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Gulf States

(4,500 words)

Author(s): Clive Holes
1. Arabic and minority languages A number of languages in addition to Arabic are used in all the modern Gulf States: Persian. Persian is widely understood throughout the Persian Gulf, though perhaps less than was the case fifty years ago. Older immigrants of Iranian origin, born in Iran in the first half of the 20th century, have retained their Persian alongside the Arabic they learned on the Arab side of the Gulf, but the younger generations, brought up and educated through the medium of Arabic, are well assimilate…
Date: 2018-04-01

Bahraini Arabic

(9,269 words)

Author(s): Clive Holes
  1. General 1.1 Area Bahrain is an archipelago (552 square kilometers) halfway between the head of the Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz, 20 kilometers off the coast of Saudi Arabia. In 1999 the population was approximately 660,000, of whom 402,000 were Bahrain nationals. Its dialects are of two types: those of the so-called ʿArab (lit. ‘ Arabs’, henceforth ‘A’), and those of the Baḥārna (lit. ‘Bahrain-dwellers’, henceforth ‘B’). The A community, which includes the ruling family, and is Sunni, traces its origin to Najd. The B, ‘Twelver’ Shiʿi, and outnumbering the A by about two t…
Date: 2018-04-01

Kuwaiti Arabic

(7,154 words)

Author(s): Clive Holes
  1. General 1.1 Area The mainland of Kuwait is a wedge-shaped, almost perfectly flat expanse of desert (17,818 km2) with borders to the north and northwest with Iraq and to the west and south with Saudi Arabia. It has a coastline approximately 195 km in length. There are three principal islands: Failaka, 20 km east of Kuwait City, which once had a small population but has been uninhabited since the Iraqis expelled the population in 1990, and the much bigger islands of Warbah and Bubiyan, at the head of the Gulf, which are uninhabited but on which the Kuwait government has plans…
Date: 2018-04-01

Nabaṭī Poetry, Language of

(16,239 words)

Author(s): Clive Holes
  1. Introduction: what is nabaṭī poetry? Nabaṭī poetry is the traditional oral poetry of inner Arabia. The term “nabaṭī”, whose first attested use is in the 13th century CE (Sowayan 2000:68), is not to be taken literally. It seems originally to have been a transferred epithet applied to the language of Bedouin poetry, which was, when judged against the yardstick of Classical Arabic, ungrammatical and hence like the ‘broken’ Arabic supposedly spoken by the ancient Nabateans. That, at least, is the most…
Date: 2018-04-01

Omani Arabic

(8,776 words)

Author(s): Clive Holes
  1. General 1.1 Area The Sultanate of Oman is situated in the southeast corner of the Arabian Peninsula. In the north, a land corridor belonging to the United Arab Emirates divides the main land area from the Omani enclave of Musandam. Maṣīra and the Kuria Muria islands (now known as the Hallāniyyāt), both a few miles off the southern coast, also belong to Oman. Northern Oman is very mountainous, and the Bāṭina coastal strip runs between the northern mountains and the sea for approximately 300 km. Ṣalāla on the Indian Ocean is the main town of Ẓufār, the southern province of the …
Date: 2018-05-09