Politics, Language and Cultures of the Arab World is a new blog by miladus whose title admirably describes its ambit; its latest entries are on Maps of the Islamic world and Arabic Culture Through its Language and Literature, the latter on an interesting-sounding book by Muhammed Haran Bakalla that “covers the linguistic origins of Arabic dialects and history, and includes chapters on Arab linguistic scholarship and the development of the Arabic script” as well as “all aspects of Arabic literature, from pre-Islamic poetry to major Arab literary figures such as Al-Mutana[bb]i, Bashar [does anybody know who this is?], and Al-M[a]’arri, from the Arabian Nights to modern Arab poetesses, from proverbs to literary criticism.” (Thanks to PF for the link.)

Update (Aug. 2022). The blog petered out in January 2005, mutated into a course description in 2006, and vanished altogether sometime after 2018.


  1. Thanks (and I cannot believe I misspelled Al Mutanabbi…).

  2. You didn’t misspell it, you just copied the text from the linked blurb — at first I thought the author must be an ignoramus, but then I realized he probably didn’t write it, and I lay the blame at Columbia’s feet. I still want to know who Bashar is, though; he’s mentioned in the same breath as Mutanabbi and Ma’arri as though he’s a giant, but I can’t find anything about him.

  3. Bin Yoqzan says

    Bashshar was a shu’ubi poet from the early ‘Abbasid period. If memory serves, he’s best known for accusing the Arabs of eating lizards. As far as I know, nobody puts him on par with either of the poets in whose company he’s named here.

  4. Thanks! According to this site his dates were 714-84, and this one attributes to “ibn Burd” (who I believe is Bashshar) the following enumeration of the glories of the Arabic vocabulary:
    “Yes; the Arabs call the young palm tree al-yatit, al-wadi, al-hira, al-fasil, al-asa, al-kafur, al-damd, and al-igrid; when the date appears they call it al-sayad, and when it turns green, before it becomes hard, they call it al yadal; when it grows large, they call it al-busr; when the skin becomes grooved they call it al mujattam; when its color changes from green to reddish, they call it suqja; when it turns completely red, it becomes al-zahw; when it begins to ripen and to be covered in spots it becomes busra muwakketa; when it is time to harvest it, it becomes al-inad; when the peduncle begins to darken it becoms mudanniba; when half of it is ripe, it has two names: al-mujarra and al-muyazza; when two thirds are ripe it becomes hulqana, and when it is completely ripe, it is called munsabita.”
    (I like your nom d’internet, by the way — I presume it’s from ibn Tufayl’s wonderful fable?)

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