Tracking Prisons / Lingo

In 2012, UMAM D&R was fortunate enough to be entrusted with the testimonies of a host of former Lebanese detainees in Syrian prisons. Through its analysis of these testimonies, UMAM D&R started creating a glossary of the words and expressions these former prisoners used to describe their time in Syrian prisons. Having collected a significant amount of terms, UMAM D&R felt compelled to expand this endeavor, and thus began scrutinizing other written testimonies recounting individual experiences in Syrian prisons. To do so, UMAM D&R entrusted a researcher to peruse a number of published prison testimonies and to extract as many of the identified prison words and expressions from them as possible. Subsequently, the glossary turned into a small dictionary that was published under the title, Keys of the Syrian Prison.

Since then, UMAM D&R has continued to collect words and idioms related to MENA prisons and has continually encouraged others, especially former prisoners, to document their linguistic prison acquisition. An illustration of this effort is Ahmad Said's An Outline of Egyptian Prison Lingo, published within the MPF Logs series. To make this effort more accessible, and by taking advantage of the flexibility of online publishing, this growing collection of prison terminology is also presented—and expanded upon—under the "Loughat as-Soujoun" sub-section of the Arabic side of this website, which assumes a lexicon-like design. Each entry of "Loughat as-Soujoun" includes the following fields: the entry in question, a definition of the entry, a quote (when available), term(s) related to the entry in question (when applicable), and any relevant remarks.

As one may imagine, publishing this content in Arabic is itself an overwhelming endeavor. Rendering it in English is a titanic undertaking. We don't despair of being able to do it one day… for the moment, the "Lingo" sub-section of the English side of this website contents itself to refer to the Arabic "original."

Needless to say, the MPF welcomes any assistance in both enriching the Arabic lexicon and in making it available in other non-Arabic languages!

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