I have just come back from Egypt.
I started my trip with an eventful flight cancellation. It was immediately after the eruption of the Iceland volcano, and our plans had to be changed.
We couldn’t get in touch with the airline Lufthansa, either by phone or through the Internet! So, for three days we kept going to the airport with our luggage to check on our flight. We finally were able to fly to Cairo via Frankfurt.
Prior to our Egypt trip, my husband and I were supposed to take a Mediterranean cruise that would have started in Venice. We missed the cruise due to all flights cancellation to Europe. We had no choice but to go to Egypt few days earlier. It was worth it.
The minute I landed in Egypt, a feeling of well-being came over me. I was in my city, Cairo. It is my beloved city in spite of the crowd, pollution, and jumbled traffic.
Driving in Cairo is treacherous. There is no traffic control. So, while being driven in the city, I decided to read the signs displayed on cars, stores and restaurants. This is how I managed to survive the horrendous traffic and keep my sense of humor. It was rewarding, or better yet, it was interesting.
I was amazed at the number of foreign names used and transcribed phonetically in Arabic on commercial signs.It has increased tremendously since my last visit two years ago. It is a case of borrowing that reflects social and economic changes that have occurred in Egypt recently. My next post will deal specifically with the topic of borrowing and its different facets.
My second remark about my visit to Egypt is the meeting I had with some members of the Cairo Linguists Group.
Before my departure to Cairo, Madiha Doss had asked me to discuss my research on Arab American with the members of to the Cairo Linguists Group. I was honored to fulfill her request and spoke about a situation of language conflict and identity, ‘Arabic in the Diaspora.’
Madiha Doss, Gerda Mansour and Emad Abdellatif organized the Cairo Linguists Group. They arrange for monthly meeting on linguistic topics, and publish a yearly Journal, al-Logha. The journal publishes papers resulting from the seminars organized for the group at the Arab and African Research Center in Giza. Contributions to the Journal can be in Arabic, English, or French. I am enclosing the group’s email at the bottom of this post
The day of the talk was the hottest day I encountered during my stay in Cairo. I thought no one would show up at the meeting. On the contrary, some did show up. I had the chance to meet a number of linguists as well as the well-known translator (Arabic- English), Humphrey Davis. That the group would go to the trouble of braving the horrendous heat and attend my talk, gave me a great feeling of warmth. The meeting was worth any level of high summer heat. Furthermore, I was impressed with the group academic engagement, and by the questions raised by the attendees.
I do hope those who attended the meeting keep in touch with me through my blog, and comment on my posts. The exchange of ideas will be of great interest to me.
My best wishes to the Group.
Arab & African Research Center in Cairo