Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics

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Managing Editors Online Edition: Lutz Edzard and Rudolf de Jong

The Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics Online comprehensively covers all aspects of Arabic languages and linguistics. It is interdisciplinary in scope and represents different schools and approaches in order to be as objective and versatile as possible. The Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics Online is cross-searchable and cross-referenced, and is equipped with a browsable index. All relevant fields in Arabic linguistics, both general and language specific are covered and the Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics Online includes topics from interdisciplinary fields, such as anthropology, psychology, sociology, philosophy, and computer science.

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(4 words)

see Colloquial
Date: 2018-04-01

Dialect Geography

(4,952 words)

Author(s): Peter Behnstedt
1. Introduction The Arabic-speaking area is dialectally fragmented, as only few other speech areas are, and many a region remains a terra incognita. This shortcoming is a result of the geographical aspect on one hand: not all localities and regions have been investigated to the same extent. Thus, Khurasan Arabic was discovered only recently (Seeger 2002; Afghanistan Arabic). On the other hand, the data are heterogeneous as for size, quality, and moment of investigation. This can be explained by the fact that Arabic dialectology is rather a secondary discipline of Arabic or Sem…
Date: 2018-04-01

Dialect Koine

(3,059 words)

Author(s): Catherine Miller
1. Introduction The term ‘ koine’ comes from the Greek word koinē ‘common’, referring to the variety of Greek that became the lingua franca, or common language, of the eastern Mediterranean area during the Hellenistic period. It has since been applied to many other languages that share certain features with the original Greek koine. Inspired by the Hellenistic tradition, a number of Arabists used the term to refer to two historical types of Arabic varieties: the pre-Islamic poetic koine and the military or urban dialect koine of the early periods of the Arab conquest. The poet…
Date: 2018-04-01

Dialect Literature

(4,912 words)

Author(s): Humphrey T. Davies
1. Introduction ‘Dialect literature’ is defined for the purposes of this entry as materials written in colloquial Arabic to be read rather than heard. Thus, the materials described here are the product of a choice by their authors to disregard the norm, prevalent throughout the history of Arabic literature, that mandates the use of the literary idiom in written communication. Materials composed primarily for oral performance and then transcribed, such as printed traditional poetry and folk stories, have been excluded. Also excluded are materials that mix colloquial a…
Date: 2018-04-01

Dialects: Classification

(6,545 words)

Author(s): Heikki Palva
1. General remarks Generalizing labels such as ‘ Egyptian Arabic’, ‘ Syrian Arabic’, or ‘ Moroccan Arabic’ are commonly used to refer to dialect types spoken in the respective countries. In textbook titles and names of courses in Spoken Arabic, they are used for the sake of convenience, although in fact they often refer to the dialects of the capital cities. This is not merely a simplification but, in a sense, it is also justified because of the ongoing trend toward regional standard dialects with the dialects…
Date: 2018-04-01

Dialects: Genesis

(6,463 words)

Author(s): Soha Abboud-Haggar
1. Introduction Scholarly discussions about the genesis of the Arabic dialects have always been connected by another crucial issue: the linguistic situation in Arabia before Islam and its relation to the linguistic variety of the Qurʾān and poems attributed to pre-Islamic poets. Yet, there are very few studies devoted exclusively to dialects in the pre-Islamic period (Rabin 1951; Owens, forthcoming 2). Arabic dialects appeared after the expansion of the Arabs, which began after the death of the Prophet Muḥammad in 632 C.E. All colloquial varieties or dial…
Date: 2018-04-01


(3,142 words)

Author(s): Jan Retsö
1. Definition Diathesis can be defined as the syntactic relationship between the verbal core of a sentence and its nominal constituents, i.e. the verbal predicate and the parts of speech directly relating to it, mainly subject and object. The relationship encompasses both semantic and morphosyntactic categories. A verbal sememe may thus automatically imply a series of nominal complements which differ in number and semantic content depending on the semantic class of the verb. Such nominal complements are named by some linguists ‘ actants’. Thus, for instance, a verbal sememe me…
Date: 2018-04-01


(10 words)

see Lexicography: Bilingual Dictionaries | Lexicography: Monolingual Dictionaries
Date: 2018-10-01


(1,909 words)

Author(s): Lidia Bettini
In Arabic lexicography this term indicates ‘(a word) having two mutually exclusive meanings’ (pl. ʾaḍdād). The compilations concerning the ʾaḍdād pertain to the activity of collecting every aspect of the Arabic language undertaken by philologists from the end of 2nd/8th century onwards. The case of the ʾaḍdād, according to the Arab philologists, is a particular instance of the lexical category of the muštarak ‘the common one’, i.e. homonymous polysemic words, such as ʿayn ‘eye’, ‘source’, ‘coin’, and so on (cf. as-Suyūṭī [d. 911/1505], Muzhir I, 369–386), which in this particu…
Date: 2018-04-01


(6,211 words)

Author(s): Naima Boussofara Omar
In his 2001 inaugural speech at the 67th conference of the Arabic Language Academy (19 March–2 April), Šawqī Ḍayf, the president of the academy, openly accused the media of being carelessly oblivious, noting that fuṣḥā is “the language of all the peoples of the ʾumma [ luġat šuʿūb al-ʾumma jamīʿan]” whereas the ʿāmmiyya is the “daily language of a single people… the local language understood only by its people”. He argued that the media has allowed the dialects to gradually but intrusively creep into domains that are traditionally reserved for fuṣḥā and eventually claim victory over …
Date: 2018-04-01


(1,825 words)

Author(s): Tamar Zewi
The diminutive is a morphological pattern which expresses diminution, reduction, or lessening. The common Arabic terms for diminution and diminutive are at-taṣġīr or al-ism al-muṣaġġar, and at-taḥqīr and al-ism al-muḥaqqar for a pejorative/deteriorative/contemptuous meaning which is sometimes implicit in the form. The diminutive may also be used to express endearment or charity (e.g. Wright 1896:166; Fleisch 1961:380–381, 392; Fischer 2002:51). Semitic languages, including Arabic, present series of noun patterns, i.e. substantives and adjectives, which e…
Date: 2018-04-01


(1,993 words)

Author(s): Tamás Iványi
1. Diphthongs in Classical Arabic and its dialects In the Semitic linguistic domain a vowel + glide ( w or y) compound is called a diphthong. Its Arabic name has the same meaning: ṣawt murakkab ‘compound sound’. The hypothetical Proto-Semitic diphthongs, *aw/*ay, according to the generally accepted view, are conserved in Old Arabic (Cantineau 1960:102), but this conservation is not at all surprising, since Proto-Semitic phonology has been reconstructed mainly from Classical Arabic, as interpreted by comparatively late sources. Early papyri testify that aw/ay are preserved and …
Date: 2018-04-01


(2,601 words)

Author(s): André Roman
1. Introduction Arabic is a language of case inflections (declension). The majority of nouns have three cases: /u/ for the nominative, /i/ for the genitive, and /a/ for complements. This three-case system, or triptosis, contrasts with a two-case system, in which nouns have /u/ for the nominative, and /a/ for the other functions. The most important categories of diptotic nouns in Classical Arabic are (Fleisch 1961:271–276): i. proper names: names of foreign origin (e.g. ʾibrāhīmu ‘Abraham’); names of cities and regions (e.g., baġdādu ‘Baghdad’); names ending in tāʾ marbūṭa, both mal…
Date: 2018-04-01

Discourse Analysis

(4,211 words)

Author(s): Ahmed Fakhri
1. Introduction The field of discourse analysis is very heterogeneous and covers a wide range of language studies not only by linguists, but also by scholars from other disciplines such as sociology, rhetoric, and anthropology. For this reason the term ‘discourse analysis’ has often been assigned a variety of meanings. However, it can reasonably be defined as an area of inquiry dealing with language use rather than language as an abstract system of rules and it focuses on units larger than the sentence such as a piece of conversation, a story, or a series o…
Date: 2018-04-01

Discourse Markers

(5 words)

see Connectives
Date: 2018-04-01


(544 words)

Author(s): Petr Zemánek
Dissimilation can be viewed as a process by which one segment avoids taking on a feature (or a set of features) of another segment, usually an adjacent one. As such, it may be regarded as a counterprocess to assimilation. This process is not very frequent in either Classical/Modern Standard Arabic or in the Arabic dialects, at least not in its linear manifestation. Generally speaking, dissimilation may be progressive or regressive and may involve consonants and vowels alike. In Classical and Mod…
Date: 2018-04-01


(1,797 words)

Author(s): Marie-Claude Simeone-Senelle
Arabic, though not native to the Horn of Africa, is widely spoken in two countries where it is not the majority language: the Republic of Djibouti and Eritrea. This region on the west coast of the Red Sea opposite the Tihama region of Yemen has always been one of contact and exchange. Links between the African and Arabian coasts are attested since antiquity and are doubtless much older. Arabic was spoken there before the arrival of Islam. The Christianization of Abyssinia was carried out by Arabic-speaking priests from Syria who began to evangelize the hinterland, central Eritrea, and the …
Date: 2018-04-01