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For some reason, lately my mind has been occupied with questions revolving around the nature of language. I’ve always been a fan of the written word, but over time, I’ve come to realize how the philosophy of language can be more powerful than the actual language.

Here are three such questions.

1. Battle of the sexes in the arena of curse words: I find “son of a bitch” a very alluring and catchy curse yet it is only reserved for male subjects. Why isn’t there “daughter of a bitch” or “bitch of a bitch”? Probably because they are linguistically awkward and just won’t come out as actual curses. But still, why are some curse words exclusive to the male population? On the other hand, we get “cunt” so does that make us even? Maybe. Maybe not because some of the linguistically female curse words are actually used when addressing males. For example, “bitch” is becoming more unisex every day.

2. Nationality in English vs. Arabic: The word “nationality” in English is logically derived from one’s “nation” or homeland. However, the equivalent translation of “nationality” in Arabic is “جنسية”. The root of “جنسية” is “جنس” which is directly related to one’s sex and not his homeland. How come the concept of nationality is linked to one’s sex in the Arabic language? Is an Arab’s nationality so deeply entrenched in his/her identity that it can actually be connected to his/her gender?

3. Slave vs. worshipper in the Quran: The word “عبد” is the singular form of slave. And God uses it frequently in the Quran. But what’s interesting is that when He uses its plural form, He doesn’t say “عبيد” (slaves) but rather “عباد” (worshippers). And so a nuance in meaning is revealed. Although both plural forms share the same singular form, they don’t share the same meaning. Does that mean He doesn’t see us as slaves? Is He subtly implying that we have a more elegant purpose than to just be “slaves”? Or is worshipping a mirror image of slavery only in different phrasing

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