SALALAH, Feb 6 – Languages today are facing the biggest challenge of time due to the advent of Internet. Correctness is no more a criterion for informal communication and there is no sense left for writing even correct words while interacting on social media. In an interview with Observer, Dr Ahmed Balkhair, author of several books, researcher and an eminent linguist, made some strong points about Arabic language and literature. “There is a threat of distortion of facts, figures and most importantly the essence of a language which exists in correctness of sentence formation and usage of grammar, as people daringly commit mistakes while communicating even in their own languages on social media,” said Dr Ahmed while talking about the challenges the languages are facing following the advent of Internet and its rampant use.
He cited a simple example of people’s daily morning greetings.
“I find people saying just ‘GM’ for ‘good morning’. Similar is the case with Arabic speaking people they just write two initials for ‘Sabah al Khair’… this is just an example, which is reflecting even in the answer sheets of some of the students,” said Dr Ahmed, who is also Dean of Salalah College of Applied Sciences.
Not very sure about the solution, Dr Ahmed hugely appreciated the role of Sultan Qaboos Award for Culture, Arts and Literature, “which has become a motivating factor for the writers, and an encouragement for them.”
“I see some kind of movement among the writers, as some activities have started and writers’ societies have also come up in different governorates of the Sultanate.
An Omani Society of Writers has also been formed in Salalah, which is actively organising workshops for budding writers and discussions etc on Arabic literature,” he said.
Recognition, according to him, is one sure way of putting things on track. He finds energy among the writers after the formation of the Writers’ Society.
Commenting on other challenges being faced by the Arabic language, Dr Ahmed made it clear that it was not the case of Arabic language only… “There has been sharp decline in number of readers for all the languages.
Suppose I write a book, who is going to read it? In whichever best way I write, but people do not have interest in reading.
They just go to some Internet search engine and use the information even without checking the authenticity of the source.”
Dr Ahmed has authored seven books on literature and more than 15 researches.
Nine out of his 15 researches have been published in international journals.
His books are regularly exhibited in book fairs in Muscat, Sharjah, Riyadh, Cairo and Morocco.
A philanthropist by nature, Dr Ahmed donates all the earnings from the book fairs to Omani Bahjah Orphan Society (OBPS). He is also a columnist in an Arabic newspaper. Dr Ahmed has exhorted the office-bearers of the Omani Society of Writers to have regular discussions and draw plan not just for one year but an ambitious plan for another four to five years. “Despite all the negativity, I still have hope and find the Sultan Qaboos Award for Culture, Arts and Literature as a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.