DUBAI: The languages of Arabic and Hebrew have a lot more in common than you might think. They are both of Semitic origin, they share some letters of the alphabet and some Hebrew and Arabic words are the same, among others.
Based on these similarities, the Arabic Language Center Abu Dhabi organized a virtual seminar that explored the similarities between the Semitic languages of Arabic, Hebrew and Syriac, and the close ties that have brought these languages together through the ages.
Entitled “The Arabic Language and its Semitic Sisters: A History of Understanding and Human Fraternity,” the virtual seminar took place on the first-ever International Day of Human Fraternity and was introduced by Dr. Ali bin Tamim, President of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Center and Secretary General of the Sheikh Zayed Book Prize; Dr. Jimmy Daccache, professor of West Semitic languages at Yale University; Dr. Brigitte Caland, professor of Hebrew studies at the American University of Beirut; and Dr. Yahya Ababneh, Professor of Arabic Language and Literature at Yarmouk University.
The objective of the seminar was to highlight the ancient links and similarities between Arabic and Hebrew, as well as to address the vital role of the Arabic language when it comes to promoting human brotherhood and bring people together.
“There is a pressing need for the language of dialogue and understanding, and to strengthen its historical and civilizational role, which provides the necessary tools for communication and rapprochement between peoples,” said Dr Ali bin Tamim in a statement.
“The Middle East is rich in ancient languages, some of which have disappeared, while others are still present in our daily lives, it was therefore necessary to take an interest in the common roots of these Semitic languages to underline the links between peoples and cultures,” he added.
Echoing her statement, Dr. Brigitte Caland said, “What brings the Arabic and Hebrew languages together goes beyond the similarity of many components, grammar and utterances. Moreover, it is easier for the speaker of one of these two languages to learn the other language faster and more accurately than the other languages.
The virtual seminar took place just weeks after the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution proclaiming February 4 as the “International Day of Human Fraternity.” The initiative was introduced by the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia and as a result, the international community will observe the International Day of Human Fraternity every year, starting from 2021.
The resolution was co-sponsored by 34 UN member states.