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

(2,018 words)

Author(s): Kees Versteegh
The term ‘poetic koine’ (also ‘poetico-Qurʾānic koine’) refers to a supratribal variety of Arabic which, according to some scholars, was the variety of Arabic used in pre-Islamic poetry. The linguistic situation in the pre-Islamic period is a controversial topic (history of Arabic). Opinions about this situation may be divided into two main theories. According to one theory, which was also that of the Arabic grammarians, the language of the Arab tribes in the pre-Islamic period was basically hom…
Date: 2018-04-01

Poetic License

(3,712 words)

Author(s): Geert Jan van Gelder
In a general sense, ‘poetic license’ is the freedom customarily given to poets to deviate from the normal rules of grammar, diction, or subject matter that are valid for prose, or even to depart from commonly accepted historical or scientific truth. Here, poetic license will be restricted to violations of the linguistic rules in the fields of morphology or syntax; other liberties of poets, such as being able to use far-fetched metaphors and imagery, to contradict themselves, to declare their lov…
Date: 2018-04-01

Poetry, Language of

(15 words)

see Meter ; Poetic License ; Rhyme ; Rajaz ; Šiʿr
Date: 2018-04-01


(2,734 words)

Author(s): Frederick Hoyt
The term ‘polarity’ is used for different meanings in linguistics. In connection with the Arabic system of numerals, for example, it is used for gender polarity in the agreement between numerals and counted nouns. In the present entry, it is used for the contrast between negative and positive expressions in a language, whether these are syntactic or morphological. Negative polarity is a property of sentences modified with negative or downward monotonic operators. Negative-polarity items are expr…
Date: 2018-04-01


(3,929 words)

Author(s): Avihai Shivtiel
Politeness is a norm of social behavior that is expressed directly or indirectly by gestures or usage of common or personal expressions, either orally or in writing, showing endearment, respect, veneration; appreciation, esteem; awe; flattery; sycophancy or affection. Politeness may also indicate reservation or dissatisfaction in a way which does not bluntly offend or irritate another person (Brown and Levinson 1987). Thus, direct expression of politeness is the use of the words ‘thank you’ to i…
Date: 2018-04-01

Political Discourse and Language

(5,360 words)

Author(s): Nathalie Mazraani
This entry on Arabic and political discourse looks at language variation from a sociolinguistic perspective, together with aspects of rhetoric. It presents a number of factors that characterize Arabic political speeches, including contextual factors, register, code-switching, and discourse strategies, to show how language forms relate to language functions. Such factors are illustrated through selected examples of linguistic combinatorial rules (within and between dialects) that accompany language levels, and through examples of rhetorical tactics. 1. Contextual fact…
Date: 2018-04-01

Polygenesis in the Arabic Dialects

(3,279 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 ot…
Date: 2018-04-01


(3,027 words)

Author(s): Samia Naïm
Most of the modern dialects make use of two types of constructions, commonly referred to as synthetic vs. analytic, or direct vs. indirect, to encode relations of possession. The synthetic manner includes the processes of suffixation and juxtaposition ( status constructus) following the word order Possessed – Possessor (y – x). The analytic method makes use of a possession exponent (exp). These different methods are bound by semantic constraints, mostly according to the notion of possession expressed, for example, alienable, inalienable, and…
Date: 2018-04-01

P (padding device - Philippaki-Warburton, Irene)

(2,170 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…
Date: 2018-04-01

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…
Date: 2018-04-01

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…
Date: 2018-04-01

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 …
Date: 2018-04-01


(3,996 words)

Author(s): Mustafa Mughazy
Pragmatics, in its broadest sense, is “the study of action deliberately undertaken with the intention of causing the intended interpreter to re-assess his model of how things are, including his system of values and his model of the speaker's beliefs, attitudes, and intentions” (Green 1996:5). Pragmatics, according to this definition, encompasses all intentional communicative acts whether verbal or nonverbal. For example, a hand gesture that is characteristic of Egyptians involves holding the fin…
Date: 2018-04-01


(3,277 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…
Date: 2018-04-01

Pre-Islamic Arabic

(7,307 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…
Date: 2018-04-01

Prepositional Clause

(6 words)

see Mafʿūl fīhi
Date: 2018-04-01


(3,142 words)

Author(s): Stephan Procházka
Prepositions may be defined as function words indicating the relation of a noun or pronoun to other words in the clause. Thus, the study of prepositions includes aspects of morphology and syntax as well as the lexicon itself. This entry classifies the prepositions of Arabic, briefly describes their most important forms, and outlines their usage in Classical, Modern Standard, and modern dialectal Arabic. All prepositions in Arabic, regardless of whether they are classified as ‘primary prepositions’ or ‘secondary prepositions’ (see discussion below), share se…
Date: 2018-04-01


(1,597 words)

Author(s): Geoffrey Khan
The term ‘presentative’ is used here to refer to a variety of constructions containing particles that have the function of drawing the attention of the hearer/reader. The particles draw attention either to a referent or to a proposition expressed by a clause. In Classical Arabic, this function is performed by demonstrative particles and ʾiḏā (bi-). 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…
Date: 2018-04-01


(4,414 words)

Author(s): Mushira Eid
The term ‘pro-drop’ has been used since the early 1970s to refer to languages that do not require pronouns or nouns to appear in subject position, i.e., the subject is ‘understood’ but not lexically expressed. A significant majority of the world's languages, approximately 61 percent of the 674 languages sampled in Dryer (2005), are of this type. When first introduced (Perlmutter 1971, 1972), pro-drop was proposed as a ‘free deletion’ rule (cf. Pronoun Deletion in Hankamer 1972) that applies in t…
Date: 2018-04-01


(2,246 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-lingui…
Date: 2018-04-01

Proper Names

(4,923 words)

Author(s): Franz-Christoph Muth
Arabic proper or personal names ( ism, pl. ʾasmāʾ, ʿalam; or ism ʿalam, pl. ʾasmāʾ ʾaʿlām) (Wright 1896:I, 107B), known from many sources and particularly abundant, are given for purposes of identification and for social and political interaction (Wild 1982:154). According to the rules of Arabic nomenclature, the full Arabic personal name is usually composed of the following elements: (i) the proper or personal name ( ism or ʿalam); (ii) the lineage ( nasab); (iii) the paternal or maternal name or agnomen ( kunya); (iv) the relative name (nisba); and (v) the nickname ( laqab) or a pejora…
Date: 2018-04-01

Prosodic Template

(9 words)

see Obligatory Contour Principle ; Morphology
Date: 2018-04-01


(3,141 words)

Author(s): Thami Benkirane
Etymologically, the Greek term prosōidía means ‘stress, quantity, in pronunciation’. We give it a broad sense which includes syllable, stress, pitch, intonation, rhythm, rate of speech, pause, etc. The American tradition uses the term ‘suprasegmental’ to express the idea that the domain of prosody is larger than a single segment and that prosodic phenomena are revealed by a comparison of items in sequence (Lehiste 1970). The prosodic component of language plays a fundamental role in first language acquisition. Several experimental studies have established tha…
Date: 2018-04-01

Prothetic Vowel

(1,090 words)

Author(s): Munther A. Younes
Prothesis (also prosthesis) is the addition of a segment, usually a vowel, to the beginning of a word (Crystal 1997:315; Trask 2000:266). Prothesis in Arabic involves the addition of a short vowel to prevent the occurrence of impermissible consonant clusters word-initially. There are differences between fuṣḥā and the modern spoken dialects in the application of the prothesis rule. 1. Prothesis in fuṣḥā Three basic syllable types (CV, CVC, and CVV) occur freely in the language; another three types (CVCC, CVVC, CVVCC) are limited to specific environments, ma…
Date: 2018-04-01


(3,835 words)

Author(s): Jonathan Owens
  Introduction It is curious that one of the most fundamental concepts of historical linguistics, a discipline that came of age in the 19th century, the proto-language as a product of comparative reconstruction has never been systematically integrated into a historical linguistic interpretation of Arabic. One of the historical linguistic landmarks in the study of Arabic is found in an article by Fleischer (1854:155) in which the entities Old, Middle, and New (or Neo) Arabic are proposed. Fleischer…
Date: 2018-04-01


(3,784 words)

Author(s): Avihai Shivtiel
1. General observation A proverb is a common, pithy, and succinct statement which has been current in a language for generations and which sums up daily experiences as brief ‘words of wisdom’. As a Dutch proverb says, “Proverbs are the daughters of daily experience” ( Spreekwoorden zijn de dochters van de dagelijkse ondervinding). This genre is usually associated with the folklore and ethos of a certain society, although parallel proverbs are found in remote cultures. The dynamics of the proverb stems from the fact that it is easy to memorize and…
Date: 2018-04-01


(2,899 words)

Author(s): Robbert Woltering
  Definition ‘Pseudo-Arabic’ is the preferred term to describe the use of Arabic lettering in which the author or artist does not intend to compose meaningful words or phrases (Mack 2001: 51). ‘Pseudo-Kufic’ or ‘Kufesque’ are other terms that have been applied to the same phenomenon, particularly (though unfortunately not exclusively) in those cases where the Arabic in question recalls the so-called Kufic calligraphic style. Pseudo-Arabic includes the imitation of Arabic letters by those not famil…
Date: 2018-04-01


(4 words)

see Hypercorrection
Date: 2018-04-01


(2,048 words)

Author(s): Kerstin Eksell
The notion of ‘pseudodual’ indicates the use of a dual ending after a noun to mark the plural, or to mark a number greater than one without specifying whether it is dual or plural. The phenomenon, which is known in most Arabic dialects, is restricted to paired parts of the human body (and the word for ‘parents’) typically those of most frequent occurrence. An example of such a pseudodual is arbaʿ žrēn ‘four feet’. The definition and first comprehensive analysis of the phenomenon was given by Blanc, who wrote an extensive article about it in 1970. Before and after that…
Date: 2018-04-01


(1,112 words)

Author(s): Bernard Comrie
In all varieties of Arabic, there is in general a clear distinction between verbs and other parts of speech. Morphologically, only verbs have an opposition between perfect and imperfect, with subject-verb agreement in person-gender-number shown by means of suffixes in the perfect and a combination of prefixes and suffixes in the imperfect. Even when a verb lacks certain forms, as when Classical/Modern Standard Arabic laysa has no imperfect forms (defective verb), the existing forms can be readily assigned to a position in the verbal paradigm. There are also …
Date: 2018-04-01


(1,386 words)

Author(s): Siamak Rezaei
Punctuation ( tarqīm) is an important and cohesive device in written texts. Writers use punctuation to separate groups of words for meaning and emphasis; to signal the beginning or end of sentences, phrases or clauses; and to help avoid contextual ambiguity. Many written languages use punctuation marks, but their function differs across languages. In the case of the Arabic language, punctuation marks ( ʿalāmāt at-tarqīm) are added to the Arabic script. Hence, punctuation in Arabic texts is constrained by the characteristics of Arabic script (e.g. the absence…
Date: 2018-04-01
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