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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Title: Modern Trends in Arabic Dialectology
Edited By: Mohamed Embarki
Moha Ennaji

The relevance of this book is highlighted first by the fact that
language-based approaches are still lacking in Arabic dialectology. The
classification of Arabic dialects is not yet entirely satisfactory.
Geographical and sociological layers were traditionally based on the
assumption that the saliency of some features in the Modern Arabic dialects
is the product of two different processes: diffusion and innovation.
However, this traditional approach is not consistent with the history of
Arabic. For instance, the saliency of some features that support the
classification of the Modern dialects varies according to features that can
be traced back to Classical Arabic, Islamic dialects, Old Arabic dialects,
or proto-Arabic.

Another explicative process has been, to some extent, neglected in the
study of Arabic dialects, namely inheritance. Some phonological features
currently present in Modern Arabic dialects cannot be explained by any of
the two terms of this paradigm. As long as the mapping of Western
approaches on Arabic dialects seems to be relatively unsatisfactory,
diffusion and innovation are found to be incomplete to explain the extreme
variability of the linguistic features of the Arabic dialects. Since some
features appear in very distant isolated isoglosses, they are consistent
neither with diffusion nor with concomitant innovation; only their
underlyingly inherited nature could provide a logical scheme.

Introducing the process of inheritance, besides diffusion and innovation,
aims to enlarge our knowledge of the history of the Modern Arabic dialects.
The threefold paradigm is more accurate to perform satisfying explanations
of the features of similarity and dissimilarity between Old Arabic and
Modern Arabic dialects, at the synchronic and diachronic levels. This
division necessitates evaluating actual geographical and sociological
classifications of Modern Arabic dialects, as well as our interpretations
of the similarity and dissimilarity of linguistic features in the Arabic area.

Even if language-specific approaches to Arabic dialects are lacking, and
the mapping of Western constructs unappealing, this fact should not justify
per se constructing new completely compartmentalized trends in Arabic
dialectology. Cross-cultural outlooks as widely experienced in the first
stages of the Arabic empire in the Orient as well as during the Islamic
kingdoms of Spain, remain an essential motor that must lead to build up
specific approaches for the study of Arabic dialects.

This book aims to shed light on recent trends in Arabic dialectology.
Cross-cultural analyses are provided by scholars from different origins
(Arabic native speakers and excellent Arabists) and from different
linguistic backgrounds (Arabic, Berber, English, French, Hebrew, Spanish).
The chapters are all devoted to produce systematic descriptions and
analyses of Arabic dialects. The book is divided into three thematic
sections: (a) Theoretical and Historical Perspectives and Methods in Arabic
Dialectology; (b) Eastern Arabic Dialects; and (c) Western Arabic Dialects.

Publication Year: 2011
Publisher: Langues et Linguistique
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): Historical Linguistics
Language Documentation
Anthropological Linguistics
Subject Language(s): Arabic, Standard
Language Family(ies): Semitic
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Format: Paperback
ISBN: 1569023476
ISBN-13: N/A
Pages: 242
Prices: U.S. $ 29.95