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Arabic in Context

Celebrating 400 years of Arabic at Leiden University.

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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.

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Paul S. Stevenson

In Stanzaic Syntax in the Madrashe of Ephrem the Syrian, which focuses on madrāšê V and VI in the Paradise cycle, Paul S. Stevenson looks at Ephrem’s poetic art from the point of view of a linguist. This study goes beyond the traditional levels of analysis, the clause and the sentence, and examines the structure of whole stanzas as units. The result is a surprisingly rich tapestry of syntactic patterning, which can justly be considered the key to Ephrem’s prosody. The driving force behind Ephrem’s poetry turns out not to be meter or sound play, but a variety of syntactic templates, which include even vertical patterning of constituents.