Dialect Literature and Language Ideology in Gaddafi’s Libya: A Claim for Prestige
in La rivista di Arablit, a. VIII, n. 15, giugno 2018, pp. 93-103.
The present review article offers a discussion of the two issues of dialectal prestige and the use of colloquial Arabic in literature, based on the analysis of the volume Ḫarārīf lībiyyah (Libyan Folktales). The collection of folktales, published in 2008 by the Libyan General Council of Culture, is preceded by an extremely interesting preface. Its author, Aḥmad Yūsuf ʿAqīlah (also the collector of the folktales), argues that Eastern Libyan Arabic should be regarded as a prestigious dialect due to its shared traits with different pre-Islamic varieties of Arabic, attested in the speech of the Prophet himself and in the dialect of the Banū Tamīm. In this way, he aims to demarginalize Eastern Libyan, which is not traditionally recognized as a prestige variety, and to justify its employment in literature (although he refers specifically to folk literature), overturning the traditional views concerning the employment of dialectal Arabic as a literary language.