Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 34 seconds

In order to talk about something, you need a common language. This is why professional jargons arise in the first place. Without a way of naming things and concepts, clear communication is impossible. The Europeans solved their initial problem by speaking Latin among themselves. They used Latin because it was usually the ONLY other language they knew, so it was a choice of convenience. It did not, however, provide them with any terminological apparatus.

This arose from their common scholarship in Latin. That scholarship was mostly native and did not involve much direct translation from foreign sources, or if there was translation, one scholar would take the ideas he found in some foreign source and describe them himself, inventing or transposing terms in a process we know today as plagiarism. That scholar then became the “origin” of the idea or concept – borrowing and reference to outside sources had a very small impact on the power of naming.

Arabic retains this power today n Islamic theology and related sciences alone and in this field, foreign scholars do write and discuss in Arabic. Anyone who wants to participate in this are of knowledge curation and creation will have to do so in Arabic.

In other fields, there would need to be a compelling reason for Arabic speaking scholars to shift to Arabic as the preferred medium of their professional communication. While English speaking appears to favor native speakers, I believe this would be a difficult thing to prove.

Academic language is a specialized dialect that all scholars and researchers need to learn. Mastering this dialect often requires mastery of underlying concepts and modes of thought which are not created by the native English speaking community so much as they are the product of academic discourse across international boundaries.

Native speakers, with their confusing array of Anglophone cultural baggage, may actually find this dialect more difficult to master than non-natives who can more easily separate what comes to them from their national cultures from what comes to them through “Academic English” discourse structures which emerge from a global process of meaning making that is not bound to any one national culture.

The desire for a national scholarly discourse may be motivated by nationalism more than it is by science. Eventually, English will probably recede as a global lingua franca.