This paper investigates a specific compound of kāna involving the use of the Pstem of kāna followed by the S-stem of the second verb, with an optional (but usually present) particle qad intervening between them. Traditional grammars considered that kāna acts as fiʿl nāsikh on the subsequent nominal sentence, resulting in a future perfect value. The modern journalistic corpora analyzed here reveal an additional pattern of usage in which the future reference is lost. yakūnu (qad) faʿala thus functions as a present perfect, but tends to fluctuate probably due to its recent development. The results are discussed from a typological perspective including the possibility of language contact as a change-inducing factor.
The present paper provides a preliminary description of verbal negation in the two neighboring dialects of Mahdia and Chebba, belonging to the groups of Tunisian coastal village dialects. This dialectal group has been, so far, dramatically understudied, despite its importance for the dialectal geography and history of North African Arabic. Like most other varieties of Maghrebi Arabic, the dialects of Mahdia and Chebba underwent the so-called Jespersen’s cycle, consisting in the doubling of the original prefixal negation, in dialectal Arabic mā (Stage I), with a suffixal negative particle -š, resulting in the circumfixal negation mā … š (Stage II) and, eventually, in the loss of the prefixal mā (Stage III). With regard to Arabic, Stage III was so far undocumented in North Africa, with the exception of Maltese. This paper provides samples of the three different stages in the dialects under investigation and offers some hypotheses concerning the possible locus of innovation with regard to Tunisian, contributing to our knowledge of negation in North African Arabic.
Agreement in Arabic has received, in the last few decades, considerable interest, resulting in a satisfactory illustration of the system obtaining in pre-Classical varieties of the language, Classical / Modern Standard Arabic and the spoken dialects. On the other hand, the descriptions of agreement in traditional Arabic grammars have not yet been the object of detailed analysis. The present paper represents a first step in that direction, analyzing agreement in two grammarians situated at the chronological extremes of traditional Arabic grammar, i.e. Sībawayhi (d. 180/796) and al-Šidyāq (1805-1887). The approach adopted in this paper is twofold. The grammatical treatises in which the descriptions of agreement are provided, in fact, are considered as both a source of metalinguistic reflection and as a written text from which samples of agreement are collected, in order to gauge the consistency between language description and language usage at the dawn and sunset of traditional Arabic grammar.
The present paper, based on a complete analysis of the Quranic text, investigates the influence of verbal semantics on agreement choices in Quranic Arabic. Building on the principle according to which, when a language shifts from a prevalently formal agreement system to a partially semantic one, conditions gain more importance (Fleischer, Rieken, Widmer 2015: 21), it focuses on the role of agenthood (or agency) in triggering syntactic agreement. The analysis of the data reveals that the occurrence of an action verb and of an agent subject favors syntactic agreement in the feminine plural, although not systematically. Passive verbs, copulas and state verbs, in which the subject is either a patient or an experiencer, on the other hand, strongly favor semantic agreement in the feminine singular. From this perspective, moreover, Quranic Arabic seems to represent a more innovative stage of the language when compared to pre-Islamic poetry, described in D’Anna (forth.).
The present paper offers a review of Stefano Manfredi’s Arabi Juba: un pidgin-créole du Soudan du Sud (2017), discussing the potential benefits of its methodological approach for the field of Arabic linguistics and dialectology. Manfredi’s volume represents the latest and most comprehensive description of Juba Arabic, a pidgin / creole spoken in South Sudan. It includes a socio-historical introduction describing the conditions from which the speech community that gave rise to Juba Arabic first emerged, followed by nine chapters that provide a detailed description of the language at the phonological, morphological and syntactical levels. The paper also discusses how Manfredi’s approach goes in the direction of a linguistics of speech communities invoked by Magidow (2017) and how it might represent a model for future grammars of dialectal Arabic. Manfredi (2017), in fact, provides a multidimensional description of Juba Arabic, in which the diverse nature of its speakers (monolinguals native speakers vs bilinguals L2 speakers with different L1s) and the prolonged contact with its lexifier language (Sudanese Arabic) give origin to acrolectal and basilectal varieties. Manfredi analyzes internal variation from both a synchronic and diachronic perspective, resorting to the concept of “dynamic synchrony” to describe ongoing processes of language change. The linguistic situation of the Arabic-speaking world after the end of the colonial period, on the other hand, witnesses a more and more intense contact between different Arabic dialects and an increased influence from MSA, through mass media and growing rates of literacy. The situation of language contact that results from these circumstances needs more refined conceptual tools in order to be effectively described. For this reason, and in light of Magidow (2017), this review article argues that the approach adopted by Manfredi might be successfully imported in the field of Arabic dialectology.
The present paper discusses the patterns of interaction between the Islamic religion and the universal categories of verbal politeness described by Brown, Levinson (1987). The two scholars based their theory on the existence of two contrasting sets of ‘face-wants’ (negative and positive) and on the speakers’ necessity to preserve them while, at the same time, pursuing their goals. Verbal politeness provides means that enable the speaker to do so without endangering his social relations. While the phenomenon is, in itself, universal (i.e. found in all known cultures), its outer manifestations tend to be culturally bound. Amongst Maghrebi Arabic-speaking societies, the object of the present study, the ‘code’ of verbal politeness heavily draws on the Islamic religion. The present paper, thus, aims to analyse the interplay between Islam and the different strategies described by Brown and Levinson, by means of a wide exemplification that will highlight general trends and underlying structures.
The present article offers a preliminary description of the Judeo-Arabic variety spoken in Yefren (Libya), based on interviews collected from three elderly female informants. It analyzes the phonology and morphology of the dialect, attempting some sociolinguistic considerations on issues of dialect contact between Muslim and Jewish varieties of Libyan Arabic. In conclusion, the article discusses the position of Yefreni Judeo-Arabic within the context of Libyan and North African Judeo-Arabic as a whole. While belonging to the Eqa:l group of North-African Judeo-Arabic, a sufficient number of isoglosses allows us to posit the existence of two separate subgroups within Libyan Judeo-Arabic, here indicated as the Tripoli and Yefreni types.