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(3,383 words)

Author(s): Karin C. Ryding
1. The ʾiḍāfa in the Arabic linguistic tradition Two Arabic nouns may be linked together in a noun phrase in such a way that the second noun in the sequence determines the first by limiting, identifying, possessing, defining, or amplifying it. The two nouns in this phrase function as a closely knit syntactic unit. In Arabic grammatical terminology, this structure is referred to as ʾiḍāfa ‘annexation; addition’; the first noun in the structure is muḍāf ‘annexed’ to the second noun, which is the muḍāf ʾilay-hi lit. ‘the added-to (or ‘annexing’) noun’. The annexing noun is in the …
Date: 2018-04-01


(4,375 words)

Author(s): Karel Steenbrink
Since the arrival of Islam in the Indonesian archipelago, Arabic has been used as a religious language for the basic rituals and for technical instruction of specialists in the religious sciences. It has, however, remained restricted to the religious realm, the major vehicle of contact being Tamil rather than Arabic. Many Indonesian commercial terms bear witness to the influence of southeast Indian Muslims in the period before Malay developed into the lingua franca of the archipelago and, after …
Date: 2018-04-01

Construct State

(2,661 words)

Author(s): Elabbas Benmamoun
1. Definition The construct state (CS) is a syntactic phrase consisting of at least two members, mostly nouns that are in a genitive relation. The sentence in (1) provides a typical example of the construct state, where the first noun carries the main case of the phrase, which can vary according to whether the noun phrase is nominative, accusative, or genitive. The second noun always carries genitive case. (1) Standard Arabic kitāb-u/a/i l-muʿallim-i book-Nom/Acc/Gen the-teacher-Gen ‘The teacher's book’ The members of the construct state do not have to be nouns. Adjective…
Date: 2018-09-16


(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

Circumstantial Clause

(5,850 words)

Author(s): Maria Persson
  The term ‘circumstantial clause’ (German ‘Zustandssatz’) has been used extensively as a translation of the traditional Arabic term ḥāl, that is, the term has been used to describe a concept within Arabic grammatical theory (Reckendorf 1898, 1921; Brockelmann 1913; Addeweesh 1985; Wright 1996; Bernards 2007; etc.). The term, “circumstantial qualifier”, was introduced by Badawi et al. (2004:156–159, 456, 579–587) to replace the traditional Arabic term ḥāl. Though not explicitly stated, this change of terminology hinted at the need for a broader linguistic app…
Date: 2018-04-01


(3,703 words)

Author(s): Nagwa Elzeiny
1. The definition of greetings The term ‘greetings’ refers to any verbal behavior that a speaker engages in upon recognizing another, or one that has the function of recognition of an encounter with a person as socially acceptable (Firth 1972:1). Greetings are also defined as the set of linguistic and/or nonlinguistic devices used for the initial management of encounters (Yusuf a.o. 1976), that is of paramount significance in everyday interaction. They are aspects of politeness routines (Ervin-Tripp 1964:195) that are tied to conversational exchange; hence, their manipulation…
Date: 2018-04-01

Passive (Syntax)

(3,102 words)

Author(s): Amira Agameya
The passive in Arabic is a sentence structure in which the semantic subject or agent, i.e. the performer of or person/thing responsible for an action, is suppressed and, in fact, cannot be mentioned. This renders the passive in Arabic an impersonal structure. In the passive, the understood object of the active verb is the subject of the passive sentence and is marked for this role by nominative case in the Classical/Standard Arabic variety. The verb changes into the passive by either changing the vowels in the stem and tense prefix or by the insertion of a prefix (passive). 1. Structural pro…
Date: 2018-04-01


(5,136 words)

Author(s): Mustafa A. Shah
The qirāʾāt (sg. qirāʾa) represent the vast corpus of Qurʾānic readings that are traditionally linked to the textual transmission and recitation of Islam's sacred book. It is to the skeletal text ( rasm) of the Qurʾān that all of these readings are ultimately bound, reflecting subtle variations in the linguistic features of the text. The nature of variance among these readings ranges from differences and distinctions which occur at the morphosyntactic and morphophonological levels of the Qurʾānic text and are seemingly of an infi…
Date: 2018-04-01


(3,803 words)

Author(s): Rahman, Tariq
1. The history of Arabic in South Asia Pakistan is a multilingual country with six major languages (see Table 1) and 69 languages in all (Grimes 2000:588-598). Urdu is the national language, but it is English, the ex-colonial language, which is used in the higher domains of power - government, military, higher education, judiciary, commerce, research and media.  Table 1: Languages spoken in Pakistan language percentage of speakers number of speakers Punjābī 44.15 66,225,000 Pashtō 15.42 23,130,000 Sindhī 14.10 21,150,000 Siraikī 10.53 15,795,000 Urdū 7.57 11,355,000 Balōchī 3.57 5,…
Date: 2019-03-29

First Language Teaching

(5,578 words)

Author(s): Kassem M. Wahba
This entry gives a brief overview of the present situation of Arabic language teaching and learning at primary, preparatory, and secondary schools in the Arab world. Although the examples concern only a few Arab countries, many issues hold true for the rest of the Arab countries. The following issues are discussed: (1) the teaching and learning of Arabic in the Arab world; (2) the structure of the school system; (3) the place of the Arabic language in the school curriculum; (4) the goals and con…
Date: 2018-04-01


(11,536 words)

Author(s): Kamal Abu Deeb
1. Introduction Studying the language of Arabic poetry ( šiʿr) poses a problem that may not be common in the study of language in poetry in other cultures. The problem arises from the fact that the Arabic language has been bequeathed to us largely in the form in which it was used in that poetry. In other words, the language of poetry, supplemented by the properties of the language of the Qurʾānic text, generated our concept of a norm in the use of Arabic. Thus, if we try to examine the language of poetry in terms of some modern notions of poeticality, we find ourselves in…
Date: 2018-04-01

Middle Arabic

(6,027 words)

Author(s): Jérôme Lentin
1. Definition The very term ‘Middle Arabic’ is ambiguous because of the history of its use, the multiple meanings of the term ‘middle’ (historically middle, sociolinguistically intermediate, linguistically mixed – not to mention the middling quality of texts, in the opinion of some people), and the variety of views on the history of the Arabic language. Different definitions or characterizations have thus been proposed. As is the case for other languages, ‘Middle’ has been used to refer to a historic…
Date: 2018-04-01


(4,439 words)

Author(s): Georgine Ayoub
Ibn Jinnī (d. 392/1002) defines grammar ( naḥw) as follows: “It is to follow the way the Arabs speak… so that the non-Arabs might have access to the Arabs' faṣāḥa” ( Xaṣāʾiṣ I, 34). More than a thousand years later, written Arabic is still called al-luġa al-fuṣḥā. This shows how the notion of faṣāḥa is an essential component of Arab language thinking. The root f-ṣ-ḥ is very ancient and is found in other Semitic languages. From f-ṣ-ḥ is derived fiṣḥ ‘Jewish Passover’, also ‘Christian Easter’ (Ibn Manẓūr, Lisān, s.v.). In some Semitic languages, f-ṣ-ḥ is explicitly associated with somethi…
Date: 2018-04-01


(5,264 words)

Author(s): Mohammed Sawaie
1. Historical introduction This entry refers to modern-day Jordan, as established in 1921 by the British. Initially it was a princedom designated to Emir (‘prince’), later King, Abdullah. During that stage, between 1921 and 1946, it was known as Trans-Jordan. It was also called ‘the East Bank’, referring to the River Jordan. The second stage began after the annexation of the Palestinian territories, or ‘the West Bank’, that were left unoccupied by the State of Israel in 1948. In 1950, the name changed to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. In the wake of the 194…
Date: 2018-04-01


(2,406 words)

Author(s): Kinga Dévényi
The term jazāʾ ‘requital’ is the most common term used by early medieval Arab grammarians in connection with conditionality. It can be interpreted as involvement of a condition. The conditional particles ( ḥurūf al-jazāʾ) are those that trigger a conditional relation ( mā yujāzā bihi). In addition to terminological differences in describing conditional structures, Arab grammarians throughout the ages held different opinions concerning the scope of these particles, and hence the structures that they described under this heading also differed. 1. Conditional structures in Cla…
Date: 2018-04-01

Arabic Alphabet: Origin

(5,676 words)

Author(s): Beatrice Gruendler
The Arabic alphabet, or more precisely ʾabjad ‘consonantary’ takes its origin from the Nabataean variant of late Aramaic script, which suits Semitic morphology based on the tri-consonantal root, but records neither short vowels nor most inflectional endings (Daniels 1990:730). In the process of adoption, the letters were graphically homogenized, and subsequently a variety of mostly supralinear signs were devised to optimize the phonetic precision of the script. The Arabic alphabet most often denotes the formal variant within the Arabic languages (Classical Arab…
Date: 2018-04-01

X-Bar Syntax

(5,398 words)

Author(s): Mark S. LeTourneau
1. Introduction: The X-bar schema Early generative grammar, from the late 1950s to the late 1960s, factored grammatical descriptions into two main components: the base component, consisting of (the lexicon and) phrase-structure rules, and the transformational component. X-bar syntax is the designation for a theory of phrase structure that originated in the context of an intramural debate within the generativist camp in the late 1960s concerning the proper way to characterize relationships among expressions like (1a,b,c). (1) a. John proved the theorem b. John's proving of the …
Date: 2020-08-01


(5,475 words)

Author(s): Tamás Iványi
1. The meaning of the term luġa In the Arabic grammatical tradition, the term luġa (pl. luġāt) means (i) ‘dialect’, (ii) ‘(dialectal) word’, (iii) ‘word in a dictionary’, and hence (iv) ‘lexicography’, and finally (v) ‘language’. The term luġa was used in this latter meaning in the phrase waḍʿ al-luġa ‘the conventional nature of language’ in speculations about the relationship between names and designation (see Versteegh 1987:168; Goldziher 1994:38–44; for a more detailed study, see Weiss 1974). The original meaning of the word may …
Date: 2018-04-01

Luġa wusṭā

(4,590 words)

Author(s): Gunvor Mejdell
  Definition “The communicative tensions which arise in the diglossia situation may be resolved by the use of relatively uncodified, unstable, intermediate forms of the language (Arabic: al-luġa al-wusṭā) and repeated borrowing of vocabulary items from H to L” (Ferguson 1959:332). This intensional definition of luġa wusṭā, cited from Charles Ferguson’s seminal article “Diglossia” (1959), constitutes the point of departure for the treatment of this lemma. The extension of the term, however, covers a wide range of styles and linguistic practices, as will be demonstrated below. In f…
Date: 2018-04-01


(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
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