That’ll Do It: Jail Journalists for Using Colloquial Arabic

This impossible-to-enforce proposed law even sets its sights on "street advertisements, commercial posters, names of shops, and information on products sold in Egypt."

Starting Today, Party Like It’s World Arabic Language(s) Day

World Arabic Language Day -- singular, in UNESCO's estimation -- isn't until Dec. 18, but the events begin today. It's a UN-designated holiday that was designed as an annual celebration to "promote multilingualism and cultural diversity, as well as celebrate Arabic language’s role in and contribution to the safeguarding and dissemination of human civilization and culture."

The Future of Arabic Literature: A Revolution Against Classical Arabic?

In an interview at the shortlist announcement of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, AL correspondent Kaouther  Jellassi asked judging chair Galal Amin about the status of 3ameya novels -- novels written in "colloquial" Arabic -- on the list. Amin said that, "You can produce something exceedingly beautiful and appealing and useful by using 3ameya. But … Continue reading The Future of Arabic Literature: A Revolution Against Classical Arabic?

It’s World Arabic Language(s) Day

This year, UNESCO is celebrating the first ever "World Arabic Language Day": UNESCO suggests six ways to celebrate, including with calligraphy, poetry, by learning Arabic, or by reading in Arabic to one's children. They also suggest "acknowledging the tremendous contribution of its writers, scientists and artists to universal culture. These are the Arabic language authors … Continue reading It’s World Arabic Language(s) Day

The (Arabic) Children’s Book Dilemma

Yesterday, I got a very well-timed email from blogger Elias Muhanna. Lately, I've been trying to get together an Arabic story time or Arabic toddler book group for my two-year-old. (You know, so the kids can discuss their impressions of the Arabic translation of Eric Carle's Brown Bear.) It's not an unpopular idea, but yesterday … Continue reading The (Arabic) Children’s Book Dilemma

P.S.: Is Colloquial Arabic Destroying the (Literary) World? Or Is It the Internet?

This week, Qantara explores the sometimes-literary Arabic bloggers' magazine, Wasla. The magazine culls from blogs around the Arab world and publishes them in a free print magazine; it's being billed as a bridge between online and offline worlds. The Qantara piece notes that while Elias Khoury and Sonallah Ibrahim have lauded the activities of young … Continue reading P.S.: Is Colloquial Arabic Destroying the (Literary) World? Or Is It the Internet?

Colloquial vs. Classical: How Do You Write?

The most interesting things I've overheard from the Beirut39 festival (and it's hard to overhear what's going on in Beirut from Cairo---noisy here) have been about how young writers choose to reconcile the divide between classical (fos'ha) and colloquial (3meya) Arabic. A generation ago, many writers switched to writing dialogue in 3meya, leaving the rest … Continue reading Colloquial vs. Classical: How Do You Write?