Hard and Soft Multilingualism
Keywords:multilingualism, monolingualism, globalization, Arabic literature, poetry, Ahmad Shawqi, Abd al-Wahhab al-Bayati
Based in analyses of the work of the Egyptian poet Ahmad Shawqi (1868-1932) and the Iraqi Abd al-Wahhab al-Bayati (1926-1999), this essay questions the heuristic and historical stability of the category “multilingual,” and suggests that the last century saw the rise of “a globalization of soft monolingualism.” In particular, Noorani suggests that Arabic-language poetry in the 20th century underwent an assimilation toward international norms of poetic expression and nationalist messaging, and that modern and postmodern national language repertoires in general may indeed be the product of such streamlining of linguistic forms through colonization and nation-building.
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