Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics

Get access Subject: Language and Linguistics
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.

Subscriptions: see brill.com

Mabnī

(4 words)

see Bināʾ
Date: 2018-04-01

Madagascar

(4 words)

see Malagasy
Date: 2018-04-01

Māḍī and Muḍāriʿ

(3,161 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Carter
Māḍī and muḍāriʿ are two terms for the verb in its apparent temporal or aspectual modes. They are part of the oldest vocabulary of Arabic grammar, occurring already in the opening pages of the Kitāb of Sībawayhi (d. ca. 180/796), where verbs are classified as māḍī lit. ‘having passed, elapsed’, or muḍāriʿ ‘resembling’, an abbreviation for fiʿl muḍāriʿ li-sm al-fāʿil ‘verb resembling the agent noun’. Since there is no firm evidence that they were in use much before Sibawayhi’s time, they probably arose in the period of his association with the pioneers o…
Date: 2018-04-01

Mafʿūl

(4,360 words)

Author(s): Zeinab Ahmed Taha
1. Definition The word mafʿūl is derived from the Arabic root f-ʿ-l ‘to do, make’ and refers to something done or made. In the Qurʾān, the word mafʿūl occurs twice: “that Allah might conclude a thing that must be done” (Q. 8/42, 44; translation Pickthall 1938:262–263). In grammatical terminology, mafʿūl refers to the accusative noun/pronoun on which the act of the verb ‘falls’. This covers all the nominal complements of the verb, in particular the object, which was also called mafʿūl bihi. Both terms are usually translated with ‘object’, although a better equivalent for mafʿūl is ‘ patient’…
Date: 2018-04-01

Mafʿūl fīhi

(2,962 words)

Author(s): Kees Versteegh
In the canonical theory of the Arabic grammarians, the term mafʿūl fīhi indicates the adverbial adjunct of time and place as one of the complements of the verb. Adjuncts usually have an accusative ending, both in Classical and in Modern Standard Arabic, e.g. ṣumtu ramaḍāna ‘I fasted during Ramadan’, sirtu farsaxayni ‘I walked two parasangs’, sa-ʾad̄habu g̣adan ‘I'm going away tomorrow’, qumtu xalfa-ka ‘I stood up behind you’. In the case of place adverbials, a prepositional phrase is preferred when the location is specified, e.g. ṣallaytu fī masjidi n-nabiyyi ‘I prayed in the Proph…
Date: 2018-04-01

Maġribī

(2,349 words)

Author(s): Adam Gacek
The term maġribī is the generic name for a host of scripts or styles used in the western part of the Islamic world from Tunisia to Morocco ( ʾIfrīqiyā, Maġrib), southern Spain (Andalusia), and sub-Saharan Africa, for the copying of books and for use in the state apparatus (principally the chancery), as well as for ordinary purposes of writing. Although maġribī is easily identifiable as a group, there is still much research that needs to be done before we can attempt a comprehensive history of its development and its various styles. In a way, the problem …
Date: 2018-04-01

Maḥmūl

(1,750 words)

Author(s): Miklós Maróth
The term maḥmūl ‘ predicate’ is part of Arabic philosophical terminology, equivalent to the Latin praedicatum (Georr 1948:217; Afnan 1969:80–81; Versteegh 1993:24–25). Its meaning in philosophical terminology corresponds to that of xabar in linguistics (Elamrani-Jamal 1983:138–144; Fārābī, Ḥurūf 111.5–7), or ṣifa as opposed to mawṣūf in theological terminology (Wolfson 1976:112–132; Ibn Sīnā, Maqūlāt 18–19). The composition of mawḍūʿ ‘ subject’ and maḥmūl can be brought about ‘in the way of limitation’ ( ʿalā naḥw at-taqyīd) or ‘in the way of report’ ( ʿalā sabīl al-xabar). Fol…
Date: 2018-04-01

Mahmūsa

(4 words)

see Majhūra/Mahmūsa
Date: 2018-04-01

Maintenance

(6 words)

see Language Shift: Amazigh
Date: 2018-04-01

Majāz

(5,617 words)

Author(s): Udo Simon
The term majāz, used both in Arabic linguistic thought and in the hermeneutics of the Qurʾān, is usually translated as ‘trope’, although its meaning is not completely congruent with the Western concept. Majāz is explained as a verbal noun of jāza ‘to go beyond something’, in the sense of a participle denoting al-kalimatu al-jāʾizatu ʾay al-mutaʿaddiyatu makānahā l-ʾaṣliyya ‘a word that goes beyond its original place [i.e. its literal meaning in the language system]’ (cf. Jurjānī, ʾ Asrār 365; Mehren 1853:75). In the history of the term, a semantic specialization or narro…
Date: 2018-04-01

Majhūra/Mahmūsa

(1,417 words)

Author(s): Janusz Danecki
The terms majhūra/mahmūsa denote a phonological correlation, generally held to correspond to the opposition between voiced/voiceless (e.g. Schaade 1911:13), or to that between lenis/fortis phonemes (for a discussion of the difference between these two oppositions, see Ladefoged and Maddieson 1996:95–99). Both terms were first used by Sībawayhi (d. 175/791) in his Kitāb (II, 405). He probably based his observations on earlier research by his predecessors. However, his teacher al-Xalīl ibn ʾAḥmad (d. 175/791) does not mention this classification in the Kitab al-ʿayn, although …
Date: 2018-04-01

Majrur

(4 words)

see ʾIʿrāb
Date: 2018-04-01

Malagasy

(1,591 words)

Author(s): Narivelo Rajaonarimanana
Malagasy is a Malayo-Polynesian language spoken in Madagascar by approximately 13 million speakers. Its closest relative is Ma'anyan, a language spoken in southeast Kalimantan (cf. Dahl 1991). The language was probably brought to around 400 c.e. Between the 11th and the 14th century, Islamic peoples migrated to the island, probably from the East African coast (Rajaonarimanana 1990:180), who became the ancestors of present-day clans like the Antemoro. The medieval contacts between Madagascar, called by the Arab geographers Jazīrat al-Qamar (this term later came to designat…
Date: 2018-04-01

Malay

(4 words)

see Indonesian/Malay
Date: 2018-04-01

Malayalam

(3,835 words)

Author(s): R.E. Asher
1. Historical background Malayalam, a South Dravidian language (see Krishnamurti 2005), is the mother tongue of 96 percent of the population of the Indian state of Kerala. It is also the principal language of Lakshadweep, the Laccadive Islands, a chain of islands in the Arabian Sea running parallel to the coastal strip in the southwest of India that makes up Kerala. The total number of inhabitants recorded for Kerala in the 2001 census was 31,841,374, and for Lakshadweep 60,650. The history of Malayalam as a separate language goes…
Date: 2018-04-01

Malaysia

(5,373 words)

Author(s): Peter G. Riddell
  This article considers the role of the Arabic language in the area covered broadly by the modern state of Malaysia, from the establishment of Islam in the region up to the early 21st century. Strictly speaking, the term “Malaysia” only applies to the nation established in 1963, consisting of the Federation of Malaya on the Malay Peninsula, Singapore (which withdrew to become an independent state two years later), and the former British colonies of Sarawak and Sabah on the island of Borneo. However, in light of the relevance of …
Date: 2018-04-01

Mali

(4,489 words)

Author(s): Dinie Bouwman
In the contemporary Republic of Mali in West Africa, Arabic is not a native language of the largely Muslim population (80–90% Muslims), except for a minority of approximately 1 percent of Ḥassāniyya speakers (www.ethnologue.com). However, Standard Arabic plays an important role in Islamic education and scholarship in Mali, and in this role the language has a long history in the region. Arabic did not spread to the Sahel region of West Africa primarily as the language of Islam, however, but as a language of commercial communicat…
Date: 2018-04-01

Malta

(3,513 words)

Author(s): Joseph M. Brincat
Situated 93 km south of Sicily, 288 km east of Tunisia, and 355 km north of Libya, the island of Malta presents an intriguing linguistic situation. Although nearer to Sicily and culturally European, its inhabitants still speak a language that is basically a variety of Arabic, albeit a “highly deviant offshoot of vernacular Arabic” (Borg 1997:271, see also 245–247; Kaye and Rosenhouse 1997:263). The deviation derives from two parallel processes: while the original Arabic dialect lost contact with…
Date: 2018-04-01

Maltese

(8,376 words)

Author(s): Manwel Mifsud
1. General The affiliation of Maltese within other Arabic vernaculars is a controversial issue. It is likely that successive waves of impact reached the Maltese shores from different Arab stations and at different points in the island's history (for theories about a Phoenician origin of Maltese, Malta). Most linguists (see, for example, Aquilina 1961, 1979) agree that typologically Maltese fits well into the general characteristics of Maghrebi dialects, including the most distinctive isoglosses such as the n- prefix for the 1st person plural of the imperfect ( niktbu ‘we write’, nimx…
Date: 2018-04-01

Maʿnā

(3,646 words)

Author(s): Djamel Eddine Kouloughli
1. Introduction In a modern Arabic-English dictionary, the term maʿnā is rendered by such words as ‘sense’, ‘ meaning’, and ‘signification’, so that it forms with its conceptual counterpart a semantic pair quite akin to the signifier/signified couple familiar to contemporary linguistics. Yet, a close examination of a number of Arabic texts of different periods in which both these terms show up, separately or together, reveals that it has not always been so, and that it is only in the final stage of a long evolution that the lafḍ/maʿnā couple ended up with its present-day functional…
Date: 2018-04-01

Mangkunagara I

(742 words)

Author(s): Ricklefs, M. C.
Prince Mangkunagara I (1726–95), known also as Raden Mas Said, as Suryakusuma and, posthumously, as Pangeran Samber Nyawa (“soul catcher”), was one of the most flamboyant figures of eighteenth-century Java. He was born in the court of Kartasura on 7 April 1726. His father was exiled in 1728, and his mother died before he was two, leaving him orphaned in the court at an early age. Much was expected of him because of his ancestry, and there were prophecies of his future greatness. He proved to be popular and able to gather many followers. In 1740, when Mangkunagara was just fourteen, he le…
Date: 2019-05-08

Manṣub

(4 words)

see ʾIʿrāb
Date: 2018-04-01

Marfūʿ

(4 words)

see ʾIʿrāb
Date: 2018-04-01

Masculine

(4 words)

see Gender
Date: 2018-04-01

Maṣdar

(2,063 words)

Author(s): Everhard Ditters
  1. Introduction One of the first times a comprehensive discussion of the term maṣdar is encountered in the linguistic literature is in Sībawayhi's (d. ca. 177/793) grammatical treatise al-Kitāb ‘the book’. His approach is presented here following Mosel (1974) by describing the category, form, and function of the maṣdar in Classical Arabic. Then, on the basis of Cantarino (1974–1975), the use of the maṣdar in Modern Literary Arabic is analyzed in order to allow for a comparison between past and present. 2. The maṣdar in Classical Arabic In the context of transitive verbs, Sībawayh…
Date: 2018-04-01

Mataram

(294 words)

Author(s): Ricklefs, M. C.
Mataram is a district in south-central Java, bordered on the north by Mount Merapi and on the south by the Indian Ocean. It is a well-watered site with rich volcanic soils that can support heavy concentrations of population and has been the site of much of the imperial history of Java since pre-Islamic days. It is centred on the present-day city of Yogyakarta, located at approximately latitude S 7°47', longitude E 110°22'. The pre-Islamic kingdom of Mataram is notable for many fine Hindu and Buddhist temples built in the eighth and ninth centuries, the most famous o…
Date: 2019-05-08

Mauritania

(5,223 words)

Author(s): Catherine Taine-Cheikh
In 1960, Mauritania, a French colony along the Atlantic Coast in West Africa, achieved independence under the name of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. The name ‘Mauritania’, once used as the name of the Roman colonies of North Africa ( Mauretania), was reintroduced by the colonial administration to designate this western part of the Saharo-Sahelian zone, which was called in Arabic literature bilād Šinqīṭ ‘country of Šinqīṭ’, trāb al-bīḍān ‘land of the Whites’ (Taine-Cheikh 1990), or bilād as-sayba ‘country of anarchy’. The borders of the country are as arbitrary as its na…
Date: 2018-04-01

Mawḍūʿ

(1,743 words)

Author(s): Miklós Maróth
1. The meaning of the term mawḍūʿ The term mawḍūʿ is used in two senses: i.When derived from waḍʿ, which serves in the literature translated from Greek as the equivalent of the verb títhēmi ‘to place’, mawḍūʿ refers to ‘mutual agreement, convention’ (Pollak 1913:58; Georr 1948:249; Afnan 1969:315–316). Mawḍūʿ is used in this sense by az-Zajjājī (d. 339/949): “A noun is an invented sound with a conventional meaning, not specified by time” ( al-ism ṣawt mawḍūʿ dāll bi-ttifāq ʿalā maʿnan ġayr maqrūn bi-zamān; Versteegh 1995:58). This term refers to the prevailing view in Arabic …
Date: 2018-04-01

Meccan Arabic

(5,088 words)

Author(s): Mahasen Abu Mansour
1. General Meccan Arabic refers to the variety of Arabic spoken mainly in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. In addition, it is widely used and understood in both Jeddah and Madinah, and less so in Taʾif. While the majority of the native speakers of the dialect live in Mecca and its suburbs, it is difficult to arrive at an accurate number of the speakers due to the extremely cosmopolitan nature of the population of Mecca and its constant settlement by speakers of other dialects. The annual pilgrimage season and the continuous religious visits paid by Muslims bring different cult…
Date: 2018-04-01

Mechanisms of Linguistic Change

(3,568 words)

Author(s): Reinhard Stempel
1. Introduction Language change is a process at work in any language at any time, affecting all parts of its grammatical system. In an immediately perceptible way, the lexicon especially undergoes changes, either by introducing loanwords from other languages or by creating new words from material already existing in the language. The latter process, as well as phonological and morphological changes, takes place within the language system and, therefore, follows some generally valid lines of development, owing to the fact that, as shown by F. de Saussure in his Cours de linguistique …
Date: 2018-04-01

Media

(4,483 words)

Author(s): Ragia M. Effat
‘Media’ (Arabic wasāʾil al-ʾiʿlām, pl. of wasīlat al-ʾiʿlām) is a term for vehicles for the widespread communication to and entertainment of an audience, including printed and electronic means. It is widely agreed that the media are not neutral impassive agencies that transmit news and views, but are themselves influential selectors, shapers, manufacturers, and even, on occasion, fabricators of news and views (McArthur 1998). The topic of this entry is the development of Arabic language media, specific…
Date: 2018-04-01

Media Arabic

(3,236 words)

Author(s): Ragia M. Effat
One of the most important aspects of Arab press and radio broadcasting is the Arabic language itself. The growth of Arab mass media since the 1950s has greatly enhanced the wider use of Modern Standard Arabic. This is the language of the newspapers and the electronic media, which is generally understood by the population of the Arab world. Arabic itself is viewed as an important element in the effectiveness of a propaganda effort. The Arabic language, creatively employed and strongly delivered, will produce the intended reaction among listeners. Arabic…
Date: 2018-04-01

Mehri

(6 words)

see South Arabian, Modern
Date: 2018-04-01

Merger

(5 words)

see Phonological Merger
Date: 2018-04-01

Mesopotamian Arabic

(5 words)

see Iraq
Date: 2018-04-01

Metaphor

(6 words)

see Istiʿāra ; Majāz
Date: 2018-04-01

Metathesis

(2,374 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Hume
1. Introduction ‘Metathesis’ is a term used to describe a language sound pattern in which a sequence of sounds appears in one order in one context but in the opposite order in a related context. The transposition of sounds of this type is commonly observed in Arabic languages, as can be seen in Maltese, for example, by comparing verb forms such as [yokrob] and [yokorbu] ‘to groan [3rd pers. sg./pl. imperf.]’; the sequence [ro] occurs in the singular form of the word while the reverse order [or] is found in the plural. In addition to the use of metathesis as a descriptive term, in generative …
Date: 2019-03-26

Meter

(5,200 words)

Author(s): Dmitry Frolov
1. The theory of meter Arabic versification ( ʿarūḍ) is quantitative, a unique phenomenon among the Semitic languages, where accent verse systems dominate. Its theory was developed by al-Xalīl ibn ʾAḥmad (d. 175/791 or 170/786 or 160/776), who was also a prominent figure in the genesis of Arabic linguistic science. The classical theory postulates sixteen meters, although the number of meters used in poetic practice does not exceed a dozen. The pioneers of the study of ʿarūḍ in Europe, such as William Jones (1777), Georg Wilhelm Freytag (1830), and Georg Ewald (1825–1854…
Date: 2019-03-23
▲   Back to top   ▲