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Contrastive Rhetoric Between Arabic And English Languages

1254 words - 5 pages

It is universally known that any writer is going to have difficulty when he tries to convey a thought in a new language. Sometimes it is difficult even between dialects in the same base language. The problems that occur to a person while writing in a second language due to language and cultural differences are termed contrastive rhetoric. Connor simply defines “contrastive rhetoric that maintains language and writing as cultural phenomena” (Connor 5). If two cultures vary greatly, then it would make sense that writers who try to cross that cultural and language barrier would have a more daunting task than normal. In the case of Arabic and English native speakers, there are numerous conventional differences in the two languages that make the rhetoric very contrastive when trying to write in a second language. Because the cultures are very distinct from one another and due to the vast structural differences within both the spoken and written discourse, writers will face specific challenges in trying to make themselves understood to natives of the opposite culture.
The basic premise of contrastive rhetoric studies is to determine both: why there are differences among languages in general and to try and reach a conclusion as to how those differences can be mitigated. “The basic premise of…Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis is that language learning can be more successful when the two languages – the native and the foreign – are similar. Some linguists call this situation positive transfer” (Al-Sibai). This idea of positive transfer happens between languages in which the base is similar such as German and English or Spanish and French, but it does not hold for the Semitic languages and the Romantic languages or the Germanic ones. Basic sentence structure is similar between the classic European languages, but written Middle Eastern language is deeply contrasted and therefore hard to transfer. Asian languages, being of a tonal quality and the written alphabets having many more components are also hard to transfer. Connor said, “ESL teachers often comment that ESL students use patterns of language and stylistic conventions that they have learned in their native languages and cultures” (Conner 4). These patterns can add confusion to what they are trying to write. One of Connor’s students, who were Chinese, said that she could think of beautiful flowing phrases to use from her native language that did not translate well into English. Thus, when she wrote, she was not able to convey the feelings she wanted to deliver.
The same instance happens when people who are native Arabic speakers try to write in English and express themselves clearly. The first problem that many non-native speakers have is that they think in their native language and this causes problems in conversion (Connor 3). The need is for the writer to think in the target language they are writing in, but it is a difficult skill to master (Connor). Another issue that Middle Eastern writers...

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