Jordan/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.5 Language issues and policies

Arabic is the adopted language in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan despite the presence of numerous minorities. But due to their small numbers they use the Arabic language in cultural and social transactions. They also preserve their mother tongues, without any problem in this regard as the state of Jordan ensures their freedom to express their culture. No problems have occurred regarding the use of Arabic as an official language, since most of these minorities are Muslim and they use Arabic to read the Koran. 

One of the general objectives of the Jordanian Ministry of Culture is a clause that promotes interest in the standard Arabic language and employing it in all spheres of life. 

One of the official institutions that take care of the Arabic language is the Jordanian Arabic Academy which was founded in 1976. The aims of the Arab Language Academy are:

  1. To maintain the integrity of the Arabic language and make it fit the requirements of literature, sciences and modern arts.
  2. The unification of the terminology of science, literature and the arts, creating dictionaries, and participating in that field, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, and the scientific, linguistic and cultural institutions inside the Kingdom and abroad.
  3. Reviving Arab and Islamic heritage in the fields of the language, science, literature and arts.

To achieve these objectives, the Arabic Language Academy performs the following:

  1. Undertakes Arabic language studies and research.
  2. Encourages authorship, translation, publishing, and conducts competitions, and creates a library for the Academy.
  3. Translates world masterpieces, and publishes translated books into and from Arabic.
  4. Holds language conferences in the Kingdom and abroad, and holds cultural seasons and symposiums.
  5. Disseminates new terminologies that are unified in the Arabic language through various forms of media, and ensure their usage in government agencies.
  6. Issues a specialist scientific journal, named “The Jordanian Arabic Academy Magazine” which had issued 83 editions by the end of 2012.

The draft for Arabic language law should be noted here, as the Arabic Language Academy of Jordan sent a draft law for the Arabic language to the Government in 1990, which called for issuing a yearly book (periodical) which appoints linguistic editors to raise the language level in official messages and correspondences, and requires the use of proper Arabic within official and international councils, forums, conferences, symposiums, and meetings, and in the political, economic, educational, social and services programs. This, according to Haidar Fraihat "has become a fundamental matter especially in this era which is led by communications and an information revolution which has been given an active role in various fields of life, and the exchange of information between researchers, students and interested parties have been undertaken in the fastest, most convenient ways".|

In an effort to draw attention to this, the Jordanian Arabic Academy launched a project which considered 2007 the year of the Arabic language in Jordan, in which the official bodies and civil society institutions promoted the status of Arabic in society. A special committee was formed by the Academy for this purpose which set up the means and mechanisms to ensure the success of the project. It would demonstrate the position of Arabic as a language in the community and show its relevance in all fields of life to regain its leading role in the nation.

But until now the law has not been activated, and according to the President of the Academy Abdel Karim Khalifa, it "has remained inside the drawers of the government away from attention."

Every year, the Academy holds a cultural season in which a number of Arab scholars and intellectuals are invited to participate, and where subjects related to Arab and Islamic Arab civilisation are discussed. Since 1983, general topics have been chosen for each season and the works of each season have been issued in a special book, entitled “The Annual Cultural Season of the Jordanian Arabic Academy”. Until the end of 2012, 29 books had been issued. (Jordanian Arabic Academy Website:   

Chapter published: 04-05-2016