SOAS University of London

PhD candidate Hany Rashwan presents his paper 'Rediscovering the Ancient Egyptian forms of wordplay by using Arabic Jinās'

20 February 2017

45-minute lecture at Oxford University

In this lecture, I argue that ancient Egyptian literary-rhetorical devices are most productively studied on a comparative basis and that Arabic, as a kindred language, offers a fruitful platform for exploring and studying these literary devices. I deploy the main principle of the comparative linguistic system: “Languages should never be compared in isolation if closer relatives are at hand” (Greenberg,1971, 22-3) and argue that it is particularly relevant when dealing with a 'dead' language. The lecture demonstrates how linguistic kinship can form a fruitful standpoint for exploring the literary devices of such related languages. I am using the Arabic concept of Jinās, defined as two words similar phonetically but different semantically and loosely retermed 'paronomasia' or 'pun' in Western studies. The aim in deploying this case study is to gain a deeper understanding of what one concept may convey in two different cultures, the Western and the Arabic, and how that could affect our modern understanding of Ancient Egyptian literary practice.

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