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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(2,051 words)

Author(s): Zouhair Maalej
To study valency in Arabic, frame semantics may profitably be used as a tool to explain it. Frame semantics is associated with the work of Fillmore (1970, 1982); its central idea is that word meaning is organized around a conceptual frame, including elements that capture the various semantic participants or roles related to and required by the frame in question in the experience of the language users. Fillmore argues that “what a speaker of language knows about the individual ‘words’ of his language …


(6,860 words)

Author(s): Enam Al-Wer
1. Introduction The study of linguistic variation is based on two maxims: i. Variation is an inherent characteristic of every living human language. This means that in every language there is more than one way of saying the same thing, and no individual speaks in exactly the same manner all the time and in all situations. In evolutionary terms, the very fact that variation in human languages has always existed implies that it is somehow conducive to human life. We can at least demons…


(1,201 words)

Author(s): Stuart Davis
A phonological analysis of velarization in an Arabic dialect must answer the following two questions: what are the velarized phonemes of the dialect, and to what extent does velarization affect neighboring sounds? With respect to the first question, while almost all modern dialects have maintained the velarized consonants, there are some differences from Classical Arabic. For example, colloquial Cairene Arabic has /ẓ/ rather than Classical Arabic /ḏ̣/, while the northern Palestinian dialect describe…


(5,272 words)

Author(s): Pierre Larcher
1. Introduction The Arabic word for verb is fiʿl. This term has undergone a double metalinguistic reinterpretation and generalization: ‘action’ > ‘expression designating an action’ > ‘(action or nonaction) verb’. In the Arabic grammatical tradition, while syntactically ( naḥw) representing merely the second element of the tripartite division of the parts of speech (after the noun and before the particle), the verb occupies a central place in the morphology (ṣarf or taṣrīf). This entry deals first with the morphology of the verb, according to the main subdivision inflection/derivat…

Verbal Clause

(4,052 words)

Author(s): Frederick Hoyt
1. Introduction The term ‘verbal clause’ ( jumla fiʿliyya) is taken from traditional Arabic grammatical theory, and is used in contrast to nominal clause ( jumla ismiyya). While the status of both terms in contemporary Western linguistic theory is unclear, the verbal clause seems to have elicited less theoretical interest than nominal clauses have, except with relation to agreement phenomena. This entry presents a comparison of two different ways in which the term ‘verbal clause’ has been used, then examines its role in the discussion of word order in Arabic and how it is represe…

Verbal Noun

(3,437 words)

Author(s): Judith Rosenhouse
1. Introduction A verbal noun (maṣdar) is a fixed nominal form associated with the derived forms or patterns of the verb ( ʾawzān). Following the Arabic tradition since Sībawayhi, who calls it also ḥadat̲ān and ḥadat̲ (cf. Levin 1998:917, n. 3; Ditters 1985), Šarṭūnī (1958) defines the maṣdar as “what denotes a situation or event without time”. Verbal nouns are a basic structure in Classical Arabic, Literary Arabic (or Modern Standard Arabic or Educated Standard Arabic), and Colloquial Arabic. Differences exist among their forms and use. The…

Verb Phrase

(4,252 words)

Author(s): Frederick Hoyt
1. Introduction The concept of the verb phrase ( VP) is central to contemporary theoretical approaches to Arabic, and, indeed, to modern syntactic theory in general, with its status as a theoretical construct being controversial. The controversy revolves around what is being claimed by saying that a language ‘has a VP’. The weak claim is simply that in at least some data types, a discrete constituent consisting of a verb stem and its dependents can be identified. In the case of Arabic, as in many languag…