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The Foundations of Arabic Linguistics III

The development of a tradition: Continuity and change

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Edited by Georgine Ayoub and Kees Versteegh

All contributions deal with the reception of theories in the Arabic grammatical tradition from the time of Sībawayhi (d. end of the 8th century C.E.) to the later grammarians in the 14th century C.E.. After Sībawayhi, considerable changes in the linguistic situation took place. The language of the Arab Bedouin described by him died as a native language. Grammars also changed, even if grammarians used for the most part the data given by Sībawayhi. This volume aims to determine continuities and changes in Arabic grammars, providing a new perspective on the impact of cultural and historical developments and on the founding principles of Sībawayhi's Kitāb.
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Jean N. Druel

Abstract

The grammar of numerals is a complicated chapter in Classical Arabic treatises because it lies at the junction of many grammatical rules. In his Kitāb, Sībawayhi (d. 180/796?) analyzes numerals as a category of substantives resembling the adjectives that themselves resemble active participles, aiming at a deep consistency between all grammatical rules. In the Muqtaḍab, al-Mubarrad (d. 285/898) visibly prefers to collect as many peculiar cases as possible where numerals are involved, renouncing consistency at a wider scale. Lastly, in his ʾUṣūl, Ibn al-Sarrāj (d. 316/928) creates a specific grammatical category for numerals, systematizing a trend initiated by al-Mubarrad and initializing a way of analyzing grammar that seems to be predominant until the present day in the grammar of numerals.

What has the grammar of numerals become in later grammarians? Did they refine Ibn al-Sarrāj’s systematic and exhaustive subdivisions? In this paper, I intend to explore Raḍī l-Dīn al-ʾAstarābāḏī’s (d. 688/1289?) grammar of numerals in order to understand how he deals with this complicated chapter of Arabic grammar. Each theory has its blind spots, i.e., assumptions that make vision possible but that are not questioned per se. Can we infer Raḍī l-Dīn al-ʾAstarābāḏī’s blind spots in his grammar of numerals? Could he escape the blind spots of his predecessors?

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Case and Reference

The Theory of mā yanṣarif wa-mā lā yanṣarif in Sībawayhi’s Kitāb

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Georgine Ayoub

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Zeinab A. Taha

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Arik Sadan

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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.

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The Grammatical and Lexicographical Traditions

Mutual Foundations, Divergent Paths of Development

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Ramzi Baalbaki

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Georgine Ayoub and Kees Versteegh

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Kees Versteegh

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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?