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Ottoman Egypt and the Emergence of the Modern World1500-1800$
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Nelly Hanna

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9789774166648

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774166648.001.0001

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Seventeenth- and Eighteenth- century Texts: Colloquial in Language, Scholarly in Form

Seventeenth- and Eighteenth- century Texts: Colloquial in Language, Scholarly in Form

Chapter:
(p.31) 2 Seventeenth- and Eighteenth- century Texts: Colloquial in Language, Scholarly in Form
Source:
Ottoman Egypt and the Emergence of the Modern World
Author(s):

Nelly Hanna

Publisher:
American University in Cairo Press
DOI:10.5743/cairo/9789774166648.003.0002

This chapter explores a worldwide linguistic trend emerging during the period 1500–1800 that had its parallel in Egypt, namely a shift towards the vernacularization of written texts. Although in Egypt the penetration of colloquial in texts using classical Arabic has a long history, as of roughly 1600, new elements enter into the picture. First, there is an expansion in the number of texts making use of colloquial elements. Second, this trend touches numerous genres of writing: dictionaries, chronicles, correspondence, and literary works. Third, this level of language attains a certain legitimacy and is used by persons who were part of the educational establishment, and in scholarly genres. Behind this important development was a commercialization of culture linked to the intensification of world trade during this period. This expansion of world trade and its consequences for economy, society, and culture affected Egypt as it affected many other countries: Europe, India, and southeast Asia also witnessed a process of vernacularization. In summary, this chapter argues that rather than interpreting the spread of vernacular as a decline in the Arabic language, by placing it in a worldwide perspective it can be given a different meaning.

Keywords:   vernacular, colloquial, scholarly, commercialization

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