The Forgotten Maronites of Cyprus
Linguists say that Cypriot Arabic, a little-known language that has survived for centuries as an oral tradition, is “severely endangered.” If nothing changes, it will cease to exist within the next 50 years. There are fewer than 1,000 people who can speak it proficiently, with no native speakers under the age of 40.
Old English Spared Us Blood
The relationship between blood and violence in Old English is far from straightforward. Blood doesn’t gush from battle wounds or pour from Christ’s body. Old English literature isn’t necessarily bloody, but wherever blood appears, it’s there to transform the world, influencing all who touch and see it.
In Praise of Bawdy Words: When Bad Language Makes Good Works
The “Ummiyyat” is not just dirty verse. It gets at the inhumanity of life in a police state: torture, mass surveillance, disinformation. Surour had been spied on by Egyptian colleagues who pretended to be his friends in Moscow. When he accused his second wife of infidelity, he was convinced that she, too, was reporting on him to the mukhabarat.
Decades Later, Nancy Mitford’s Novels Resonate
Having chosen to spend my life in a different country — Germany — as an essentially permanent foreigner while my children grow up completely integrated and fluent in the local language from the get-go, I’m drawn to these themes, particularly in novels written decades prior.
Before French Philosophy Launched Postmodernism, There Was ‘Green Acres’
Although French thinker Jacques Derrida gets credit for “deconstruction,” namely the idea that language is slippery and breaks down under scrutiny, the 1960s American TV sitcom “Green Acres” had already done something similar: explore the absurdity of life and how we talk about it.
The Legacy of Humphrey Davies Shows a Love for Translation but Also for Translators
British translator Humphrey Davies, who passed away on Nov. 12, gifted dozens of English literary translations from Arabic but also a legacy of mentorship and warmth.
Yiddish and Arabic Share an Uncommon Commonality
For the Zionists, Yiddish represented the weak, emasculated Jew of the shtetl. They saw it as feminine, backward and hybrid, a mixture of many languages. This stood in stark contrast with Hebrew, which they associated with the new, muscular Jewish identity they sought to engender in Palestine.