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This conference explores Islam's interplay with European languages that are not 'traditionally' regarded as Muslim. Since the colonial era, English, French and Spanish have been functioning as lingua francas of Islam; with the advent of Muslim labor migration and the subsequent educational and linguistic integration of sizable Muslim populations in European states, we are witnessing a renewed impact of Islamic terminology and symbolism on all European languages, from Portuguese in the West to Russian in the East. Diglossia and Multilingualism – the parallel use of e.g. Arabic/Berber and German/English -- goes hand in hand with the adaptation of the European 'host' language as a platform for discussing and expressing Islam.

Detail Summary
Start date 13 December 2018
End date 14 December 2018
Time 09:00
Location University Library
University Library Singel
The University Library: Belle van Zuylenzaal, Doelenzaal. Singel 425, 1012 WP Amsterdam

About the conference

These processes open up new fields of investigation, between Islamic studies, anthropology, sociology, and linguistics. Which semantic shifts occur when the religious lexicon of a European language, shaped by Christianity, is used for expressing Islamic contents, or, conversely, when the existing religious terminology of European languages is replaced by Arabic/Turkic Islamic loan words or calques? Can we speak of European religious sociolects, or 'religiolects'? Does the 'Islamization' of a given language come in various variants, or as a coherent process?  What is the role of code-switching – between several languages, or between two or more variants of one language? How do loans, calques and symbolic expressions in European languages undergo processes of codification?  Are the same processes at work in many languages, or do we see idiosyncrasies resulting from demographics or the structures of Islamic communities? What is the role of  Christian churches, whose legal and discursive integration in society is often regarded as model for the integration of Islamic life in Europe? 

Importantly, who shapes the process of translation – individual Islamic authorities, Muslim associations and communities that have their centers beyond Europe? What are the strategies of the producers of 'Islamic Russian' or 'Muslim Spanish', and how does linguistic practice reflect the actors' particular interpretations of Islam? How is the Islamic use of European languages connected to ideas of Islamic purity and originality, to national distinction – or, conversely, to Muslim Europeanness? Finally, does 'Islamic German', for instance, bridge the gap between Turkish and Moroccan Muslims in Germany, or even on EU level? These are some of the questions that the conference papers address, with case studies that focus on individual countries, specific communities and settings, and particular linguistic/Islamic strategies.

Free access.

Program Conference European Languages as Muslim Lingua Francas
University Library
University Library

Singel 425
1012 WP Amsterdam