The Evolution of Arabic Writing Due to European Influence: The case of punctuation
The spread of foreign languages, especially French, under European colonial rule inspired certain Arabic writers and scholars in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century to look at ways to develop the Arabic language. This happened because they felt that foreign languages had started to overtake Arabic because they were easier to read (ZAKĪ 1901: 2). In this paper, I will discuss the use of punctuation marks in Arabic texts since the mid-nineteenth century as an example of the evolution of Arabic writing due to European influence. I will explain the reasons why punctuation marks were integrated into Arabic texts, quoting Arabic writers and scholars from the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. These include Zaynab Fawwāz, the first writer to address the issue of punctuation marks in Arabic writings (FAWWĀZ 2007: 105-107), and ʾAḥmad Zakī who officially integrated punctuation into the Arabic language (ZAKĪ 1912). I will also explain the opposition that came from conservative scholars who were reluctant to change any aspect of Arabic writing. This is because they believed in the sanctity of Arabic as it is the language of the Qurʾān and it represents Arabic identity. Therefore, one should avoid any “borrowing” from colonial languages in order to preserve Arabic identity (MEYNET 1971: 94).
Keywords: Punctuation, Arabic writing, ʾAḥmad Zakī, printing, Arabic Renaissance / an-Nahḍa al-ʿarabiyya, transmission of knowledge
For content published in editions of JAIS before 2002, copyright belongs to the author. Content published between 2002 and 2017 is copyrighted by Edinburgh University Press (reproduced on FRITT with permission). Text and other material published in these journal volumes can only be shared and republished with written permission from the rights holders.
Starting from 2017, the content published in JAIS is - unless otherwise is stated - licensed through Creative Commons License Attribution 4.0: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. Through this licence content can be copied and distributed but also remixed, transformed and built upon for any purpose under the following conditions:
Attribution — You must give appropriate credit to the creators of materials published in JAIS, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.
Notice: No warranties are given. The license may not give you all of the permissions necessary for your intended use. For example, other rights such as publicity, privacy, or moral rights may limit how you use the material.
Authors who publish in JAIS accept the following conditions:
Author(s) retains copyright to the article and give JAIS right to first publication while the article is licensed under the Creative Commons CC BY 4.0. This license allows sharing the article for non-commercial purposes, as long as the author and first publishing place JAIS are credited. The license does not allow others to publish adapted versions of the article without the author's permission.
The author is free to publish and distribute the work/article after publication in JAIS, as long as the journal is referred to as the first place of publication. Submissions that are under consideration for publication or accepted for publication in JAIS cannot simultaneously be under consideration for publication in other journals, anthologies, monographs or the like. By submitting contributions, the author accepts that the contribution is published in both digital and printed editions of JAIS.