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The Arabic Language and National Identity

A Study in Ideology

Yasir Suleiman

Paperback (Printed to Order)

'A very useful addition to courses on Arab nationalism, nationalism in general, and Arabic linguistics.'

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1. The Arabic Language and National Identity: Aims and Scope
2. Setting the Scene
3. The Past Lives On
4. The Arabic Language Unites Us
5. Arabic, First and Foremost
6. The Arabic Language and Territorial Nationalism
7. Conclusion: Looking Back, Looking Forward

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).


Suleiman provides a convincing argument for the central role of Arabic in the historical development of Arab nationalism(s).
- Lauren Wagner
The aim of this excellent study is to combine research on the social and political functions of the Arabic language with an investigation of the development and bases of nationalist movements during the course of the last century and a half… One of the great strengths of this study is that it is firmly founded on a wide variety of readings in theory, concerning matters both linguistic and sociological…. Suleiman's excellent work of synthesis should be required reading in all courses dealing with the languages, politics, and history of the Arabic-speaking world."
Professor Suleiman's book has rightly won high praise from reviewers … The book will certainly become, as these reviewers expect, a standard text that undergraduates and postgraduate students will be able to use as a source for facts and dissertations. For both novices and specialists there is valuable information on a wide range of subjects, such as the sociolinguistics of Arabic, the relationship between Arabic and Islamic identity, diglossia in the Arab world, the development of nationalism (whether pan-Arab or local) and many other topics. Above all, this work is highly authoritative on the matter of the role of language in establishing identity in the Arab world… Suleiman's work is of the greatest value for filling, to a very large extent, a glaring gap in published work,,, all students will turn with profit to his pages for reliable information on all aspects of the significance of the Arabic language
Arabic Language and National Identity, written by the distinguished Arab linguist and author Yasir Suleiman, is a welcome addition to the library of any Middle East scholar. Not only is the study timely but it is, to my knowledge, the only one of its kind in English. This makes Arabic Language an appropriate supplemental text for any courses dealing with issues relating to Arabic culture and/or national identity. However, it can also serve as a useful resource for both novice and more experienced scholars. This, combined with its subject matter, insures a long shelf-life for the book… I really enjoyed reading Arabic Language, because it was not full of technical jargon which only a specialist in the field would understand. Suleiman employed practical language that not only aided in my understanding of the text, but would also appeal to students in an introductory class on Arabic culture or national identity... Arabic Language was indeed a joy to read and I certainly recommend it to anyone interested in the connection between language and the formation of a national identity.
A useful primer for linguists and students of Arab nationalism and identity politics."
A good overview of the role Arabic language played in creating a national identity and in forming nationalistic ideologies and discourses.