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Arabic countries

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DVD Smith
1285082.  Fri May 25, 2018 3:04 pm Reply with quote

Q: Name an Arab country beginning with I.

[Klaxon: Iran, Israel]

A: Iraq is the only Arab country beginning with I. Although they both have Arabic-speakers, Iran and Israel are not technically considered Arab countries because they are not members of the Arab world, which comprises the 22 countries of the Arab League, founded in 1945.

The Arab world stretches from Morocco to Iraq, and includes 20 other countries in between. [1] Another quirk of the definition is that Sudan is considered an Arabic country, but South Sudan is not - although as of March 2018 its admission is being discussed. [2]

Q: What is the most widely-spoken language in Iran?

[Klaxon: Arabic]

A: The most widely-spoken language in Iran is Persian, which is spoken by over 60% of the population. Only 2% of the population speak Arabic. [3]

1285095.  Fri May 25, 2018 5:18 pm Reply with quote

South Sudan is complicated. It is not predominantly Arabic-speaking*, which is supposed to be a precondition for membership of the Arab League, and its people do not identify as Arabs.

On the other hand, the rules of the Arab League allow any successor state to a member state to become a member - and on that basis, South Sudan is eligible. Its current application to become an "observer" is probably as far as it will go for the time being.

Chad and Eritrea are both broadly eligible, but Chad has never shown a great deal of interest while Eritrea is a basket case and the Arab League doesn't want basket cases. Israel and arguably Malta are broadly eligible too, but seem unlikely ever to join.

Nowhere in the rules of the Arab League does it state that member nations must be de jure or even de facto Muslim. All current member states are so, but for instance the Arab League is very careful not to discriminate against the large Christian minority in Lebanon.

* To be sure, the lingua franca of the capital city Juba is a language derived from Arabic. Whether it is a pidgin or a creole is disputed; DeCamp (1977) asserted that there are no first language speakers, although some later writers have disagreed.

But the government prefers to use English rather than this derivative of Arabic, and most of the people speak indigenous African languages at home. (Except in the north, where "proper" Arabic is found.)

1285108.  Sat May 26, 2018 3:41 am Reply with quote

DVD Smith wrote:

Q: What is the most widely-spoken language in Iran?

[Klaxon: Arabic]

A: The most widely-spoken language in Iran is Persian, which is spoken by over 60% of the population. Only 2% of the population speak Arabic.

I tend to refer to the Persian language by its native name "Farsi" - I don't know which is more common.

I think some people may think of Farsi/Persian as a form of Arabic because it's written in a version of the Arabic script. It's actually a member of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family, and completely unrelated to Arabic (but distantly related to English).

1285183.  Sun May 27, 2018 9:19 am Reply with quote

The Persian language has three main standardized forms, which are the main languages of Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan respectively.

Farsi refers strictly to the form of Persian spoken in Iran. Iranian people in the west often do call their language Persian, but don't much care which name you use unless it causes confusion.

Dari is the form of Persian spoken in Afghanistan. Some ethnic Persians in Afghanistan don't like the name because it's an exonym from Pashto, and prefer to call their language Farsi.

Toçikī is the form of Persian spoken in Tajikistan, and is written in the Cyrillic alphabet (with bonus letters for sounds absent from Russian), not in Arabic script.

1285273.  Mon May 28, 2018 12:17 pm Reply with quote

I grew up with an understanding that Arabs were a race of people, and not necessarily to do with current location, language and\or affiliation to a league.

In Jewish and Muslim traditions, the father of all Arabs is Abraham's first born - Ishmael. His descendents became known as Ishmaelites, and a group that lived to the north the kingdoms of Israel and Ammon became known as Arabs.

In time Arabs spread a little further so that they lived across the rest of the Levant, and became traders that travelled both east and west, spreading their cultures.

Apart frm parts of Egypt, I never saw other African countries as Arabs. You have Berbers, Nubians, Malians and other races who dominate countries that became Muslim and Arabic speaking.

Similarly, along the silk road you have the influence of the Arabs going east, you also have the influence of the Arabs on turkey and nearby countries, and on the Iberian peninsula.

But then again, oficial definitions change over time...

1285337.  Tue May 29, 2018 5:46 am Reply with quote

Are they all Semites?

I remember learning 'anti-semitic' should technically refer to a vast mix of races in the Middle East who speak the semitic languages (including Arabic)

1285351.  Tue May 29, 2018 8:50 am Reply with quote

It should really, but it doesn't. Properly, the Semites are the people who speak the Semitic languages.

The seven main Semitic languages are Amharic (Ethiopia), Arabic, Aramaic (the language that Jesus spoke, but by now found mainly in the north of Iraq), Hebrew, Maltese, Tigre (Eritrea), and Tigrinya (Ethiopia).

The speakers of Arabic and Tigre are predominantly Muslim, and of Amharic, Aramaic, Maltese, and Tigrinya are predominantly Christian. Only the speakers of Hebrew are predominantly Jewish, but even so the word "anti-Semitic" has come to mean the position of disliking the Jewish race.

While one could argue that disliking Arabs is also an anti-Semitic position, that's not the way the word is used and it's probably not wise to attempt to change it.

It's impossible to please everyone with the terminology here, though. CB27 doesn't consider the people of North Africa to be Arabs, but the modern position tends towards "They are Muslim and they speak Arabic, so they are Arabs by definition". Those in North Africa who do not speak Arabic appear not quite sure whether they are Arabs or not; the first language of Zinedine Zidane's father is Kabyle (Taqbaylit), and M Zidane has spoken both ways as whether or not he considers himself "an Arab". (And also as whether or not he considers himself "a Muslim".)

Christians in the Levant aren't entirely sure either, especially those in Lebanon who would have to stop and think before they could tell you whether they were speaking Arabic, French, or increasingly English at any given moment.

Higher level school education in Lebanon happens mostly in French, while university education is mostly in English. Parliament proceeds mostly in Arabic, and Arabic is the main language of the street - except that the usual greeting, certainly among the young, is "Hi".
1289442.  Sun Jul 08, 2018 4:42 pm Reply with quote

Further to this thread, how did Iran get its name?

It's often said that in 1935 'Iran' became the new name for Persia, which, in ancient times had previously been called...Iran.

But this isn't so. In fact, within the country, Iranians have always referred to their country as Iran. The name 'Iran', meaning 'land of the Aryans' is the New Persian continuation of the old genitive plural aryanam meaning 'of the Aryans' first referred to in the Avesta (the ancient religious texts of Zoroastrianism) as airyanam. Since Zoroaster's time (or even before) Iranians within their country have referred to the place as Arya, Iran or Iranshahr.

Persia, on the other hand, stems from the use by the ancient Greeks of words deriving from the Old Persian Parsa to refer to the early peoples of Cyrus the Great's empire. This later metamorphosed into the Latinised 'Persia'. Thus the Iranians have never referred to themselves as 'Persians' which became the official term used in the West, but as Iranians.

In 1935 Reza Shah Pahlavi requested that all the countries it had diplomatic relations with refer to the country as 'Iran'. This suggestion was siad to have been made by Iran's ambassador to Germany who had come under the spell of Nazi Germany. At the time Germany was in the grip of racial fever and wished to cultivate good relations with those of 'Aryan' blood. 'Iran' is a cognate of 'Aryan' and derived from it. At first 'Iran' sounded alien to most Westerners and some assumed it was merely another country carved out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire. As time passed however, the term 'Iran' became generally accepted.

The name 'Pahlavi' incidentally, means 'true Persian' , used as a means of distinguishing themselves from previous Shahs who were Turkic in origin.


1289574.  Mon Jul 09, 2018 8:27 pm Reply with quote

Iran indeed is gone with all its Rose,
And Jamshyd's Sev'n-ring'd Cup where no one Knows;
But still the Vine her ancient ruby yields,
And still a Garden by the Water blows.

And David's Lips are lock't; but in divine
High piping Pehlevi, with "Wine! Wine! Wine!
Red Wine!" -- the Nightingale cries to the Rose
That yellow Cheek of hers to incarnadine.


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