« Some thoughts on "Poetic Arabic" | Main | The odd connected ṣ, ḍ, ṭ, ẓ and k of the Palermo Quran and Arabe 329f »

05/21/2018

Comments

Lameen

Being able to draw upon dialectal variation has obvious advantages for a poet constrained by a rigid metre and rhyme scheme; the more different ways you have to say what you want, the more likely one of them will fit the metre.

PhoeniX

I agree that it's really not that hard to imagine such a thing were to happen if the networks between these tribes were close enough to aid intimate enough knowledge of the poetry of other tribes.

Hugo

Can you outline your version of the history of the Arabic language near this time period and how it differs from the Muslim account?

Hugo

Who are the "Classical commentators"?

PhoeniX

Hey Hugo; These answers might have to become a blog post on their own. But let me try to draw the picture.

Classical commentatores: 8th/9th century collectors of the poetry who analysed and explained the meaning and morphology of these poems.

As for the dialectal situation.

Muslims account:
Before Islam everybody spoke a language more or less identical to "Poetic Arabic" with some dialectal variation.

With the conquests new people started to speak it and this language was corrupted, so that now there were languages spoken close to the vernaculars as we find them today.

The 'Leiden School' account:
Before Islam there were already a large variety of forms of Arabic. All of those that we find in the Epigraphic records are very different from Poetic Arabic.

In the levant we find Safaitic; A form of Arabic with a much reduced case system a h- definite article and has no nunation. Retention of the final triphthongs

Also Hismaic, which lacks a definite article altogether; retains the *aya final triphthong but seems to have merged the 8awa final triphthong (similar to Quranic Arabic). Likewise appears to have a reduced case system and lost nunation.

In the Soutern Levant, where the old Nabataean Kingdom used to be we find Nabataean Arabic, which has an unassimilating definite article al-; A functioning case system nom. -o, acc. -a, gen. -i; But lost nunation. During the written history of Nabataean Arabic, we can see a breakdown of its case system taking place. The outcome of this breakdown is however quite different from the outcome that we find in the modern Arabic dialects.

We find forms of Nabataean Arabic through a large part of the peninsula. But one has to wonder to what extent it was a conventionalized writing style (the contents of such inscriptions are usually just names) or actual evidence that Nabataean was spoken from Syria all the way to Najrān.

In the Hijaz (although still mostly absent in the Pre-Islamic epigraphic record) there appears to have developed a distinct Arabic dialect which had a reduced case system (but different from the Safaitic, Hismaic or Nabataean system), no nunation, retention of a distinction between the *awa and *aya triphthongs and most notably the loss of the glottal stop/hamzah. This is the language that the Quran is written down in.

After Islam, this Hijazi Arabic written register becomes very popular, and essentially the written language of the early empire. At some point the literary language that we come to call "Classical Arabic" essentially supplants Hijazi Arabic, at least in literary works around the 9th/10th century.

The question however is: Where does this Classical Arabic come from? So far we have no evidence for this language in the pre-Islamic record. This might suggest a number of things:

1. Classical Arabic is the standardized variety of a spoken language that was close to "Poetic Arabic", which existed before Islam, but we are simply looking in the wrong place for its writing, or the language was quite simply unwritten.

2. Classical Arabic is the standardized variety of a highly archaic intertribal poetic language that we call "Poetic Arabic", which existed -- at the very least -- among the Hijazi Arabic speakers, and the Tamīmī speakers of the east.

3. A combination of 1. and 2. is also imaginable. "Poetic Arabic" may have been the spoken variety of some tribe, whose written record doesn't exist/we haven't found; Their culture of poetic odes already became so popular before Islam, that other people started composing poetry in that language (with some added dialectisms).

===

Whether there was a "Poetic Koine" or not; One thing is clear: Not all Arabic speakers were part of that poetic culture; and there is very little reason to think that
1. the Arabic before the Grammatical tradition in the 8th/9th century was trying to approximate that language (usually assumed by Arabists).
2. the modern dialects can only have developed from dialects that were part of the "Poetic koine" culture (also usually assumed by Arabists).

It is clear that many dialects cannot be derived directly from Classical Arabic, nor from Hijazi Arabic, or even a single source.

===

What these past two large posts have been about, is trying to figure out some method or approach that could give us more of an insight to what extent the Pre-Islamic poetry is "genuine" and to what extent it represents a single natural language/dialect, or rather a mixed intertribal artificial/poetic register.

I'm not sure if I have an answer to this yet. But I think the evidence presented in this post speaks in favour of the idea that it indeed was an intertribal poetic register.

I hope that clears some things up.

Albert

Muslims account:
Before Islam everybody spoke a language more or less identical to "Poetic Arabic" with some dialectal variation.

With the conquests new people started to speak it and this language was corrupted, so that now there were languages spoken close to the vernaculars as we find them today.

The 'Leiden School' account:
Before Islam there were already a large variety of forms of Arabic. All of those that we find in the Epigraphic records are very different from Poetic Arabic.

Did you wonder why these versions are inconsistent ?

PhoeniX

Sure; Muslims writing about these early accounts did not have the ability to read or analyse pre-Islamic Arabic material. So by definition their account is not based on facts.

But one of the things that they used as facts, the Pre-Islamic poetry is certainly not in its entirety a Islamic-period forgery. It is clear that there are genuine pre-Islamic elements to it. This is why I've been asking myself what exactly the Pre-Islamic poetry represents: An archaic, purely poetic register; or just poetry in one of the actual spoken languages in the Pre-Islamic period.

Albert

Sure; Muslims writing about these early accounts did not have the ability to read or analyse pre-Islamic Arabic material. So by definition their account is not based on facts.

Meaning that (somehow) the Arabs of the 8 and 9thc would have had a kind memory gap (I cannot see other explanation about the Epigraphic records and what they say after Islam, I'm open to another explanations...) about their linguistic situation before Islam concerning a specific point ; they have lost the facts "that we find in the Epigraphic records", namely "a large variety of forms of Arabic"?
Are you agree?
Second.
And in the same time, they remember that before Islam "everybody spoke a language more or less identical to "Poetic Arabic" with some dialectal variation."
In the history of linguistic have you the same situation elsewhere which could validate in a certain way this "selective memory"?

If not, have you an explanation about this this "selective memory"?

If not, is there not an issue then about the Muslims narrative: "everybody spoke a language more or less identical to "Poetic Arabic" with some dialectal variation." ?

Not necessarily in the elements of the narrative (that there was "Poetic Arabic" ) but the way the narrative tells things in itself, namely that this narrative might have the function "to serve the purpose of creating the idea of a single ‘Arabiyyah’ that connected all Arabs"? Is it possible that it is an explanation ad hoc  ? Whose purpose is precisely to justify the work of the grammarians the way they have constructed the Quranic text from the QCT.


This dialectal difference between a Najdi poet and Hijazi poet goes completely unrecognised to the Classical commentators […] and therefore they consider both to have poems with an ā rhyme

Ok.

[…] it is all the more striking that the lack of distinction for the Najdi poet, and presence of distinction in the Hijazi poet aligns exactly with what the Medieval Arab grammarians tell us: Hijazi Arabic had a distinction between these two, while Eastern/Tamimi Arabic did not.

Is it really striking?
Did the (earliest ?) Classical commentators (of the Quran/ of the poems...) have the same very skills in grammar that the Medieval Arab grammarians? Not sure of that. They have a good level, but their most important work is the commentary of the text. Why then that would be striking ? What the (earliest ?) Classical commentators did not see that they should have seen ?

David Marjanović
The question whether besides 'archaisms' you could also incorporate formulae from different dialects into your poetic register is something that seems generally well accepted to exist in Epic Greek, although those ideas are being challenged at the moment.

Can you tell us more about that?

Anyway, poetry in (Standard) German conventionally draws on dialectal and historical variation well beyond the current standard, mostly apocope & syncope phenomena and the rhyming of rounded with unrounded front vowels.

Etienne

A related question, which you touched upon in your previous entry: what is the relationship between "Poetic/Classical" Arabic and the ancestor(s) of the Arabic dialects spoken today?

(Related question: do the present-day Neo-Arabic varieties have a single common ancestor, distinct from any attested variety of Arabic?)

As a historical linguist whose knowledge of comparative Semitic is...well, I'll be generous with myself and write "painfully limited", I am struck by the fact that several of the traits whereby Arabic dialects differ en bloc from Classical Arabic (absence, in the former, of declensional endings, of nunation, of the dual in pronouns and verbs) are all well-attested in various neighboring Semitic varieties contemporaneous with Poetic/Classical Arabic.

Conversely, I am struck by the fact that as typologically marked/unusual a feature as the Arabic internal plural remains alive and kicking throughout dialectal Arabic: interestingly, internal plurals were well-nigh universally present in the Semitic varieties spoken in the Arabic peninsula when "Arabic" (defined broadly) began its expansion (and are universally present in Modern South Arabian, Ancient South Arabian and Northern Ethiopian Semitic).

(The contrast between Neo-Arabic and South Ethiopian Semitic, which likewise expanded away from its original homeland but which unlike Arabic lost its internal plurals, is intriguing).

As a result my growing impression (for what this is worth) is that Modern Arabic varieties look like a lowest-common- denominator kind of (Arabian) Semitic, preserving features once universally present in Arabian peninsula Semitic varieties (internal plurals) and shedding those that were not (noun declension, nunation).

Sam

Thank you for these posts. It is very interesting.

This may be a big ask, but could you give us a timeline of the changes of that time period? Or perhaps a table, with a where (which dialects, which sources) and a when (when did we see this appear, when did it disappear)?

I don't know if it exists elsewhere, but it is your opinion and your timeline that I'm interested in, 5th to 8th centuries maybe.

Something like:

- ō and ē - when did they exist, when did they disappear, where do we find them, etc.
- ǧ > ʤ - when did this shift happen, which dialects retained them (until 8th century, I mean), which recitation traditions kept them, etc.
- loss of nunation
- loss of internal hamza - maʕāyiš, etc.
- loss of final hamza (nabīʔ)
- loss of case marking
- shift of [ɮˤ] > [dˤ]
- and subsequent merger of ẓāʾ and ḍād

Looking back at this list, this may be a big ask. Maybe I'll try to do it myself (based on your blog, and others) and ask you for corrections.

There are many questions - why does Classical Arabic (or the Quran) feature orthographical conventions of archaic features that people cannot even hear? For example banā/daʕā (a Google search shows that modern people make this spelling mistake precisely because they cannot hear it), same with ẓāʾ and ḍād.

In some discussions I've read about ẓāʾ and ḍād, the conclusion was that by the time of the QCT, at least in that dialect, there was no distinction, but a distinction did exist in some dialects, and this was an obsolete feature that was reintroduced into the (prescriptivist, archaizing) CA. I was wondering if the poetry gave us any insight on it.

In your two answers for "Where does this Classical Arabic come from? " you did not give a third possibility, that CA was a prescriptivist, written language, not really spoken by anyone in particular, based on one (or more) dialect(s), but with lost, archaic features reintroduced from other dialects that still had them to create a dialect/language that had (almost) all the features - nunation, duals, feminine dual/plural, as well as all existing verb forms (it seems to me that that IX and XI are dialectal variants - iḥmarra/iḥmārra), as well as incorporating the vocabularies of all the various dialects, to create a synonym-rich and generally large vocabulary. This is not my theory, obviously, so I can't take credit for it, but I would not call this language "artificial." But that's Classical not Poetic Arabic, and I'm not sure how I feel about a pan-peninsular Koine, because the area is too large, communities lived too far apart, there were probably more skirmishes and blood feuds than poetry slams. Then again there's poetic license, which lets poets borrow words/features/rabbits from other dialects to pull out of a hat when they find themselves in a corner, or write poems that were less dialect-y and more accessible/had a farther reach - that's not hard to imagine. British singers sometimes sing in "American" to sell their music in Asia, so they do it for that very reason.

Big picture, with "official" and unreliable histories, prescriptivist grammarians, poetic koinés, poetry "templates" and last but not least (accusations of) retrodated or corrected poems, the big picture (at least in my head) is starting to look less like a chronology and more like a story with time-travel.

I think I need a table (of features, tribes, dates and examples) or a chart of some kind, (even one filled with *, **, ? and ?!?), not for my education, but for my own sanity.

Thanks a million for your blog.
Very enlightening.

PhoeniX

Oh boy, those are a lot of questions!

Albert: The "selective memory" problem seems fairly easy to solve. If you have a corpus of oral poetry, which has been handed generation after generation in an oral tradition, that would obviously stick around; While non-poetic dialects of Arabic that die out, would simply die out. There is also perhaps simply an issue of chronology: Most of the pre-Islamic poetry is attributed to the mid/end of the 6th century. Safaitic and Hismaic may very well have stopped existing by then (very difficult to date).

"Is it really striking?" -- Well the Arab Grammarians don't seem to cite Kaʿb's poetry to talk about this distinction either, even though they were aware of the distinction. They apparently didn't analyse his poetry as evidence for it.

David: Dr. Lucien van Beek of Leiden University showed in his PhD thesis that the treatment of the vocalic *r and *l in epic Greek follows a different trajectory than the spoken dialect. Which caused him to hypothesize that in Epic Greek the vocalic consonants remained that for a longer time.

Previous, such differences were interpreted as "dialectal forms" in the Epic register. He is currently conducting a research, trying to figure out if more of these "dialectal forms" are not just archaisms in Epic Greek instead. I should have probably explained that, yes. Will be brainstorming with him soon, see how he feels about these things now that he's been doing research on it for a while.

I agree that it doesn't seem a priori unlikely that you would use crossdialectal things in poetry.

Etienne:

As for the relationship between the modern dialects and Poetic/Classical Arabic (and others): This is something extremely underresearched. Because the dominating paradigm of understanding all variation in terms of "Old Arabic" (i.e. Poetic/Classical) and "Neo-Arabic" (i.e. all modern dialects, or to some authors all urban dialects), very little has been spent on this.

For most of the past century most people simply assumed that the Neo-Arabic dialects developed from Classical Arabic. As we gained more knowledge of the dialects, and dialectologists started to object, it's become clear that this cannot be the case. Sadly, the discussion is rather ideological. Dialectologists seem generally really taken in by the idea that Owens presented: That Classical Arabic was simply a completely made up language by the grammarians with no basis in a once existing natural language. While I agree that Classical Arabic is a "construct" of sorts, its obvious archaic semitic features cannot be ignored.

So while the status quo of the tradional arabists has been opposed, nobody has tried very hard to make a chronology that works starting from the right kind of starting assumptions (i.e. Poetic Arabic has some place in the history of Arabic; as do Pre-Islamic epigraphic dialects).

As for your related question: The Neo-Arabic varieties do have a single common ancestor, but I would say that that is Proto-Arabic. I've been doing a little bit of work on the classification of the Neo-Arabic varieties, and I would say that the Egypto-Levantine and Pre-Hilali Maghrebi dialects probably share a single ancestor. They have a couple of obvious morphological innovations. The Najdi, Gulf, Hilali Maghrebi dialects and more generally "bedouin dialects" have a strong bundle of noticable shared phonetic innovations (*q > g; CvCvCv > CCvCv; loss of *i/u distinction; raising of *a > i in open syllables), and presumably share a single ancestor.

But as for the Mesopotamian qəltu dialects, and the enormous variety of Yemeni dialects, I have absolutely no idea where to place those at the moment.

The Arabic conquests and massive mixing and movement also does not necessarily make it obvious that the modern dialects are going to have a monogenetic origin from any of the Pre-Islamic varieties.

You also seem to hint at the strikingly uniform "movement" of some of the developments in the modern dialects. Something that has been called "drift" amongst semiticists. Some developments are simply likely to happen multiple times because the context for them is similar in all Semitic languages. For example, case is marked with short final vowels and have an extremely low functional yield, thus syncope is likely to happen.

Just a correction by the way: Ethio-Semitic did not lose its internal plurals! Amharic perhaps did, but it's alive and kicking in Tigré and Tigrinya. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tigrinya_grammar#Number

As a result my growing impression (for what this is worth) is that Modern Arabic varieties look like a lowest-common- denominator kind of (Arabian) Semitic, preserving features once universally present in Arabian peninsula Semitic varieties (internal plurals) and shedding those that were not (noun declension, nunation).

Yes, that is kind of in line with ideas of the "Arabic koine" that gave rise to the modern dialects. A theory put forward by Ferguson in the '50s. There's truth to it, but it's been argued really badly. Ferguson assumed that before Islam everybody spoke Classical Arabic, and that the conquests caused a new simplified version of the language to develop, with reduced inflection etc. But since he can only envision developments from Classical Arabic to the Modern Dialects, he treats a whole bunch of archaisms in the modern dialects that are absent in Classical Arabic as "innovations". Many people have taken his article to suggests that ALL modern dialects come from this Arabic Koine, which is something he has never actually said. He seems to have only envisioned the Egypto-Levantine and pre-Hilali maghrebi dialects. I agree with Ferguson that Egypto-Levantine/pre-Hilali Maghrebi seems plausible to me to go back to a single dialect bundle.

Sam:
Yes that's a huge ask! So there are a couple of problems:
1. Because early-Islamic Arabic has so far been understood as "middle Arabic", that is: attempts at Classical Arabic and failing sometimes, we have not allowed it to inform us about early Islamic Arabic as much as it perhaps should. This makes a timeline very difficult to establish.

2. All but one of the features you mentioned have disappeared in all the modern dialects (and ō, I suppose, which is lost universall and its loss can probably be seen already in early Quranic documents where we find spellings like مناه, زكاه etc.). So putting a date on any of these would only concern a subset of the dialects.

- ē is present in Raziḥit (northern yemen) (although probably a parallel development from word-final *aya rather than a shared innovation with Hijazi Arabic).
- ǵ is present in a bunch of dialects. The fact that in dissimilation in modern Maghrebi dialects the outcome of *ǵ is sometimes d suggests that this palatal non-affricate realization was carried all the way to Morocco before disappearing in most dialects.
- Nunation is still present in many Najdi dialects bētin kbīr 'a big house'; And if the dialect itself has lost it, it is often still present in their poetic register. Several dialects in the Tihāmah still have it too bētun kabīrun or have lost the nunation, but still have a vowel that functions as nunation: bētu kabīru but im-bēt im-kabīr 'the big house'.
- Loss of Hamzah: Much better research needs to be done on Pausal glottalization in Yemeni Arabic; But it seems that Ṣanʿānī Arabic has just retained many of the glottal stops (e.g. they say yaʔkul 'he eats').
- Loss of case marking: This is one that was actually lost! We might be able to traces that by carefully examining the early-Islamic papyri. But it seems to me that by the time Classical Arabic comes to dominate the written record case had not disappeared for everyone.
- As for the lateral ḍād: It never shifts to a [dˤ], except in dialects that lose all interdentals. So instead you should see this development as [ɮˤ] > [ðˤ]. So the merger of *ḍ and *ẓ happens before the shift of *ḍ to [dˤ]. This is illustrated nicely in Ahmad Al-Jallad's paper: https://www.academia.edu/20913515/Al-Jallad._2015._On_the_Voiceless_Reflex_of_%E1%B9%A3_and_%E1%B9%AF_in_pre-Hilalian_Maghrebian_Arabic

That being said, there are dialects even today where those two sounds have not merged, both in Southern Saudi and Northern Yemen. In Raziḥit, for example, the reflex of the *ḍ is a voiceless lateral affricate.

===

The Quran has the orthography distinction between ē and ā because people could hear it. Several reading traditions make the distinction; the rhyme clearly distinguishes it. I think this may very well be true into the first century, at least for some speakers. At some point you start seeing a ton of confusion in the papyri, which suggests that by then the distinction is lost.

The fact that the distinction is maintained orthographically in "Classical Arabic" proper, is because by then a grammatical theory has developed to disnguish them. "If you say daʕā daʕawtu write it with alif, if you say banā banaytu write it with yāʾ."

In some discussions I've read about ẓāʾ and ḍād, the conclusion was that by the time of the QCT, at least in that dialect, there was no distinction, but a distinction did exist in some dialects, and this was an obsolete feature that was reintroduced into the (prescriptivist, archaizing) CA.

I disagree with this. There is absolutely no reason to think those two sounds had merged at the time of the QCT. Modern dialects have the distinction and the sounds behave different morphophonologically in the QCT. They are kept pretty well distinct even in the early Islamic papyri. It really takes some time for the distinction to really be noticeably lost (Classical Judeo-Arabic from the 10th century onwards quite often shows that the distinction is gone).

As for the third option that CA is a prescriptivist written language: Well it is. But it is from the 9th/10th century onwards. We have yet to find a single piece of Classical Arabic written before that time. So it evidently wasn't a written language.

I agree that a "pan-peninsular Koine" doesn't seem sensible. But it might have had a much smaller scope. Perhaps only the Najd and the Hijaz; While Northern Arabic was outside of that poetic koine. The question whether further south Arabic was spoken at all is problematic.

Big picture, with "official" and unreliable histories, prescriptivist grammarians, poetic koinés, poetry "templates" and last but not least (accusations of) retrodated or corrected poems, the big picture (at least in my head) is starting to look less like a chronology and more like a story with time-travel.

Hah! I like that.

I think I need a table (of features, tribes, dates and examples) or a chart of some kind, (even one filled with *, **, ? and ?!?), not for my education, but for my own sanity.

Well if you do feel free to share it with me!

Etienne

Thanks so much for the detailed reply!

A correction to your correction, if I may: I never claimed Ethiopian Semitic as a whole had lost its internal plurals, I had written that SOUTHERN Ethiopian Semitic (i.e. All Ethiopian Semitic languages minus Ge'ez, Tigrigna and Tigre) had lost it (my knowledge of Comparative Semitic is limited, but not THAT limited!).

Two questions:

1-Is there a published source anywhere listing archaic features found in Neo-Arabic which are absent from Classical Arabic? and

2-Can you be more specific about the features (shared innovations) of the ancestor of Egypto-Levantine/pre-Hilali Maghrebi Neo-Arabic, especially in terms of the contrast between it and the ancestral forms of other Neo-Arabic varieties? Or should I simply look up Ferguson's work?

PhoeniX

Oops sorry Etienne, not my intention to sound pedantic while being wrong. Over-read that.

1. No, not really. It's true that it's perhaps worth to explore that in an article bringing those things together at some point. Right now it's mostly disconnected articles. Some obvious ones:

-Retention of Barth-Ginsberg alternation: yafʕul vs. yifʕal (Najdi, and if you buy my argument in a forthcoming article Maltese & Tunisian (and traces in Levantine).
-Non-merger of *ā/awa and *aya (Razihit only, as far as we can tell).
-Retention of non-al articles such as iC, aC, im, an, in (all over Yemen).
-Much more productive use of fawʕala, and fayʕala stems. (Levantine Arabic)
-Retention of voiceless reflexes of the emphatic interdental (as linked in Ahmad's piece).
-Ejective articulations of the emphatics (Yemen)
-Retention of the old *ta/t- alternation in stem V and VI verbs. Several najdi dialects have forms that go back to *takammal/yatkammal the same alternation found in Gəʿəz; where Classical Arabic just has *ta/ta-

But honestly, most of the time Classical Arabic simply is more archaic, by virtue of already being archaic in the time it rises in popularity, and that being centuries ago. :-).

2. Ferguson helps, but you kind of need a framework to not analyse his nonsense wrongly. Some of the stuff is based on Holes and my recent Maltese/Tunis Arabic paper. Let me just give a quick overview:

-Redistribution of CaCiC and CaCaC stems so that stative verbs that had a CaCaC pattern become CiCiC; and transitice CaCiC become CaCaC e.g. Classical sakata/yaskut :: Egypto-Levantine/Pre-Hilali siki/yuskut; Classical ʕamila/yaʕmal :: Egypto-Levantine/Prehilali ʕamala/yaʕmil
-Vowel harmony: CaCiC > CiCiC; CaCuC > CuCuC; yaCCuC > yuCCuC; yaCCiC > yiCCiC; ʔaCCuC plurals > ʔuCCuC; ʔaCCiCah plural > ʔiCCiCa. Also: CaCīC > CiCīC.
-*i > u in emphatic stems of the shape *CiCāC > CuCāC.
-Generalization of the *t- prefix in the stem V and VI verbs itkammal/yitkammal rather than Classical takammala/yatakammala.
-Probably the strange emphatic ṭ in the 'teens' also counts: xamṣṭaʕš 'fifteen', but haven't looked closely yet if that occurs in other dialects.

Much of this is explained in more detail in two forthcoming articles of mine, so stay tuned. :-)

Jadhimah

I know that you mentioned that you do not know what to make of the Yemeni varieties yet. But what is your take on the Yemeni and Omani varieties that share what appear to be quite late innovations with the Mediterranean varieties, such as circumfix negation?

Also what do you make of Al-Jallads idea that the qeltu dialects share a common ancestor with Levantine? Do you think perhaps Qeltu is a sister clade to the Levantine-Egyptian-Maghrebi group?

Also what do you make of the fact that Jewish Palestinian Aramaic (and modern Western Aramaic spoken in Maaloula) shares with Maghrebi the first person n-prefix?

PhoeniX

I wasn't aware that there are Yemeni and Omani varieties with a circumfix negation. Even if that's the case, I don't think it's all the important. It seems to me very likely that those could just be independent Parallel innovations. Some Palestinian varieties seem to have traces of it too. For Yemeni-Maghrebi contact in general, I'm now officially "that guy who was brutally unconvinced by Corriente": https://www.academia.edu/23608684/_The_illusory_Yemenite_connection_of_Andalusi_Arabic_Zeitschrift_f%C3%BCr_Arabische_Linguistik_66_2017_pp._5-44

It's interesting that me and Ahmad haven't really discussed that idea that much. I should ask him. At least some of the vowel harmony patterns that I mentioned above seem to be shared between Qeltu and Egypto-Levantine-Maghrebi, and probably some other things. So there's probably a case to be made for it, yes. My knowledge of the Qeltu dialects is a little limited.

I don't make much of the JPA/Maghrebi connection of the n-prefix. It seems like an unsurprising innovation that could have easily happened without shared influence.

Ed

It's very interesting to see that many Neo-Arabic dialects speakers perceive their dialects as a corruption of the Quranic Arabic, while it's actually a natural development of a spoken pre-Quranic Arabic dialect (Hijazi or Najdi).

By the way, since Muḥammad is Ḥijazi, does that mean that if he existed, he spoke a dialect closer to Neo-Arabic dialects than to Quranic Arabic?

You should really publish a book in Arabic.

Albert


I want to add something extra-topic (I'm sorry for that, but I think it is important) that you said in Twitter because I do not really understand what it means : The idea came to life when Jeffery said the main influence on Arabic is Syriac, and I went: wait a minute. Have you ever looked at Syriac? They're absolutely aramict, but certainly not Syriac, unless we rewrite the complete history of Aramaic on the basis of the Quran!

If I understand correctly, you said that it could be Aramaic and not Syriac unless "we rewrite the complete history of Aramaic on the basis of the Quran"
1/What basis of the Quran are you talking about? (linguistic,historical, etc.)? If it's historical, is it what it is recounted by the traditional account as the origin of the text (for example its location of composition?)
2/ rewrite the complete history of Aramaic : what register? Linguistic,historical?

Can you enlighten us? (I think it could be interesting for all)
Thanks.

PhoeniX

Sorry for the long radio silence. Some stuff got in the way.

@Ed: No I would be inclined to thing Muḥammad existed (although I have no dog in the fight) and that he probably spoke Hijazi Arabic, which I would argue was close/identical to Quranic Arabic but quite different from Classical Arabic.

I will publish a book on Arabic. Someone can decide to translate it to Arabic later. :-)

===

@Albert

I'll give a talk about this at IQSA in Denver this year. Let's get some facts straight:

1. Syriac is a form of Aramaic
2. There are certainly Aramaic loanwords in the Quran
3. The Aramaic loanwords in the Quran do not look like they come from Syriac, because the typical features of Syriac are not present in those loanwords.
4. Hence: If we want to maintain that they are Syriac loanwords, we have to conclude that Syriacists are completely wrong about what Syriac was like in the 7th century. The more plausible explanation, to me, seems to be that the Aramaic that influenced the Quran was a dialect different from Syriac.

Hugo

Can you list the names of the Classic commentators? I'd like to refer to their works...

Albert

"The more plausible explanation, to me, seems to be that the Aramaic that influenced the Quran was a dialect different from Syriac."
There's mainly two kind of Aramaic : East one: Syriac, West One : West Aramaic (Christo Palestinian?). If it is not Syriac, it is the West Aramaic. So that the Quranic text might have been written rather in Palestine for example in an Arabic coloured by West Aramaic rather than an Arabic coloured by Syriac. Correct ?

Thanks

PhoeniX

No, it's neither. It must be a form of Aramaic that split off from the other known Aramaics somewhere before the 2nd century CE.

A host of linguistic developments took place in all Aramaics that survived. (Lenition of the stops, loss of vowels in open syllables). Neither of those developments are present in the Arabic of the Quran. So it seems that neither Syriac nor Western Aramaic had influence.

Instead there seems to have been a third variety, which was typical for the Aramaic that influenced monotheistic South Arabian, Ethiopic and Quranic Arabic, which was much more archaic than Syriac at the time.

The exact interpretations of those facts are not too clear, but neither variety is likely to have influenced Arabic.

Albert

Very interesting, thank you.

Hana

Very interesting

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)