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  • Author or Editor: Alexander Borg x
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Cypriot Arabic, an unwritten language and mother tongue of several hundred bilingual (Arabic/Greek) Maronites from Kormakiti (N.W. Cyprus), evolved from a medieval Arabic colloquial brought to the island by Christian Arab migrants (probably from Asia Minor and Syria). It represents the outcome of a unique linguistic and cultural synthesis drawing on Arabic, Aramaic, and Greek; its Arabic component also shows a hybrid areal profile combining Greater Syrian traits with formal features typical of the contemporary S.E.Anatolian-Mesopotamian dialectal continuum. A number of rare Aramaic substratal elements in Cypriot Arabic suggest a relatively early separation of its parent dialect from mainstream Arabic.
This lexicon surveys about 2000 Cypriot Arabic terms against the background of extensive comparative material from the Arabic dialects, Old Arabic, and colloquial and literary varieties of Aramaic. Many Cypriot Arabic terms are here cited with illustrative examples and ethnographic commentary where relevant. Cypriot Arabic is an endangered language; the present glossary is the most comprehensive lexical record of this scientifically intriguing variety of peripheral Arabic. It is primarily intended for orientalists and linguists specializing in comparative Semitics and Arabic dialectology.
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Deploying a bottom up instead of the conventional top down approach, and drawing extensively on both literary and dialectal Arabic lexical sources, the present glossary proposes and validates the contention of a prehistoric symbiosis transpiring between Ancient Egyptian and Arabic two and a half millennia before the advent of Islam. Its empirical rationale and methodological basis rest firmly on these venerable idioms’ rich textual documentation, yielding the language historian an ample etymological database enriched—in the case of Arabic—with a virtually unlimited corpus drawing on the living speech of some 300 million speakers across the Near East and Africa. The muster provided here comprises over 800 lexemes and reveals, for the first time in longue durée research on Afroasiatic, striking unsuspected commonalities linking Old Egyptian to Yemeni Arabic.
In: Rewriting Dialectal Arabic Prehistory
In: Rewriting Dialectal Arabic Prehistory
In: Diggers at the Well
In: A Comparative Glossary of Cypriot Maronite Arabic (Arabic-English)
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Abstract

This word study addresses the linguistic archaeology of Old Egyptian dp.t ‘ship’ and its crosslinguistic cognates specifically from an Arabic comparative perspective. Initially a Sumerian loanword in several branches of Afroasiatic, this lexeme significantly retains its Old Egyptian maritime semantics in Hebrew, Arabic and Cushitic, yielding a cohesive and suggestive word family plausibly lexifying an isogloss of a maritime lingua franca evoking Ancient Egyptian commercial traffic with ports along the Red Sea down to the Horn of Africa and the adjacent coast of Arabia. The lexical documentation presented here further endorses the intuition advanced in Borg (2019a, b) that Ancient Egypt was, from the Bronze Age onwards (if not earlier) a strategic site in the diasporic prehistory of the Arabic language.

In: The IOS Annual Volume 21. “Carrying a Torch to Distant Mountains”