The Arabic language is a pillar of the cultural diversity of humanity. The United Nations World Arabic Language Day is celebrated every year on 18 December.
With over 100 Million speakers and the official language in 11 African countries, Arabic is one of the most spoken in the world and the second most spoken language on the continent.
Arabic is the official language of Algeria, Comoros, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Sudan, and Tunisia. It’s also spoken in Tanzania, Western Sahara and Somalia.
Our language and our experiences vigorously intertwine; in the words of philosopher Charlemagne ‘To have another language is to possess a second soul’.
Language, culture and cognition are closely linked in some ways, because it helps us make sense of the world and can even influence the way we see and describe it.
To possess ‘a second soul’ will infer that one possesses an ‘inner ear’ to comprehend differently; the second pair of inner eyes provides fresh insights through which we can experience new and different cultures.
For instance, recent research indicated that bilingual children, even children merely exposed to a second language, were better at interpreting another person’s intentions by being able to see things from their perspective.
Some other studies suggest that, among other things, learning two languages in early childhood improves a whole host of cognitive abilities, making the brain more adept at switching between tasks, focusing in a busy environment, and memory retention.
There are 28 alphabets in the Arabic language. Unlike most languages, Arabic is written from left to right, not right to left. Not only is the language native to over 400 Million people worldwide, but at least 1.8 Billion Muslims across the world also need some amount of spoken Arabic to recite the Qur’an, call to prayers, and recite during daily supplications five times a day.
This year’s commemoration themed “The Contribution of the Arabic Language to Human Civilisation and Culture” is a reaffirmation of the numerous contributions of Arabic language to humanity’s cultural and linguistic diversity, as well as to knowledge production.
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