Revolution and the Slogans of Egyptian Youth: A Linguistic Study in Spontaneous Expression (978-614-445-001-7, 408 pp.), by Nader Srage, powerfully illustrates the tangible impact of protest slogans on the Egyptian revolution, and published by the ACRPS in June of 2014. Drawing on the revolutionary youth’s slogans chanted across Tahir Square and other Egyptian cities, and the graffiti, written satire and catchphrases scrawled on Egypt’s walls, Srage provides an engaging linguistic analysis of revolutionary slogans.
Srage begins with a comprehensive analysis of the language used by the protesters; the main actors behind the slogans such as the activists and ordinary citizens; the role of these slogans in galvanizing Egyptians thus enabling collective political action; the films, songs and theatrical productions from which some of the slogans are quoted, and the significance of the term Irhal – “Leave” in Arabic – the anthem of Egypt’s revolution.
In its second part, the book explores the semiotic uses of the slogans, including the renowned juxtaposition of an Islamic crescent and a Christian cross drawn onto the Egyptian flag and painted on protestors’ faces, signifying unity across sectarian lines. Other symbols carefully examined by the author include the use of stuffed animals such as the camel, in reference to the camel and horse riders who invaded Tahrir square; the golden eagle, which appears on the national insignia of Egypt; the use of food dishes evoking the revolution’s notorious slogan “Bread, Freedom and Social Justice” and the images of airplanes used by the protesters signaling Mubarak, a former pilot, to leave. In the book’s final chapter, Srage turns to the analysis of the clothes worn by the protesters – a powerful display of conscious political symbolism employed by Egyptian protesters.
Srage’s book provides linguists with the tools to better understand the linguistic interactions taking place during Egypt’s revolution. It also serves as a reminder of the need for scholars involved in linguistic investigative field work to take greater interest in their native languages, and to take note of the power of those formulating political statements.
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