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A Linguistic History of Arabic$

Jonathan Owens

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199290826

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199290826.001.0001

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(p.271) Appendix 1. Dialects Cited

(p.271) Appendix 1. Dialects Cited

A Linguistic History of Arabic
Oxford University Press

In this appendix is found a listing of all the dialects cited, in particular those used in the two surveys in Chs. 5 and 8. A short commentary is also included which specifies the time of first Arab migration to the given region and when, if this should be different, Arabicization became dominant. The dialect labels are basic heuristics only. It was seen especially in Ch. 5 that geographical labels often hide longer-range historical relationships among dialects and an overlapping of varieties caused by migrations at different periods, post-migration contact, and so on.

The dialects listed here are entered on Maps 13. On the maps, those descriptions which are represented by a single location (village or city) are represented by a point, while those which represent an area (e.g. Najdi) are represented by name over the approximate area of the dialect.

Western Sudanic Arabic (Map 3)

I term the Arabic established in the Lake Chad area beginning in the late fourteenth century ‘western Sudanic Arabic’. Dialectically, it includes the Arabic of northeast Nigeria, Cameroon, and Chad, as well as Darfur and Kordofan in the Sudan. This is not to be confused with the area of western Sudan, which in Islamic history practice refers to Mauritania and adjoining regions. In Nigeria it is still expanding, as nomadic Arabs continue their spread, so that there now exist permanent Arab villages in Adamawa state, south of Borno.

Included in samples are:

  • Bagirmi Arabic

    • Mada

    • Aajiri

  • Western Nigerian Arabic

    • Kirenawa

  • Abbeche

  • Ndjamena

  • Amm Timan (2)

  • Umm Hajar (2, nomads)

Arabic of the Sudan (Map 3)

Arabic was brought to the Sudan permanently in the same invasion which brought the Arabs to the Lake Chad region. The date customarily cited is 1317, as that was when the northern Nubian kingdom of Mariis was defeated by a Mameluke force, setting (p.272) the stage for the rapid expansion of Arabs directly south and west. The Shukriyya settled in their current home along the Atbara River by the eighteenth century. They apparently have affinities with Arabs in the eastern Egyptian desert (de Jong 2002). Included in samples are:

  • Shukriyya

  • Khartoum

Egypt (Map 1)

Pre-Islamic dialects were present in Sinai (see below). Arabic spread throughout Egypt with the Islamic conquest. Fust̥at̥ at the site of present-day Cairo was founded in 640/1 and Aswan was reached by 630. Until about 900 the large Coptic population maintained their own language, but thereafter a gradual language loss set in. Upper Egypt in particular was an important demographic staging area from which large-scale populations moved both into North Africa (e.g. the Banu Hilal) and into the Sudanic region to the south. Included in samples are:

  • Cairene Arabic

  • Bahariyya Arabic (western desert oasis)

  • Nile Valley (S̥aʕiid)

Libya (Map 1)

Arabic was first introduced with the Islamic conquest, beginning about 640. Western Libya was strongly Arabicized with the Banu Hilal invasion from Upper Egypt, beginning about 1040.

  • Eastern Libyan Arabic

  • Tripoli (western)

  • Gharyan (western)

Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania (Map 2)

Along with Libya, Arabicization proceeded in these regions basically in two waves. The earlier one was the original Arab-Islamic conquest, completed by the end of the seventh century. At this point Arabic was largely conWned to urban areas. A more complete Arabicization followed in the wake of the Banu Hilal invasion of the eleventh century. The Banu Hilal established themselves first in western Libya and Tunisia. In the twelfth century a large group of their descendants were settled in the central Moroccan coastal area, which greatly increased the number of Arabic speakers in Morocco. The Arabicization of Mauritania began in the fourteenth century with the arrival of the eponymous Banu Maʕqil and accelerated considerably in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries (Catherine Taine-Cheikh, p.c. November 2004 (Taine-Cheikh, forthcoming)). (p.273)

  • Fez (Morocco)

  • Mauritania

  • Mzab (Algeria)

  • Djidjelli (Algeria)

  • Susa (Tunisia)

  • Tunis

Andalusia (Map 2)

Andalusia was first invaded in 711, and Arabic was spoken as a native language until the sixteenth century (Ferrando p.c., November 2004). Documents attesting the Arabic dialect become available in the tenth century, though the most detailed reports are relatively late in the fifteenth.

Maltese (Map 1)

Established either late ninth century or eleventh century, it was cut off from the Arabic-speaking world by the end of the eleventh century.

Jordan, Syria, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon (Map 1)

Arabs had spread throughout this region, particularly into the desert regions of Jordan and Syria, in pre-Islamic times. It was largely in the wake of the Arab-Islamic conquests, however, that Arabic displaced Aramaic on a large-scale basis as the mother tongue of most speakers of the region. The northern region of Syria and Lebanon shades dialectically into a northern Mesopotamian type. The part of the region running from the Sinai, across the Negev desert and into southern Jordan and northwest Saudi Arabia is dialectally quite different. Arabs have lived in the Sinai continuously since the third century BC (de Jong 2000: 13).

  • Tripoli (Lebanon)

  • Baskinta (Lebanon)

  • Soukhne (Syria)

  • Teerib (Syria)

  • Damascus

  • Ajarma (Jordan)

  • Bduul of Petra (southern Jordan)

  • Galilee (northern Israel)

Cypriot Arabic (Map 1)

Arabic is spoken by a small Maronite community in Kormakiti in northern Cyprus, which was established between the ninth and twelfth centuries (Borg 1985: 5, 6). The most recent information comes from Borg (2004: 1) whose work is based on a community of 1,300 Cypriot Maronites. Before the invasion of 1974 they lived in the (p.274) village of Kormakiti in northern Cyprus, but thereafter most migrated south of the armistice line.

Mesopotamian Arabic (Map 1)

This designates the varieties found in Iraq, parts of northern Syria, and Turkey. Cypriot Arabic as well can be reckoned as belonging to this dialect area. It is characterized by two broad dialect types (see Ch. 5). The first, the qultu dialects, are the first to have been brought to the region in the immediate aftermath of the Arab-Islamic conquests. The second, the gilit dialects, arrived later, beginning around ad 1,000 or 1,100, probably pushing in from either the Arabian peninsula or from Jordan (Blanc 1964: 1). The dialect of the pre-Islamic tribes who lived in southern Iraq, such as the Tanukh, has not been speculated upon to my knowledge. More sharply than in many regions of the Arabic world, the different dialects in this area are often associated with confessional differences. It should be noted, however, that some of the dialects are dying out. The Jewish dialect of Hiit, for instance, is attested only through a description carried out in Israel of the diasporic population from that city (Khan 1997).

In Iraq:

  • Jewish Baghdadi

  • Christian Baghdadi

  • Muslim Baghdadi

  • Basra and other areas in southern Iraq

  • Hiit

  • Khaweetna

In Anatolia:

  • Siirt

  • Daragözü

  • Mardin

  • Aazex

South Central Turkey (Map 1)

Arabic was first brought to this area of south central Turkey (in and around the cities of Mersin, Adana, and Tarsus) in the seventeenth century, from Hatay. It is thus essentially a continuation of the varieties of that area (S. Prochazka 2002).

  • Hatay (Alawite dialect)

  • Cilicia

Hatay essentially continues the dialect complex of northern Syria (Arnold 1998).

(p.275) Uzbekistan and Khorasan (Map 1)

Settled in the early eighth century and cut off from the broader Arabic dialect world by the beginning of the ninth, Uzbekistan represents an important Sprachinsel. While often characterized as Mesopotamian, as discussed in Ch. 5, Uzbekistan in fact shares significant affinities with dialects in a number of regions. The Jogari dialect spoken near Bukhara is used here.

The Arabic of Khorasan is known through a single description (Seeger 2002). It has interesting affinities to Uzbekistan Arabic, as well as some remarkable traits of its own (e.g. a complete *s → θ shift in some dialects).

Arabian peninsula (Map 1)

The pre-Islamic Arabian peninsula knew a number of languages, the closely related North Arabian type which includes the ancestor of Arabic (Macdonald 2000), as well as various South Arabian languages, five of which are still spoken today. No significant work has been done to discern evidence of language contact and shift among the historical populations, and there is not even agreement upon where the ancestral homeland of Arabic is. Petrácek (1988), for instance, locates it in the region north of the peninsula in modern Jordan and Iraq, whereas Retsö (2003: 37, 48–51) would appear to suggest the Arabian peninsula itself, between Yemen and Mecca, or perhaps an area northwest of Medina (al-qura al-ʕarabiyya). Throughout the history of the peninsula there have been a large number of population movements both to the north and to the south. It appears that in the immediate pre-Islamic era the dominate movement was already out of Yemen towards the north, due to the effect of dryer conditions (Caskel 1960/1986: 528). With the Islamic expansion, emigration increased considerably. Within the Arabian peninsula there continued to occur significant population movements, for instance from the central Arabian peninsula towards Bahrain and the trucial coast, and thence into Oman (Wilkinson 1987: 76).

  • Oman

  • Abu Dhabi

  • Saudi Arabia

    • Rwala (northern Najd)

    • Najdi

    • Hofuf

    • Qauz

  • Yemen

    • S̥anʕaaʔ

    • As-Suwwaadiyyeh

    • an-Nadhiir

    • Al-Mudawwar