Conceptualising sacred languages and their visual inimitability

Key information

10:00 am to 7:15 pm
SOAS University of London
Doctoral School, Lady David Gallery, 1st Floor, 53 Gordon Square

About this event

Sacred Languages are languages that are considered to have a special, often religious, significance. They are used primarily for religious and spiritual purposes and are often believed to be divine or holy in nature.

The use of sacred languages serves as a reminder of the rich and diverse cultural and religious traditions that exist throughout the world and highlights the importance of language in shaping our beliefs, values, and identities.

In many instances, sacred languages are closely linked to a specific script or writing system, which holds immense symbolic and spiritual importance for the religious community utilizing it. This connection is evident in various examples, such as the hieroglyphs of the ancient Egyptian language, the Hebrew script employed in Judaism, or the Arabic script utilised in Islam.

The relationship between the sacred language and its visual representation can also be a source of tension and controversy. In some cases, changes to the script or writing system can be seen as a threat to the sacred language and its cultural and religious significance, while in other cases, the adoption of a new script or writing system can be seen as a way to modernise and adapt the language to contemporary needs.

The relationship between sacred languages and their visual nature is dynamic and ever-evolving, reflecting the intricate interplay between language, writing, and spirituality. The conference therefore aims to provide valuable insights into the visual aspects of such scripts, including the shapes of the letters and the patterns formed by the arrangement of words. It explores how the writing systems of these sacred languages can elicit a profound sense of awe and reverence, amplifying the emotional and spiritual impact of the sacred texts. The conference scope of Sacred Languages has no geographical boundaries.

AGYA Conference 2023 - Full Programme

PDF document, 484.99KB

Sponsored by

  • Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Germany)

Organised by AGYA members

  • Hany Rashwan (United Arab Emirates University)

  • Florian Zemmin (Freie Universität Berlin)

In cooperation with

  • Rachel Harrison (SOAS University of London)

    About AGYA

    The Arab-German Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities (AGYA) is based at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW) and at the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology (ASRT) in Egypt. It was established in 2013 as the first bilateral young academy worldwide.

    AGYA promotes research cooperation among outstanding early career researchers (3–10 years post-PhD) from all disciplines who are affiliated with a research institution in Germany or in any Arab country.The academy effectively supports the interdisciplinary projects and collaborative initiatives of its members in various fields of scientific research, science policy and education.

    AGYA is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and various Arab and German cooperation partners