Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics

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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.

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(1,219 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Carter
The semantic link is almost always indicated by an anaphoric pronoun, usually suffixed (such as ʾaxāhuhis brother’ in the example above), although occasionally reference may be through a ‘concealed’ pronoun ( ḍamīr mustatir), e.g. ʾanta fa-nḏ̣ur “you, look [you]!”, where the 2nd person masculine singular agent pronoun is incorporated in the imperative verb [u]nḏ̣ur ‘look!’, or even by simple lexical rep-etition, as in the verse lā ʾarā l-mawta yasbiqu l-mawta šayʾun ‘I do not think death, anything will outrun death’, where the second instance of ‘death’ would, in…


(2,436 words)

Author(s): Gert Borg
1. Introduction Sajʿ is commonly known as rhymed prose. It is said to have rhyme but no meter, distinguishing it from poetry ( qarīḍ), which features both rhyme and meter. Sajʿ is often associated with the text of the Qurʾān, because large parts of the Qurʾān were composed in this type of rhymed prose. (In her study of the early Qurʾānic suras, Neuwirth (1981) expresses her doubt whether this rhyme can be considered sajʿ.) The Arabic lexicographers usually derive the term sajʿ from the root s-j-ʿ in its sense of the ‘cooing of doves’, although a different etymology cannot be exc…

Salt, Dialect of

(8,094 words)

Author(s): Bruno Herin
1. Introduction The city of Salt is located 25 kilometers northwest of Amman, the capital of Jordan, and has around 71,100 inhabitants. Until recently, it was the biggest town on the eastern bank of the Jordan River; things started to change when Amman became the capital of Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Since Amman had no indigenous population, the dialect spoken in Salt can be rightly considered a typical example of sedentary Jordanian. The dialect described here is endangered and is probably stil…

Ṣanʿānī Arabic

(5,343 words)

Author(s): Janet Watson
1. General Ṣanʿānī Arabic is the dialect of the original inhabitants of the Old City of ṣanʿāʾ and its traditional suburbs, al-Bawniyah and al-Qāʿ (Qāʿ al-Yahūd). ṣanʿānī belongs to the Eastern Muslim dialect type, and it is also spoken by Jews who emigrated from ṣanʿāʾ to Israel after 1948. There are approximately one hundred thousand speakers in and around the Old City today, a figure which includes Ṣanʿānīs who left the Old City following the post–1991 Gulf War expansion of Ṣanʿāʾ. The number o…


(2,701 words)

Author(s): Robert D. Hoberman
What is significant about sandhi in all its senses is the fact that it depends on constituents and their boundaries, and therefore it marks or indicates those boundaries. Sandhi facilitates the hearer's identification of morphemes within a word or of the boundaries between phrases within a sentence. Thus, in Classical Arabic the alternation between the full and pausal forms of words helps mark phrase boundaries; for example, in madīnatun kabīrah ‘a big city’, the -h in the pausal form kabīrah (as opposed to the full form kabīratun, which occurs in other situations) marks it as be…


(3,029 words)

Author(s): Joyce Åkesson
1. Definition Ṣarf, originally meaning ‘shifting a thing from one state or condition to another’ (Lane 1863–1893:II, 1680; Ibn Manẓūr, Lisān IV, 2434), is used in Arabic grammar as the technical term for morphology. It is linked with taṣrīf, which also has to do with change, and originally meant ‘the turning of the winds from one state or condition, to another’ (Lane 1863–1893:II, 1681; Ibn Manẓūr, Lisān IV, 2435). In relation to language, the science of taṣrīf is usually called ʿilm aṣ-ṣarf. Both indicate a change in the form of words, and both are used indiscriminately to …

Saudi Arabia

(4,992 words)

Author(s): Bruce Ingham
1. Introduction Saudi Arabia is an area of considerable linguistic uniformity. With regard to languages that are native to the country, on the basis of the most recent data, only one language, Arabic, is spoken, although dialect diversity is considerable. In fact, in the southwest on the border of Yemen, unconfirmed reports have the dialect of Fayfa to be mutually unintelligible with local Arabic dialects and showing a substratum of the Ḥimyaritic languages of Ancient South Arabia. Although modern…

Šāwi Arabic

(6,589 words)

Author(s): Igor Younes | Bruno Herin
1. Introduction The term Šāwi may refer to various unrelated groups, such as one of the Berber varieties spoken in Algeria, the sheep-breeder Bedouins of inner Oman, as well as the sheep-breeder Bedouins of the Syro-Mesopotamian area. The root š-w-y also appears in the ethnonym Šuwa, which refers to some Arabic-speaking populations around the Lake Chad. The present entry only deals with the sheep-breeder Bedouins of Syro-Mesopotamia. Mostly sedentarized, the Šiwāya (plural of Šāwi) tribes are known for their way of living, mainly based on sheep herding, altho…


(5 words)

see Sound Symbolism

Scope and approach of the Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics

(1,075 words)

Author(s): Eid, Mushira | Elgibali, Alaa | Versteegh, Kees | Woidich, Manfred | Zaborski, Andrzej
The EALL is a comprehensive encyclopedia covering all relevant aspects of the study of Arabic and dealing with all levels of the language (pre-Classical Arabic, Classical Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic, Arabic vernaculars, mixed varieties of Arabic), both synchronically and diachronically. It has been published in five volumes with a total of two million words, distributed over approximately 500 entries. The treatment includes both the external and the internal history of the language, as well as…


(6 words)

see Arabic Alphabet: Origin

Script and Art

(4,146 words)

Author(s): Adam Gacek
This can be seen clearly when admiring the inscriptions containing the earliest known dated passages from the Qurʾān, on the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, constructed in 72/691–692 and credited to the Umayyad ruler ʿAbd al-Malik (epigraphy). What was the reason for this stunning development of beautiful writing, which the Arabs would later call ḥusn al-xaṭṭ (or ḥusn al-kitāba)? The answer lies in the Muslim belief that God revealed Himself to Muḥammad, through the agency of the archangel Gabriel, by dictating to him a series of revelations which were la…

Second Language Teaching

(6,920 words)

Author(s): Helle Lykke Nielsen
1. Introduction This entry focuses on the didactics of teaching Arabic in a Western context, particularly at the university level, since this is where Arabic is most often taught in the West. In recent years, the teaching of Arabic has also spread to secondary schools and private language institutions, but they are still few in number and do not differentiate substantially, at least at this stage, from the teaching approach at universities. The teaching of foreign languages is always set in a historic and social context, and this is the case for the teaching of Arab…

Secret Languages

(3,006 words)

Author(s): Abderrahim Youssi
1. Definition of secret languages …

Semantic Bleaching

(2,616 words)

Author(s): Mohssen Esseesy
1. Semantic bleaching and grammaticalization …

Semitic Languages

(5,398 words)

Author(s): Rainer Voigt
1. Arabic as an archaic Semitic language Historically, the core region of the Semitic peoples during the 3rd and 2nd millennia B.C.E. lay in the Fertile Crescent (Palestine – Syria – Mesopotamia). Therefore, their assumed shared original homeland cannot have been situated very far from there. Applying a genetically based distribution model of the individual Semitic peoples, it may be assumed that they emerged from the Syrian desert/steppe and infiltrated the fertile agrarian lands to the east, west, and north of this hypothesized homeland. This process begins at around 3000 B.C.E. with the migration of the – later so to be named – Akkadians into Mesopotamia, and continues with the spread into cultivated lands by Amorites, Aramaeans,  Hebrews, and Old South Arabians. Those tribes that remained in the Syrian steppe, and whose language had most likely already split into several dialects, are called Arabs ( ʿArab ). They were subjected much less than the others to the influences of the civilizations around them and thus were able to preserve archaic ling…
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