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Arik Sadan


This paper details the demonstratives’ functions and semantic characteristics, according to Sībawayhi’s Kitāb. Although Sībawayhi does not devote a separate chapter to demonstratives, a scrutiny of their occurrences in his Kitāb shows that for Sībawayhi demonstratives pertain to the group of al-ʾasmāʾ al-mubhama ‘the dubious, or vague, nouns’; they serve to indicate, or point to, nearby or far objects or persons; they have diminutive and dual forms; and they can be used as names of persons. Among the demonstratives in Sībawayhi’s example sentences there are quite a few that have the meaning of a verb in the imperative, ‘behold!’ or ‘see!’, a meaning that Sībawayhi explicitly mentions.

The Grammatical and Lexicographical Traditions

Mutual Foundations, Divergent Paths of Development


Ramzi Baalbaki


Georgine Ayoub and Kees Versteegh


Kees Versteegh


In the transmission of Islamic knowledge in Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia, the usual language of religious instruction was not Arabic. The role of Arabic was limited to the recitation of the Qurʾān and the Ḥadīṯ; passive knowledge of Arabic was trained by collective reading of (often short) treatises in the classroom, which were memorized with the help of interlinear translations, e.g. in Swahili, in Persian, in Urdu, or in Malay. For the instruction in Arabic grammar students needed textbooks. There are a few sources about the curriculum in madrasas in Indonesia, Indo-Pakistan, East Africa and West Africa. This paper deals with the canon for grammatical treatises in different parts of the Islamic world and with the motives for learning Arabic. The main question is: how is it possible to learn a foreign language like Arabic by memorizing a grammatical treatise like the ʾAlfiyya, which presupposes a large amount of grammatical knowledge?

Handbook of Jewish Languages

Revised and Updated Edition

Edited by Lily Kahn and Aaron D. Rubin

This Handbook of Jewish Languages is an introduction to the many languages used by Jews throughout history, including Yiddish, Judezmo (Ladino) , and Jewish varieties of Amharic, Arabic, Aramaic, Berber, English, French, Georgian, Greek, Hungarian, Iranian, Italian, Latin American Spanish, Malayalam, Occitan (Provençal), Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, Syriac, Turkic (Karaim and Krymchak), Turkish, and more. Chapters include historical and linguistic descriptions of each language, an overview of primary and secondary literature, and comprehensive bibliographies to aid further research. Many chapters also contain sample texts and images. This book is an unparalleled resource for anyone interested in Jewish languages, and will also be very useful for historical linguists, dialectologists, and scholars and students of minority or endangered languages. This paperback edition has been updated to include dozens of additional bibliographic references.


Edited by Jacob Høigilt and Gunvor Mejdell

The Politics of Written Language in the Arab World connects the fascinating field of contemporary written Arabic with the central sociolinguistic notions of language ideology and diglossia. Focusing on Egypt and Morocco, the authors combine large-scale survey data on language attitudes with in-depth analyses of actual language usage and explicit (and implicit) language ideology. They show that writing practices as well as language attitudes in Egypt and Morocco are far more receptive to vernacular forms than has been assumed.

The individual chapters cover a wide variety of media, from books and magazines to blogs and Tweets. A central theme running through the contributions is the social and political function of “doing informality” in a changing public sphere steadily more permeated by written Arabic in a number of media.

The e-book version of this publication is available in Open Access.

Arabic in Context

Celebrating 400 years of Arabic at Leiden University.


Edited by Ahmad Al-Jallad

The writing of Arabic’s linguistic history is by definition an interdisciplinary effort, the result of collaboration between historical linguists, epigraphists, dialectologists, and historians. The present volume seeks to catalyse a dialogue between scholars in various fields who are interested in Arabic’s past and to illustrate how much there is to be gained by looking beyond the traditional sources and methods. It contains 15 innovative studies ranging from pre-Islamic epigraphy to the modern spoken dialect, and from comparative Semitics to Middle Arabic. The combination of these perspectives hopes to stand as an important methodological intervention, encouraging a shift in the way Arabic’s linguistic history is written.