This title shows how the Arabic language is involved in ideological and cultural debates about conflict. The pre-modern period saw a background of inter-ethnic strife among Arabs and non-Arabs, mainly Persians. Starting from the symbolic and cognitive roles of language, Yasir Suleiman shows how discussions about the inimitability and (un)translatability of the Qur'an in this period were, at some deep level, concerned with issues of ethnic election. In this respect, theology and ethnicity emerge as partners in theorising language. Staying within the symbolic role of language, Suleiman goes on to investigate the role of paratexts and literary production in disseminating language ideologies and in cultural contestation. He shows how language symbolism is relevant to ideological debates about hybrid and cross-national literary production in the Arab milieu. In fact, language ideology appears to be everywhere, including in discussions of the cognitive role of language in linking thought to reality.
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.
Introduction; 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; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.