Like citizens in the 19th century European landscape, words have be- come inalienable, with a fixed meaning that was impossible to forfeit or eradicate. This untranslatable and fixed meaning became the mode of understanding linguistic borrowing in Orientalist philological discourse of the late 19th and early 20th century. Words were seen as autonomous citizens, incapable of losing their original meaning, a meaning that shone with a light of its own and was impossible to e↵ace regardless of what new use the borrowed word was put to in a di↵erent language. It was a light which no borrowing could hide. A word could be masqueraded, but no serious scholar would mistake it for what it had adorned itself with; with some e↵ort, an enlightened philologist could uncover the charade, expose the conceit and lay bare the true meaning of the original word. Authenticity now became something material, a substantive character- istic of existence that adhered to the word regardless of historical or linguistic contexts. The “original” meaning was the authentic one, the inalienable one, and the normative and operative one. It did not matter how many migrations it underwent and into how many new languages it was incorporated. Borrowing was seen as a degenerative process: for the move to a new linguistic environment meant that the word had de- generated and became less authentic. This perceived process gave even more significance to the rhetoric of authenticity.
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