Tag Archives: Frangieh

An Overview of the Anthology of Arabic Literature, Culture, and Thought from Pre-Islamic Times to the Present by Dr. Bassam Frangieh

Published in August 2004 by Yale University Press, Anthology of Arabic Literature, Culture, and Thought from Pre-Islamic Times to the Present is a comprehensive textbook for advanced students of Arabic. The book serves as an essential collection of work for Arabic language students, offering 70 eminent works by 70 authors. Notable texts presented in the book include pre-Islamic works of prose and poetry, selections from the Qur’an, the final sermon by the Prophet Muhammad, diverse writings from the Golden Age of the Arabs, modernist and neoclassical works, and literary works from Arabs in Andalus. Such a comprehensive collection has until now been unavailable to educators of Arabic literature and culture.

Beyond its inclusive selections of historical content, the book also offers several important features that benefit both the educator and the student. As educational aids, the book includes two glossaries, a list of notes and idioms, and lists of important vocabulary terms. Additionally, Dr. Bassam Frangieh has included introductory material that helps students understand and appreciate Arabic culture and intellectual thought.

Dr. Bassam Frangieh holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Arabic Language and Literature from Georgetown University. An accomplished Arabic scholar, Dr. Bassam Frangieh previously held the position of Senior Lector of Arabic and Director of the Modern Arabic Language Program at Yale University. He currently serves as Professor at Claremont McKenna College. Over the course of his career, Dr. Bassam Frangieh has authored several books and translated numerous works of Arabic literature into English.

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Bassam Frangieh Describes the Roots and Development of the Arabic Language

Originating in Arabia and near present-day Syria, Arabic remains the world’s sixth major language, spoken by more than 300 million individuals, including those in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco. Part of the Semitic language family, Arabic features a rich history that dates thousands of years. In the following discussion, Arabic language and culture scholar Bassam Frangieh shares some ideas about the development and growth of Arabic and reveals instances of English words with Arabic roots.

Q: How did Arabic become a major world language?
A: Many scholars agree that Arabic was first spoken by nomadic tribes that lived on the Arabian Peninsula. As the religion of Islam spread, Arabic solidified its place as a major language. Muhammad died in 632 CE. Within one century of his death, Arabic was officially spoken throughout an empire spanning from Central Asia to the Atlantic and north to the Iberian Peninsula.

Q: What are some distinct qualities of written Arabic?
A: Consisting of a 28-consonant alphabet, written Arabic is composed on a page from right to left, using a cursive script. Many letters appear identical to one another and are differentiated by adding a dot below or above the letters. In its written form, Arabic can be traced to the fourth century BC, when North Arabic script was first documented. The Qur’an, written in Classical Arabic, is considered to be the prime example of the Arabic language in its most clear and complete form.

Q: Are there many English words with Arabic origins?
A: Yes. About 1,000 common English words are “loaned” from Arabic. Examples include algebra, giraffe, and tambourine.

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