Arabic in the United States

Authored by: Jeff Bale

Handbook of Heritage, Community, and Native American Languages in the United States

Print publication date:  January  2014
Online publication date:  January  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415520669
eBook ISBN: 9780203122419
Adobe ISBN: 9781136332494


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There are two basic challenges to crafting an overview of Arabic in the United States. First, Arabic might qualify as the most misunderstood language addressed in this handbook. On the one hand, there has been rapid growth in Arabic language education in the last decade. As detailed below, this applies as much to K–12 as it does to higher education programs. On the other hand, more than a decade of direct geopolitical conflict between the United States and both state and nonstate actors in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia have resulted ideologically in casting the Arabic language and those who speak it as collectively suspect (see Bale, 2010, 2011; Hagopian, 2004). Consequently, there is no way to understand contemporary efforts to maintain and expand the Arabic language in the United States—whether as a heritage, community, liturgical, or foreign language—without acknowledging these sociopolitical contradictions.

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