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date: 11 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article discusses the developments in formal written Arabic in the early Modern period, which started with Napoleon’s invasion and occupation of Egypt (1798–1802), when the Arab Muslim world first came into direct contact with the West. The article first discusses the emergence and development of Modern Standard Arabic. Then it details the calls for language reform and revival, spurred by widening political and financial encroachments of Western powers all over the Muslim world. Finally, the article describes the establishment of language institutions aimed at preserving the language from foreign terms. It shows that the existence of multiple normative institutions was inherently self-defeating. Driven by political and ideological reasons, it resulted in petty rivalries between the various organizations, each vying for authority.

Keywords: Modern Standard Arabic, formal written Arabic, language reform, linguistic standardization, language institutions, Western influence

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