Dr Al-Bader lec­tures on role of for­eign trav­el­ers

‘Kuwaiti Di­alect in For­eign Books’ in fo­cus

Arab Times - - LO­CAL -

KUWAIT CITY, Oct 13: Many Arab re­searchers did not pay at­ten­tion to the im­por­tance of the con­tents of for­eign (non-Ara­bic) and travel books on the Kuwaiti di­alect as part of the cul­tural de­vel­op­ment of the Kuwaiti so­ci­ety.

Ma­jor­ity of for­eign­ers who vis­ited Kuwait, in­clud­ing diplo­mats and doc­tors in the Amer­i­can mis­sion­ary hos­pi­tal, found that the Ara­bic lan­guage spo­ken in Kuwait is dif­fer­ent from its peers in sur­round­ing towns with the preser­va­tion of its Ara­bic orig­i­nal­ity.

As­sis­tant Pro­fes­sor in Lin­guis­tics at the Pub­lic Author­ity for Ap­plied Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing (PAAET) Dr Yousef B. Al-Bader de­liv­ered a lec­ture on the role of for­eign trav­el­ers, ori­en­tal­ists and those liv­ing in Kuwait in doc­u­ment­ing the Kuwaiti di­alect through their works and pub­li­ca­tions. He said some of them played a ma­jor role in record­ing this di­alect and ex­plain­ing its words and mean­ings.

In his lec­ture en­ti­tled, “The Kuwaiti Di­alect in For­eign Books,” Al-Bader ex­plained the role of ori­en­tal­ists in the 19th cen­tury in record­ing and study­ing mod­ern Ara­bic di­alects in var­i­ous parts of the Arab world.

The lec­ture was held re­cently at Yar­mouk Cul­tural Cen­ter as part of ac­tiv­i­ties lined up for the 24th Dar AlAthaar Cul­tural Sea­son.

Al-Bader pointed out that stud­ies on the Kuwaiti di­alect come in dif­fer­ent forms such as dic­tio­nar­ies, de­scrip­tive stud­ies on the lan­guage spo­ken in a cer­tain part of the Arab world which in­cludes both the no­mads (Be­douin) and ur­ban­ites, in ad­di­tion to books which teach Ara­bic di­alects to nonArab speak­ers and the text­books.

The ref­er­ence for this kind of in­for­ma­tion came through the ori­en­tal­ists who recorded the na­ture of a cer­tain Arab pop­u­la­tion and their ob­ser­va­tions by pre­sent­ing their im­pres­sion about them and record­ing what they heard – lo­cal words and tech­ni­cal ex­pres­sions among oth­ers.

In his in­tro­duc­tion, Al-Bader pre­sented what is con­sid­ered the first lin­guis­tic at­las on the Arab world’s di­alects au­thored by Got­thelf Bergsträsser in 1915. The au­thor tack­led the mod­ern di­alect at­las of Syria and Pales­tine in the book, “Sprachat­las von Syrien und Palästina.”

Al-Bader dis­closed that Fin­nish ex­plorer Ge­org Au­gust Wallin, who is known as ‘Al-Hajj Ab­dul-Wali’, was the first ori­en­tal­ist who stud­ied the Ara­bian Penin­sula di­alects. In 1848, he pre­sented a bunch of texts which were later pub­lished in the Ger­man ori­en­tal­ists mag­a­zine.

Ac­cord­ing to Al-Bader, th­ese texts are con­sid­ered the first re­search on the al­ter­ation in the pro­nun­ci­a­tion of the Ara­bic let­ters ‘Qaf’ to ei­ther ‘Ga’ or ‘Ja’ and ‘K’ to ‘Cha’ in Najd (cur­rently part of Saudi Ara­bia) and Iraq among the south­ern no­mads from the Enezi tribe. Wallin at­tempted to study the change in pro­nun­ci­a­tion of Ara­bic let­ters ge­o­graph­i­cally.

An­other ori­en­tal­ist was the Ger­man coun­selor to Syria who stud­ied in de­tail the nomad lan­guages in Syria and his work was pub­lished in 1868. He in­di­cated that ori­en­tal­ists pre­ferred to study the di­alect of no­mads be­cause of their orig­i­nal­ity as they were not in­flu­enced that much by other lan­guages.


Ex­plor­ers and trav­el­ers played a great role in the doc­u­men­ta­tion of re­gional di­alects, such as James Silk Buck­ing­ham (1786-1855) who was fond of sea travel since his child­hood. He trav­eled to In­dia and worked in the East In­dia Com­pany for sev­eral years.

Buck­ing­ham vis­ited Kuwait in 1816 dur­ing the reign of Sheikh Jaber I. He de­scribed Kuwait as a great port and the Kuwaitis as the most lov­ing peo­ple in terms of lib­erty and courage com­pared to other in­hab­i­tants of the Gulf. He de­scribed in de­tail the horse trade from Kuwait to In­dia.

In his book, “Trav­els in Assyria, Me­dia and Per­sia,” pub­lished in 1830 while he was at Bushere Port; Buck­ing­ham de­scribed Kuwait say­ing “… ‘Coete’ or ‘Grean’ (Kuwait) on the op­po­site coast, Ara­bic is spo­ken with all the soft­ness and har­mony for which it is sus­cep­ti­ble, and in a way su­pe­rior to that of any other part of Ara­bia where I had heard it.”

Al-Bader also high­lighted the role of the sev­enth Bri­tish colo­nial ad­min­is­tra­tor in Kuwait from 1929 to 1936 – Harold Dixon, who is known as ‘Abu Saud’, along with his wife and daugh­ter, in the pub­li­ca­tion of about 10 books which doc­u­mented Kuwait’s his­tory in terms of pol­i­tics, econ­omy and cul­ture. Among th­ese pub­li­ca­tions is the book, “Desert Arabs,” which is con­sid­ered a dic­tio­nary of nomad ter­mi­nolo­gies, words and their trans­la­tion.

The for­eign mil­i­tary bases also had a role in record­ing the lan­guage and trans­lat­ing it in or­der to fa­cil­i­tate the se­cu­rity com­mu­ni­ca­tion process. An ex­am­ple of such process was done by an Amer­i­can pas­tor, John van Ess, who au­thored the book, “The Spo­ken Ara­bic of Me­sopotamia” pub­lished in 1917. The book was used to teach the lo­cal di­alect to Bri­tish soldiers.

Ess was one of the Amer­i­can mis­sion­ar­ies in Basra in 1902. He served for a short pe­riod in Kuwait in 1909 and he was among those who ne­go­ti­ated with Sheikh Mubarak Al-Sabah on the es­tab­lish­ment of a hos­pi­tal in the coun­try.

Al-Bader also talked about the role of for­eign oil com­pa­nies in writ­ing di­alects of east­ern Ara­bian Penin­sula for the pur­pose of teach­ing. He praised the role of Kuwait Oil Com­pany Lim­ited, es­pe­cially its Pub­lic Re­la­tions Of­fi­cer and Ed­i­tor-in-Chief of Kuwaiti Mag­a­zine Sabri Shamas who re­leased the first English guide book for teach­ing Kuwaiti di­alect in 1951; in ad­di­tion to the pro­duc­tion of phono­graph record to as­sist in pro­nun­ci­a­tion.

Oth­ers that played a ma­jor role in doc­u­ment­ing the Kuwaiti di­alect in­clude the Amer­i­can mis­sion­ary doc­tors and the Dutch Protes­tant Church which es­tab­lished Ara­bic mis­sion­ary cen­ters in var­i­ous coun­tries like Kuwait in or­der to pro­vide health and ed­u­ca­tional ser­vices to its mem­bers.

Al-Bader touched on the role of English Pro­fes­sor Thomas John­ston who ded­i­cated his life in study­ing the re­gional di­alect. He re­vealed the pro­fes­sor was able to gather aca­demic sub­stance for re­search in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and United Arab Emi­rates (UAE); and pre­sented it as his doc­tor­ate the­sis which be­came part of the pub­li­ca­tions of Ox­ford Uni­ver­sity.

Al-Bader added Lin­guis­tics Pro­fes­sor in the De­part­ment of Lin­guis­tics, SOAS – Bruce Ing­ham – doc­u­mented di­alects of Kuwaiti tribes and pub­lished a book about the di­alect of Dhufeiri tribe in Kuwait and North Ara­bian Penin­sula.

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