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|During a discussion with a specialist, he affirmed that the use of the expression “After that” is an ideal way of starting any speech, saying a speech that does not start with this expression is incomplete.|
The fact remains that I am not a specialist and specialists should know better. I could not continue the discussion due to several major reasons, mainly the inappropriate place and time, as the general situation surrounding the discussion did not allow branching.
The chance for exchanging of ideas was not available, especially since the specialist was firm about his opinion! Even though my humble opinion is that any speaker may choose to deliver speech without necessarily using this mechanical expression, this is the bone of contention with the specialist discussant!
This is a kind of problem faced by a discussant who is not an expert in a particular specialty, no matter how simple. I mean arts specialties that can be discussed with an expert while relaxing as if one is having a tea session with Sebawei!
They educate our hearing and draw a picture of creativity, which in reality is incomplete or almost incomplete! They try to convince the other discussant as if they know everything about language, but the truth is that the field is very wide for every effort.
As soon as the contentious “After that” was mentioned, I remembered the literary icon late Mahmoud Al-Sa’adani (May Allah Almighty be merciful with him) who wrote a newspaper column titled “After that”. I believe if he had listened to the desperate linguistic defense of the specialist over the expression “After that”, he would have changed the headline of his column to spite him and other inflexible language specialists!
I don’t know whether it is linguistic inflexibility or a push through reality to ensure the expression “After that” precedes any written or verbal speech? For the expression “After that” to be enforced on the other party with the influence of a particular situation, such that the specialist will use his conviction based on clear-cut reasons to make it acceptable to others.
I believe that ideological stagnancy and dealing with some written expressions as axioms is like ideological and cultural devotion. This has reached an extent that some expressions are seen as impossible to be detached from every speech, such that it must be written or pronounced in the speech. This is regardless of the fact that it is possible to change it for improvement and innovation, but why the need for sticking to some expressions as if they have been sanctified?
I feel pained by the school of thought in terms of academic language which has been rigid on the same curricula and studies for decades. This could represent contemporary update or innovation but it is inappropriate for the method, especially since specialists are not likely to accept any dose of innovation. For instance, there is no improvement in the method of public speech, and it is almost about familiar expressions. Some words and phrases are beautified in several books and dictionaries such as “Lisan Al-Arab” (Arab Tongue Dictionary).
I wish language specialists organize seminars and conferences to deliberate on the framework of update and innovation in academic study of Arabic language- language of the Holy Quran.
There is a need for adjusting some modern and contemporary words and phrases to conform to today’s speech. I am not agitating here for stripping the linguistic culture of preamble expressions when I don’t know where it will end, but improvement is required and innovation is a supporting factor rather than hindrance.
We can start speeches by saying “To start with” instead of “After that”. If other better or more beautiful expressions are devised, so be it. What is important is that a change is inevitable.
Therefore, this is the conclusion of those humble statements, hoping that linguists will embrace it as a matter of improvement. In my personal opinion, any step taken in that direction will open a new vista for our wonderful Arabic language, as well as open a new horizon for researchers of this classy literature.