There are different meanings to speaking English in Egypt, which are utterly and completely shallow and useless! English has now become an indicator of your socio-economic status to the extent that we have let go of our mother language and replaced it with a foreigner tongue in order to feel westernized, and hence, distinguished among the Egyptian society.
Here is how:
1. If you speak English, then you are “Ebn Nas”
For some reason, when you speak English, people automatically assume that you are a well-raised and a well-mannered person as you definitely have concerned parents who taught you English. Really? Why? I could be an English speaker who is an awful person for instance…
2. If you speak English, then you are “Nedif”
Having a good English accent categorizes you as a crème-de-la-crème member of the community socially; as if English purges you from any flaws or wrongdoings.
3. If you speak English, then you are “Wealthy”
Again, with the accent comes a pack of money. They assume that you must be wealthy since you definitely learned your impeccable English either from an international educational institution where your parents spent a fortune, or by traveling frequently, which as well costs a whole lot of money.
4. If you speak English, then you are “Wa7ed Fahem”
Bringing out your English language helps you in making your argument and solidifies your stand. English makes you knowledgeable, resourceful, cultural and with a wide horizon of information & a whole lot of brains.
5. If you speak English, then you are “Right”
Automatically, this leads to you always being right. You are right solely for being able to talk English, because talking English means you are really exposed which eventually leads to you knowing things better and hence being right about whatever the topic is. You could be working in advertising and talk about medicine, but simply for knowing a few English terms in the medical field the Egyptians would see you eligible for a Doctorate.
On the contrary, if you speak Arabic this is what happens...
6. If you speak Arabic, then you are “Bee’a”
For saying “7essa” instead of “Lesson” or “Fasel” for “Class”, you become a bee’a – Yucki – person. Begad? Whyat el gabooko? Eisho eishet ahloko!
7. If you speak Arabic, then you are “Unconfident”
We mentioned above that in order to become confident and win an argument, you pull off your English tongue. Hence, if you use your mother language people automatically believe that you must definitely be unsure of your arguments or else you have known more about it and hence used English terms… Begad?!
8. If you speak Arabic, then you are “alienated”
I rarely find anyone speaking Arabic in full sentences, and if you do you’re pointed out as speaking “fos7a” and retro. Automatically, you feel alienated and left out as you are the only one who actually cares to carry a conversation in Arabic and who does not bother to pull off his\her linguistic skills.
We have become programmed to feel ashamed of our language and find pride and confidence speaking with a tongue different than ours. Is it us who let go of our identity? Or is it that our identity has not become sufficient for us to be proud of?