Country Focus: Lebanon’s Evolving Linguistic Landscape

Language in contemporary Lebanon reflects societal changes in the past few decades. Education in Lebanon can vary based on the influences of the English and French educational systems which means that students are taught French, Arabic, and English from a formative age. As a result, many Lebanese are trilingual in order to function within the society. Many Lebanese feel that one language is not enough to express themselves and conversations are peppered with a variety of words and phrases from English, Arabic, and French in a creative mélange.

For example, this is a common greeting heard throughout conversations, “ Hi, kifik? Ça va? It translates as, “Hi, how are you? Are you well?”

Another example is, “Kein 3anna escale 9 hours bi airport Dubai.” which translates into “we had a 9-hour layover in Dubai International Airport.”

If you would like to cool off with a snack, you can say, “Please, baddeh scoop bouza à fraise,” which translates into “please, I would like one scoop of strawberry ice cream.”

Even on signs around the country, you will see various languages used to advertise a concept. This tendency allows the cities in Lebanon to be accessible to a variety of tourists from different backgrounds who want to visit and explore the country. Having familiarity with any of these languages helps, but the Lebanese adapt linguistic structures based upon their own working knowledge of each of them. You will even hear French and English words taking on Arabic characteristics, such as when the English word “focus” is changed to use the Arabic form for imperative verbs, “focusee.”

The ability to express oneself in all three languages is important in Lebanon because it allows for better understanding throughout different contexts. Arabic is described as the official language of the state, while French is the language of educational institutions and English is the language of technology. Although many fear that the use of these languages is diminishing the beauty of Arabic, it allows for people to be understood more clearly throughout their daily lives.  

You can study all three of these languages at The Global Language Network! Sign up for classes to keep learning in a truly global setting.

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