Image from the digital platform of the Historical Corpus of the Arabic Language.
Sharjah’s decision to embark on a groundbreaking project to chronicle 17 centuries of development in the Arabic language, spanning 5 distinct time periods, certainly heralds a new era for the Arabic language lexicon.
The Historical Corpus of the Arabic Language is a monumental undertaking that will offer unparalleled insight into the world’s fifth most widely spoken language, and serve as a linguistic resource for researchers, academia, linguists and students worldwide.
The UAE has been taking major efforts and initiatives to preserve and protect the Arabic language and Arab identity.
Under the supervision of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, the Arabic Language Academy, ALA, in Sharjah will lead the management and coordination of the project, with the full support of the Union of Arab Scientific Language Academies, based in Cairo, Egypt.
The project is bound to be hugely successful as hundreds of senior researchers and linguists, editors, and experts from 10 Arabic language academies across the Arab world are currently documenting and researching the history and evolution of all Arabic words.
Upon completion, at an estimated timeframe of six years, this will be the most comprehensive historical corpus of the Arabic language, and also the first to cover its evolution from the pre-Islamic period through its growth during the Islamic era and several dynasties, to its modern form.
Documenting 17 centuries of the Arabic language, with roots that lie in classical and modern Semitic, African and Asian languages, Arabic is a rich and sophisticated language that has had an enduring legacy in shaping civilisations across the Middle East and Africa.
Spoken by more than 400 million people in these regions, it was also the medium through which philosophers, mathematicians, and astronomers pursued knowledge during the Golden Age of Islam.
The authorities are making full use of technology too. With the digitisation of nearly 20,000 Arabic books, manuscripts, sources, and historical documents, the Historical Corpus of the Arabic Language will be a portal into 17 centuries of the Arabic language, which includes Arabic engravings and antiquities dating back to the third century before Islam.
The UAE aims to motivate different age groups, with an emphasis on children and the youth, through ensuring that Emirati citizens and other Arabs can be proud of their identity, heritage and history.
The Arabic Language Charter declared by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, in 2012 is a milestone in the UAE’s journey to protect the Arabic language.
The announcement saw the formation of an advisory council, under the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, to ensure the implementation of the Charter’s objective to protect the essence of Arabic language and enhance its usage.
He also launched a series of motivational initiatives that aim to promote the Arabic language and reinforce its regional and international stature, through the establishment of a committee responsible for modernising the Arabic language, the inauguration of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Contemporary Arabic Language Dictionary, and the launch of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Award for Arabic Language and the Arab Reading Challenge.
The Arabic Language Protection Association in Sharjah acts as a focal point between relevant authorities and associations to support the Arabic language.
Sharjah’s spearheading of the project to chronicle 17 centuries of Arabic language is a noteworthy initiative. The Arabic Language Academy in Sharjah has become a cultural beacon of Arabic language studies.