Tag Archives: Arabic

Bassam Frangieh Discusses the Georgetown University Alumni Association

A Professor of Arabic in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Claremont McKenna College in California, Bassam Frangieh graduated from Georgetown University with both a Doctor of Philosophy and a Master of Science in Arabic Language. He continues to support the institution as a member of the Georgetown University Alumni Association. During his studies, Mr. Frangieh directed the Arabic Summer Language Institute and served as a Visiting Assistant Professor for six years following his commencement.

The Georgetown University Alumni Association was established as a means of keeping former students connected with one another and up-to-date with news on campus. Georgetown University is one of the nation’s most storied institutions and its Alumni Association possesses a long history. The association’s roots trace back to 1869 when its initial incarnation, the Medical Society of Alumni of Georgetown University, was formed. The group has gone through many transformations throughout the years, gradually growing in size and playing a larger role within the institution. Today, the goal of the organization continues to be “to connect and reconnect alumni with each other and with the university.” Some of the ways that the organization accomplishes this task include an online career network to assist students and alumni seeking employment and the Alumni House. Originally serving as the Alumni Association headquarters in the late 1940s, the townhomes at 36th and O streets were modernized during a $7.5 million renovation project and rededicated as the Robert and Bernice Wagner Alumni House in 2005. The building now hosts an array of special events, including faculty lectures, reunions, and a homecoming.

One of the main ways that the Alumni Association contributes to Georgetown University is through the annual Service Recognition Awards Banquet. At the ceremony, seven different Service Recognition Awards are bestowed that each highlight outstanding service in a particular area. In addition to the Service Recognition Awards, three other distinctions are conferred at the event. The Timothy S. Healy, S.J. Award, given in honor of one of the university’s former presidents, is based on a person’s public service, personal qualities, and career achievements. The John Carroll Award was initiated to recognize accomplishments that exemplify the Georgetown tradition, while the Patrick Healy Award honors outstanding service to the institution by non-alumni.

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Bassam Frangieh Describes the Roots and Development of the Arabic Language

Originating in Arabia and near present-day Syria, Arabic remains the world’s sixth major language, spoken by more than 300 million individuals, including those in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco. Part of the Semitic language family, Arabic features a rich history that dates thousands of years. In the following discussion, Arabic language and culture scholar Bassam Frangieh shares some ideas about the development and growth of Arabic and reveals instances of English words with Arabic roots.

Q: How did Arabic become a major world language?
A: Many scholars agree that Arabic was first spoken by nomadic tribes that lived on the Arabian Peninsula. As the religion of Islam spread, Arabic solidified its place as a major language. Muhammad died in 632 CE. Within one century of his death, Arabic was officially spoken throughout an empire spanning from Central Asia to the Atlantic and north to the Iberian Peninsula.

Q: What are some distinct qualities of written Arabic?
A: Consisting of a 28-consonant alphabet, written Arabic is composed on a page from right to left, using a cursive script. Many letters appear identical to one another and are differentiated by adding a dot below or above the letters. In its written form, Arabic can be traced to the fourth century BC, when North Arabic script was first documented. The Qur’an, written in Classical Arabic, is considered to be the prime example of the Arabic language in its most clear and complete form.

Q: Are there many English words with Arabic origins?
A: Yes. About 1,000 common English words are “loaned” from Arabic. Examples include algebra, giraffe, and tambourine.

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