Yasir Suleiman's 2004 book considers national identity in relation to language, the way in which language can be manipulated to signal political, cultural or even historical difference. As a language with a long-recorded heritage and one spoken by the majority of those in the Middle East in a variety of dialects, Arabic is a particularly appropriate vehicle for such an investigation. It is also a penetrating device for exploring the conflicts of the Middle East, the diversity of its peoples and the diversity of their viewpoints. Suleiman's book offers a wealth of empirical material, and intriguing, often poignant illustrations of antagonisms articulated through pun or double entendre.
Yasir Suleiman is Professor of Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, and Director of the Edinburgh Institute for the Advanced Study of the Arab World and Islam at the University of Edinburgh. His publications include The Arabic Language and National Identity: A Study in Ideology (2003) and The Arabic Grammatical Tradition: a Study in Ta'liil (1999).
1. Introduction; 2. Language, power and conflict in the Middle East; 3. When language and dialects collide: standard Arabic and its 'opponents'; 4. When dialects collide: on the banks of the River Jordan; 5. When languages collide: between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean sea; 6. Language and conflict in the Middle East: a conclusion.