By: Mohamed Najeeb Mohamed Ali
KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - Professor Herman Bell, the linguistics professor at Oxford University, who is heavily involved in preserving and promoting the Nubian heritage, delivered a lecture last Saturday on Sudan’s Nubian culture and heritage.
“There is no question about this culture being a Nubian of brand name world-wide. The most worrying thing is that this culture is in danger of disappearing, people are losing it”. Prof. Bell has warned in the lecture, under the sponsorship of Bait Al-Turath (Heritage Home) in Khartoum.
He cited negligence of the Nubian language as one of the dangers this culture is undergoing. In a book by Dr. Abdel Halim Sabar, a Nubian thinker Bell said, that the geographical names written by all archeologists from through Abu Simple Temple down to Dal in the mid-fifties are incorrect from the view point of the Nubian language because they are never collected in
the Nubian language. They have, in place, collected in Arabic and sometimes in English. But they were never collected in the original language.
He said he and other experts were now mounting a campaign which they hope is a world-wide campaign not to neglect the spoken local languages when collecting their place names because the place names are very historical.
He said the Sudan is trying hard to have one unifying language, and in so doing it did not pay much attention to the local vernaculars. These, he stressed, are also important at least for historical purposes.
Prof. Bell concluded that one should note that many items of Sudanese culture were on their way to extinction. He underlined the importance of maintaining this culture and the importance of writing geographical names and to study them not only in Arabic language, but in local languages.
It is to be noted that Prof Bell is serving as a Sudan Expert at the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN) since 2000. He also works as Consultant for the Sudanese National Committee for Geographical Names since 2000, recording the geographical names of Nubia since 1962. He had served as a Member of the Board of the
National Atlas Sudan, 1978-79.
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