Exploring Confessional Boundaries: A Comparative Textual Study of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian Arabic Folktales from the Pre-Modern Era

Principal Investigator:

Magdalen Connolly

Funded by:

Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellowship



This project is a comparative study of pre-modern written Muslim, Jewish, and Christian Middle Arabic. It challenges the long-held assumption that social and cultural segregation of Jews, Muslims, and Christians in Ottoman-era Egypt caused significant divergences in their written languages. Present-day studies of Middle Arabic often reify these assumed divisions by examining each group’s written language in isolation. This project questions whether these religious demarcations really reflect the linguistic reality of the period. By comparing the linguistic features of Judeo-Arabic folktales with those found in contemporaneous Muslim and Christian Middle Arabic texts of the same genre, it will establish the degree of linguistic affinity between these three groups, and test the methodological boundaries imposed on the philological study of written Arabic. 

Team members