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Arabic in the Fray

Language Ideology and Cultural Politics

Yasir Suleiman

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Develops Yasir Suleiman's groundbreaking project on Arabic in the social world

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1. Language Construction and Language Symbolism
2. (In)imitability, (un)translatability and Intergroup Strife
3. Framing Arabic: Paratext, Poetry and Language Ideology
4. Hybridity, Language and Cultural Politics
5. Through the Looking Glass: Arabic, Thought and Reality

About the Author

Professor Yasir Suleiman is the first holder of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Sa'id Chair of Modern Arabic Studies and a Fellow of King's College, Cambridge. His many published works include A War of Words: Language and Conflict in the Middle East (2004), The Arabic Language and National Identity: A Study in Ideology (2003), The Arabic Grammatical Tradition: A Study in Tal'liil(1999), Literature and Nation in the Middle East (edited with Ibrahim Muhawi, 2006), Language and Society in the Middle East and North Africa (editor, 1999), Arabic Grammar and Linguistics (editor, 1998), Language and Identity in the Middle East and North Africa (editor, 1996) and Arabic Sociolinguistics: Issues and Perspectives (editor, 1994).


Yasir Suleiman is keenly aware of the dangers of applying linguistic or, worse, cognitive analysis to ethnic and religious cultures. He handles them like an expert sapper, patiently separating out the explosive elements and detaching the fuses. With this fourth volume of his planned pentalogy on language and society across the Arabophone world, Suleiman’s observant ear and eye, penetrating analytic mind, and lucid and elegant voice provide rich insight into the ideologies surrounding Arabic and the many tongues with which it shares a heteroglossic reality. Arabic in the Fray is indispensable for students of the languages and cultures of western Asia and northern Africa. But more than that: it will help linguistics rid itself of any delusion that cognitive or cultural "frames" can be read off texts without bringing deep historical and anthropological knowledge to bear.

- John E. Joseph, University of Edinburgh

This book is a unique contribution to Arabic sociolinguistics. It is the first book that addresses ideologies, conflicts and identities throughout such a vast timeframe and on the basis of original data from the Arab world. Given the importance of linguistic ideologies in framing studies of language variation and change, this book should form the basis for any future study on Arabic variation and change. More broadly, it will be of great relevance to all scholars interested in Arabic and society.

- Reem Bassiouney, Georgetown University. Author of Arabic Sociolinguistics (2009)
"Like Suleiman’s other books, this one is a model of clarity; its claims are closely argued, amply illustrated, and set out in a readable style...Those who have read Suleiman’s previous books will no doubt also enjoy this one. But new readers, whether or not they have a particular interest in Arabic, will also find much to interest them in this exploration of the symbolic function of language. Suleiman has succeeded admirably in showing how issues of identity and conflict are omnipresent in and inextricable from language use, and in making us aware of the power of language as a vehicle for ideology and a symbol for much more than linguistic phenomena."
- Eirlys E. Davies, Abdelmalek Essaadi University, Tangier, Journal of Semitic Studies, Vol. 59, no 2, Autumn 2014