SUNY-Albany cut its French and Classics programs this year.
What are they up to up there?
For me, French is a valuable language. I've probably read several thousand books in that language, and lived in Paris for a year. I loved that city! When you learn a language, it's to read the literature and travel in that culture, I should assume.
Now of course dead languages don't offer the physical capability of actual travel, other than mental. But that's significant. The ancient Greeks wrote tremendous things. Even the Romans wrote good things.
A friend of mine suggested that far more valuable than French would be Arabic. But if you were a woman, why on earth would you wish to study Arabic? What would it offer you? Upon graduation, would you get a burkha and a clitorectomy, and move to Saudi Arabia, where you couldn't go outside without supervision?
I grant that someone needs to study that language so we can monitor the situation. But what aesthetic pleasures would the language offer?
If you were a woman, you could only speak with other women, or else you'd be considered a whore, and get yourself raped and killed. That's value added education.
If you were a man, you could only speak with other men, and your job would be to not get converted.
The men would either convert you or kill you. That sounds like fun. From the basic conversation book:
"Infidel, you must convert!"
Ayaan Hirsi Ali says there are fewer than 300 books published in the entirety of Islam every year. So what would you read if you could read that language? this would presumably include Pashto, Farsi, and all the other languages of Islam.
Are there newspapers with diverse viewpoints?
Do they publish comic novels by women in Tehran these days?
Do they publish comic novels anywhere in the Islamic world?
Who is the Wodehouse of Islam?
I assume that if you're going to learn to read another language, you would first fall in love with the culture, and then by way of deepening and intensifying that love, you'd learn to read their literature, just as you would have a long conversation with someone you loved. A big part of love is sharing laughs.
I can't see how you would do this with Arabic.
I could see how you would do this with French.
Or even with Classics. Aristophanes is a hoot. Plautus was a hoot.
Since there are so few books published, why would anybody want to enter the Arabic world? Ali claims that most of the books are just commentaries on the Koran. sounds like a barrel of laughs.
If you became a Muslim, of course you'd want to do this, since you'd fallen in love with the one who can't be drawn.
Seriously, I'm sorry they scrapped the French program at SUNY-Albany. Apparently, there weren't many people taking the program. They were graduating just a few students every year. I don't know why. Maybe there wasn't enough outreach.
So let's replace it with Arabic?
I can imagine millions of women students lining up to take COMIC NOVELS OF SAUDI ARABIAN WOMEN WRITERS, PART II.
I see the closure as part of the damnation of the west by the so-called postcolonials. The west is evil. Hey ho, hey ho, western civ has got to go, as the Maoists chanted on the ramparts of 1968.
So let's study Arabic, and see if we can get in on their comic literature. Seems like a great idea. Still, before we leap in and commit ten years to the project, who is their Jane Austen?