Key to Mass Literacy or Professor’s Hobby?: Fiske’s Project to Write Egyptian Arabic with the Latin Alphabet
- Al-ʿArabiyya: Journal of the American Association of Teachers of Arabic
- Georgetown University Press
- Volume 47, 2014
- pp. 1-19
- Additional Information
The subject of this essay is the alphabetization project of Daniel Willard Fiske (1831–1904). Fiske’s project would allow the Egyptians to adopt a new alphabet based on the Latin one, and to adopt Egyptian Arabic as their official written language. The project was inspired by Fiske’s discussions with the German Orientalist Wilhelm Spitta-Bey. Fiske called in the help of his Arabic teacher, Socrates Spiro, to translate into Arabic the texts he wrote for this project. Together they produced various alphabetization materials, such as alphabet posters, reading exercises, and short stories to be used in schools as well as other publications on the Arabic language and script. These materials were distributed all over Egypt, in the hope of making the new alphabet the standard in schools as well as in the government. This essay explores Fiske’s project and its reception in Egyptian society.