The Impact of Satellite Television on Language Processes in the Middle East and North Africa/ Влияние спутникового телевидения на языковые процессы в странах Ближнего Востока и Северной Африки

Энеш Курбансейидовна Ахматшина

Канд. полит. наук,

Старший преподаватель,

Восточный факультет,

СПбГУ

Enesh K. Akhmatshina

PhD in Politics,

Assistant Professor,

Faculty of Asian and African studies,

Saint Petersburg State University

Статья посвящена комплексному анализу языковых стратегий, используемых в современной панарабской телевизионной индустрии.  В данном контексте предпринята попытка оценить роль телевидения в процессах укрепления общеарабского литературного языка на примере языковой политики новостных каналов, а также в процессах сохранения диалектного разнообразие в арабском мире на примере контента развлекательной телеиндустрии.

This paper provides a comprehensive analysis of the language strategies used in the modern Pan-Arab television industry. In this context, an attempt is made to evaluate the role of television in the processes of strengthening the Modern Arabic Literary Language using the language policy of news channels. The study also focuses on how dialect diversity is preserved in the Arab world. The entertainment television industry serves as a case study.

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. Abdelmoula E. Al Jazeera and Democratization: The Rise of the Arab Public Sphere. New York, 2015.

  1. Arab Media Outlook 2016-2018. Youth…Content…Digital media. 5-th edition. Dubai, 2016. Date of access 25.10.2018. URL: https://ru.scribd.com/document/344817611/Arab-Media-Outlook-2016-2018-Eng-1.
  2. 3. Alosh M. Conceptual framework for Arabic curriculum design // Applied Linguistics in the Middle East and North Africa. 2017. № 15.P. 358-359.
  3. Bartold V. V. The Muslim Culture [Kultura Musulmanstva]. Moscow, 2017.
  4. Bedri M. C. Aljazeera between serving Qatar, an advocate of Arabism and Political Islam or democratic values. An examination of scholarly works on three models in contention. PhD thesis. Cardiff, 2015. P.45-59. Date of access 27.12.2018. URL: https://orca.cf.ac.uk/70340/1/2015bedrimnmphil.pdf.
  5. Ferguson C. Diglossia. New York, 1959. P. 325-340.
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  7. 8. Hymes D. Introduction of Social Structure and Speech Community. New York, 1969. P.21.
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  9. Lynch M. Shattering the «Politics of Silence»: Satellite Television Talk Shows and the Transformation of Arab Political Culture // Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Arab Reform Bulletin 2/1 (December 2004). Date of access 14.04.2017. URL: http://carnegieendowment.org/sada/?fa=21036.
  10. 11. Mellor N. Modern Arab Journalism: Problems and Prospects. Edinburg, 2007.
  11. Shagal V. E. The linguistic aspect of national processes in the Arab countries [Yazykovoy aspekt natsionalnyh protsessov v arabskih stranah]. Moscow, 2010.
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Рецензия на статью Ахматшиной Э.К.

«Влияние спутникового телевидения на языковые процессы в странах Ближнего Востока и Северной Африки»

Данная статья посвящена актуальному для медиалингвистики и арабистике вопросу, связанному с дальнейшей эволюции общеарабского литературного языка (ОЛЯ), являющимся де-юре официальным в 22 двух государствах Ближнего Востока и Северной Африки (БВСА), в свете устойчивого глобального информационно-технологического прогресса в регионе. Несмотря на сформировавшийся у лингвистов интерес к эволюционным процессам в арабском языке в общем филолого-историческом русле [Hetzron:1997; Mitchell:1962; Versteegh:1997; Al-Sobh: 2015; Owens:2006; Байрамова:2009; Белова: 1999; Лебедев:1997; Шагаль:1987 и др.], актуальность настоящего исследования продиктована отсутствием системного изучения языковых процессов, детерминирующих качественную масс медийную ситуацию в современном арабоязычном мире.

Ахматшина Э.К. справедливо выделяет фактор геополитической разобщенности в качестве ключевого по вопросу замедления унификации языковых норм в регионе БВСА (стр. 2). Действительно,  слабая координация межарабских межправительственных языковых регуляторов подталкивает исследователей находить каналы межарабской коммуникации, придерживающиеся нормам ОЛЯ, среди которых ранее выделялись панарабские печатные СМИ и образцы художественной литературы,  а в последние десятилетия ‒ новостные телевизионные СМИ и интернет-ресурсы (стр.3).

В виду сложившейся полиглоссии в странах БВСА, где наряду с ОЛЯ в повседневном речепользовании доминируют как местные языки (диалекты), так и европейские языки, попытка Ахматшиной Э.К. ранжировать жанровую реализацию по критерию частотности употребления ОЛЯ, диалектов и западных языков, выявляет важнейшую тенденцию в развитии языка арабских массмедиа: сужение использования ОЛЯ и наращивание междиалектной коммуникации.  

Исследование носит новаторский характер. Написано профессиональным языком. Статья Э.К. Ахматшиной «Влияние спутникового телевидения на языковые процессы в странах Ближнего Востока и Северной Африки» может быть рекомендована к печати.

 

Мокрушина Амалия Анатольевна, ORCID ID https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8127-0058

Канд. филолог. наук,

Доцент кафедры теории общественного развития стран Азии и Африки,

Восточный факультет,

СПбГУ

a.mokrushina@spbu.ru

 

 

 

 

 

 

Панарабское спутниковое телевидение, арабский язык, диалекты арабского языка.

pan-Arab satellite TV, the Arabic language, Arab dialects.

Akhmatshina Enesh K., The Impact of Satellite Television on Language Processes in the Middle East and North Africa // Information age (online media), 2019, vol. 3, no.4(9) https://doi.org/10.33941/age-info.com34(9)12

Akhmatshina Enesh K., The Impact of Satellite Television on Language Processes in the Middle East and North Africa // Information age (online media), 2019, vol. 3, no.4(9) https://doi.org/10.33941/age-info.com34(9)12

The relevance of this study is dictated by the lack of systematic study, both in Russian and international literature, of the functioning of the pan-Arab satellite television (PST) from the point of view of linguistic and cultural processes that affect both the perception of representatives of ethnically and denominationally heterogeneous Arabic culture of the phenomenon of the pan-Arabic Literary Language (PALL), and the very fact of the existence of this language.

With regard to the countries of the Arab world, speaking in Literary Arabic, the Arab-Muslim culture acts as a key concept, the formation of which falls on the 8th-13th centuries AD [Filshtinsky 2010]. In turn, this culture, with the spread of Islam and the Arab caliphate, has incorporated the experience of many other developed civilizations [Bartold 2017]. Despite the existence of the ‘common literary language’ in the Arab world, the source of which was medieval religious texts, distinctive ethnic languages, or dialects that significantly differ in linguistic features from PALL, functioned and continue to function throughout the space of modern Arab states [Shagal 1987]. In other words, in any Arab country, communicants operate in everyday communication with at least two independent languages: ethnic (dialect) and supra-ethnic (PALL). It should be noted that Western languages (English and French) are increasingly dominating the speech of the people living in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) due to economic factors. The real linguistic and cultural situation in the Arab world, which is largely accessible to research through the study modern mass media, reflects the transformation of cultural values towards a significant reduction in the use of PALL due to globalization factors.

Another major factor that influenced the choice of the research topic was the presence of a pronounced weakening of the collaboration of language regulators in the geolinguistic space of the Arab world. Once reputable, the academies of the Arabic language in Iraq and Syria are no longer carrying out their work for well-known reasons in developing pan-Arab educational programs, terminological unification, and improving staff qualifications in the educational environment, as it was in the 1960-70s [Alosh 2017: 358-359]. Weak coordination of inter-Arab intergovernmental language regulators is making scholars search for PALL-compliant inter-Arab communication channels. The pan-Arab print media and fiction writing, which used to be the best examples of such media, have recently been replaced in this role by the television news media. There is also a growing interest among scholars in the language of Arabic digital media.

The study focused on the news and entertainment content of the two largest media players in the MENA region: MBC Group and Al-Jazeera Media Network. It covered the period from 2015 to 2018.

The purpose of this research was to determine the role and function of the content of the PST in the transformation of cultural values in the Arab world under the influence of Western mass media and in the context of the unification of ALL standards and the strengthening of inter-dialect communication.

In this study, we were interested in the region, conditionally referred to as the Arab countries. These are twenty-two states that are members of the League of Arab States, in the constitutions of which PALL is assigned the status of state language. The region has a population of 436 million [World Bank: 2016]. Three hundred million people have free access to satellite television [Arab Media Outlook 2016-2018]. These figures allow us to judge the impact of television on the language competence of the people living in the Arab countries.

Regarding the term of pan-Arabic Literary Language, there is no universal acceptance of it among Arab media scholars. Using the concept of diglossia which goes back to Charles Ferguson (1959), there are two functional varieties of the Arabic language: the high language (H-variety) and the low language (L-variety) of Arabic. These are two divergent forms of the same language which are above the level of a standard-with-dialects distinction, but which stay below the level of two separate (related or unrelated) languages  [Ferguson 1959:325-340]. Since in some cases the dialect differs from all the linguistic parameters from PALL, some researchers insist on distinguishing PALL and the dialect as independent language systems [Hymes 1969: 21]. Others, on the contrary, consider only PALL to be Arabic, equating dialects to a distorted version of PALL. Yet some believe that the Arabic language as a whole is a combination of PALL and a dialect [Shagal 1987: 40].

In this study, by PALL we mean the spoken and written language, which flourished at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries and is associated with the national liberation movement in the Arab world against Turkish rule, as well as with the activities of Arab thinkers, intellectuals, writers, who called for a revival of the Arabic culture and Arab identity [Kotlov 1975: 236-256].

The beginning of the development of PSTs occurred in the second half of the 20th century with the launch of Arabsat, which marked the breakthrough of Arabian telecommunications and the abandonment of the use of European satellite systems for broadcasting in the MENA region [Shafel 2014: 45-60]. Further, with the development of world communication technologies, the broadcast network of pan-Arab satellite television on the platform of various international satellite systems has gradually expanded. While in the 2000s, Arabian satellite television covered only the Mediterranean basin and some countries of Western Asia; by 2015 its broadcasting network had spread to all continents. The formats of Western television genres were harmoniously adopted by PST and the Arab audience was able to see live reports on military operations in the Middle East, participate in live broadcasts of various talk shows, watch women TV presenters without a veil, learn about violence, and infringement of citizens’ rights, social injustice, lack of democracy in all corners of the Arab world [Lynch 2004]. The cultural transformation, despite criticism from the traditionalists, naturally penetrated the Arab consciousness. With the change of mentality PALL acquired a new meaning, symbolizing the spiritual unity of a multimillion-dollar audience. The need for the development of Arab satellite television was dictated, on the one hand, by the ideological confrontation of the young Arab states, which had gained independence from the former colonial powers. On the other hand, Arab media corporations, because of their economic interests, intentionally synthesized controversial and provocative television content in order to attract a larger audience. Of course, such marketing techniques have been reflected in language strategies.

The language policy of the news channel Al Jazeera, a pioneer in the pan-Arab television information arena, was originally designed in the spirit of pan-Arabism [Bedri 2015: 45-59]. Pan-Arabism, which dates back to the second half of the 20th century, is a socio-political movement aimed at Arab consolidation in the Middle East. One of the key ideas of pan-Arabism was considered the promotion of literary Arabic, based in turn on the classical language of medieval Arab Muslim culture, as PALL. Despite accusations of supporting political Islam and anti-Americanism, by promoting PALL Al Jazeera sought both to resist the Western media and to revive the pan-Arab cultural heritage and historical past of the multi-million dollar Arab world. The dynamic development of SPT in the early 2000s expanded and revitalized the use of PALL in the public speech practice of news broadcasting [Abdelmoula 2015].

Thus, promoting PALL has always been and still remains the main imperative of all subsequent pan-Arab news channels (Al Arabiyya, Al Mayyadin, Sky News Arabiyya, etc.). Consequently, patterns of speech use circulated through pan-Arab news channels influence the formation of the linguistic competence of a wide audience. It also supports people’s commitment to an Arab common cultural space.

Let us turn to the ranking of linguistic and cultural strategies in the practice of PST. From the point of view of functions and genres, we can present all television content as follows:

— genres expressed solely in PALL: news, analysis, educational programs, documentaries, reports;

— genres expressed in both PALL and national dialects: interviews, political and religious talk shows, and advertising;

— genres expressed in dialects only: all entertainment genres (telenovellas, music talk shows, and movies).

According to the 2017 statistics provided by Arab Media Outlook the largest emirate media think tank in the MENA region [Arab Media Outlook 2016-2018], the most popular content among Arab audiences is entertainment. Entertainment media resort to different language strategies compared with news media. Telenovelas, music videos, entertaining talk shows, feature films, youth reality shows, and other entertaining content are produced in Arabic dialects. The exceptions are children’s animated (educational) films, religious telenovelas related to the life of the prophet Muhammad and his associates, as well as some advertising content. The growth of TSP has influenced the strengthening of inter-Arab dialectic communication including in non-news satellite channels [Mellor 2007: 93-98].

Turning to the sociolinguistic analysis of the entertainment content of PST, we note a trend towards increasing inter-dialect communication. As already mentioned, the format of a television product implies certain language strategies. For example, entertaining talk shows on PST always focus on the presence of presenters and guests from various Arab states (with the intention of attracting a large audience). In a certain communicative situation they have to look for a “common language”, and the choice is not in favor of PALL, since broadcast and entertaining nature of the show requires maximum realism and naturalness. We often see that communicators understand each other, “without switching” to each other’s language. And in this case, the pan-Arab entertainment television content, on the contrary, contributes to both inter-dialect communication and the development of a kind of inter-Arab spoken language as opposed to PALL.

Summing up, we will draw the following conclusions:

Language strategies in the pan-Arab television industry reflect the Arab mentality, where important narratives (news releases, analytical and religious broadcasts) are expressed using the pan-Arab Literary Language. Thus, PALL is associated in the minds of the audience with the importance and significance of the facts and events included in the broadcast. At the same time, entertaining content produced in dialects seeks accessibility and naturalness in the perception of viewers. For example, the authors of social talk shows resort to a dialectic form of communication when discussing socially significant events with the intention of interpreting events in an easy-to-understand manner. This being said, the dialectic form of communication is inferior to PALL both stylistically and pragmatically.

PST is characterized by a large scale of broadcasting area, access quality, and the pursuit of international journalism standards. This implies, on the one hand, the use of clichés and buzz words in PALL in news and current affairs broadcasts and thus helps language unification.

On the other hand, PST supports the cultural and dialectal diversity in its entertainment content, contributing to the search and development of an inter-Arab spoken language as opposed to PALL.