Evolution and the Kuwaiti dialect

Evolution is a process of continuous growth with adaptations to the environment. Observers of languages realize how they grow, decay and die. A language is an intellectual creation that lives in an environment. Since it is a mental creation, its environment is in the ideological realm. Some changed, with its people, drastically, by adopting a different set of transcription, such as the case with Turkish, which changed from Arabic letters to Latin letters.

Some have a more settled existence and are not threatened, therefore such languages preserve their forms. Not surprisingly, some resemble life-forms that existed from the dinosaur era and kept their shape, like redwood trees and dragonflies. But what about dialects that do not count as fully formed languages? Are they a part of the overall grand evolutionary chain of formations? Or are they awkward fetuses that solely depend on their parent? And where does our Kuwaiti dialect fit in?

The previous question summarizes where all dialects might fit. In other words, if a dialect is going to fight for its future, then it ought to have enough grammar and vocabulary strength to stand up on its own, let alone learn how to march its way through geographies and decades. My Kuwaiti dialect is a proud yet crippled dialect. Due to the nature of this objective article, it is needed to follow only logical conclusions in this scientific matter.

As it is stated in the beginning of this article, that languages in general mimic the ideological stance of its people, the country of Kuwait we know and love started as a humble “armory storage” that was called Kuut, that was prepared for elite merchant caravans. It then had settlers around this blessed “Kuut”, then our families from various tribes gathered. This gathering received the attention of the unified Islamic states of the Ottoman caliphate. That made the “Kuwaiti” people raise the red flag with the bold crescent in white, to announce this “state’s” legitimacy.

Therefore, most tribes had their distinct dialects melt into a new single mold. A mold that had Turkish decorations and Iranian logistics. Certainly, the foundational demography was Arabic. However, the Arab tribe leaders dealt with merchandise that was mostly Iranian, from fruits to carpets, during the time of the relationship with the Turkish caliphate.

Therefore, the Kuwaiti people call windows (pencere/بانجرا ), fruits and spoons (kaşık/ خاشوقا ) and sanitary ware (banyo/بانيو ), that are Turkish words, to this day. And we communicate in Persian prepositions – for example, you in Farsi is (malt), while in Kuwaiti it’s (malk). Unfortunately, most Kuwaiti people think that these words and prepositions are a part of their pure Arabian tribal heritage.

The Kuwaiti dialect also had an amount of English words after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, but independence and awareness of Islamic teachings caused a lot of schools to attract people more and more to their original language. Faith-based languages survive. Lastly, will the “Kuut” become a castle?

As a proud member of the glorious democracy of Kuwait, I can state with confidence that our dialect is not a mutated fetus that has no future, but rather a linguistic phenomenon that was only needed during Kuwait’s stages of development. And a day will come when this “Kuut” will replace its Turkish roof and its Iranian furniture and its Western doorknobs, to bring our eternal language back.

The sands of the Arabian Peninsula hosted countless dialects and languages of empires like Persia and Rome, even languages of religions such as Christianity and Zoroastrianism, which have tumbled and crumbled. The Arabic language, unlike our Kuwaiti dialect, sprouted among the sands of the Arabian desert, rising as a creative and spontaneous means of communication to serve the needs of dealing in goods and services. All in all, languages mimic biology, and I conclude that my Kuwaiti dialect is not purely Arabic. In terms of survival, it is not the fittest.

By Jeri Al-Jeri
local@kuwaittimes.net


This article was published on 28/04/2016