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Mac Toot and Lisa White Release Comic Book on the Arabic Language

Artist and professor Mac Toot has released a comic book with professor Lisa White, literally illustrating the peculiarities of the Arabic language.

mac toot

Following his release of ‘Corona Bel Bechamel’ earlier this year, academic, artist and animator Mac Toot has just released his collaboration with former AUC professor Lisa White: an all-new book on Arabic metaphors and morphology titled ‘Rooted in the Body.’ Morphology is a linguistics subject that studies the internal structure of words, and this book explores the parts of our rich vocabulary that are derived from - of all things - body parts in Arabic.

“It's about how you can get one verb form from another, and how you can make educated guesses about what a new word means through that function," White tells #CairoScene. "What this book does is take one semantic field, the body, and introduces you to this system in order to give non-native Arabic speakers morphological muscles. But it's also interesting for native speakers to learn about how the body relates to words. For example, the word ‘izn’ or permission, comes from ‘ozon’ or ear. That's because in essence what ‘ba3d eznak’ means is ‘lend me your ear’.”

To complement White’s research, Mac Toot joined the project to bring visual meaning to the written word. Being a professor himself at AUC, Mac Toot (aka Mahmoud Shaltout) was connected with White through a colleague, who taught at AUC for three decades. Using his illustrations in his own curriculum, the illustrator and academic decided to do the same for White. “I met White in 2017, she described her project to me, I went back and did some rough sketches, and next thing you know we decided to pursue it further into an entire book,” Shaltout tells #CairoScene.

The illustrations are peppered with celebs and pop culture references, including Mo Salah, Anthony Hopkins, Faten Hamama, Shadia, Da Vinci, and Karl Marx among a plethora of others. “I had to familiarize myself with morphology and interpret it through illustration, which was the hardest part of all of this,” Shaltout adds.

The title is now available on Amazon for pre-order