Written Arabic like a second language to Arab speakers

Written Arabic like a se

November 8, 2009 05:54
4 minute read.
arabic writing 88

arabic writing 88. (photo credit: )

Arabic speakers regard literary Arabic as a "second language" and not a "mother tongue," according to researchers at the University of Haifa, who suggest this may be partly responsible for Arab children's relatively low achievements on tests of verbal ability in that language. Dr. Rafik Ibrahim at the brain science research center's learning disability department maintains that the cognitive gap between literary and spoken Arabic is like that between two different languages. He recently published his findings in the journal Psychology Research and Behavior Management. Spoken Arabic, called Amiya, is learned in daily conversation, while literary Arabic, called Fuscha, is studied in school and from writing. Compared to Hebrew-speaking children, the reading level of Arabic speakers is considerably lower, although their spoken Arabic is normal. Ibrahaim studied cognitive data from around the world using a technique comparing the influence of a word from one language on the cognitive processing of the same word in another language. He found that the cognitive system of bilingual Arabs who speak not only Arab but also Hebrew treats literary Arabic as a different tongue than spoken Hebrew, which is a second language for them. Ibrahaim said his study "hints that for an Arab child, linguistic structures that are the basis for learning to read may not be familiar to children when they start first grade." This turns learning to read Arabic into a double challenge, said Ibrahaim, in which children have to simultaneously acquire lingual/auditory and orthographic/visual systems. The University of Haifa expert says his discovery arouses concern that Arab children will continue to fall behind their Jewish counterparts in advanced levels of studies because of their difficulty in reading. He recommends that Arab children be taught literary Arabic the way they are taught Hebrew - as a second language - and that they be exposed to Fuscha in kindergarten and even before, and not only in first grade. SHOOTING LIGHT Researchers from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa and the Imperial College in London have designed a "photon machine gun" that fires barrages of entangled photons (light particles) and is arousing unusual interest among scientists working to build a quantum computer. The proposal was published recently in the prestigious scientific journal Physical Review Letters. "There is a tremendous interest in building a quantum computer," explains doctoral student Netanel Lindner from the Technion's physics faculty. Sixteen quantum bits (qubits) are equal to a strong desk-top computer with a four-gigabyte memory (32 billion bits). While the addition of a 'regular' bit increases computing capability by one unit, every additional qubit doubles computing power (for example, 17 qubits would be equal to a computer memory of 64 billion bits)." The motivation to create a quantum computer is clearly very strong. But in the past decade, it has become clear that increasing the number of qubits is a very complicated undertaking, due to difficulties in creating entangled particles, which are needed to serve as qubits. Particle entanglement is an especially fascinating phenomenon of quantum mechanics, and constitutes one of the leading examples of the principal difference between it and the world of classical mechanics. The entangled particles are able, for example, to carry out quantum teleportation (allowing for disembodied transmission of information instantaneously across arbitrary distances) and form the basis for future quantum computers. Many scientists think photons are the best candidates for quantum bits, but producing entangled photons is difficult. Lindner and co-researcher Dr. Terry Rudolph of London propose a new method in which artificial atoms built from semiconductors ("quantum dots") spew out strings of entangled photons in a controlled manner. Today's standard methods create entangled photons in an uncontrolled manner. Therefore, using these methods, researchers have succeeded in entangling only as many as six photons, and beyond this, it is difficult to advance. "On the other hand, we estimate that the number of entangled photons that can be obtained with our method will be significantly greater," says Lindner. Australian experimental physicist Prof. Andrew White of the quantum optics computing center at the University of Queensland told New Scientist that the new study was a "superb piece of work. It is the most exciting theoretical proposal I've read in the past five years. In my opinion, it will be a revolutionary advance for photonic quantum computing." AIRBORNE MESSAGES VIA CELLPHONE One can do almost anything with a cellphone today - except write a note in the air with the device and send it as a message to an e-mail address. Now engineers at Duke University in the US have told the UPI news service that they have developed technology that will do just that. The PhonePoint Pen is meant for people who have their hands full of items such as briefcase, laptop, coat or luggage and need to write a note but don't want to put down all the items they're carrying. It is based on accelerometers, which not only keep track of the phone's movements, but make it possible for display screens to rotate from landscape to portrait modes depending on how the phone is moved. "By holding the phone like a pen, you can write short messages or draw simple diagrams in the air," says computer engineering student Sandip Agrawal, who - with Duke graduate student Ionut Constandache - developed the device. The accelerometer converts the gestures to images, which can be sent to any e-mail address, the team explained. "The potential uses are practically limitless." The prototype is expected to be available for download soon.

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