The Arabic Language and National Identity

cover art
288 pp., 6 x 9
ISBN: 9780878403950 (0878403957)

February 2003
LC: 2002151195
Sales Rights: Only for sale in U.S. and Canada



The Arabic Language and National Identity
A Study in Ideology
Yasir Suleiman
Considering the communicative and symbolic roles of language in articulating national identity, Yasir Suleiman provides a fresh perspective on nationalism in the Middle East. The links between language and nationalism are delineated and he demonstrates how this has been articulated over the past two centuries.

Straddling the domains of cultural and political nationalism, Suleiman examines the Arab past (looking at the interpretation and reinvention of tradition, and myth-making); the clash between Arab and Turkish cultural nationalism in the 19th and early 20th century; readings of canonical treatises on the topic of Arab cultural nationalism, the major ideological trends linking language to territorial nationalism; and provides a research agenda for the study of language and nationalism in the Arab context.

This the first full-scale study of this important topic and will be of interest to students of nationalism, Arab and comparative politics, Arabic Studies, history, cultural studies and sociolinguistics.
Professor Yasir Suleiman, FRSE, is Director of the Edinburgh Institute for the Advanced Study of Islam and the Middle East at the University of Edinburgh. He has written and edited several books including The Arabic Grammatical Tradition, Arabic Sociolinguistics and Language and Identity in the Middle East and North Africa.
"This interesting book is a contribution not only to Arabic sociolinguistics but also to other disciplines. The background of the author, with the perspective and tools to undertake the challenging task of the topic, enables him to combine masterfully various fields of study—sociolinguistics, Arabic literature, and nationalist ideology—making the book valuable to all who are interested in the Arab world, nationalism, sociolinguistics in general, and Arabic sociolinguistics in particular."—Language in Society

"Suleiman carefully reads and sifts a large amount of theoretical and applied information in order to provide his readers with a clear and cogent picture of the crucial relationship between language and identity in the Arabic-speaking region. 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."—MESA Bulletin

"This compelling and timely study of Arabic culture, language, history, and nationalism by distinguished Arabic linguist Yasir Suleiman, allows English-speaking audiences an inside view of key issues in understanding the Arab world. Based on Suleiman's extensive research in Arabic language and society, the book is scholarly but not pedantic, and will appeal to a wide range of readers."—Karin C. Ryding, professor emerita, Department of Arabic Language, Literature and Linguistics, Georgetown University

"A major work. . . . [it] combine[s] detailed knowledge of the language, the underlying philosophy, political trends through the 20th century, and also literary production...will constitute a basic text in all departments where the Arabic language and its associated literature are studied."—Tim Niblock, professor of Middle Eastern Studies and director, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter

"Masterfully combine[s] his profound familiarity with the Arabic literature, the endless literature on nationalist ideology, and the very substantial sociolinguistic literature on language and ethnic identity."—Joshua A. Fishman, Distinguished University Research Professor of Social Sciences, Emeritus, Yeshiva University and visiting professor of linguistics and education, Stanford University and New York University

"Performs a very useful service in its careful assembling, summarizing, and linking together a lot of rather obscure material, much of it in Arabic...a very useful addition to courses on Arab nationalism, nationalism in general, and Arabic linguistics."—Clive Holes, professor for the Study of the Contemporary Arab World, University of Oxford