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Radio Sawa: The Creation of a New U.S. Government Arabic Service
Unformatted Document Text:  Radio Sawa: The Name and the Arabic Language While not widespread, and apparently not yet mentioned in the Arab press, anecdotal evidence suggests that in some parts of North Africa Sawa refers to a personal body part, and in other areas it means together in the semi-sexual sense. Many in the Arab world, however, like the name and believe that it does, in fact, succeed in promoting a new radio station with a new concept, at least in the Arab world. It remains to be seen if the BBG made a good name choice for the new service. The Arab world hosts one of the world’s high context cultures (Hall, 1976), and the Arabic language plays a significant part in that. Sharabi (1966) observes: In political life Arabic is a most effective instrument of influence and persuasion . . . In public speeches effect is created not so much by reasoning and explication as by repetition and intonation. Indeed, a speaker trying to sway an audience seldom expresses his ideas directly or succinctly; meaning is conveyed rather than directly or precisely expressed, and is always couched in terminology that evokes emotional rather than rational responses. (p. 93) Shouby (1951) discusses the vagueness of Arabic and provides circumstances that may cause ambiguity of words. 1.They perhaps were never sharply defined when they first came into use, and have been retained without much change. 2.They have gradually been used to denote meanings which were later introduced into Arabic culture, with the result that they now represent not only the original vague and global meaning but also the numerous usages which have accreted to them throughout the centuries. 3.The recent sudden and rapid influx of Western culture into the Arab world has forced writers and thinkers independently to use old words to denote new meanings. The same word may be used to denote one thing by one writer and another by another. (pp. 292-293)

Authors: Boyd, Douglas.
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Radio Sawa: The Name and the Arabic Language
While not widespread, and apparently not yet mentioned in the Arab press, anecdotal
evidence suggests that in some parts of North Africa Sawa refers to a personal body part,
and in other areas it means together in the semi-sexual sense. Many in the Arab world,
however, like the name and believe that it does, in fact, succeed in promoting a new radio
station with a new concept, at least in the Arab world.
It remains to be seen if the BBG made a good name choice for the new service. The Arab
world hosts one of the world’s high context cultures (Hall, 1976), and the Arabic language
plays a significant part in that. Sharabi (1966) observes:
In political life Arabic is a most effective instrument of influence and persuasion
. . . In public speeches effect is created not so much by reasoning and explication
as by repetition and intonation. Indeed, a speaker trying to sway an audience
seldom expresses his ideas directly or succinctly; meaning is conveyed rather than
directly or precisely expressed, and is always couched in terminology that evokes
emotional rather than rational responses. (p. 93)
Shouby (1951) discusses the vagueness of Arabic and provides circumstances that may
cause ambiguity of words.
1.They perhaps were never sharply defined when they first came into use,
and have been retained without much change.
2.They have gradually been used to denote meanings which were later
introduced into Arabic culture, with the result that they now represent not only the
original vague and global meaning but also the numerous usages which have
accreted to them throughout the centuries.
3.The recent sudden and rapid influx of Western culture into the Arab world
has forced writers and thinkers independently to use old words to denote new
meanings. The same word may be used to denote one thing by one writer and
another by another. (pp. 292-293)


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