March 06, 2004


I went on a tour of Nuernberg today with my German class. One of our stops was at the Germanisches National Museum, which is constructed with an interesting entryway. Nuernberg is trying to improve its image from the city that gave us the Nuernberg Laws to a city that stands for Peace and Human Rights. The entrance to the museum was created by an Israeli artist whose name I can't seem to find on google. It is a series of pillars with the different articles from the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Each pillar has one article carved in both German and another language. And I nearly slugged a lady from my class who asked why the Israeli artist didn't include the Palestinian language as one of those featured on the pillars. I pointed out that Arabic was included, and she said that wasn't good enough and that the Palestinians should specifically be recognized. I had to force myself to breathe deeply and let it go, but I'd have liked to have socked her.


In my search, I found this disturbing list of words that "should be used" when talking about a Palestinian state.

Posted by: Sarah at 12:59 PM | Comments (14) | Add Comment
Post contains 206 words, total size 1 kb.

1 I suppose there could have been two identical or nearly identical Arabic pillars and one could explain that by saying that one of the pillars should be read with a Palestinian accent. Last year I tried to find it if there was such a thing as a Palestinian dialect significantly different from other varieties of Arabic, and I posted my meager initial results here: The impression I got is that there is no such thing, but I don't really know. Later, I wrote: "I realized that the Palestinians must have coined new words and expressions to describe their unique sociopolitical situation. However, Arabic language media probably spread many of those Palestinian innovations among non-Palestinians, so those terms may not be Palestinian monopolies [anymore]. And that still leaves this question unresolved: are there any non-trivial Palestinian linguistic traits that go way back?" One would think that if there were such traits, activists would have used linguistic arguments to claim that Palestinians have been in the area since the dawn of time (for linguistic divergence can imply a long period of residence). But as I said, "Even if Palestinian Arabic is an ancient, distinct entity (rather than a Middle Eastern 'Moldavian'*), that does not necessarily justify a Palestinian state." *Moldavian is a Romanian dialect that Stalin declared to be a language.

Posted by: Amritas at March 06, 2004 03:21 PM (ukofp)

2 My guess is that she considers herself "enlightened" and more in tune with the world than you. She don't grok, do she?!

Posted by: Mike at March 06, 2004 04:38 PM (AcqBI)

3 Thanks for the research. I too tried to find info on Palestinian Arabic, but got nowhere except that list of "euphemisms". Though I hadn't done my research ahead of time, I was pretty sure this lady was talking out of her ass. But I didn't think the Nuernberg street corner in the blistering cold and snow was a good place to debate the Israeli-Palestinian situation. It sure got my goat though.

Posted by: Sarah at March 06, 2004 04:46 PM (BVlSe)

4 Sarah, I have no idea who this woman is, but my guess is that she naively assumed that Palestinians must have their own language. A lot of people seem to make the following equation: "one people = one language = one nation" This type of simplistic belief has led to some howlers. The dumbest one I've ever heard is the question, "Do you speak African?" (not asked to me) After 9/11, some probably asked, "Do you speak Muslim?"

Posted by: Amritas at March 06, 2004 04:54 PM (ukofp)

5 Palestinian language? That is too precious for words. I'd thought that the list of words was a joke. But having read it through, I see its serious. God save us from the euphemistic language of criminals.

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