Arabic in the Fray
The pre-modern period saw a background of inter-ethnic strife among Arabs and non-Arabs, mainly Persians. Starting from the symbolic and cognitive roles of language, Yasir Suleiman shows how discussions about the inimitability and (un)translatability of the Qur’an in this period were, at some deep level, concerned with issues of ethnic election. In this respect, theology and ethnicity emerge as partners in theorising language. Staying within the symbolic role of language, Suleiman goes on to investigate the role of paratexts and literary production in disseminating language ideologies and in cultural contestation. He shows how language symbolism is relevant to ideological debates about hybrid and cross-national literary production in the Arab milieu. In fact, language ideology appears to be everywhere, and a whole chapter is devoted to discussions of the cognitive role of language in linking thought to reality.