarities between the Semitic languages of Arabic, Hebrew and Syriac, and the close ties that have brought these languages together through the ages.

Titled “The Arabic Language and its Semitic Sisters: A Story of Understanding and Human Fraternity,” the virtual seminar took place on the first-ever International Day of Human Fraternity, and was presented by Dr. Ali bin Tamim, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre and Secretary-General of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award; Dr. Jimmy Daccache, Professor of Western Semitic Languages at Yale University; Dr. Brigitte Caland, Professor of Hebrew Studies at the American University of Beirut; and Dr. Yahya Ababneh, Professor of Arabic Language and Literature at Yarmouk University.




The Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre hosted a virtual seminar that explored the similarities between the Semitic languages of Arabic, Hebrew and Syriac. Supplied

The purpose of the seminar was to highlight the ancient ties and similarities between Arabic and Hebrew, as well as address the vital role of the Arabic language when it comes to promoting human fraternity and bringing people together.

“There is a pressing need for the language of dialogue and understanding, and to reinforce its historical and civilizational role, which provides the necessary tools for communication and rapprochement between people,” said Dr. Ali bin Tamim in a release.

“The Middle East is rich in ancient languages, some of which have disappeared, while others are still present in our daily lives, so it was necessary to focus on the common roots of these Semitic languages to emphasize the links between peoples and cultures,” he added.

Echoing on his statement, Dr. Brigitte Caland said: “What brings together the Arabic and Hebrew languages goes beyond the similarity in many components, grammar and utterances. Also, it’s easier for the speaker of any of these two languages to learn the other language more quickly and accurately than other languages.”

The virtual seminar came just weeks after The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming Feb. 4 as “International Day for Human Fraternity.” The initiative was introduced by the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and as a result the international community will observe International Day for Human Fraternity annually, beginning in 2021.

The resolution was co-sponsored by 34 UN Member States.