Skip to main content

LANGUAGE–PHILOLOGY–CULTURE: Arab Cultural Semantics in Transition

Final Report Summary - ARSEM (LANGUAGE–PHILOLOGY–CULTURE: Arab Cultural Semantics in Transition)

The research project “Language-Philology-Culture. Arab Cultural Semantics in Transition” funded by the European Research Council (ERC Starting Grant 312458 AR-SEM, 2013 – 2019, https://arts.st-andrews.ac.uk/arsem) explored the pivotal role of language consciousness in the history of Arab culture. The objectives of the project were threefold: (1) it examined the vocabulary of the Arabic language and its semantic history; (2) it studied philological discourses on the semantic changes in the language in the classical Arabic philological tradition; and (3) it explored the impact of Arabic philology in the wider historical and cultural context of the Judaeo-Arab neo-classical heritage (12th-13th centuries) and Christian-Arab intellectual history on the eve of modernity (19th century). The project approached the semantic history of Arabic as a dynamic process of negotiating meaning and introduced a new dimension to the research on the Arabic language and philology through comprehensive cultural contextualisation. The project focused on the process of the transmission of Arabic poetry, which provides detailed evidence of the development of Arabic philological thought and its universal significance across various domains of Arab intellectual history. An important outcome which has been achieved during in the project is the creation of the Analytical Database of Arabic Poetry as a unique and indispensable tool for the research on the semantics of the Arabic language and its historical development. The database documents the transmission of early Arabic poetry and analyses its vocabulary in a systematic way. In addition to lexical data on the vocabulary of the poetical texts, the database implements comprehensive analytical tools and includes information on the intellectual and cultural milieu in which the texts were distributed and transmitted. This feature makes the database useful not just as an innovative digital lexical source, but also as a reference work for wider research on Arabic literature, history and culture.