(The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Al-Fanar Media).
Foreign words have entered into the Arabic language throughout its history, but especially in the past century with its rapid developments in science, technology and global culture. Arabic academies have tried to regulate how new terms come into the language, by Arabizing them according to traditional rules of morphology and grammar, or by translating them into newly authorized words in Arabic. But this puts an enormous burden on linguists, translators and the academies themselves.
While preserving and protecting the Arabic language is important to Arab culture, I believe that allowing Arabic to embrace some foreign terms does not weaken the language and serves it better than creating a host of new words that never become accepted into common use.
No language can live in isolation from others, and each language must borrow words it needs through interaction with other cultures. Cultural exchange is considered a fundamental factor in social development, for it works to provide society with a body of knowledge and sciences that contribute to its development.
It is taken for granted that the culturally and scientifically strongest nations are the ones that affect weaker ones and their languages. The Islamic civilization did not start from scratch, but it built on the two most important civilizations of those times, namely the Persian and Greco-Roman civilizations, and the cross-fertilization between these two cultures through translation and Arabization was an important basis upon which the Arabs built the Islamic Arab civilization.
This cross-fertilizing “interculturalism” resulted in borrowing many foreign vocabularies into Arabic. Linguists coined two terms in Arabic studies to differentiate between two ways that loanwords are absorbed into the language, namely through Arabization and through direct borrowing of “intruder” words.