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Ḥassāniyya Arabic

(5,344 words)

Author(s): Catherine Taine-Cheikh
1. General information Ḥassāniyya (or klām əl-Bīḏ̣ān ‘language of the Whites’) is the mother tongue of the Arabic-speaking population of the western Sahara, especially the Moors ( Bīḏ̣ān) of Mauretania and the former Spanish Sahara (from the Sagya el-Ḥamra and the Rio del Oro). It is difficult to draw the precise geographical limits of this dialect, but its approximate borders are Goulimine in the north, Tindouf in the northeast, Tombouctou in the southeast, and the Senegal River in the south. The percentage of Ḥassāniyya speakers is highest in the central regions. The…
Date: 2018-10-26


(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


(3,591 words)

Author(s): Catherine Taine-Cheikh
Numerals represent a very particular semantic field of the lexicon. They concern a very small number of roots because, at least originally, all numbers, apart from zero (named ṣifr in Classical Arabic), are formed by a combination of a limited series of twelve numbers (1–10, 100, and 1,000). These roots mainly belong to a common semantic background. In addition to the cardinals, the ordinals, and the fractions, they have produced a certain number of verbal and nominal lexemes in ancient Arabic. 1. Cardinals Cardinals have several usages that correspond to different syntactic f…
Date: 2018-04-01