18 May 2012

Foreigner

Arabic:  ajnabi, "people to avoid"; also ajami, meaning foreigner, barbarian, bad Arabic speaker, Persian; also gharib, stranger, "from the west."
More from Paul Theroux's The Tao of Travel

Also from my recent final paper on Language/Gender in Narrative:
 Baynham (2007) demonstrates positioning (specifically “interactional” positioning, or how people locate others, as opposed to locating themselves, which is commonly known as “reflexive” positioning) by his retelling of a conversation with a Moroccan immigrant family living in the United Kingdom.  
As he was waiting for the father of the household in the sitting room, he heard the father call out to his wife, “Ja dak an-nasrani?”  [Has that Christian man arrived yet?].  Baynham reflects that in English, and considering he himself is “relatively secular,” it would be rather strange for him to position himself as a Christian.  According to Baynham’s analysis of Munson’s (1984) (rather essentializing and outdated) research, however:  “In everyday speech, Moroccans almost never speak of themselves as ‘Moroccan’ (Mgharba), but as ‘Muslims’ (Msilmin)…Religious and national identity are not distinguished by most Moroccans” (as cited by Baynham, 2007, p. 140).   
Since religious identity is not as separable from national identity in Morocco as it is in Baynham’s native Britain, the Moroccan father does not see a distinction between European and Christian, and therefore, according to Baynham, does not see a difference between calling Baynham “nasrani” or “britani” [British man]. 
 

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