Open-Access-Bücher zu den Sprachen & Kulturen Afrikas, Asiens und Ozeaniens

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Points of contact: the shared intellectual history of vocalisation in Syriac, Arabic, and Hebrew

Nick Posegay

In the first few cen­turies of Islam, Mid­dle East­ern Chris­tians, Mus­lims, and Jews alike all faced the chal­lenges of pre­serv­ing their holy texts in the midst of a chang­ing reli­gious land­scape. This sit­u­a­tion led Syr­i­ac, Ara­bic, and Hebrew schol­ars to devel­op new fields of lin­guis­tic sci­ence in order to bet­ter analyse the lan­guages of the Bible and the Qurʾān.

Part of this work dealt with the issue of vocal­i­sa­tion in Semit­ic scripts, which lacked the let­ters required to pre­cise­ly record all the vow­els in their lan­guages. Semit­ic scribes thus devel­oped sys­tems of writ­ten vocal­i­sa­tion points to bet­ter record vow­el sounds, first in Syr­i­ac, then soon after in Ara­bic and Hebrew. These new points opened a new field of lin­guis­tic analy­sis, enabling medieval gram­mar­i­ans to more eas­i­ly exam­ine vow­el phonol­o­gy and explore the rela­tion­ships between pho­net­ics and orthog­ra­phy.

Many aspects of this new field of vocal­i­sa­tion crossed the bound­aries between reli­gious com­mu­ni­ties, first with the spread of ‘rel­a­tive’ vocal­i­sa­tion sys­tems pri­or to the eighth cen­tu­ry, and lat­er with the ter­mi­nol­o­gy cre­at­ed to name the dis­crete vow­els of ‘absolute’ vocal­i­sa­tion sys­tems.

This book inves­ti­gates the the­o­ries behind Semit­ic vocal­i­sa­tion and vow­el phonol­o­gy in the ear­ly medieval Mid­dle East, trac­ing their evo­lu­tion to iden­ti­fy points of intel­lec­tu­al con­tact between Syr­i­ac, Ara­bic, and Hebrew lin­guists before the twelfth cen­tu­ry.

The worlding of Arabic literature: language, affect, and the ethics of translatability

Anna Zia­j­ka Stan­ton

Crit­ics have long viewed trans­lat­ing Ara­bic lit­er­a­ture into Eng­lish as an eth­i­cal­ly fraught process of medi­at­ing between two whol­ly incom­men­su­rable lan­guages, cul­tures, and lit­er­ary tra­di­tions. Today, Ara­bic lit­er­a­ture is no longer “embar­goed” from Anglo­phone cul­tur­al spaces, as Edward Said once famous­ly claimed that it was. As Ara­bic lit­er­ary works are trans­lat­ed into Eng­lish in ever-greater num­bers, what alter­na­tive mod­el of trans­la­tion ethics can account for this literature’s new­found read­abil­i­ty in the hege­mon­ic lan­guage of the world lit­er­ary sys­tem?

The World­ing of Ara­bic Lit­er­a­ture argues that an eth­i­cal trans­la­tion of a work of Ara­bic lit­er­a­ture is one that trans­mits the lit­er­ari­ness of the source text by engag­ing new pop­u­la­tions of read­ers via a range of embod­ied and sen­so­ry effects. The book pro­pos­es that when trans­la­tion is con­ceived of not as an exchange of seman­tic con­tent but as a process of con­vert­ing the affec­tive forms of one lan­guage into those of anoth­er, pre­vi­ous­ly unrec­og­nized modal­i­ties of world­li­ness open up to the source text.

In dia­logue with a rich cor­pus of Ara­bic aes­thet­ic and lin­guis­tic the­o­ry as well as con­tem­po­rary schol­ar­ship in affect the­o­ry, trans­la­tion the­o­ry, post­colo­nial the­o­ry, and world lit­er­a­ture stud­ies, this book offers a time­ly and provoca­tive inves­ti­ga­tion of how an impor­tant lit­er­ary tra­di­tion enters the world lit­er­ary sys­tem.

Reihe „Semitic Languages and Cultures“–6914

This series includes philo­log­i­cal and lin­guis­tic stud­ies of Semit­ic lan­guages, edi­tions of Semit­ic texts and works relat­ing to the cul­tures of Semit­ic-speak­ing peo­ples.

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