Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics

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(3,592 words)

The verb ʾaʿraba, from which the term ʾiʿrāb is derived, means ‘to use good Arabic style, to express one's mind clearly, to make known’ and, in a technical sense, ‘to pronounce the final short vowels of a word’, hence the usual translation of ʾiʿrāb as ‘declension’. The ʾiʿrāb is the main distinctive feature of the ʿarabiyya, the language used by the Arabs of the desert, and in particular the form of expression of the oldest poetry, transmitted by the ruwāt ‘reciters’ of certain trustworthy Bedouin tribes. It is usually regarded as a synonym of bayān ‘clear expression’ (e.g. Zajjājī, ʾĪḍāḥ 91…

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Kinga Dévényi, “ʾIʿrāb”, in: Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics, Managing Editors Online Edition: Lutz Edzard, Rudolf de Jong. Consulted online on 02 December 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1570-6699_eall_EALL_SIM_vol2_0029>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004177024, 20090831

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