Chapter 4 The Quranic Consonantal Text: Morphology

In: Quranic Arabic
Marijn van Putten
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al-Farrāʔ, Kitāb fīh Luġāt al-Qurʔān

4.1 Introduction

In the previous section we have shown that when looking to answer the question what the language of the Quran is, the reading traditions fail to give a consistent answer. They are linguistically diverse, none of them look like natural language, and they must be considered to be a concerted effort to beautify the recitation of the Quran through the use of exotic linguistic features from a variety of different dialects, augmented with completely innovative forms that do not seem to have been part of anyone’s natural speech. These reading traditions take shape with the eponymous readers, and it is difficult to see further back than these readers through internal reflection.

However, there is a source of the Quran that carries linguistic information that does go back to the very first decades of Islam: the written text itself. In recent years it has become clear that virtually every early Quranic manuscript that we have access to today goes back to a single archetypal copy (Cook 2004; Sinai 2014a; 2014b; van Putten 2019c). The dating of these manuscripts is so early that a date much later than the date attributed to it by the Islamic tradition (that is, during the reign of ʕuṯmān b. ʕaffān, 644–656 CE) is quite difficult to envision. This primary source, while written in a highly defective script still carries a lot of linguistic information that we can likewise date back to this early period: the spelling is not random, but forms a clear system. This orthography must be seen as an important source of linguistic data, and its frequent deviations from the later standard Classical Arabic orthography can give us important insights into the nature of the language and how it differs from Classical Arabic. Moreover, as the Quran is a rhymed text, we receive a unique insight into some phonological features of the language which are not easily recoverable from other texts from this period, such as the early Islamic papyri.

In a series of papers, I have already explored what the QCT can tell us about the phonology and nominal morphology of Quranic Arabic (van Putten forthcoming; 2017a; 2017b; 2018; 2019b; van Putten and Stokes 2018). What has not yet been explored, however, is the historical linguistic affiliation of Quranic Arabic. What morphological and phonological isoglosses does Quranic Arabic have? And how does it relate to pre-Islamic Arabic varieties as found in the epigraphic record and dialects as reported by the Arab grammarians?

Throughout modern Arabist literature, we find many statements that suggest that the Quran was written in a kind of mixed dialect, drawing freely from different dialects—much in the way as the Arabic poetry. The idea that the Quran was written in a mixed dialect seems to ultimately originate from the medieval Islamic tradition, but received its modern articulation in Chaim Rabin’s monumental work on the Ancient West Arabian dialects where he stated with some confidence that the Quran was composed in the ‘poetic koine’ (Rabin 1951, 3 f.).1 Rabin admits that the form of the poetic koiné used in the Hijaz may have had a local pronunciation, primarily, having lost the glottal stop as reflected in the orthography (Rabin 1951, 4 f.). However he tells us that “in morphology, on the other hand, an almost complete conformity with the ‘Arabiyya’ could be achieved” (Rabin 1951, 4). The claim then, is that morphologically we should be able to see that the text of the Quran adheres to the ‘Classical Arabic’ speech norms as opposed to the local dialect of the Hijaz.

This chapter will examine the morphological features of Quranic Arabic as reflected in the QCT, while the next chapter will tackle its phonological features. These features will be compared against the reports of the Arab grammarians as well as the linguistic data found in epigraphic pre-Islamic Arabic. From this discussion it will become clear that whenever the QCT allows us to identify linguistic features it almost universally agrees with what the Arab grammarians attributed to the dialect of the Hijaz, and as such Quranic Arabic should be understood as a reflex of a Hijazi Arabic vernacular and not “Classical Arabic”. Moreover, frequently we will see that a large amount of the relevant isoglosses visible in the epigraphic record clearly point away from a northern origin, and on occasion give clear evidence that the isoglosses present in the QCT are an innovation typical for Hijazi Arabic.

In Al-Jallad’s (2020b) revolutionary work on the Damascus Psalm fragment, he already listed several morphological features which appear to form unique Hijazi innovations in comparison to forms of Old Arabic found in Northern varieties such as Safaitic, Hismaic and Nabataean Arabic. These isoglosses occur in Quranic Arabic as well, and as such, the language of the Damascus Psalm fragment and the Quranic Arabic are closely related to each other. Some of the isoglosses that can be identified as Hijazi innovations from the epigraphic record are also identified as typically Hijazi isoglosses by the Arab grammarians, and there are yet other isoglosses identified by the Arab grammarians for which not as much evidence has been found in the epigraphic record yet. In the following section we will look at morphological isoglosses present in Quranic Arabic as can be gleaned from the QCT which can either be compared to the epigraphic record, or those reported by Sībawayh and al-Farrāʔ (or both). Whenever relevant, I will also cite the discussion of isoglosses that are discussed by Rabin (1951).

4.2 The ʔalla- Base Relative Pronoun

Quranic Arabic forms its relative pronoun on a base ʔalla- followed by deictic elements ʔalla-ḏī, ʔalla-, ʔalla-ḏīn etc. This form is innovative in relation to the ancient Semitic relative pronoun ḏū, a relative pronoun which continued to exist in Quranic Arabic with a more restricted possessive meaning ‘possessor of …’, e.g. ‮ذوا فضل‬‎ /ḏū faḍl/ ‘possessor of favour’. This innovation is also acknowledged by Rabin (1951, 154).

The -base relative pronoun is the one that should likely be reconstructed for Proto-Semitic and is cognate to the Aramaic relative pronoun, e.g. Nabataean Aramaic ‮די/זי‬‎ (Cantineau 1978, 61), Biblical Aramaic ‮דִּי‬‎ (Rosenthal 1961, 21 f.) and Gəʕəz . It is the relative pronoun found in the Northern epigraphic varieties of Old Arabic: Safaitic (m. , ḏʾt, ḏt, ḏ (?) pl. ḏw, see Al-Jallad 2015, 85–88), and the one that seems to be attested in the Nabataean Arabic of the Namārah inscription: ‮דו אשר אלתג‬‎ /ḏū ʔasara al-tāg/ ‘who bound the crown’, (Rabin 1951, 205; Cantineau 1978, 49), cf. also the theonym ‮דושרא‬‎ /ḏū śarā/ ‘the one of the Sharā mountain’ (Cantineau 1978, 80).

The earliest attestation of the ʔalla-base relative pronoun seems to be JSLih 384, an Old Arabic inscription in the Northern Hijaz, in the Dadanitic script, which has the feminine relative pronoun spelled ʾlt, presumably to be read /ʔallatī/. See Müller (1982) and Macdonald (2000, 49) who identify the use of the ʔalla-base in this inscription as an Arabic isogloss, and see Al-Jallad (2015, 13, n. 17; 2018b, 8 f.; 2020b, 60) who identifies it as a specifically Old Hijazi isogloss within Arabic.

While the ʔalla-base is quite clearly an innovation and seems to have its origins in the Hijaz, by the time the grammarians start discussing the linguistic variation of Arabic, it seems to have become extremely dominant. Neither Sībawayh nor al-Farrāʔ consider any other relative pronouns.2 A few later grammarians attribute archaic forms of the relative pronoun to Yemeni dialects who used ḏī (Rabin 1951, 39) and the Ṭayyiʔ who used ḏū (Rabin 1951, 204 f.).

4.3 The Distal Demonstrative Expansion with -l(i)- in ḏālika, tilka and hunālika

A typical feature of Quranic Arabic is the exclusive use of the distal demonstratives that have an additional element -l(i)- between the demonstrative element and the addressee agreement suffix -ka/-kum etc. Thus, in the QCT we find ‮ذلك‬‎ and ‮تلك‬‎ and never forms like ‮ذاك‬‎ ḏāka and ‮تيك‬‎ tīka or ‮تاك‬‎ tāka. The latter forms are reported for Classical Arabic (Wright 1896, § 342; Fischer 2002, § 275a), and especially ḏāka occasionally occurs in poetry and Classical Arabic prose (often co-occurring besides ḏālika).

The difference between these two pronouns is widely identified as a Hijazi isogloss already in the time of al-Farrāʔ (Luġāt, 11), who recognizes the exclusive use of the ḏālika form as typical for the Quran and attributes it to the Hijaz, while the people of Najd among the Qays, ʔasad, Tamīm and Rabīʕah use ḏāka. As far as can be gleaned from the fragmentary pre-Islamic data, it seems that the archaic forms without the -l(i)- insertion were original to the northern Old Arabic varieties, and that -l(i)- extension is a Hijazi innovation (Al-Jallad 2020b, 61 f.). tk as a feminine distal demonstrative appears to be attested in a single Safaitic inscription (Al-Jallad 2015, 84).

While Rabin (1951, 154) recognizes the identification of the -l(i)- extension as Hijazi, he remains skeptical of this identification because some Western Arabs have sayings and poems attributed to them that use ḏāka as well. He is also suspicious of the claim because Arab grammarians that claim this to be a Hijazi feature tend to cite the Quran as evidence for this, as it exclusively has -li- extension. This seems to me to be the wrong conclusion based on the facts available.

First, as ḏālika is the innovative form and ḏāka the original, the fact that an archaic form is used by Western Arabs—assuming this attribution is valid—is hardly an argument why ḏālika is not a Hijazi feature. At most it is an argument that ḏāka is not an exclusively eastern feature. Just because ḏāka occurs in the Hijaz as well, does not exclude the possibility that ḏālika is indeed a uniquely Hijazi innovation.

His second point seems to presuppose the conclusion that the Quran is composed in the poetic koine and therefore cannot be evidence of dialectal data, but this has not been demonstrated by him, nor by anyone else. The very fact that Al-Farrāʔ (Luġāt, 11) feels the need to explicitly state that ḏālika is the form that occurs in the Quran in fact highlights that this is a fact considered remarkable and distinctive of Quranic Arabic, and something that he did not consider to follow automatically from the statement that this is the Hijazi form.

In Classical Arabic prose and poetry alike ḏāka and ḏālika co-occur, and its absence in the Quran is in fact striking, and a clear deviation from the Classical Arabic norms. The very fact that al-Farrāʔ, nor any other grammarian, feels the need to attribute all features present in Quranic readings to the Hijaz (as we saw in chapter 3), seems to confirm that the observation on the Hijazi character of ḏālika is quite independent from the observation that it is the only form that occurs in the Quran.

To ḏālika and tilka, we may also add that the distal locative demonstrative receives the -l(i)- expansion to form ‮هنالك‬‎ rather than hunāka as a Hijazi feature (al-Farrāʔ Luġāt, 47). The Tamimi hunāka becomes the dominant form in literary Arabic production but is absent in the QCT.

4.4 The Plural Demonstratives (hā-)ʔulāʔi/(hā-)ʔulā; ʔulāʔika/ʔulāka

Another isogloss that is attributed to the Hijaz is the shape of the plural distal demonstrative. Here al-Farrāʔ (Luġāt, 12) reports ʔulāʔika for Qurayš and the people of the Hijaz, while ʔulāka is reported for Qays, Tamīm, Rabīʕah and ʔasad, ʔullāka for some of the Banū Saʕd and Tamīm, and ʔulālika for “some of them”.3 The QCT is unambiguous in this regard as it only attests the spelling ‮اوليك‬‎ and never ‮اولاك‬‎, and therefore it is only compatible with the Hijazi form.4

The proximal plural demonstrative likewise is reported by al-Farrāʔ (Luġāt, 22) to have a difference between Qurayš and those that surround them who have hāʔulāʔi as opposed to Tamīm, Qays, Bakr and the common people of ʔasad who say ʔulā (spelled ‮أُلَى‬‎ in the edition) or hā-ʔulā (spelled ‮هَاؤُلَى‬‎ in the edition) with an ʔalif maqṣūrah (as opposed to an ʔalif mamdūdah). He adds that ‘some Arabs’ drop the first ʔalif of the word and say hawlāʔi and cites a piece of poetry that adduces this.5

The QCT does not allow us to infer with certainty the shape of the proximal deictic (although it definitely has the initial hā-), as both ʔalif and yāʔ can represent the ʔalif maqṣūrah whereas ʔalif can also represent ʔalif mamdūdah. Thus, the QCT ‮هولا‬‎ is consistent both with hāʔulāʔi and hāʔulā.

However, al-Farrāʔ explicitly writes the ʔalif maqṣūrah with a yāʔ, which means he likely intended the Najdi pronunciation to have been (hā)ʔulē, since the Kufans, including his teacher al-Kisāʔī, would regularly read ʔalif maqṣūrah bi-sūrat al-yāʔ with ʔimālah (see § Since the QCT distinguishes between /ē/ (spelled with yāʔ) and /ā/ (spelled with ʔalif) the QCT would only be consistent with hāʔulāʔi and not with hāʔulē.

4.5 Proximal Deictics with Mandatory hā- Prefix

In the QCT all proximal deictics, be they masculine ‮هذا‬‎, feminine ‮هذه‬‎, plural ‮هولا‬‎ or locative ‮ههنا‬‎ are prefixed by hā-. This is remarkably different from what is reported from Classical Arabic where forms without hā- are broadly reported, e.g. masculine ḏā, feminine ḏih, ḏī, plural ʔulā locative hunā. In Classical Arabic prose especially the form hunā—absent in the QCT—becomes standard, while others are rare.

Al-Farrāʔ (Luġāt, 22) reports the addition of the hā- prefix as optional for the plural among eastern tribes, but mandatory in the Hijaz. Forms without hā- are not explicitly mentioned for singular masculine ḏā or feminine ḏī/ḏih by al-Farrāʔ, although later grammarians like al-Zamaxšarī (al-Mufaṣṣal, 55) do report them. Even the locative deictic consistently has the hā- prefix in Quranic Arabic ‮ههنا‬‎ ‘here’ (Q3:154; Q5:24; Q26:146; Q69:35).

In the pre-Islamic record, we find that the Northern varieties consistently lack the addition of the hā- so its mandatory addition appears to be a typical innovation of Quranic Arabic. For example, Safaitic only attests , presumably /ḏā/ (Al-Jallad 2015, 80), and the same is true for the late Nabataean Arabic inscription at Harran (568 CE), which clearly attests ‮دا المرطول‬‎ /ḏā al-marṭūl/ ‘this Martyrion’ (Fiema et al. 2015, 414), a feminine deictic ‮תי‬‎ without the initial hā- is likewise attested in the Nabataean Arabic of the Namārah inscription, e.g. ‮תי נפש‬‎ (328 CE) (Fiema et al. 2015, 405). Thus, while the epigraphic data does not allow an identification of this isogloss of typical for the Hijaz, it is clear that North of the Hijaz the addition of the hā- was not mandatory, as no attestations of it have been found so far.

4.6 Feminine Proximal Deictic hāḏih

According to Sībawayh (IV, 182) the Tamīm dialect has the feminine proximal deictic hāḏī form in context which becomes hāḏih form in pause. This is also what Rabin (1951, 152, §f) claims is the “strict Classical Arabic” form.7 The Hijazi dialect would have borrowed this pausal form from Classical Arabic. No argument is given why it would not be the other way around or how he envisions a spoken dialect like Hijazi would go about borrowing such a basic category as a demonstrative from a poetic register. The existence of tī/tā demonstratives in ḥadīṯs8 and poems does not disprove that the hāḏih form was the common form in the Hijaz—only that some archaic forms were also in use, if we would accept that poetry and ḥadīṯs are representative of Hijazi Arabic. The feminine proximal deictic throughout the QCT is ‮هذه‬‎, which is in line with the report for Hijazi Arabic, which is said to use hāḏih(ī) both in pause and context.

In the northern Old Arabic dialects evidence is found for both and ḏī but not (hā-)ḏihī. For example, the ancient Namārah inscription (dated 328 CE) written in Nabataean Arabic starts with ‮תי נפש‬‎ ‘this is the funerary monument of …’. Safaitic seems to attest a feminine demonstrative that has an initial , presumably /ḏī/, rather than t a feminine deictic also reported by the Arab grammarians (Al-Jallad 2015, 81). The forms with final h—the only form found in the Quran—is currently unattested in pre-Islamic Arabic.

4.7 Loss of Barth-Ginsberg Alternation

As discussed in § 2.2.5, Sībawayh and al-Farrāʔ agree that one of the features absent in Hijazi Arabic that is present in all other dialects is the use of i-prefixes in the prefix conjugation of stative faʕila verbs, thus they say ʔanā ʔiʕlamu ḏāka ‘I know that’ rather than the Hijazi ʔana ʔaʕlamu ḏālika.9

The Barth-Ginsberg alternation must certainly be reconstructed for Proto-Arabic (see § 2.2.5). Thus, the disappearance of it is a specific innovation typical of Hijazi Arabic. Indeed, there is evidence for this being a Hijazi innovation from the epigraphic record as well: Two Graeco-Arabic inscriptions from North Arabia attest verbs that unambiguously have i-prefixes with a stem vowel a: ιραυ /yirʕaw/ ‘they pastured’ (Al-Jallad and al-Manaser 2015) and εσρατ /yisrat/ ‘he served in the army’ (Al-Jallad et al. 2020). There is epigraphic evidence in the Northern Hijaz of the innovative generalization if the a-prefixes, namely in a Greek inscription which contains the name Ιαλης (UJadhGr 2) (Nehmé 2018, 286 f.), identified by Ahmad Al-Jallad (personal correspondence) as representing the Arabic verbal name /yaʕlē/, rather than the expected /yiʕlē/, had Barth-Ginsberg been operative. Thus, the epigraphic record seems to confirm that the lack of Barth-Ginsberg alternation is a Hijazi isogloss, in line with the reports of the grammarians.

In the QCT it is generally difficult to find unambiguous evidence for or against the Barth-Ginsberg alternation of the prefix, because of the short vowels being unwritten. However, there are two types of verbs, identified by Sībawayh and al-Farrāʔ alike, where this dialectal difference shows up in the consonantal skeleton of the text. As they both point out, stative verbs with I-w and I-ʔ stems, in the case of the application of Barth-Ginsberg, will end up with a yāʔ, thus one gets tīǧalu ‘you fear’ and tiʔbā ‘you refuse’ (Sībawayh, IV, 111). In this place, the QCT provides us with evidence that Quranic Arabic follows the Hijazi innovation of not having Barth-Ginsberg alternation, as we find ‮لا توجل‬‎ /lā tawǧal/ ‘do not fear!’ (Q15:53) rather than **‮لا تيجل‬‎, explicitly mentioned by al-Farrāʔ (Luġāt, 8) to be the expected form in the non-Hijazi dialects. For the I-ʔ stems, we find more evidence in the QCT that the Barth-Ginsberg alternation did not operate: ‮ان تامنه‬‎ /ʔin tāman-h/ ‘if you entrust him’ (Q3:75, twice), ‮لا تامنا‬‎ /lā tāman-nā/ ‘you do not entrust us’ (Q12:11), ‮تالمون‬‎ /tālamūn/ ‘you are suffering’ (Q4:104, twice), ‮فلا تاس‬‎ /fa-lā tās/ ‘so do not grieve’ (Q5:26, 68), ‮لكيلا تاسوا‬‎ /likay-lā tāsaw/ ‘in order that you do not grieve’ (Q57:23), ‮وتابى‬‎ /wa-tābē/ ‘but [their hearts] refuse’ (Q9:8). ‮اسى‬‎ /āsē/ ‘I grieve’ (Q7:93), ‮ان ادن‬‎ /an āḏan/ ‘that I give permission’ (Q7:123; Q20:71; Q26:49), ‮امنكم‬‎ /ʔāmanu-kum/ ‘I entrust you’ (Q12:64); ‮لا ياب‬‎ /lā yāb/ ‘he should not refuse’ (Q2:282, twice); ‮فلا يامن‬‎ /fa-lā yāman/ ‘he does not feel secure’ (Q7:99); ‮ويابى‬‎ /wa-yābē/ ‘and he refuses’ (Q9:32) ‮حتى ياذن‬‎ /ḥattē yāḏan/ ‘until he permits’ (Q12:80); ‮لم ياذن‬‎ /lam yāḏan/ ‘he did not allow’ (Q42:21); ‮ان ياذن‬‎ /an yāḏan/ ‘that he permits’ (Q53:26) ‮ان يامنوكم ويامنوا قومهم‬‎ /an yāmanū wa-yāmanū qawmahum/ ‘that they entrust you and they entrust their people’ (Q4:91); ‮يالمونك‬‎ /yālamūna/ ‘you are suffering’ (Q4:104).

These examples thus confirm that Quranic Arabic follows the innovative Hijazi practice of lacking the Barth-Ginsberg alternation.

4.8 Uninflected halumma

Rabin (1951, 162 f., §z)—following al-Farrāʔ (Luġāt, 63) and Sībawayh (III, 529)—points out that in the Hijaz halumma ‘come on!’ was uninflected, while the Tamīm conjugated it as an imperative verb, sg.m. halumma, sg.f. halummī, du. halummā, pl.m halummū pl.f. halmumna, (al-Farrāʔ reports the unexpected feminine plural forms halummanna, halumunna). In the QCT, ‮هلم‬‎ is uninflected in the two places it occurs (Q6:150; Q33:18), which in both cases has a plural addressee. The QCT therefore agrees with the Hijaz in this regard. The Hijazi form here is probably archaic, as it seems likely that this is a presentative particle hal10 followed by -umma, the same particle as the vocative suffix that one finds in aḷḷāh-umma ‘O God!’ The innovation of the Tamīm would have then been to interpret this as an imperative verb.11

4.9 Imperatives and Apocopates of II=III Verbs Have the Shape vCCvC Rather Than (v)CvCC

Imperative and apocopates of geminate verbs have a metathesized form in non-Hijazi dialects (urudd(a/u)), whereas in the Hijaz they are un-metathesized (urdud) (Rabin 1951, 161 f., §y). This according to Rabin (1951, 4) is one of “the few Hijazi forms […] that appear sporadically [in the Quran]”. It should be clear by now that many more Hijazi features than just the treatment of geminate verbs appear in the Quran. The claim that this form is sporadic among the readers is not in keeping with the attestations in the Quran. The unmetathesized Hijazi form is the norm. The apocopate occurs without metathesis 43 times, and the imperative 8 times. The metathesized forms never occur for the imperative, and for the apocopate there are only three, or four cases. The first is ‮يشاق‬‎ ‘opposes’ (Q59:4), while the unmetathesized form of the same verb is attested as ‮يشاقق‬‎ ‘opposes’ (Q4:115). The second and third are ‮تضار‬‎ ‘suffers’ (Q2:233) and ‮يضار‬‎ ‘suffers’ (Q2:282), which do not occur in unmetathesized forms elsewhere. The last case is a bit more involved. In the Kufan and Basran codices ‮يرتد‬‎ ‘turns back’ (Q5:54) occurs besides ‮يرتدد‬‎ ‘turns back’ (Q2:217) (Al-Dānī muqniʕ, 107), but in the Syrian and Medinan codices Q5:54 is spelled ‮يرتدد‬‎.12

Rabin suggests that the Hijaz used the unmetathesized forms exclusively, while the Tamīm used the metathesized forms. This is indeed how Sībawayh (III, 529–532) reports it. However, al-Farrāʔ (Luġāt, 36) seems to accept the possibility of metathesized forms in Hijazi dialects as he says that Hijaz and ʔasad place the vowel a after metathesized final root consonants such as in tuḍārra while Tamīm and Qays have tuḍārri. The isogloss therefore seems to be that Hijazi was able to use both metathesized and unmetathesized forms whereas Tamīm used the metathesized forms exclusively. The QCT overwhelmingly has forms that are not metathesized, clearly showing this Hijazi isogloss. The metathesis found in Hijazi would appear to be a reflex of a type of assimilation across syllable boundaries that occasionally occurs in the QCT, also in other positions (see Appendix A.3.5 for a discussion).

4.10 Mā ḥiǧāziyyah

The vast majority of the nominal negation using is constructed with the predicate marked with bi-, e.g. ‮وما هم بمومنين‬‎ ‘they are not believers’ (Q2:8). Only on rare occasions is the bi- left out, and in those cases a disagreement is said to occur between the people of the Hijaz and Najd. This much is also admitted by al-Farrāʔ (Luġāt, 28): “the people of the Hijaz say mā zaydun bi-qāʔim ‘Zayd is not standing’, and hardly ever do they drop the bi- from their speech, and this is how it is in the Quran except in His speech: mā hāḏā bašarā and mā hunna ʔummahāti-him, they apply the accusative when they leave out the bi-. Tamīm, Qays and ʔasad (also) say it with the bi-, but when they remove the bi-, they apply the nominative.”13 This use of the accusative is usually known as Mā Ḥiǧāziyyah, whereas using the nominative is called the Mā Tamīmiyyah, this feature is well-known among the grammarians (see also Sībawayh, I, 57). At the time of writing, Rabin (1951, 174 ff., §p-t) seemed to lack sources that explicitly comment on the frequency of this construction, and as he points out it seems to have been quite rare. We now know that this was also recognized by Al-Farrāʔ as well. Indeed, in the QCT, only one unambiguous case of the mā Ḥijāziyyah can be discerned, namely the famous ‮ما هذا بشرا‬‎ “this is not a man” (Q12:31). The one other commonly cited example ‮ما هن امهتهم‬‎ “they are not their mothers” (Q58:2), universally read in the Hijazi manner by the canonical readers mā hunna ʔummahāti-him(ū) (not ʔummahātu-hum(ū)14) is ambiguous in the QCT, and could reflect both the mā ḥiǧāziyyah and the mā tamīmiyyah. Rabin tentatively supplies another option ‮ما منكم من احد عنه حجزين‬‎ “not one of you can shield against it” (Q69:47). This one does show the Hijazi form in the QCT, but does not get commented upon by the Arab grammarians, perhaps because they took ḥāǧizīna as a ḥāl.

As pointed out by al-Farrāʔ and Rabin, all other cases of nominal negation with mark the predicate with bi-. The anomalous nature of ‮ما هذا بشرا‬‎ (Q12:31) was the reason for Ahmad al-Jallad (2020b, 68 f.) to suggest that it is a grammatical anomaly included as a conscious choice in the direct speech, perhaps to give a colloquial effect to the quotation in the Quran. He likewise observes that another grammatical anomaly, the famous ‮ان هذان لسحران‬‎ “These two are wizards!” (Q20:63), likewise occurs in direct speech. It should be noted that, unless there is another plausible interpretation of ‮ما هن امهتكم‬‎, the use of the nominal negation with without bi- seems exceedingly rare, but not unique to direct speech. With the caveat that this is admitted to be a marginal feature in the Hijaz as well as that it is extremely marginal in the Quran, the grammarian data does seem to assign a Hijazi origin to the isogloss that find in the QCT.

4.11 The Morphosyntax of kāla

Al-Farrāʔ (Maʕānī, II, 245 f.) tells us that there is disagreement on the how the verb kālū “to allot to s.o.” should be treated. He says that the people of the Hijaz and those that neighbour Qays treat the recipient of the allotment as a direct object, giving examples such as qad kiltu-ka ṭaʕāman kaṯīran ‘I have allotted to you a lot of food’, and kilta-nī ‘you have allotted to me’, the more regular syntax appears to be with the preposition li-, i.e. kilta lī and kiltu laka. As al-Farrāʔ points out himself, the QCT follows the Hijazi practice in this regard ‮كالوهم‬‎ ‘they allotted to them’ (Q83:3).

4.12 The Presentative hāʔum

Al-Farrāʔ (Luġāt, 143 f.) reports a difference between the presentative particle hāʔa ‘voilà’ and how it is inflected among the people of the Hijaz in contrast to the people of Najd (Qays, Tamīm, ʔasad). The Najdi tribes treat this presentative particle morphologically as an imperative verb, whereas the Hijazi dialect seems to base its endings on the 2sg. pronominal endings where the k has been swapped out with ʔ for unclear reasons. Al-Farrāʔ also reports that it has reached him that some Arabs indeed have kāf in place of the hamzah giving as example hā-ka and hā-ki.




haʔ or hāʔa


hāʔī sometimes hāʔi








While this presentative particle is not attested particularly often in the QCT, the one time it does show up, it clearly takes on the Hijazi morphological form ‮هاوم‬‎ (Q69:19).

4.13 The Use of Zawǧ as ‘Wife’

One of the reported differences between Hijaz as opposed to Tamīm and many of Qays and the people of Najd, according to al-Farrāʔ (Luġāt, 32–33) is that zawǧ is a unisex word meaning both ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ depending on the context in Hijazi whereas in the east zawǧ is ‘husband’ and zawǧah is ‘wife’. The QCT clearly aligns with the Hijazi distribution, e.g. ‮يادم اسكن انت وزوجك الجنه‬‎ ‘O Adam, dwell, you and your wife, in Paradise’ (Q2:35).

4.14 Alternations between G- and C-stems

On multiple occasions al-Farrāʔ (Luġāt) reports that some dialects have a C-stem where other dialects have a G-stem, with the same meaning. These are in essence lexical isoglosses, based on what kind of morphology they follow, and they allow us to compare them against what we see in the QCT. We find that whatever is reported to be the Hijazi form is the form that we find in the QCT. Verbs reported to have a C-stem in the Hijaz, and a G-stem elsewhere, are the following:

  • ʔawḥā ‘to inspire’ (Hijaz), waḥā (ʔasad), p. 146. QCT: Hijazi ‮اوحى‬‎ (Q99:5).

  • ʔawfā ‘to fulfill’ (Hijaz), wafā ‘id.’ (Najd), p. 49. QCT: Hijazi ‮اوفى‬‎ (Q3:76) ‘he fulfills’.

Cases where the Hijaz rather has the G-stem whereas other tribes have a C-stem are more numerous, examples of these are the following:

  • fatana ‘to tempt’ (Hijaz), ʔaftana ‘id.’ (Tamīm, Rabīʕah, ʔasad, Qays), p. 57. QCT: Hijazi ‮فتنا‬‎ (Q29:3).

  • ḥaruma ‘to be forbidden’, ḥarām pl. ḥurum ‘forbidden’ (Hijazi), ʔaḥrama ‘to be forbidden’, muḥrim ‘forbidden’ (ʔasad, Tamīm, Qays), p. 60 f. QCT: Hijazi ‮الحرام‬‎ (Q2:144).

  • ʕaṣafa ‘to blow violently’ (Hijaz) ʔaʕṣafa (ʔasad), p. 73. QCT: Hijazi G-stem active participle ‮عاصف‬‎ (Q10:22; Q14:18); ‮عاصفه‬‎ (Q21:81); ‮عصفت‬‎ (Q77:2), rather than the C-stem muʕṣif.

  • maraǧa ‘to release’ (Hijaz), ʔamraǧa (Najd), p. 108. QCT: Hijazi ‮مرج‬‎ (Q25:53; Q55:19).

In one case the QCT seems to have both the G- and the C-stem with the same meaning attested.

  • nakira ‘to not know’ (Hijaz), ʔankara (ʔasad, Tamīm), p. 75. The QCT uses the G-stem once ‮نكرهم‬‎ ‘he did not know them’ (Q11:70), the C-stem usually means ‘to reject, deny’ e.g. ‮ينكرونها‬‎ ‘they deny it’ (Q16:83), but the active participle at least once seems to have the G-stem meaning in Q12:58 ‮وهم له منكرون‬‎ ‘they did not know/recognize him’.

These lexical isoglosses of verbal stem formation in the QCT therefore seem to follow the patterns as they are reported for the Hijazi dialect.

4.15 Morphological Isoglosses Not Recognized by the Grammarians

In Quranic Arabic, there are several morphological developments which based on comparative evidence with modern dialects and Old Arabic must certainly be seen as innovations typical of Quranic Arabic, yet are not recognized or discussed as isoglosses by the Arab grammarians. In these cases, whatever we find in Quranic Arabic is identical to the ʕarabiyyah—that which the grammarians describe as valid and eloquent Arabic. While these do not help us better classify Quranic Arabic within the context of the dialects as described by the grammarians, they occasionally do allow us to set it apart from modern dialects and attested forms of Old Arabic in the epigraphic record.

4.15.1 Ta- prefix in Prefix Conjugation of tD- and tL-stems

In Gəʕəz, the tD- and tL-stems the suffix conjugation has the shape tä- for the formation prefix whereas the prefix conjugation has the shape t-, i.e. täqäṭṭälä, yətqäṭṭäl. Classical Arabic has ta- in both forms, while most modern dialects have t- in both stems. It was already noted by Diem (1982) that these t- forms cannot be explained as the outcome of regular sound change from ta-, and therefore both the ta- and t- forms must have been around in Proto-Arabic. He subsequently suggests that Proto-Arabic probably had the distribution as it is attested in Gəʕəz. Since Diem’s article, dialectological data has become available that shows there are dialects that generalize the ta- like Classical Arabic, and more importantly, that there are some rare dialects that indeed retain the alternation as it is present in Gəʕəz. See for example: Douz Arabic tⁱḥaššam/yitḥaššam ‘to be ashamed’, taʕāṛak/yitʕāṛak ‘to fight’ (Ritt-Benmimoun 2014, 349–350; 355–357),15 Gulf Arabic taġayyir/yitġayyar ‘to change’, tiwāfag/yitwāfag ‘to help each other’ (Holes 2010, 404 f.) and finally in Saudi Arabic we find Ghāmid takallam/yitkallam ‘to speak’, Qauz tikallam/yitkallam ‘to speak’, Hofuf taḥarrak/titḥarrak (3sg.f.) ‘to move’ (Prochazka 1988, 40–50). From this evidence we must conclude that this alternation of the ta- and t- prefix can securely be reconstructed for Proto-Arabic. The fact that this aligns with what we find in Gəʕəz, make it clear that this allomorphy can even be reconstructed for Proto-West Semitic.

While the evidence is sparse, the data available suggest that Quranic Arabic underwent the same generalization as Classical Arabic. For the suffix conjugation it is clear it always has the ta- prefix, because it does not have a prothetic ʔalif to break up the CC cluster, e.g. ‮تقطع‬‎ ‘to be severed’ (Q6:94) rather than **‮اتقطع‬‎ that one would expect for **/itqaṭṭaʕ/. Evidence that the prefix was ta- in the prefix conjugation is sparser, but it can be deduced from ‮يتاخر‬‎ ‘(that) he stay behind’ (Q74:37), which could only represent /yatāxxar/ or if the hamzah is retained in this context /yataʔaxxar/. Had the prefix been t- we would have expected **‮يتخر‬‎ for /yataxxar/ from *yatʔaxxara.

Thus, we can conclude that Quranic Arabic has innovated by generalizing the ta- prefix to both suffix and prefix conjugations. This generalization seems to have become the prestigious form early on, as any mention of a situation with ta-/t- alternation or a generalized t- so abundant among the modern dialects seems to be entirely absent in the descriptions of the Arab grammarians. It is thus a clear morphological innovation of Quranic Arabic compared to Proto-Arabic, but it is not explicitly attributed to the Hijaz.

4.15.2 N- prefix in the Suffix Conjugation of N-stems

Much like the tD- and tL-stems, the N-stem appears to have had a vocalized allomorph na- in the suffix conjugation and an unvocalized allomorph -n- in the prefix conjugation in Proto-Arabic. Evidence for this distribution is found in Safaitic where the lack of assimilation of the n in the suffix conjugation such as in nġḍb /naġṣ́aba/ ‘he was angered’ clearly suggests a vocalised prefix. The form yqtl /yiqqatel/ ‘to be killed’ on the other hand appears to represent an assimilated n-prefix (Al-Jallad 2015, 134 ff.). The fact that this Old Arabic reflex finds a parallel outside of Arabic in, e.g. Hebrew Pf. nip̄ʕal Impf. yippaʕel < *na-pʕala, *yi-n-paʕilu (Suchard 2019, 49 f.) suggests that Safaitic retains the Proto-Arabic situation. Quranic Arabic, like Classical Arabic and, to my knowledge, all modern dialects has generalized the unvocalized allomorph -n- to both stems, yielding forms such as pf. ‮انقلب‬‎ ‘he turned’ (Q22:11) impf. ‮ينقلب‬‎ ‘he turns’ (Q2:143). While the Arab grammarians do not comment on the vocalized prefix form at all, from the epigraphic record and comparative Semitic data it is clear that the Quranic Arabic form is innovative.

4.15.3 The ʔan yafʕala Verbal Complement Construction

Al-Jallad (2020b, 61) identifies the ʔan yafʕala verbal complement construction as yet another isogloss of Hijazi Arabic, in contrast to epigraphic Old Arabic. Both the language of the Quran, and the Old Hijazi of the Damascus psalm fragment form verbal complements with the particle ʔan followed by the subjunctive verb, where in Old Arabic of the Levant and North Arabia an infinitive construction would be used (Al-Jallad 2015, 112 f.). This seems to be a Hijazi innovation, as its earliest attestation occurs in a fragmentary Dadanitic inscription from al-ʕulā in the Northern Hijaz (Al-Jallad 2020b, 61). However, this is an innovation that Quranic Arabic shares with Classical Arabic, and is thus not identified as a Hijazi isogloss by the grammarians.

4.15.4 Use of the Definite Article al-

An interesting isogloss that is not exclusive to the Hijaz, but nevertheless forms a clear linguistic isogloss in the Old Arabic linguistic record is the shape of the definite article. In the Old Arabic present in the corpus of Safaitic inscriptions the definite article is usually represented by a h- (presumably /haC-/), not infrequently ʾ- and only rarely by hn- or ʾl- (Al-Jallad 2015, 11, n. 10), and the Old Arabic of the Hismaic corpus seems to lack a definite article altogether (Al-Jallad 2018b, 12). In Nabataean Arabic, on the other hand, it is always written ‮אל‬‎, suggesting an unassimilated /al-/ in all contexts. This same lack of assimilation is also found in the Arabic of the Damascus psalm fragment (Al-Jallad 2020b, 24). For Quranic Arabic, the evidence is difficult to interpret, the QCT would suggest an unassimilated article, but this might be a purely orthographic convention—as it is in Classical Arabic—adopted from the Nabataean writing system. Van Putten (2019b, 14 f.) gives some not particularly binding arguments why an assimilated article before apical consonants, as in Classical Arabic, might be preferable over an unassimilated situation as found in the Damascus psalm fragment. Whatever the interpretation of the QCT in this case, that it uses the al- article, as opposed to the haC- article, the Yemeni an-/am- articles or a completely absent definite article certainly distinguishes it from the Old Arabic present in the northern varieties of Safaitic and Hismaic, and puts it closer to Nabataean Arabic in this regard. The early Arab grammarians, however, do not recognize this as a Hijazi isogloss at all, and rather see the al- article with assimilation as the only acceptable form of the ʕarabiyyah.

4.16 Questionable Morphological Isoglosses

There are a few morphological isoglosses of the Hijaz discussed by Rabin (1951) which can be deduced from the QCT where it does not agree with the reported Hijazi form. However, in these three cases, we will see that it is to be doubted whether the isogloss is to be attributed to the whole Hijaz, or to the Hijaz at all, as early sources of the grammarians give conflicting reports.

4.16.1 The III-w Passive Participle Is maCCuww Not maCCiyy

Al-Farrāʔ (Maʕānī, II, 169 f.) claims it is a linguistic practice of the people of the Hijaz to retain the consonant *w in passive participles of III-w stems, e.g. marḍuwwan rather than marḍiyyan “pleasing”. This disagrees with the QCT ‮مرضيا‬‎ (Q19:55). Rabin (1951, 161, § x) seems skeptical of this isogloss and calls it a “curious statement”. His skepticism seems warranted, because elsewhere al-Farrāʔ (Luġāt, 92) is explicit in saying that it is only “some of the people of the Hijaz” that do this. Therefore, it does not appear to have been a general innovation found in all of the Hijaz.

This neutralization appears to be part of a more widespread neutralization of III-w and III-y in derived nominal stems. In the QCT we also see ‮عصيهم‬‎ /ʕu/iṣiyyu-hum/ (Q20:66, Q26:44) as the CuCūC plural of ‮عصا‬‎ ‘rod’. Interestingly, the CuCūC verbal nouns seems to mostly keep III-w and III-y roots distinct. Thus, we see ‮علوا‬‎ /ʕuluwwā/ (Q17:4, 43; Q27:14; Q28:83) as the verbal noun of ‮علا‬‎ ‘to be high, elevated’, and ‮عتوا‬‎ /ʕutuwwā/ (Q25:21), ‮عتو‬‎ /ʕutuww/ (Q67:21) as the verbal noun of ‮عتا‬‎ ‘to be insolent’, whereas we find ‮لرقيك‬‎ /li-ru/iqiyyi-ka/ (Q17:93) as the verbal noun of ‮رقى‬‎ ‘to ascend’ and ‮مضيا‬‎ /mu/iḍiyyā/ (Q36:67) as the verbal noun of ‮مضى‬‎ ‘to go away’. The Quran however exploits verbal nouns that have undergone this neutralization for the purpose of rhyme in Sūrat Maryam (Q19): ‮عتيا‬‎ /ʕu/itiyyā/ (Q19:8, 69) as an alternative verbal noun of ‮عتا‬‎ besides ‮عتوا‬‎ mentioned above, and ‮جثيا‬‎ /ǧu/iṯiyyā/ (Q19:68, 72) as the verbal noun of ‮جثا‬‎ ‘to kneel’.

4.16.2 The Passive Participle of II-y Is maCīC Rather Than maCyūC

A doubtful isogloss is the Tamīmī practice of using madyūn instead of the Hijazi madīn for passive participles of II-y roots (Rabin 1951, 160, §u). As Rabin points out, it is likely that the Tamīmī form is an innovative analogical formation of the passive participle, rather than the Proto-Arabic reflex, in which case Hijazi would simply have the Proto-Arabic form. The QCT indeed has the alleged Hijazi form, but contrary to Rabin’s claim, this does not occur only once in ‮مهيلا‬‎ ‘poured down’ (Q73:14), but also ‮مدينون‬‎ (Q37:53), ‮مدينين‬‎ (Q56:86) ‘indebted; judged’, ‮مكيدون‬‎ ‘tricked’ (Q52:42).

Sībawayh (IV, 248) does report that ‘some Arabs’ say mabyūʕ ‘bought’ rather than mabīʕ, but he does not explicitly identify it as a non-Hijazi or Tamīmī form, nor does he identify mabīʕ as the Hijazi form.16 The much later grammarian Ibn Ǧinnī (d. 392/1002) in his Kitāb al-Muġtaṣab (p. 3) does identify the mabyūʕ type as Tamīmī, but considering how late a source Ibn Ǧinnī is, we should be skeptical of this attribution.

4.16.3 Gt-stems of I-w verbs Is ītazara instead of ittazara

According to some grammarians Hijazi Arabic had ītazara rather than ittazara for I-w verbs in the Gt-stem (Rabin 1951, 158 f., §r). If correct, this would be an example where the QCT does not follow the Hijazi formation, cf. ‮فاتقوا‬‎ ‘so fear!’ (Q2:24) and ‮اتسق‬‎ ‘to become full’ (Q84:18). The identification seems doubtful however, as early sources give conflicting accounts. For example, al-Farrāʔ (Luġāt, 20) explicitly attributes the form ittaqū with an initial long consonant to the people of the Hijaz, while he attributes taqū to Tamīm and ʔasad. He makes no mention of a form ītaqū.

4.16.4 The Hijazi Dual Is Uninflected, Using the Nominative Form

Rabin (1951, 156, § m) suggests that, at least in the dialect of Mecca, the dual did not inflect for case and the nominative was used in all positions. If this is correct, then Quranic Arabic disagrees with the Meccan dialect in this regard, as the dual is fully functional. However, this dialectal explanation seems to exist exclusively as a pious explanation of the problematic reading ʔinna hāḏāni la-sāḥirāni (Q20:63) (Ibn al-Ǧazarī, § 3590–3591), where from a Classical Arabic grammatical perspective ʔabū ʕamr’s hāḏayni would be expected. There is, of course, no a priori reason to assume that the demonstrative inflected for case in Quranic Arabic; other demonstratives do not inflect for case either. It might not be that the dual in general did not inflect in Hijazi, but that it was specifically the dual demonstratives that did not. Such an interpretation seems to be implicitly suggested (and attributed to the southern Hijazi tribe Banū al-Ḥāriṯ b. Kaʕb) by al-Farrāʔ (Luġāt, 94) who only mentions the non-inflecting nature of hāḏāni. ‮هذٰن‬‎ (Q20:63, Q22:19) is the only form of the masculine dual attested in the QCT, whereas the feminine is only attested as ‮هتين‬‎ (Q28:27), there is therefore no way to confirm that the Quranic Arabic had an inflecting dual. However, the QCT also allows for a different interpretation. While the particle ʔinna requires the accusative, the particle ʔin with the same function requires the nominative. The QCT ‮ان هذن لسحرن‬‎ simply accommodates such a reading, and is indeed the canonical reading reported for Ḥafṣ ʕan ʕāṣim and Ibn Kaṯīr.

Other case of ʔin in the function of ʔinna are found among several canonical readers, e.g. Q86:4 ʔin kullu nafsin lamā ʕalayhā ḥāfiẓun “Every soul has a guardian over it” (majority reading), as opposed to ʔin kullu nafsin lammā ʕalayhā ḥāfiẓ “there is no soul but has a guardian over it.” (ʕāṣim, Ibn ʕāmir, Ḥamzah, ʔabū Ǧaʕfar). Similar constructions with disagreement on lamā versus lammā are found in Q36:32 and Q43:35 (Ibn al-Ǧazarī, § 3312–3313).

Whatever the explanation, the use of ʔin in this function, an uninflected dual deictic or even a mere mistake in the QCT—as suggested by a transmission brought by al-Farrāʔ (Luġāt 94 f.) in which ʕāʔišah supposedly proclaimed this17—this can hardly be used as evidence of an isogloss of a completely uninflecting dual in Hijazi Arabic. Note that the use of this dual is specifically used in direct speech, which Al-Jallad (2020b, 68 f.) suggests may have been a context which uses explicitly colloquial features for rhetorical effect, see section § 4.10 for more details.

4.17 The Quran Is Morphologically Hijazi

As mentioned in section § 4.1 it was Rabin’s claim that, while Quranic Arabic was phonologically perhaps somewhat adapted to the local Hijazi dialect, it morphologically adhered almost completely to the poetic koiné. The problem is that Rabin—nor to my knowledge any other author—ever defines what exactly the features morphological or otherwise of this poetic koiné are.

As we have elaborated upon in chapter 2 the very category of a ‘poetic koiné’ as opposed to ‘dialects’ is not a dichotomy the Arabic grammarians operated within. In fact, whenever we find Sībawayh discussing a variety of different morphological or phonological options he frequently qualifies this with a wa-kullun ʕarabiyy—All is Arabic, even when these options are explicitly attributed to tribes. I think we should take these statements of the grammarians seriously. If we do not impose a dichotomy between an undefined and undescribed poetic koiné versus the dialects, and look at which dialectal features that can actually be recognized in the QCT, a rather clear picture emerges: all the morphological features attributed to the Hijaz that can be gleaned from the QCT indeed confirm that it is a Hijazi text.

It is worth appreciating just how different the view from the QCT is in comparison to what we find in the reading traditions. As I showed in chapter 3, the reading traditions are very mixed, sound laws do not operate regularly and each reading incorporates Hijazi and non-Hijazi features in a haphazard manner and in different configurations from other readers. From the readings, no real signal from any dialect can be recovered. Therefore, it is all the more striking that the QCT gives such a regular picture. This is unlikely to be a coincidence.

Whenever we are dealing with innovative features of Hijazi Arabic, where the pre-Islamic epigraphic record can give us insight into this feature, we find that likewise the northern varieties of Safaitic and Nabataean Arabic do not appear to have undergone these innovations. This lends some credibility to the comments of the grammarians that these innovations should indeed be sought in the Hijaz. The table below summarizes the isoglosses discussed so far. Some of these cases are retentions while others are innovations, but all in all the picture is clear. Thus, let me recast Rabin’s quote mentioned at the top of this section, in terms of what the linguistic evidence actually brings us: As for the Quran, in morphology we find an almost complete conformity with Hijazi Arabic has been achieved; the few Najdi forms, such as the biliteral jussive and imperative of verbs med. gem. only appear sporadically.

The table below summarizes the morphological isoglosses of Quranic Arabic that have a clear tribal attribution among the Arab grammarians. As should be clear, all of them invariably agree with Quranic Arabic being a Hijazi text. The column next to it examines the presence or absence of these isoglosses in epigraphic Old Arabic such as Nabataean Arabic, Safaitic and Hismaic. Whenever the epigraphic record allows us to discern this, we find that in these northern varieties said isoglosses are absent, which lends credence to the grammarian data that suggests these are Hijazi innovations.


Old Arabic

ʔalla- base relative pronoun

All non-Ṭayyiʔ tribes

North: Absent, Hijaz: Present

Distal demonstratives with -l(i)-



pl.dist ʔulāʔika (not ʔulāka)


? ḏā > hā-ḏā


Absent (hā)-tī/ḏī > hāḏih



Loss of Barth-Ginsberg alternation



Uninflected halumma



Uncontracted II=III imperative/apocopate



Mā Ḥiǧāziyyah



Presentative hāʔa with pronominal endings



Zawǧ as Wife



Lexical isoglosses of G- and C-stems




Rabin (1955, 24) credits Fleisch (1947, 97–101), and Blachère (1947, 159–169) for coming to this conclusion independently from him that the Quran was composed in the poetic koiné. Neither author is much more informative as to what this elusive poetic koiné entails.


Al-Farrāʔ (Luġāt, 12) does talk about relative pronouns however, and attributes an inflecting form of the plural to Huḏayl: nom. allaḏūna obl. allaḏīna.


From the context it is unclear whether Al-Farrāʔ intends “some of the Banū Saʕd and Tamīm” or “some of the Arabs”. Considering that the -l(i)- infix is a Hijaz feature in the singular forms, it seems probable that the latter is intended, and that it is a feature found, probably, among some Hijazis, but this is not made explicit.


For this isogloss see also Rabin (1951, 153, §g).


It is interesting to note that “dropping of the ʔalif” for al-Farrāʔ seems to mean that āʔu automatically becomes aw, while one might expect it to become aʔu instead. With this single occurrence it is difficult to decide what to make of this observation.


Modern mesopotamian dialects that retain a reflex of word-final ē as -i (ḥəbli) occasionally seem to treat ʔalif mamdūdah the same way, hence šəti ‘winter’. This seems to point to a merger of word final *-ay- and word final *-āy- towards ē before the shift of *-āy- to -āʔ- took place, cf. Safaitic śty /śetāy/ ‘winter’. See on this topic also Levin (1992, especially 86 f.).


I do not understand what the category of “strict Classical Arabic” is based on. It would imply that Sībawayh’s own prose is not a representation of ‘strict Classical Arabic’, as he exclusively uses hāḏihī in context.


In fact, the prophetic narration that Rabin cites does not have the proximal deictic, but rather the distal deictic: kayfa tī-kum ‘how is that one (spoken to a plurality of addressees)?’ As prophetic narrations are not necessarily verbatim narrations, the use if tī-kum probably says more about the dialect of ʕāʔišah (who narrates this tradition), or the common link of this Hadith (which seems to be Ibn Šihāb al-Zuhrī) than it does about the prophet’s speech.


For this feature, see also Rabin (1951, 158, §p, q), who suggests that this feature is borrowed from North-West Semitic, rather than a shared retention. This seems to be the result of imposition of the late Classical Arabic norms which lacks this alternation, taking this standard as a stand-in for Proto-Arabic. There is no obvious reason to assume that the Classical Arabic situation is original in this case.


Compare for example Ugaritic hl ‘see; here is/are; now (then)’ (Huehnergard 2012, 146).


I thank Ahmad al-Jallad for suggesting this analysis to me.


It is surprising that Rabin (1951, 162) reports to not have found variants for Q5:54, as yartadid is the reading of the canonical Syrian and Medinan readers, Ibn ʕāmir, Nāfiʕ and ʔabū Ǧaʕfar—in accordance with their regional rasm (Ibn al-Ǧazarī, § 2989).


ʔahlu l-ḥiǧāzi yaqūlūna: mā zaydun bi-qāʔimin, fa-lā yakādūna yulqūna l-bāʔa min kalāmi-him, bi-dālika ǧāʔa l-qurʔānu ʔillā qawlahū “mā hāḏā bašaran”, “mā hunna ʔummahāti-him” wa-yanṣibūna ʔiḏā ʔalqawi l-bāʔ. tamīmun wa-qaysun wa-ʔasadan yaqūlūna bil-bāʔi, fa-ʔiḏā ṭaraḥū l-bāʔa rafaʕū.


Although the non-canonical transmitter of ʕāṣim, al-Mufaḍḍal, is said to have read this with the nominative (Ibn Muǧāhid, 628; Ibn Xālawayh, 154).


The ultrashort vowels ⁱ and ᵃ are the regular outcome of *a in open syllables.


Some of these “Tamīmī” forms have made it into the Classical Arabic language. Fischer (2002, § 247.2) mentions mabyūʕ ‘sold’, which occurs besides mabīʕ. Wehr (1979, s.v.) also mentions madyūn besides madīn for ‘indebted’. In Classical Arabic the alleged Hijazi form is dominant.


Along with two examples of seemingly mistaken case in the sound masculine plural, in both cases related to the ʔin(na) and lākin(na) particles, namely lākini r-rāsixūna […] wa-l-muqīmīna (Q4:162) and ʔinna llaḏīna ʔāmanū wa-llaḏīna hādū wa-ṣ-ṣabiʔūna (Q5:69), cf. the doublet of this phrase the expected case in Q22:17.

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