Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا

Published on Monday, 9 August 2021

How to save the mother tongue!

By Fr.  Dr.  Rif'at  Bader :

In the spirit of the International Mother Language Day marked by the United nations on February 21 every year which calls for the promoting linguistic diversity and multilingual education, as well as for highlighting the need to raise awareness of the importance of mother tongue education, I find myself compelled today to say and  to call  for saving the mother tongue.

In this “safe” summer and in line with my priestly message, I participated in several occasions particularly administering the sacraments of baptism and marriage. During my meetings with families residing in Jordan, those coming from Arab and foreign countries for a temporary visit, or those returning home after a brief visit abroad, I felt that the Arabic language is missed by several children of the new generations.


There are children who do not speak Arabic. At home, the English language became the language of conversation even in "peaceful" family brawls. There are students who attend schools that teach and follow different forms of international curricula at a time when the Arabic language is missing. There are children who emigrated to other countries with their parents for years and spoke foreign languages ​​without having the parents aware of the necessity of learning the mother tongue. There are children who do not come to churches, because, as their parents told me, they neither read, write, nor even understand the Arabic language used in prayer. There are children who address their housemaids who come  from foreign nationalities in English.

This is a call for having our beloved children entrenched in  Arab roots, by intensifying the quest for language learning and having them rooted in love of their small country and their great Arab homeland. It is also an invitation to hold competitions and educational activities for these children who are educated abroad, or in our schools that "serve delicious dishes" of foreign languages ​​and forget about the mother tongue.


In the past, we used to talk about the difficulty of communicating  between generations of different ages, because times have changed, and the language of communication among generations no longer exists. There is concern nowadays that this communication will be cut off not because of  differing mentalities but because of languages, as within the same house there is a disparity in the tongues, at a time when the responsibility of teaching Arabic has become a basic issue rather than a luxury.


One day I was the master of ceremonies in a national celebration at one of our dear universities that follow English-language curricula, and I recall that one of the students  who was to make an address in Arabic wrote the entire address in Latin letters. His pronunciation was correct, but he did not know how to write using Arabic letters, yet he read his address from left to right.


 It is a moral, historical, as well as a civilized responsibility and duty placed on the shoulders of beloved parents, the cultural centers, and even places of worship. Let us speak with one voice:  Come together to save the Arabic language and its Arabic letters.