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Workshop Ottoman Arabic

23rd @ 10:00 - 24th May, 2019

Weston Room, Woolf Institute


The gathering in Cambridge in May 2019 is the third in a series of workshops which aim at collating a Handbook and Reader of Ottoman Arabic. Previous workshops took place in Cambridge in 2016 and at Rutgers in 2017. The Arabic of the Ottoman Empire presents an immensely fruitful linguistic topic. Extant texts display a proximity to the vernacular that cannot be encountered in any other surviving historical Arabic material, and thus provide unprecedented access to Arabic language history. This rich material remains very little explored. Traditionally, scholarship on Arabic has focussed overwhelmingly on the literature of the various Golden Ages between the 8th and 13th centuries, whereas texts from the 15th century onwards have often been viewed as corrupted and not worthy of study. The lack of interest in Ottoman Arabic culture and literacy left these sources almost completely neglected in university courses.

The proposed Handbook and Reader of Ottoman Arabic will be the first linguistic volume to focus exclusively on varieties of Christian, Jewish and Muslim Arabic in the Ottoman Empire of the 15th to the 20th centuries, and present Ottoman Arabic material in a didactic and easily accessible way. Split into a Handbook and a Reader section, the book will provide a historical introduction to Ottoman literacy, translation studies, vernacularisation processes, language policy and linguistic pluralism. The second part will contain excerpts from more than forty sources, edited and translated by a diverse network of scholars. The material presented will include a large number of recently discovered yet unedited texts, such as Christian Arabic letters from the Prize Paper collections, mercantile correspondence and notebooks found in the Library of Gotha, and Garshuni texts from archives of Syriac patriarchs. The scholarship and material collected will have the potential to lay the foundations of a new and transformative interdisciplinary field.

While previous gatherings focussed on the Reader part of the proposed volume, this third workshop will focus on the Handbook part. Issues to be discussed will include:

Literacy in the Ottoman Empire

Confessional varieties of Ottoman Arabic Ottoman translation Vernacularisation of the 17th century Place of Arabic in Ottoman literary culture

Role of Arabic for minorities in the Ottoman empire Linguistic variety and pluralism

Language policy and regulation in the Ottoman empire Letter manuals

Confirmed attendees:
Prof. Geoffrey Khan, Dr Mohamed Ahmed, Prof. Gottfried Hagen, Dr Guy Burak, Dr Ghayde Ghraowi, Prof. Efe Khayyat, Dr Feras Krimsti, Dr Magdalen Connolly, Prof. Clive Holes, Prof. Jerome Lentin, Dr Michiel Leezenberg, Prof. Necmettin Kizilkaya, Dr Liesbeth Zack, Dr Boris Liebrenz, Dr Christopher Bahl and Dr Esther-Miriam Wagner

Download the programme here.

How to book

Contact Dr Esther-Miriam Wagner.

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