No self-respecting contemporary Orientalist comments on a text or a word without showing its "original" meaning, commonly implying that, whatever accretions may have attached themselves over the centuries, the word’s true meaning is its first meaning. This is the attitude, for example, of Bernard Lewis in The Political Language of Islam and almost every entry in The Encyclopedia of Islam.I can't think of any good examples off the top of my head, but this habit does seem to crop up in various essays and papers on the Middle East or the Arab world, and the point's well-taken.
Rather than seeing language in its living—to say nothing of psychological—context, it is thought all but sufficient to access its earliest meaning to grasp its timeless essence. This focus on has allowed the philological enterprise to be carried along—without the need for interdisciplinary insight—into the ongoing appraisal of texts. This approach does not necessitate, as Said would have it, a biased view of the mentalités of modern Arabic speakers, but it can certainly perpetuate the assumption that the scholar knows better than the speaker the true meaning of his or her expression.