LINGUIST List 7.1185

Sat Aug 24 1996

Disc: Arabic Sign Language

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <dizdartam2000.tamu.edu>


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  1. Dave Harris, Re: Arabic Sign Language

Message 1: Re: Arabic Sign Language

Date: Fri, 16 Aug 1996 09:53:56 CDT
From: Dave Harris <dharrislas-inc.com>
Subject: Re: Arabic Sign Language
 Mr. Alosh: Thanks for your kind response! I appreciate your patient
explanation of your viewpoint. I know that Westerners often seem very
arrogant in their rush to convert everyone else to their opinion. That
is something that frustrates me, as well, so I can certainly
understand and sympathize with the non-Western point of view. I agree
with you also that Arabic, which I have spent some time familiarizing
myself with, is a beautiful language with a long, proud tradition and
represents a noble culture. I hate to see Western influences cheapen
or in any way dilute that language or the culture associated with it,
but unfortunately that seems to be a reality today.
 On the subject of sign language, in the end, I suppose it is up to
the deaf people as you and I seem to agree. But obviously, we
shouldn't have a bunch of Western theoriticians running in and trying
to run the show. My letter kind of implied that that was what I was
advocating and I apologize for not seeing it for what it was.
 I hope you don't mind my posting both our note to me and my response
to you to the list as I think that the others who have been involved
in the discussion will be interested to note what we have
exchanged. Sincerely, David Harris 

PS I have thought for a long time that we need people very much like
yourself to be involved in what should be an ongoing dialogue on the
differences between Arab and Western culture. It's important that such
dialogue take place in order for the interested parties to learn to
appreciate each other. I know that I myself tend to get impatient with
such dialogue sometimes, but you give me the example I need to be more
understanding and less judgemental. I sincerely hope you will continue
to be involved in such discusssions.

At 03:06 PM 8/14/96 -0400, you wrote:
>Thank you, Mr. Harris, for the explanation and the kind words. I
>understand your position and willingness to contribute positively to
>other parts of the world based on the rich Western experience. I have
>nothing against benefitting from Western advances in every aspect of
>life. On the contrary, I promote cooperation with others regardless of
>their background. I agree with you that it is up to the deaf people to
>decide. I wonder if anyone has asked a sample of them their
>opinion. However, language, including sign language, is a sensitive
>issue to most Arabs. Anything that might steer people away from
>Arabic, particularly standard Arabic (the language of reading and
>writing) is not positively viewed. Even colloquial Arabic (the spoken
>dialects) is not allowed to play a formal role. In most Arab countries
>texts written in a local dialect are not even allowed to be
>published. Hence my concern regarding a Western-based SL. All the
>best. 

> > >*********************************************** 
>Mahdi Alosh 
>Associate Professor of Arabic 
>Ohio State University 
>1735 Neil Avenue, 203 B&Z Bldg. 
>Columbus, OH 43210 
>Direct line (614) 292-8504; Department 292-9255 
>FAX (614) 292-1262 
>Internet:alosh.1osu.edu 
>***********************************************
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