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Pinyin vs. Arabizi

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I have often promoted the use of Arabizi for those trying to learn Arabic. For those who are unfamiliar with it, Arabizi is a writing system for Arabic using the Roman alphabet complemented by the numbers 3,5,7 and 9 for those sounds not found in English. The system was conceived generally by teen-agers so that they could text each other using mobile phones. The advantage of the system is that you can start writing Arabic words now without any knowledge of the 24 letter Arabic alphabet. This writing system is also universally understood, even by people who do not speak English. Nevertheless, traditionalists condemn the system and insist that students learn the traditional Arabic alphabet. 

Chinese also has a system to represent the language using Roman letters called Pinyin. Accents are used to add the distinctive tones of Mandarin, which is a word that many Chinese are unfamiliar with when it comes to their language. They prefer the term “government tongue” or “common tongue” and indeed the word ‘Mandarin’ came to be used to reference the language spoken by government officials. Pinyin is a creation of the People’s Republic of China and has official backing. While Chinese students are encouraged to develop familiarity with the traditional ideograms, the student’s use of pinyin is not discouraged. 
Less than one thousand books are published each year in Arabic, a language that has roughly 220 million speakers, while thousands of books are published each year in Chinese.  

Written by mokane

March 24, 2013 at 7:43 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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