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Missing Words

Nine Words…and Six More

A couple of months ago, Cracked magazine ran a piece lamenting the “grievous holes” in the English language and suggesting nine foreign words that might go some way to fill in the gaps. What an appealing selection, even if the list fails to include any Arabic. I’ve taken the liberty of choosing a few of […]

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Speak Egyptian

In the above video (Egyptian Arabic with English subtitles), teenage polyglot Timothy Doner, featured last week in The New York Times, talks about his own Arabic study and some of the different uses of formal and colloquial Arabic. While I personally don’t agree with his rigid division between the two, his abilities are impressive, especially […]

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Arabic is the Best Language

At More Intelligent Life, Economist Middle East and Africa editor Josie Delap, sings the praises of Arabic: To a native English-speaker, searching for a language to learn and probably inexpert in the dark arts of grammar, the simple Romance languages with their common-sense syntax might seem obvious choices, perhaps even those of Scandinavia with their […]

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Dragon - Arabic calligraphy

Origins: Arab Spring

I’m gearing up to do more Arabic-related posts on this blog and, by way of an introduction, I’d like to propose a new, additional meaning to the phrase ‘Arab Spring’. As it is, Arabs speaking in Arabic appear to prefer some variety of ‘Arab revolutions’ (??????? ???????) or ‘Arab uprisings’, even though “Arab Spring” may […]

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MainGateWinter2012

The Arab Spring Issue

What role has Lebanon played in the Arab uprisings? Why did revolution break out in Tunisia? Libya? For some answers, browse the the Arab Spring-themed issue of MainGate and read my latest work, including a feature on feminism in Lebanon, a profile of a Tunisian doctor who’s taken the pulse of the revolution and a […]

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GreatBooks

Define: Great, Bibliomania and Shuhada

That’s David Orr introducing the lists contained within The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books. Probably a book I’m more likely to page through in a bookstore than buy, but I enjoyed the taste test from Brainpickings and it’s not like I lack for reasons to ponder the meaning of great when it comes […]

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Let Us Remember Anthony Shadid

An excerpt from this talk delivered by Anthony Shadid last year at TEDx Oklahoma City: To me the antidote to conflict, the antidote to violence, is a shared sense of universal values and – it sounds very basic but it’s hard when you try to execute it in journalism – the sense that we all […]

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World Press Photo of the Year 2011

World Press Photo of the Year 2011

In a three-minute video on the World Press Photo website, Aidan Sullivan, chair of the photo contest jury, discusses the criteria behind the choice. He describes the “long process” by which the jury selected one winner, “the image that is going to sum up the events of the year,” from about 108,000 initial photos. He […]

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carnegie-card

The End of the Beginning

There’s no end in sight for what Arabs have embarked on this year but that doesn’t make it any less thrilling, and the Carnegie Middle East Center‘s annual greeting card nicely captures the energy and spirit of 2011 and the great hopes for 2012. I recently interviewed the Libyan professor, columnist and speaker Mansour El-Kikhia […]

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Top Goon

So Little Time, So Many Links

First up, the revolution will be televised: Click on the image above (or here for the Arabic) to see a trailer of Top Goon, puppet political satire from Syria. The Guardian dubs 2011 the year of the translator and The National considers the “steep upwards trend” in Arabic literature in translation. If you ever wondered […]

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