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Title: Sibawayh on ?imalah (Inclination)
Subtitle: Text, Translation, Notes and Analysis
Written By: Solomon I. Sara S. J.

An 8th-century scholar and linguist born in Persia, Sibawayh is to Arabic
linguistics what Panini is to Indian linguistics. He departed from the
traditional methods of doing analysis to launch a more objective,
descriptive and formal paradigm of linguistic analysis. Sibawayh wrote only
one book called ?al-Kitab 'the book', considered to be the most thorough
grammar of Classical Arabic ever written. His grammar established the
foundations of Arabic linguistics as it became a statement of the new
paradigm, and the book has become the model for all subsequent grammarians
of Arabic.

The treatise on ʔimalah 'inclination' is part of this grammar. It brings
together the disparate mechanisms of 'inclination' by stating the
conditions for its occurrence. This is not a purely an abstract treatise,
but a study that looks over the various dialects of Arabic and formulates
the conditions under which 'inclination' takes place. Though the triggers
for 'inclination' are the presence of an [i] or a [y], either expressed or
implied, in contexts where an [a] changes to an [e], the consonantal
constraints to prevent these changes are also carefully detailed. As a
characteristic of Sibawayh’s work, he also accounts for all the exceptional
cases in a comprehensive manner.

The treatise shows the systematic nature of 'inclination', with a rich
display of data from actual occurrences in the language. It also displays
the optional nature of 'inclination' as different dialects make use of some
triggers but not of others. The six chapters take up the topic of
inclination from its most basic contexts like the occurrence of the [i]
trigger, and the occurrence of the [y] trigger, to the exceptional cases,
the consonantal segments that prevent inclination, the influence of [r] on
inclination, and the effect of inclination on the harakat 'motions/short

Key features:
*The treatise is the first statement on 'inclination' in classical Arabic.
*This is the first bilingual text, Arabic-English, of the treatise with
notes and comments.
*This book will be of interest to linguists, Arab linguists, phonologists
and phoneticians, classical Arabic dialecticians, and those interested in
the development of Arabic.

"Professor Sara’s rigorous and innovative work, with its "rich translation
format", gets to the inner depths of the text and immediately helps the
reader realize that Sibawayh and his contemporaries were in fact operating,
not within any Western or Eastern paradigms, but rather within their own
paradigm of Arabic linguistics. It is a very welcome and long-awaited
contribution to the fields of Arabic language and linguistics, history of
Arabic grammatical tradition, and history and historiography of linguistics."
-Mohammad T. Alhawary, Professor of Arabic Language, University of Oklahoma

"An important contribution to the subject of phonology in Classical Arabic
Linguistics, this book deals with the treatise of the Imalah by the founder
of Arabic linguistics, Sibawayh, who is also a great grammarian and the
creator of the most comprehensive systematic description of classical
Arabic grammar. This translation by Professor Sara is faithful and his
analyses are masterfully accurate. The book makes a significant
contribution to Arabic linguistics in general and to phonetics and
phonology of the language in particular. It is a very welcome addition to
our increasing number of studies on the foundational analyses of Classical
Arabic Linguistics."
-Bassam K. Frangieh, Yale University

Sibawayh on ʔimalah (Inclination) will be available in North America
through Columbia University Press.

Publication Year: 2007
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Review: Not available for review. If you would like to review a book on The LINGUIST List, please login to view the AFR list.
BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics
Subject Language(s): Arabic, Standard
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Format: Hardback
ISBN: 0748627952
ISBN-13: 9780748627950
Pages: 200
Prices: U.K. £ 80.00