Volume 10 (2010)
Edited by Alex Metcalfe
Fallou Ngom, Ajami Scripts in the Senegalese Speech Community (pdf 404 kB, pp. 1-23).
Abstract: Wolofal (from Wolof: Wolof language or ethnic group and '-al': causative morpheme) is an Ajami writing (a generic term commonly used to refer to non-Arabic languages written with Arabic scripts) used to transliterate Wolof in Senegal. It results from the early Islamization of the major Muslim ethnic groups in the country, especially the Pulaar, the Wolof and the Mandinka. Although Senegal is considered to be a French-speaking country, ironically over 50% of the Senegalese people are thought to be illiterate in French. French literacy is restricted to the minority educated group mostly found in urban areas. Because the literacy rate in French is very small in the country, especially among older people, Wolofal remains a major means of written communication among people who are illiterate in French and who have attended Quranic schools. It is used by these people to write letters, run their informal businesses and read religious poems and writings. This paper is based upon fieldwork conducted in Senegal. It discusses the orthographic system of Wolofal (compared to Arabic) and provides a sociolinguistic profile of communities in which it serves as major means of written communication.
Abstract: Hizbullah in Lebanon has succeeded in employing Imam Khumayni's theory of wilayat al-faqih ('the guardianship of the jurisprudent') as a cornerstone in its politico-religious ideology from 1978, molding, interpreting and adapting the original theory to suit Lebanese social and political conditions. In order to negotiate successive changes in the political system, Hizbullah has shifted its ideology to become a key player affecting the dynamic changes taking place in the Lebanese public sphere. However, it is assumed in many circles that Hizbullah is the proxy of Syria and Iran. Concentrating on the presumed Iranian influence, this article argues that Hizbullah has instead pursued an independent course of action in its attempt to influence the political system of Lebanon.
Konrad Hirschler, The 'Pharaoh' Anecdote in Pre-Modern Arabic Historiography (pdf 247 kB, pp. 45-74).
Abstract: This article examines the development between the third/ninth and the ninth/fifteenth centuries of the pharaoh figure as a literary device in Arabic historiography. The first aim is to reflect upon the changing narrative structure of such anecdotes in texts ranging from the universal chronicle of al-Tabari (d. 310/923) to the regional chronicle of al-Maqrizi (d. 845/1442). The article's second concern is to evaluate the plurality of meanings that emerged from these changes. This discussion is then linked to detailed consideration of the authors' social contexts, with particular focus on that of al-Maqrizi. The nexus between literary approach and social history that is proposed here offers a deeper understanding of the function of narrative devices that moved from text to text. Not only was this a salient feature of Arabic historiography, but also it allows us to reconsider the repeated appearance of such elements beyond describing them as simply 'borrowing' or 'copying'. Rather, the discussion concludes that authors skilfully drew from a pool of narrative devices and artfully established intertextual allusions across both time and genres.
Antonella Ghersetti, 'Like the Wick of the Lamp, Like the Silkworm They Are'. Stupid Schoolteachers in Classical Arabic Literary Sources (pdf 234 kB, pp. 75-100).
Abstract: The alleged stupidity of schoolteachers was a common topos in adab literature of the Abbasid period as well as in later sources. Indeed, the 'stupid schoolteacher' was a stereotype much like 'the dull person', 'the smart sponger' and 'the ridiculous bedouin'. Frequent references to such images indicate that the intended audience clearly revelled in this kind of literary device. This article examines diverse ways of reading and interpreting the adab sources where we find ourselves in the realm of fantasy as much as reality. Indeed, while the standard steroetypes of schoolteachers are varied, amusing and predominantly negative, they are not all as obvious as they at first appear.
Reem Bassiouney, Redefining identity through code choice in al-Hubb fi 'l-Manfa by Baha' Tahir (pdf 185 kB, pp. 101-118).
Abstract: This study examines the use of language and code choice in a modern Egyptian novel, al-Hubb fi 'l-manfa (Love in Exile) by Baha' Tahir (b. 1935). The study concentrates on the diglossic situation that prevails in the entire Arabic-speaking world, i.e. a situation in which there are two language varieties-a 'High' variety (standard Arabic) and a 'Low' one (vernacular dialects)-each with a different function. The study will concentrate on the language varieties, or 'codes', used by the writer to depict dialogues between the different protagonists in the novel. The question posed is whether the dialogues in this, as well as in other novels published in Egypt and the Arab world, reflect realistic linguistic choices on the part of the protagonists, or whether this literature projects a different reality with different rules and language choices. If the latter case is true then language may be viewed as a tool to redefine reality and project different identities. It is argued that the choice of standard or vernacular has a discourse function, well as a creative one. This case study furthers our understanding of code choice in dialogue in the Arabic literature of Egypt, and of the Arab world in general.
Ludmila Torlakova, The Notion Weapon in Arabic Idioms. Characterization of Persons and Objects (pdf 233 kB, pp. 119-145).
Abstract: The present study is a sequel to an investigation published in volume 8 (2008) of JAIS that discussed a group of Arabic idioms that have as at least one of their components a word denoting a weapon and that describe situations or behavior. Here weaponry idioms denoting characteristics and features of people and objects are examined in order to understand their semantic structure and motivation. Since the majority of the idioms studied have been collected from dictionaries, an attempt is made to present an assessment of their current use in Modern Standard Arabic based on Internet sources.