GW Libraries: Exhibits

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Language

The modern-day Orient is home to many languages. Arabic is spoken throughout the region, although there are also many Turkish, Persian, and Hebrew speakers. Arabic is typically associated with the Middle East and, in turn, with Islam, although the majority of the Muslim people of the world do not live in the Middle East and do not speak Arabic. 

Arabic is an ancient language, and the oldest inscription of classical Arabic writing dates back to 328 AD. Hebrew and Farsi are even older, and the region is also home to many languages that have long since disappeared, such as Babylonian and Phoenician. The Arabic language has had a profound effect on and been affected by a number of other regional languages. Hebrew, like Arabic, is a Semitic language, and they share many words and enjoy a similar grammatical structure. Amharic, spoken primarily in Ethiopia, is the second-most spoken Semitic language in the world after Arabic, and the ancient language Aramaic is also Semitic. Other, non-Semitic languages have also been deeply affected by Arabic. The Turkish language was written in Arabic script for centuries, and many Arabic words exist within the Turkish language. Farsi and Urdu are also written in Arabic script and frequently employ Arabic vocabulary.

The books within this section offer insight into many of the languages of the Orient. While some of the writings are instructive and would be useful for language students, these books are also valuable in that they demonstrate how Orientalists approached linguistic study. Their writings are methodical, academic, and detailed; these texts are not designed to be read by the curious, but rather the studious. 

The following page showcases a representative sample of the texts that deal with language:

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The entire Cultural Imaginings collection can be accessed here: Cultural Imaginings on DSpace
Language