Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Freedom of Expression & Logic

Elif Shafak writes novels in Turkish and English. When writing in Turkish, she rejects the rationalized, disenchanted, centralized, Turkified language put in front of her. Turkish language has endured changes due to modernization and ideologies of ultra-nationalism. Shafak maintains that words of Persian, Arabic, or Sufi origin have been purged from modern Turkish language in order to build a unified modern Turkey that disassociates itself from its Ottoman past. Shafak is a feminist who is attached to Islamic, Jewish, and Christian heterodox. Her writing voice has been described as acerbic. Her fictional characters say and do bold things that get them playing defense in Turkey’s criminal court. When writing in English, Shafak faces the harshest criticism from Turkish nationalists who regard Shafak’s language choice as “cultural betrayal.” Shafak writes about taboo subjects, such as the role of women and the history of Armenian minority in Turkey. An agent committed to literature in translation has said, “most writers that are any good would get into trouble with Turkish authorities.” Shafak’s new novel The Bastard of Istanbul will be released in the U.S. on January 18. That’s tomorrow. I’ve already ordered it.

The statements above, if true, support which one of the following inferences?

a) The Turkish nationalists earnestly embrace modernization and regard mystic traditions as backward and a barrier to progress.

b) To offend Turkishness, a writer’s voice must be acerbic.

c) The prosecution of writers under Turkey's Article 301 is being used more and more against critical minds precisely because things have been changing rapidly in Turkey.

d) When a novelist writes bilingually, she will confront complications that are not always linguistic in nature.

e) Purging Turkish of words that are of Persian, Arabic, or Sufi origin have successfully disassociated Turkey from its Ottoman past.

(If you know the answer and leave it in a comment, you will earn some browning points with the gods and goddesses of free expression!)

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