Johannes den Heijer. The Impact of Language and Script in the Arab World and Beyond

Professor Johannes den Heijer is Emeritus Professor of Arabic studies at the Université Catholique de Louvain, and former president of the Institut Orientaliste de Louvain (2010-2016). Since 1979 he has taught Arabic language and culture in various institutions, and notably in Cairo as Director of the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo (NVIC) from 1995 to 2003. He has published research on Arabic historiography in general, Copto-Arabic literature, translations from Greek, Coptic and Syriac into Arabic, as well as on Arabic epigraphy, dialectology and sociolinguistics.

The Impact of Language and Script in the Arab World and Beyond

The past and present of the Muslim World are characterized by a tremendous amount of diversity in terms of language, ethnicity and religion. Moreover, the cultural history of many Muslim-majority regions has been a continuous process of transformation, in which the Arabic language and its script have been highly instrumental. This lecture will first address the impact of Arabic on several languages, particarly in South and South-East Asia. Next, the focus will shift to the Arabic script as used over the centuries in an area stretching from Spain to Indonesia. The main part of the lecture concerns the Arab World itself and zooms in on the city walls of Cairo in the Fatimid period (10th-12th centuries C.E.).


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