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Egyptians and books in modern classical Arabic

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Submitted by dhimmi no more (United States), Aug 2, 2008 at 07:40

There is no doubt that such books exist in Egypt but the real question is do Egyptians really read them? It has always been a puzzle to me why do Egyptians buy less books in modern classical Arabic than let us say the Lebanese or the Syrians

Part of the puzzle can be solved by discovering that Egyptian Arabic (al-lugha al-3ammiya) is indeed a very different language from modern classical Arabic or Arabi faseeh.

Egyptian Arabic has very different grammar and syntax and it is full of foreign words that are not Arabic words. Many loan words are from Egyptian/Coptic which seems to be the main source of such words and such different grammar (see Yousef and Haykal's "From the pharaoh's lips. Ancient Egyptian language in Arabic of today"). It also has many loan words from Greek, Italian, French and Turkish. Egyptian Arabic is not a lahja (or dialect). It is a unique language and not it is not unlike Italian and Latin. This was pointed out by Niloofar Haeri in her book :"Sacred language, ordinary people. Dilemmas of culture and politics in Egypt"

And here is an example:

In Egyptian Arabic why do you go to Cairo? becomes inta rayeh li masr leh. Now in modern classical Arabic it would be: li madha tadhhab ila al-qahira. Even for those that do not know any Arabic you can see for yourself the difference. And this is only one sentence.

What is most amusing is the fact that Egyptians, even the Muslim Ulama, when on let us say TV they start by speaking in modern classical Arabic and then they switch to Egyptian Arabic but if you read the speech the next day in a newspaper you will find that such speech has been translated from Egytpian Arabic to modern classical Arabic (see Haeri)

This means that modern classical Arabic (the language fo such books) is indeed a foreign language to Egyptians and it very well could explain the fact that Egyptians read less because books are not published in their mother tongue but in a foreign language. It is very interesting that Madboli the biggest seller of books in Egypt told Haeri that the few books published in Egyptian Arabic sell very fast and are in great demand but not those written in calssical Arabic. So I susepct that such books just do not sell because they are not written in the language of the masses.

Also Egypt is indeed an old civilization and there is always a healthy dose of scepticism and great sense of humour about anything and every thing and such books are seen as no more than propaganda that should be viewed with great suspicion

The real question is who really pays for these books to be published? I suspect it is Saudi money.

Submitting....

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