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The Politics of Pro-ʿāmmiyya Language Ideology in Egypt

Aboelezz, M; (2017) The Politics of Pro-ʿāmmiyya Language Ideology in Egypt. In: Høigilt, J and Mejdell, G, (eds.) The Politics of Written Language in the Arab World: Writing Change. (pp. 212-238). Brill: Leiden, Netherlands. Green open access

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Abstract

As other chapters in this volume demonstrate, the increasing use and acceptability of written ʿāmmiyya in Egypt is now well-documented. The motivations behind this are rarely studied, although speculations have been made about the role of political ideology. One well-discussed dimension of language politics in Egypt takes the form of a binary of Egyptian nationalism vs. pan-Arab nationalism: the former ideology favouring ʿāmmiyya and the latter favouring Standard Arabic or fuṣḥā (Suleiman 1996; Suleiman 2003; Suleiman 2008). However, the salience of this binary in present-day Egypt is unclear: on the one hand, it is often suggested that Egyptian nationalism was overtaken by pan-Arab nationalism (ibid.), and on the other, emerging literature suggests that pan-Arab nationalism is now a spent force (Phillips 2014). Moreover, although there has been a tendency to delimit the discussion of language politics in Egypt to the question of nationalism, it has recently been suggested that ʿāmmiyya might be used to counter the hegemonic discourse of the (language) authorities (Bassiouney 2014; Ibrahim 2010). The symbolic significance of ʿāmmiyya in this latter case is clearly very different (cf. Aboelezz forthcoming). While by no means suggesting that political ideology is the only explanation for the increasing use of ʿāmmiyya in written domains in Egypt, this chapter hopes to shed light on the complicated relationship between language and politics in Egypt. To highlight the relationship between political ideologies and language ideologies, I draw on two interviews with what I term pro-ʿāmmiyya ‘agents of change’ in the summer of 2010. The timing of the interviews is significant. By focussing on the political dimension, which has been at the forefront of Egypt’s turbulent recent history, I aim to demonstrate how political ideologies reflect and relate to broader social and moral concerns still relevant today.

Type: Book chapter
Title: The Politics of Pro-ʿāmmiyya Language Ideology in Egypt
ISBN: 9004346163
ISBN-13: 9789004346161
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1163/9789004346178_011
Publisher version: https://brill.com/view/title/34499
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access title distributed under the terms of the cc-by-nc License, which permits any non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.
Keywords: Language and Politics, Language ideologies, Egyptian 'ammiyyah
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10113749
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