The Arabic Script in Africa

Studies in the Use of a Writing System


The Arabic script in Africa contains sixteen papers on the past and present use of Arabic script to write African languages. These writing traditions, which are sometimes collectively referred to as Ajami, are discussed for single or multiple languages, with examples from all major linguistic phyla of Africa but one (Khoisan), and from all geographic areas of Africa (North, West, Central, East, and South Africa), as well as a paper on the Ajami heritage in the Americas. The papers analyze (ethno-) historical, literary, (socio-) linguistic, and in particular grammatological aspects of these previously understudied writing traditions and exemplify their range and scope, providing new data for the comparative study of writing systems, literacy in Africa, and the history of (Islam in) Africa.

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Meikal Mumin, M.A. (2009) Universität zu Köln, wrote his MA thesis on Arabic script in Africa and is currently a PhD candidate at Universität zu Köln and Università degli Studi di Napoli ‘L'Orientale’ working on a language documentation of Chimiini.

Kees Versteegh (Ph.D., 1977) is emeritus Professor of Arabic and Islam at the University of Nijmegen. He has published on the history of Arabic and the Arabic grammatical tradition, and was editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics (Brill, 2006-2009).

With contributions from Bana M. S. Banafunzi, Dmitry Bondarev, Anneke Breedveld, Peter T. Daniels, Nikolay Dobronravin, Gérard Dumestre, Ramada Elghamis, Muhammed Haron, Marie-Ève Humery, Maarten Kossmann, Xavier Luffin, Meikal Mumin, Lameen Souag, Kees Versteegh, Alessandra Vianello, Clarissa Vierke, Valentin Vydrin, Andy Warren-Rothlin.
"This work is doubtless a useful addition to the literature on world writing systems and promises to offer enlightening insights into the intellectual legacy of Africa."
Amidu Olalekan Sanni in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 78.3 (2015), 669-671.
DOI: 10.1017/S0041977X15000750
This book is relevant for the history of knowledge and literacy in (Islamic) Africa, the linguistic study of writing systems (Grammatology), the socio-linguistics of writing, and orthography development and standardization.
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