A Sinical Question

Despite the absurd saturation of Arabic studies and the insane amount of students graduating in the US every year with Arabic degrees, majors, and/or minors, very, very, very few of them are at all proficient in the language. Few can read an academic article in Arabic without a dictionary, or discuss it with a native speaker. It's rather hilarious. And don't anybody tell me it's because Arabic is so hard. Sinologists do a far better job with Chinese, after all, than Arabists or even Persianists do with their languages of specialization. And Persian is quite frankly very easy as languages go.

When, I wonder, is the study of Arabic and Persian literature going to reach the maturity of literary Sinology? Arabists and Persianists ought to be roundly embarrassed by what they look like compared to Sinologists. They are in a lot of ways where Sinologists were in the 60s.

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