Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics

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Subject: Language and Linguistics

Managing Editors Online Edition: Lutz Edzard and Rudolf de Jong

The Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics Online comprehensively covers all aspects of Arabic languages and linguistics. It is interdisciplinary in scope and represents different schools and approaches in order to be as objective and versatile as possible. The Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics Online is cross-searchable and cross-referenced, and is equipped with a browsable index. All relevant fields in Arabic linguistics, both general and language specific are covered and the Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics Online includes topics from interdisciplinary fields, such as anthropology, psychology, sociology, philosophy, and computer science.

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Poetic Koine

(2,019 words)

Author(s): Kees Versteegh
According to the second theory, the linguistic situation before the coming of Islam was already characterized by diglossia, because the colloquial speech of the tribes differed from the language of poetry and the Qurʾān. In this theory, the term ‘poetic koine’ is the usual term to indicate the high variety used in poetry. Because this variety is believed to be identical with the language of the Qurʾān, those who adhere to this model also speak of the ‘poetico-Qurʾānic koine’. The term itself is not very appropriate because the notion of ‘koine’ usually refers …

Poetic License

(3,718 words)

Author(s): Geert Jan van Gelder
Whereas the English term implies liberty, the corresponding Arabic term most commonly used, ḍarūra ‘necessity’ (pl. ḍarūrāt or ḍarāʾir), stresses the lack of it, constrained as poets are by the exigencies of prosody: meter and rhyme; but the term ruxṣa (pl. ruxaṣ) ‘license’ is also found (e.g. ʿAskarī, Ṣināʿatayn 156; Ibn Rašīq, ʿUmda I, 269–280). It has been argued (Baġdādī, Xizāna I, 31–34) that the term ḍarūra is in fact a misnomer, since one way or another it should always be possible to avoid violating the rules. But if a poet is unwilling or unable to co…

Poetry, Language of

(15 words)

see Meter ; Poetic License ; Rhyme ; Rajaz ; Šiʿr


(2,735 words)

Author(s): Frederick Hoyt
1. Introduction In terms of classical logic, the polarity of a sentence describes whether it asserts a truth or a falsehood. Accordingly, sentences have either negative polarity, in the case of a negated meaning, or positive polarity, in the case of affirmative meaning. Many linguistic expressions are sensitive to negative polarity: their interpretation is affected by, or requires the presence of, a negative-polarity expression (referred to as the ‘licensor’). Such expressions are referred to as ‘ negative-polarity items’ (NPIs). The study of negative-polarity items has be…


(3,930 words)

Author(s): Avihai Shivtiel
Politeness, in Arabic ʾadab (less common: kiyāsa), is one of the highly praised qualities of man and is regarded as a vital ingredient in the ‘relationship’ between God and man. A dictum ascribed to the Prophet Muḥammad says ḥusn al-ʾadab min al-ʾīmān ‘good behavior is part of the faith’. As in other languages, politeness is associated with a number of related concepts, such as taṣarruf and sulūk ‘conduct, behavior’, tarbiya ‘bringing up’, tahḏīb ‘educating’, t̲aqāfa ‘culture’, xuluq/ʾaxlāq ‘morals; character’, and ḏawq ‘good taste; tact’. All these words indicate good natu…

Political Discourse and Language

(5,370 words)

Author(s): Nathalie Mazraani
1. Contextual factors Sociolinguistic studies tend to start from quantitatively based analyses of language and move from the linguistic microlevel to the macrolevel (such as communication strategies and messages conveyed by the speaker). This entry, however, presents the macrolevel framework followed by a few examples of marked linguistic occurrences. An analysis of political speeches could take into account the political context at the time of delivery and immediate contextual factors: audience, topic of discourse, context, place of delivery,…

Polygenesis in the Arabic Dialects

(3,282 words)

Author(s): Ahmad Al-Jallad
1. Introduction In an idealized Stammbaum Model, each language descends linearly from a single ancestor. Historical linguists argue that a process of general drift will cause a language to experience changes to all levels of its grammar over time. If Xa signifies the language of a single speech community, it will develop over time to Xb, then Xc, where Xc is simply a later, changed form of Xa. Monogenesis:                                      Xa → Xb → Xc If the original speech community (Xa) becomes fragmented, each fragment is then able to change independently of the oth…


(3,031 words)

Author(s): Samia Naïm
1. Synthetic or direct constructions In the process of suffixation, the Possessor (x) is represented by a pronoun suffixed to the Possessed element (y–suf). Suffixation is primarily compatible with so-called inalienable relations. The semantic domains covered by inalienability (+Time-stable and −control) are not the same in all dialects. This is one reason why suffixation appears to be more productive in some dialects than in others, contrary to claims made in the literature. McCarthy and Raffouli (1964), for instance, asser…

P (padding device - Philippaki-Warburton, Irene)

(2,171 words)

padding device Media Arabic Padgett, Jaye Epenthesis, Obligatory Contour Principle, Phonotactics, Phonotactics Padilla, Amado M. Child Bilingualism Padova Arabic Studies in Europe Pagliuca, William Grammaticalization Pahlavi Classical Arabic, Greek Loanwords, Ibero-Romance, Iran, Language Contact, Persian, Persian, Persian Loanwords, Tajik, Uzbekistan Arabic Pajas, Petr Computational Linguistics, Corpus Linguistics Pakistan Bangladesh, Bengali, Culture and Language, Gulf States, India, Language Contact, Pakistan Pakistan, Arabic in Language Contact, Pak…

P (Philippi’s Law - PP)

(1,667 words)

Philippi’s Law Andalusi Arabic Philippus Arabs Syria philosophy, Greek Majāz, Mawḍūʿ Phoenician Berber Loanwords, Dialect Literature, Energicus, Ethnicity and Language, Etymology, Libya, Northwest Arabian Arabic, Northwest Arabian Arabic, Northwest Arabian Arabic, Northwest Arabian Arabic, Proverb, South Semitic Languages, South Semitic Languages, Toponyms, Tunisia Phoenician past of Lebanon Nationalism and Language Phoenician script Arabic Alphabet: Origin, Arabic Alphabet: Origin, Northwest Arabian Arabic, Northwest Arabian Arabic phonaestheme Slang phonatio…

P (PP-fronting - pseudoimpersonal construction)

(2,034 words)

PP-fronting Clitic praedicatum Maḥmūl pragmatic activation Word Order pragmatic axiom Ellipsis Pragmatic Highlighting Principle Functional Grammar pragmaticalization Connectives pragmaticization Grammaticalization pragmatics Coherence, Pragmatics Prague Computational Linguistics Prague Arabic Dependency Treebank Computational Linguistics Prague School Computational Linguistics, Corpus Linguistics, Textlinguistics, Theme/Rheme, Topic and Comment, Topic and Comment, Word Order praise song West Sudanic Arabic Prasse, Karl-Gottfried Etymology Prätor, Sab…

P (pseudoliterary feature - Puthi)

(169 words)

pseudoliterary feature Judaeo-Arabic pseudoloan Persian pseudolongitudinal research Language Loss pseudonym Proper Names pseudopreposition Root pseudoverb Argument, Argument, Bedouin Arabic, Damascus Arabic, Defective Verbs, Grammaticalization, Ḥassāniyya Arabic, Jerusalem Arabic, Linguistics and Arabic, Possession, Pseudoverb, Reanalysis, Wādī Ḥaḍramawt Arabic psycholinguistics First Language Acquisition ptōsis Declension public space Language and Gender Publilius Syrus Proverb publishing Culture and Language Puech, Emile Old Arabic (Epigraphic) Pulaar …


(4,006 words)

Author(s): Mustafa Mughazy
Linguistic pragmatics involves the study of the mechanisms and principles that allow individuals to communicate successfully by recognizing the intentions and beliefs motivating linguistic acts, as well as the strategies speakers use to carry out such acts, i.e. the changes they achieve using language (Mey 1993; Green 1996). Levinson (1983) further narrows the scope of linguistic pragmatics by excluding those aspects of language use that are not reflected in the grammar, such as dialectal feature…


(3,285 words)

Author(s): Frederick Hoyt
1. Introduction The term ‘ predicate’ (along with the associated terms ‘subject’ and ‘ predication’) has been used for centuries in the Western logical and grammatical traditions to describe the second portion of a bipartite division of a sentence into a subject and as predicate. How predicate and predication are used in contemporary linguistics varies considerably between users and between theoretical frameworks. The parameters of variation include the following: i. The domain of predication: whether predication is defined over sentences, over clauses, or over pr…

Pre-Islamic Arabic

(7,353 words)

Author(s): Mohamed El-Sharkawy
1. The sources for pre-Islamic Arabic Pre-Islamic Arabic is the cover term for all varieties of Arabic spoken in the Arabian Peninsula until immediately after the Arab conquests in the 7th century C.E. Scholars disagree about the status of these varieties (Rabin 1955). Three different points of view stand out. Some scholars (Nöldeke 1904, 1910; Fück 1950; Blau 1965; Chejne 1969; Versteegh 1984) assume that the language of pre-Islamic poetry and the Qurʾān was similar, if not identical, to the varieties spoken in the Arabian Peninsula before the emergence of Islam. I…


(3,143 words)

Author(s): Stephan Procházka
All prepositions in Arabic, regardless of whether they are classified as ‘primary prepositions’ or ‘secondary prepositions’ (see discussion below), share several syntactic features. First, they always precede the noun they govern – in other words, in Arabic there are no postpositions. Second, all Arabic prepositions require the genitive case; hence, in Arabic they are called ḥurūf al-jarr ‘particles of the genitive’ (other terms used by the native grammarians for prepositions are ḥurūf al-xafḍ, ḥurūf al-ʾiḍāfa, and al-jawārr). This salient feature of Arabic prepositions…


(1,598 words)

Author(s): Geoffrey Khan
When a presentative particle is used to draw attention to a referent, it forms a complete clausal unit, e.g. hāḏā zaydun, ʾiḏā zaydun ‘here is Zayd’. The presentative function of the demonstrative particles should be distinguished from their more usual function of identifying a referent (‘this one, this man’; deixis). The two functions are clearly related; in both cases, the particle points the attention of the hearer to a referent. The subtle difference lies in the fact that when the particle is used in the identifying …


(4,415 words)

Author(s): Mushira Eid
(1) a. Arabic anašuf-t il-film da I saw–1s the-film this b. Spanish Juanvió ese film c. English I/*Ø saw this film (Jaeggli and Safir 1989b:9) Since the early 1980s, and particularly in Chomsky's Principles and Parameters Theory, the term ‘ pro-drop’ has been used to refer to a parameter, the pro-drop parameter, that distinguishes languages in which verbs must have an overt subject in tensed clauses from those in which they need not. The distinction was also seen as linked, in universal grammar, to several other parameters, or clu…


(2,243 words)

Author(s): Ahmed-Sokarno Abdel-Hafiz
1. Introduction Pronominalization is a term that is used in different contexts (Crystal 2003:376). In traditional transformational grammar, pronominalization is a rule replacing lexical items with a pronoun, whereas later approaches analyzed the pronouns as being generated in the base. In Government and Binding theories, pronominals are a type of noun phrase with special government properties. On pronominalization in Standard and colloquial Arabic in this sense, see, for instance Mohammad (1999). In this entry, the term ‘pronominalization’ is used in a text-linguis…
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