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Tracing Language Movement in Africa$
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Ericka A. Albaugh and Kathryn M. de Luna

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190657543

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190657543.001.0001

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Ajami Literacies of West Africa

Ajami Literacies of West Africa

(p.143) Chapter 7 Ajami Literacies of West Africa
Tracing Language Movement in Africa

Fallou Ngom

Oxford University Press

Wherever there have been significant numbers of Muslims outside of Arabia, there has been some Ajami literacy. This is because Ajami results from the spread of Islam and its accompanying Arabic script. Just as the Latin script was adapted for some languages when Christianity was adopted by many cultures, Islam also introduced the Arabic script to sub-Saharan Africa and was modified to write numerous African languages. The techniques used in contemporary Ajami writings are ancient. The Arabic script itself is believed to have resulted from analogous techniques applied to the ancient Aramaic script. This chapter shows how dual literacies in Arabic and Ajami have spread in West Africa as the result of the expansion of Islam and its Quranic education system, proselytizing, and the circulation of people and texts.

Keywords:   Ajami, literacy, West Africa, Warsh, Ḥafs, Quranic school, proselytizing, commerce

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