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(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…


(3,431 words)

Author(s): Avihai Shivtiel
1. Introduction Originally from the Tongan language, which belongs to the Polynesian group of languages, the word ‘ taboo’ was first introduced into English in 1777 by the naval explorer Captain James Cook (1728–1779), and later entered other European languages. The concept refers to anything sacred and inviolable and later, by extension, to anything that is in contradiction to moral standards or good manners and is, therefore, forbidden or prohibited. ‘Taboo language’ refers to words and expressions that may cau…


(3,219 words)

Author(s): Avihai Shivtiel
1. Introduction Phraseology (also ‘ idiomaticity’) is a branch of linguistics which deals with fixed combinations of words whose meaning cannot be deduced from the conjoined meanings of their components. Each combination is normally termed an ‘ idiom’, e.g. at sixes and sevens; to put up with; to kick the bucket. It is to be distinguished from cognate terms, such as ‘collocation’, i.e. a fixed combination whose components retain their literal meanings, e.g. economic sanctions; ‘compound’, i.e. a phrase consisting of two or more words, rendering a new meaning, e.g. breakfast; ‘ blend’ o…


(3,804 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…


(2,146 words)

Author(s): Avihai Shivtiel
Paronomasia is widely used in all genres of literature, as well as in daily communication, and is usually employed for a special, often humorous effect. Related English terms in stylistics include ‘ambiguity’, ‘ antanaclasis’, ‘ catachresis’, ‘ syllepsis’, ‘ zeugma’, and even ‘jingles’, ‘quibbles’, and ‘ polyptoton’, while in other European languages we find, in addition, ‘annomination’, ‘ double entendre’, ‘ calembour’, and a few more terms, which come under the general notion of ‘jeux sémantiques’ in French, or ‘Wortspiel’ and ‘doppelsinnig’ in German. Arab scholars of rhetor…