contributed by Isaiah Curtis

Indiana is a growing multicultural city with many languages spoken and ethnicities represented. This growing presence in our streets enriches the residents of Indiana, allowing them to interact and better understand people from a wide array of cultures. The increasing quantity of Syrian refugees to Indiana has ethnically enhanced Indiana. These individuals, along with their families, cultural ties, and stories, have also brought their language: Arabic.

Whatever the reason for people immigrating to Indiana, they always bring their language. Therefore, it’s important that Indiana residents have opportunities to learn, practice, and speak these languages with other learners and natives. At LUNA Language Services on Friday, November 11, 2017, a Language Table was inaugurated with the first language being Arabic. This event was created in response to the lack of readily available opportunities in Indiana for learners of Arabic to interact with native speakers.

During this two-hour event, native Arabic speakers made and brought ethnic food from Syria to share. Available for tasting at the event was Namoora, also called basboosa, a traditional Middle Eastern dense cake dessert; Dolma, Lebanese rolled grape leaves stuffed with rice; and Baklava, a middle eastern dessert made with layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and held together with honey. Participants discussed topics pertaining to middle eastern history and differences between US and Middle Eastern culture.

Arabic is spoken differently in each of the 22 countries where it is the official language. In these countries, Arabic is spoken differently from city to city and even village to village. These country to country, city to city, and village to village differences take shape through their grammatical and vocabulary differences in comparisons to Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) as well. Some even consider these dialects to be a different language entirely from MSA. The entire conversation during the event was in both MSA and dialects of Arabic. Attendees made sure to switch between the MSA, the formal Arabic spoken in news media and written material, and dialect, the Arabic spoken in the streets or in Middle Eastern homes. This provided the opportunity for students to take a break from what they are most commonly taught (MSA), and practice Arabic dialects which are less commonly taught in classrooms.

“I really enjoyed the Arabic Language Table. It was a great opportunity to meet Arabic-language interpreters, learn about Arab culture, and enjoy exotic Arab cuisine,” said Steven Borders, one of the Language Table attendees.

Check out our Events Calendar for other upcoming events and contact us today is there’s a specific language you’d like featured at our next Language Table!