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Semantics-based Arabic grammar developed

Prof. K.M. Muhammad receives a certificate of honor from President APJ Abdul Kalam during a ceremony in New Delhi, 2005

Source : P.K. Abdul Ghafour | Arab News
JEDDAH | 10 May 2011

An Indian academic has developed a new Arabic grammar based on word meanings with the support of a research scholar. He believes it would make Arabic learning much easier, especially for non-Arabs.

Speaking to Arab News, professor K.M. Muhammad, former head of the Department of Arabic Language at Calicut University in Kerala, said the new Arabic grammar based on semantics focuses on the relation between signifiers, such as words, phrases, signs and symbols, and what they stand for or denote. “Research scholar O.K. Abdul Gafoor who prepared the new grammar under my supervision has got his Ph.D. for this work,” he pointed out.

Muhammad, who has 40 years experience in teaching and attended a higher diploma course at King Saud University (KSU) with specialization in methodology of teaching Arabic to non-native speakers, stressed that the methodology followed in teaching the mother tongue and a foreign language should be different. “The main feature of the KSU course is that it teaches in Arabic.”

He emphasized the importance of learning Arabic by Muslims to understand the meaning of the Qur’an. “Even though Muslims all over the world study the Qur’an from the childhood itself and some of them even memorize its verses, it is really strange that they do not study the meaning of the holy book,” he said.

Arabic is a rich language, which enables a person to express great ideas using fewer words, Muhammad said. “Despite its specific features (such as separate verb forms for first, second and third persons, masculine and feminine genders and numbers for singular, dual and plural) Arabic is easy to learn,” he said. “The problem with the present methodology is the overemphasis on grammar. We have to teach the language first before grammar.”

The teaching materials are also important. “It should cover various occasions in our day-to-day life in the form of conversations. Another important feature of this method is drilling language structures many times so that the language or the expressions come automatically, without serious thinking,” he explained.

According to Muhammad, a person will be able to speak Arabic in three months and learn Arabic basics in a year.

“Since 1997 we have applied this system in Assam University where the result on zero-level students was marvelous. It was later applied in Calicut, Mahatma Gandhi and Kerala universities. A non-Muslim research scholar named Lina learned 50 oft-used sentences within a week and could use them effectively," he pointed out.

Muhammad received the president of India’s certificate of honor in 2005 for his contribution to teaching Arabic. He was chairman of the board of studies at Calicut, Assam and Guwahati universities. He took his Ph.D. from Aligarh Muslim University in 1976. His book on Contributions of Kerala to Arabic Literature is the first original source about Arabic works in the state.


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