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The Ecology of Arabic

Studies in Semitic Languages and Linguistics

Editorial board

T. Muraoka, A.D. Rubin and C.H.M. Versteegh


The Ecology of Arabic

A Study of Arabicization


Muhammad al-Sharkawi


This book is printed on acid-free paper. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Sharqawi, Muhammad, 1971The ecology of Arabic: a study of arabici:zation I by Muhammad al-Sharkawi. p. cm.-(Studies in Semitic languages and linguistics; 60) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-90-04-18606-4 (hardback: alk. paper) 1. Arabic language-DialectsHistory. 2. Arabic language-History. 3. Second language acquisition-History. 4. Sociolinguistics-Arab countries. I. Title. 11. Series. PJ6709.S53 2010 492.709-dc22 2010038214

ISSN 0081-8461 ISBN 978 90 04 18606 4 Copyright 2010 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands. Koninklijke Brill NV incorporates the imprints Brill, Hotei Publishing, IDC Publishers, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers and VSP. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher. Authorization to photocopy items for internal or personal use is granted by Koninklijke Brill NV provided that the appropriate fees are paid directly to The Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Suite 910, Danvers, MA 01923, USA. Fees are subject to change.

To Marwa, Karim and Yamin: In gratitude

CONTENTS Acknowledgments Introduction Chapter One Chapter Two

ix 1

The Ecology of Language Development The Development of Arabic in Pre-Islamic


Chapter Three

Arabic After the Conquests


Chapter Four Socio-Demographic Parameters of Arabicization Chapter Five Informal Second Language Acquisition and Foreigner Talk Chapter Six Conclusion Bibliography Index .................................................................................................... Foreigner Talk in Arabic


175 223 247 251 263

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This book would not have seen the light of day were it not for the efforts of so many mentors, supervisors, friends, and family members. As this book is a development of my dissertation, I would like, first of all, to thank my Ph.D. supervisor and mentor Kees Versteegh for all the time, effort, diligence, and resources he contributed towards bringing the manuscript of my dissertation to attention. I also would not have developed my ideas about the history of Arabic and its development were it not for the lengthy and in-depth discussions he held with me every two weeks during my stay in Nijmegen. It is through these discussions and his pedagogical questions that I managed to develop arguments and test them against his wide knowledge and well-founded viewpoints. I would also like to thank Jonathan Owens for the deep and heated discussions of the manuscript after its completion and for bringing to my attention so muck research in general linguistics, pidgin and creole studies, and historical linguistics that I was able to use later in preparing this book for publication. I also owe many thanks to Madiha Dos for her constant advice and supplies of research articles and for her putting books at my disposal. My friend and colleague Joost Kremers helped me collect Foreigner talk data from Cairo, and I wish, therefore, to thank him for this effort. Alexander Stein helped me edit the final version of this manuscript. For which I owe him thanks.

INTRODUCTION When one considers the Arabicization process of the Middle East in the seventh century, one cannot help but wonder how this process could have taken place, bearing in mind the historical, cultural, and demographic circumstances of the region at that time. If Arabic was to spread in the Middle East regardless of the adverse circumstances, why did it not spread in Iran as it did in Egypt, the Levant, Iraq, and North Africa? Why did it not develop contact varieties as it did in East Africa and Southern Sudan in the nineteenth century? If Arabic spread in one region and not in the other, despite the similarities both regions witnessed in terms of migration patterns and language, then something outside the Arabic language itself must be responsible, at least in part, for the different results of the Arabicization processes. This book is designed to investigate the mechanisms of the Arabicization process and language shift to Arabic following the conquests of the Muslim armies, and with particular focus on Egypt. The book will analyze the sociolinguistic situation of the early period after the Arab conquests. This goal will be achieved best by attempting to understand the linguistic and non-linguistic factors (ecological factors) that facilitated the process and shaped its results. The underlying assumption throughout the book is that, generally speaking, ecological factors (linguistic and non-linguistic) determine the process of linguistic shift, its speed, direction, outcomes, and the structural makeup of whatever result it might bring about. In addition, ecology should also help refocus the different and sometimes contradictory theories about the development of the Arabic language. The particular time period under study of the book is the first century of the Islamic era. In the coming chapters, I will try to demonstrate that the extensive language shift from the native local languages of the respective conquered territories to Arabic was a case of second language acquisition. 1 Of central importance in the direction of the acquisition process is the type of learnable input exchanged between

See Holes (1995: 18-25).


the native speakers of the target language and the learners. Input, is a resulting function of these ecological factors. For several historical, cultural and educational reasons, before the tenth century there was no organized process of teaching the Arabic language to the inhabitants of the conquered territories resembling a modern classroom environment (Versteegh 2006: 3). Crucial to any case of informal second language acquisition under these circumstances is the type of input and its availability to the learners. In informal cases of acquisition, input is usually structurally modified. 2 The degree and quality of modified input is determined in part by non-linguistic sociodemographic factors. The circumstances of the new Arab territories in the decades following the conquests were conducive to structural simplification and functional facilitation of communication between target language speakers and other groups in the everyday language context. It follows logically, therefore, that the modern sedentary dialects of Arabic are partially the product of this type of modified input. In other words, the differences between the pre-Islamic Arabic dialects of the Arabian Peninsula and the sedentary dialects in the conquered territories are partly a function of the acquisition process. Equally important in such a process of acquisition and shift is the role of the non-Arab learners in shaping the final product of the acquisition process. Cross-linguistic influence is also a function of the ecological factors that determine the general process of acquisition. It is my assumption that appreciating the relative weight and potential influence of the previous language on acquiring any second language, Arabic in particular, is contingent on a better understanding of ecological factors. Additionally, understanding any role for a substrate requires a grip on the target language data at the time of the study. Current scholarship denies such an opportunity to accuratelyanalyze the history of Arabic. Focusing on the understanding of ecology is, therefore, a priority in the current stage of research in order to determine approximately what the linguistic structure of the period could have looked like. Learner processes can indeed shed light on the development of Arabic into the modern sedentary dialects. Furthermore, due to the relative diversity of the substrata! and adstratal varieties in the Arab Middle East at the time of the early conquests, it will be difficult to

2 See Klein (1986), and chapter four below. See also Ellis (1996) for a summary of the literature on the subject.


produce a general picture or generalized principles of Arabicization for the whole region. Of general importance, however, is the input to be processed. Although the role of the learner in this process is not under study here, it will be given some theoretical credit in the next chapter, where its importance in catalyzing language shift is highlighted. It will also be mentioned later in describing the sociolinguistic situation of Egypt after the conquests, establishing its importance in the adoption of Arabic in that region. If the assumption made here is true, the difference between preIslamic Arabic, regardless of which contemporary description of this variety is correct, and the modern dialects of Arabic is a function of the socio-demographic distribution of the Arabs in the conquered territories. Due to the same demographic and historical reasons, as we will later see, the modification and simplification process was undertaken by the native speakers of the target language, rather than the learners, and therefore, led to a certain linguistic result and not the other; it led to partial restructuring and did not lead to complete restructuring or structural alienation because there were always enough native speakers and native-speaker input to modify, but not pidginize. The model developed in this book is spatially and temporally limited to the garrison towns in the first few decades of the Islamic era, with special emphasis on those in Egypt. During this period, the sociodemographic circumstances in Egypt were conducive to the emergence of an input that was modified by native speakers of Arabic to facilitate communication with non-Arabs. At the same time, learning the language as presented was both desirable for the non-Arabs for a functional reason, and feasible due to the majority status of the Arabs in the garrison towns. Although this scheme claims to explain the development of Arabic sedentary dialects in these regions during that period, this model does not claim to explain the spread and development of Arabic in Africa in the form of dialects or contact-induced languages in later centuries, either in East Africa or in the sub-Saharan regions as late as the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Ecology was always an important factor in the development of Arabic and its spread. From the first third of the seventh century to the latter half of the nineteenth century, the Arabic language developed in three


different forms, 3 presumably due to different socio-demographic situations in which the Arabic language existed. First, Arabic developed into the 'mainstream' dialects recognizable within contemporary geopolitical boundaries. Second, it developed varieties typical of minority contact languages. Finally, it developed pidginized and Creole contact varieties in the nineteenth century in southern Sudan. In the case of the Arabic-based pidgins and creoles, there was a heterogeneous demographic and linguistic structure in southern Sudan. Arabs were but one group, whose language was used as a lingua Jranca. Native speakers of Arabic were a minority, albeit a privileged one, in this mixture of races and languages. Due to the urgency of daily contact and the lack of native speaker support, Arabic was pidginized and later creolized.4 When Arabic developed into minority contact languages, Arabs in peripheral areas 5 found themselves amidst different ethnic groups and different linguistic communities, without being a majority group of prestige or privilege. Arabic did not become the language of inter-group communication, and Arabs adopted some linguistic elements of the surrounding languages for communication in other languages with outsiders. Instead of causing a shift in language use, Arabic became a part of the localized structure of languages sharing with other non-related languages some distinctive syntactic and/or morphological features. 6 The ancestors of modern sedentary dialects of Arabic, on the other hand, arose in areas where Arabs established themselves as the demographic majority in the garrison towns, attracting non-Arab migrants compelled to learn Arabic for non-educational purposes. This demographic shift spiked the availability of modified, learnable Arabic input because Arabs themselves needed to communicate. The marked increase of native speakers and input enabled the sedentary dialects to develop their features without restructuring, as in the pidgins and creoles, without borrowing of morpho-syntactic structures familiar to the peripheral varieties of Arabic.

3 For a general view of the historical development of the Arabic language see Versteegh (1997). 4 For an overview of the socio-demographic circumstances for the development of the Arabic-based pidgins and creoles see Owens (1996). 5 Such as in Cyprus, Malta, and Central Asia. For an overview of the peripheral varieties of Arabic, see Versteegh ( 1997). 6 0 ne of the most obvious features shared by the Arabic of Afghanistan with Persian and other languages of the area is the SOV word order.


As for the influence of socio-demographics on the input the resulting language shift, Arabic pidgins and creoles realized an interest among the different linguistic and ethnic groups to find a lingua franca not belonging to any indigenous group in the region in order to maintain the inter-group balance of power. The optimal choice was that of the privileged group of newcomers. Yet Arabs were aware of their limited numbers and their limited necessity for communicative tasks with non-Arabs. The end result was very limited native speaker input and correction. Arabic was primarily used as a means of communication between none-Arabs with different native languages. In addition, Arabs themselves were poorly represented in the camps where the pidgin varieties emerged. 7 In the case of the contact languages, the Arabs were a minority. They were not economically influential, and had minor impact on the demographic structure of the regions into which they migrated. Consequently, no incentive for learning Arabic presented itself. There was, however, an incentive for Arabs to learn the languages of the surrounding region for communication with nonArabs. As for the dialects, the circumstances were reversed the incentive to learn Arabic was for the natives, and the incentive to facilitate this process resided with the Arabs.
THis BooK

The main argument of the book is that the study of language ecology can help shed light on the process of acquiring Arabic as a second language and as a first language later in the Arab Middle East. Even if the available linguistic data for the pre-Islamic period is limited, many worthwhile insights are evident. It can also help identify the type of Arabic input used for the purpose, as well as the roles of native speakers of the target language and the language learners, in such an elaborate language shift. 8 The following chapters in this book will examine the debate surrounding this hypothesis. In the following chapter, I introduce a working definition for language, one accounting for the influence of linguistic and non-linguistic ecological factors

7 For more information on the numbers of Arabs in the trading camps of the Southern Sudan in the middle of the nineteenth century see Owens (1996). 8 For a general discussion of the relationship between ecology, language acquisition, and language change, see Ritt (2004), especially pp. 26-31.


and the resulting development they direct. I then explain ecology as a vital component oflanguage's communicative context, beginning with conversation between or amongst individuals. Afterwards, I define the effect of ecology on language by the concept of development. Language development is defined in this chapter as the process by which a linguistic innovation moves from the level of the idiolect to the more social and communicative varieties. In this process, an innovation is suggested by an individual speaker, negotiated between the speaker and another language user, and integrated, if accepted, in the other speaker's idiolect. The innovation is, therefore, a linguistic input to be learnt by the rest of the speech community in both formal and informal, processes of language acquisition. It is assumed here that informal second language acquisition, where native speakers of the target language are as willing to communicate as the target language learners (the likely scenario in the garrison towns where the dialects developed) enables and triggers modified input. Modified native speakers' input is defined here and elsewhere as Foreigner Talk (FT). Simplification, regularization, and generalization of the target language structures are characteristic of this input type. This topic is further developed through an introduction into the type of Arabic spoken in the Arabian Peninsula before the Arab conquests in chapter two. In chapter three, I introduce a summary of the linguistic situation in the conquered territories after the Arab conquests. Chapters four and five explain the formal linguistic development of Arabic in the urban garrison towns of the newly forming Arab world and its spread historically and linguistically. In chapter four, I draw a socio-demographic picture of the conquered territories during the conquests and shortly thereafter. I focus on the factors crucial to facilitating the Arabicization process. Three factors will be highlighted: the establishment of garrison towns; the pattern of Arab migration to these towns; and the manner of communication between Arabs and non-Arabs in these contact regions. I focus in chapter five on the general characteristics of informal second language acquisition and the importance of the type of input in determining the fate and extent of the learning process. I then direct my attention to FT as an input providing strategy, and give its general features. In chapter six, I list features/tendencies of modern Arabic FT and compare them to the general universal FT features and strategies. The result, although simplified Arabic, is not restructuring of the language as in pidgins or heavy borrowing. That particular proximity to the


original input source that FT input enjoys is the reason why the dialects are not far removed structurally from the standard variety of Arabic, as contact induced languages are expected to be. To conclude the chapter I make a quick comparison between the dialects of Arabic and Arabic-based pidgin and Creole varieties and to the peripheral dialects in order to show that the difference in the historical sociodemographic environment also led to the difference in the developmental path taken by each of these types.

One axiom the reader will encounter frequently in this analysis is the lack of any evidence of formal instruction for Arabic as a second language in the conquered territories during the specified period. The grammatical cannon of the classical period offers no didactic grammatical works that came down to us from before the tenth century, reaffirming this observation (Versteegh 2006: 3-4). Although some scholars use Ibn Xaldun's comment (Muqaddima: 546), suggesting that the corruption of speech in the urban centres encouraged grammarians to codify the Arabic language, as indication of the contrary, no clear statement in this passage connects this movement with a start of any educational initiative on the part of grammarians. No didactic works of grammar came down to us from the second and/or third centuries. Neither was there a reference to the existence of such a genre. The earliest statement of an instructional purpose for a grammar book comes from Ibn al-Sarraj, where he states the intention of his book: to exemplify a defined grammar of the Arabic language for people to follow (Versteegh 2006: 3). The tenth century witnessed the precipitation of a trend of educational grammar books, culminating at the beginning of the thirteenth century with grammatical didactic poems, such as the 'Alfiyya of Ibn Malik. Three points are worth mentioning here. First, the tenth century was not the initial Arabicization period; it is simply a century in which numerous processes of Arabicization, of which many were already completed, were also documented. Secondly, these books and poems were written in Arabic, with the Arabic script, and directed towards a native speaker of Arabic. Thirdly, these educational works were directed to the Classical Arabic standard, not the urban vernaculars. These books addressed syntactic issues that were not relevant to the urban vernaculars, such as


the case endings. If Classical Arabic was the language of education and culture in the empire in the tenth century, how did non-Arabs learn this variety? Currently available data and scholarship only leaves room for speculation. Versteegh (2006: 4) speculates that, in visiting the kuttab, children learned the rudimentary elementss of reading and writing. With this they also acquired basics of the Classical Arabic standard. Versteegh gave the example of the great grammarian Sibawayhi, who came to Basra hailing from Persia, with an already extensive background of Arabic, to study Islamic sciences. Not surprisingly, he made numerous linguistic errors. His alleged difficulties with Arabic led him to study grammar instead of tradition. What helped Sibawayhi, and the others like him, according to Versteegh (2006: 4), is that grammar was a basic component of education in the second and third centuries of the Islamic era. In addition, as Arabic became the language of education and learning, the possibility was always there for the new learner to attend lectures in Arabic, discussing works of knowledge in Arabic. Whatever competence in the emerging standard of Classical Arabic a non-native scholar acquired from such activities was not relevant to his unrelated competence in any Arabic vernacular variety. Based on the above, the book assumes that there was no formal process of second language teaching and learning in the Arab conquered territories in the first and second centuries after the conquests.

In order to understand the development of Arabic, scholars devised a set of developmental terminology based in part on existing sets of terminology in historical linguistics, enabling them to divide the history of Arabic into stages. I will introduce here the set of terms generally used to metaphorically construct the development of Arabic. They collectively make up the metaphor of Arabic, as indeed is the case with most of the Indo-European languages studied in the historical linguistic frame of mind, as a living organism that passes through life cycles of growth from an ancient to a modern phase. The reader must acquaint himself or herself to this paradigm to appreciate the scholarly perspective on the development of Arabic, and the degree to which these terms are representative of the available linguistic data, while others are not. The reader will therefore find some of the terms dis-


cussed in this section are not used in the following chapters, and the rationale behind their exclusion will be presented here. Proto-Arabic is a term that is rarely explained within the realm of the history of Arabic. It is defined as the result of the reconstruction process that must be based on the 'old Arabic' sources (early Arabic grammars) and 'pre-diasporic' varieties of the language (Owens 2006: 2 and 4 and Ryding 2005: 2). It is, therefore, a variety that may not have existed as such in reality. To successfully capture any element of Proto-Arabic, we will have to use the historical comparative method, even if the result is hypothetical at best. Although obtaining a protovariety by means of the historical comparative method is a common practice in the exploration of the diachronic linguistic analysis, it raises two theoretical problems in relation to Arabic. First, Proto-Arabic, in light of the presently available linguistic data, is purely the result of applying the method to data in the books of the Arab grammarians in the eighth, ninth and tenth centuries (Owens 2006: 4), complete with their inaccuracies and biases. As the only effective data set, it is important to note the particular focus of these works. I discussed elsewhere (al-Sharkawi 2007: 29) 9 that the grammarians were mainly interested in the description of the language of the Holy Text, the Qur'iin. 10 The Holy Book was, to the grammarian, the ideal that must be studied and described, and not the dialects that Arabs produced in ways that detracted from the language of that model. If this is indeed true, then what new could the historical comparative method give us? It will basically reconstruct data identical to the features grammarians list in their works. Owens himself (2006: 4) seems to be aware of the weakness of this approach, stating: "at this point in our research I do not think it is possible to neatly differentiate pre-diasporas from Proto-Arabic on a priori grounds. A reconstructed pre-diasporas form could turn out to be a Proto-Arabic form as well (Owens 2006: 4)." Secondly, the results of applying the historical comparative method depend largely on the internal logic of the process of analysis and the degree of data representation to the linguistic situation during the period under study, regardless of any outside relevant references or
See also chapter three below. See the discussion of these verses and the description of the Arabic language of the Holy Text in (al-Sharkawi 2007: 25-29). In fact, Rabin (1951) shares the same opinion that grammarians were solely interested in the language of the Holy Book.




relevance to existing data. This leads to a situation where the protovariety of Arabic would simply contradict the judgments of the Arab grammarians from whom the data was taken. Owens (2006) claims, for instance, that the modern dialects of Arabic emerged from a ProtoArabic that did not have case, while Classical Arabic developed from a different case-variety. Owens builds his assumption on several points. First, he states that in the Afro-Asiatic phylum, though there are striking correspondences in the verbal and pronominal systems among all of its branches, only two of the five branches, Semitic and Cushitic, have a case system. The correspondence between the case systems in both branches is also not clear, with individual languages inside these two branches have a striking variation in that system (Owens 2006: 81). In the Semitic branch of the phylum, one can construct a three-valued case system resembling that of Arabic. However, in the three subbranches of the phylum, the case is not general among the dialects, and is not represented in the three branches equally. In the Northeastern branch Akkadian showed case in its early stages that decayed after around 1000 BC. In addition, almost all Northwestern Semitic languages did not show case, with the exception of Ugaritic, in which the state of case is nonetheless fuzzy. Classical Arabic, member of the Southwestern Semitic language family, has case, while its modern offspring and spoken dialects do not. Due to this distribution, Owens (2006: 84) claims that Proto-Semitic had two varieties: one with case, and one without. As evidence, Owens cited the wide distribution of caseless dialects among the three branches of the phylum's Semitic branch, assuming that the Semitic case is innovative in the context of the Afro-Asiatic language family. To show that case is not stable in the languages that have a morphological case system Owens claims the traces of neutralization, whereby the system is muted, as is the case with pause form in Classical Arabic (2006: 85). It is difficult to believe that a language would havea morphological case system and a non-case system in the same variety at the same time, even if it is a proto-language. A proto-language must have been a spoken language once nonetheless. This uneven distribution of the case varieties on the three branches of the phylum must mean that the case system was not a common feature of the Semitic languages in general. I agree with Owens in this regard. However, this fact should not mean that there were once two branches or dialects of the proto-language. It could just mean that most of the dialects of the proto-language



innovated to a caseless morpho-syntax. Alternatively, it could also mean that case is an innovation that took place in some of the dialects of the sub-branches, not in others. To support his argument, Owens uses a logical assumption as well as an analogy from the modern dialects of Arabic and the standard written variety. As far as the logical assumption is concerned, Owens (2006: 117) claims that, if the conclusion of Diem's (1973) analysis of the Nabataean inscriptions is correct, then a caseless variety of Arabic existed as early as 100 BCE. This variety must have neighboured the case varieties of Arabic for approximately a millennium. However, my understanding of Diem (al-Sharkawi 2007) differs with Owens, interpreting data to mean that an innovation towards a caseless variety of Arabic in the Nabataean areas could be seen, but no further deduction is possible. The direction of the innovation, especially if it moved southwards into the peninsula as early as the 100 BCE, is inconclusive. It is also prudent not to overextend the data presented by Corriente (1971). Corriente asserts that the case system was probably on the verge of development after the Arab conquests and immediately before them, as their functional load was minimal at best. Taken together, the findings of Diem and Corriente do not mean that the case system did not exist. They actually state the opposite. The case system existed, and was about to decay before Islam. The earliest sign of this decay is, according to Diem (1973), around 100 BC. So, spoken dialects of Arabic at that early time before the Arab conquests had case, and they were probably losing it.U Such a conclusion is not in contradiction with the statements of the Arab grammarians, namely Sibawayhi. They believed that the Bedouin tribes of Najd and Eastern Arabia spoke dialects with case endings, irreconcilable with the caseless varietyOwens (2006: 79-119) promoted. Although the internal construction and comparative methods do lead Owens to the assumption of a caseless ancestor for the modern dialects, the contradiction of this conclusion by established grammarians signals it as a weak working hypothesis. Due to the relative uselessness of the Proto-Arabic term, it is excluded from this discussion of the historical development of Arabic. Old Arabic is yet another term worthy of cautious explanation. In most of the cases, Old Arabic is considered a linguistic stage in the


See a detailed discussion of this point in chapter three below.



historical development of Arabic. Although several authors used the term, very few defined Old Arabic. Macdonald (2000: 30 and 2008: 464) defines Old Arabic as the oldest surviving stage of Arabic, from which the later forms evolved including the pre-Islamic dialects. Although Macdonald (2000: 49 and 2008: 464) contends that the variety he calls Old Arabic was largely unwritten, at least before the fifth century CE, two sources of evidence for Old Arabic exist. The first is epigraphic evidence, basically texts written in the Arabic language, but with nonArabic scripts. In addition to these few texts there is a small number of Arabic lexical items used in different languages, such as the Arabic words used in Nabataean Aramaic (Macdonald 2008: 465). The other type of evidence for Old Arabic in the pre-Islamic period is the literary evidence. It is a large body of texts from the pre-Islamic period, namely the Qur'an, pre-Islamic poetry and 'yamu-1-'arab. These data survived by oral transmission until the second Islamic century (Macdonald 2008: 465). Although Macdonald (2008) does not state it literally, he seems to have three reservations against the literary source of evidence. First, its oral transmission raises questions about credibility, leading to possible compromises. Secondly, the literary data demonstrates a high, rhetorical style, using a poetic and formulaic language. Thirdly, most of the literary sources of Old Arabic come from the eastern parts of the Arabian Peninsula (2008: 465). Macdonald then proposed a set of diagnostic linguistic features to further his analysis. These distinctive marks as designated by Macdonald (2000: 49-50) can be listed as follows:
1. The definite article 'al2. The treatment of the third person masculine singular of weak verbs as a long /a/, as in bana 'he built' 3. Feminine singular relative pronoun 'alt 4. The use of lam for negating the past tense verb

Macdonald (2000: 50) continues that these features can be seen in texts dating as early as the first century BCE. In another article Macdonald (2008: 464) does not compare what he calls Old Arabic to the dialects grammarians described as being spoken before Islam and thereafter until the eighth and ninth centuries. But he states with a great deal of certainty that it was spoken in a number of dialects in several periods of the pre-Islamic era. It seems from the four above features to be in perfect harmony with the Arabic described by grammarians as early as the



third century of the Islamic era. Even though this paper must choose terminology sometimes at odds with choices by fellow researchers, it is worth noting that the above four linguistic features have been and still are features of Classical and Modern Standard Arabic. Other scholars define Old Arabic and its derivative dialects in the same manner as Macdonald. Noldeke (1904), Fiick (1950), Blau (1977: 16) and Versteegh (1984: 2) view the Old Arabic variety as a domain that encompasses the spoken dialects of the Arabs in pre-Islamic times and the variety used for poetry and the Qur'an. The latter was not different from the earlier. The differences, if they indeed existed, were basically stylistic. Classical Arabic is the most frequently used term for designating a presumed period in the development of the Arabic language. It is also one of the most imprecisely used. According to Ryding (2005: 2), Classical Arabic is a phase of Arabic that started in the sixth century with the expansion of poetic exposition, especially in public performances. Along the centuries, this language developed into all fields of communication. Ryding (2005: 2-3) asserts that the Arabic of pre-Islamic times, poetry, and the Qur'an are absolutely identical with the language grammarians normalized. According to Fischer (2002 and 2006), Classical Arabic refers to the language new Muslim Arabs used in the fields of learning, culture, government, and religion. In addition, it served as the common medium of communication in the previous fields among the Arab and non-Arab members of the Muslim empire at large. Fischer estimates the beginning of the Classical phase of Arabic by the late eighth and ninth centuries, when grammarians in Kiifa and Basra started to impose systematic rules on the otherwise morpho-syntactically variable dialects spoken by the Arabs. Mastering the newly organized and well-described system was the symbol of refinement and culture at that time (Fischer 2002: 1). Fischer (2002: 1-2) asserts that there is no clear split between this phase and the previous one, which he called preClassical Arabic. Although the texts grammarians used to structure the use of the Classical variety came from this pre-Classical period, the rules of the Classical language differ from the texts, as in Classical Arabic there is less archaisms and variation. However, Fischer (2002: 1) states that Classical Arabic and Modern Written Arabic are fundamentally the same in morphology, syntax and in vocabulary. Although Fischer (2002: 2) realizes the structural continuity between the variety of Arabic used in the ninth century and that used now, he



asserts that the end of the tenth century marked the end of the Classical standard and the beginning of a post-Classical Arabic. This linguistic form is marked by the use of structural formations and expressions that were hitherto unaccepted in the Classical period. The post-Classical phase came about as a result of the continuous attempts of the users of Arabic to find more accurate and flexible styles of Arabic. Unlike the Classical phase, the post-Classical period of the history of Arabic is equivocal, as some users of Arabic adhered to the models of Classical Arabic, and others adopted the new structural formations. Nobody would disagree with Fischer about the standardization processes that took place in the eighth and ninth centuries. The minimization of variability and archaisms were among the most obvious outcomes of such a process. However, I do not agree that this process is a linguistic phase in the history of Arabic. Again, texts from the period Fischer designated do not differ structurally from texts from the previous or the surrounding periods he describes. The most important aspect of Fischer's definition, and the most controversial, is presenting Classical Arabic as a central core with pre-Classical and post-Classical phases abutting it. To him, the standardization process led to the differences between Arabic in the ninth century and before. The premise that standardization process stopped at the Classical phase is flawed. It actually continued as speakers found better and more flexible ways of expression. Classical Arabic cannot be looked at as a defined linguistic phase, but as one of an infinite set of points on a standardization continuum, contiuning well into the contemporary period, selected for its contrastive characteristics. The instability of the terminology is not incidental. It is a direct result, as we will see in chapter three below, of the linguistic and ecological conditions in pre-Islamic Arabia and the features of Arabic that were used in the Arabicization process of the Arab-controlled territories. Therefore, it is imperative to reconstruct a picture of the linguistic, socio-linguistic and ecological features of the period before the conquests and the period immediately thereafter. This analysis will expose the highly probable scenarios of second language acquisition and the input mechanisms priming language shift. Only then will the limited data available from pre-Islamic Arabic and the derived varieties yield conclusive theories on language development in relation to Arabic. This book will utilize the following terms with a specific, specialized meaning. Pre-Islamic Arabic will refer to the collection of Arabic



varieties, including the language of the Qur'an and the poetic variety. No further diglossic or geographical distinction is made. This term is used as such in order to avoid the terminological and theoretical inconsistencies and differences concerning the linguistic and sociolinguistic situation in the pre-Islamic periodY This term avoids the debate among scholars of Arabic about the inclusion of the Qur'anic variety in the realm of vernacular use. So far, there is no clear linguistic criterion that distinguishes between different dialects and between dialects and the Qur'anic language. In other words, there is no clear atlas of the pre-Islamic Arabic varieties. In contrast, New Arabic will refer to the varieties of Arabic that arose after the Arab conquests in the sedentary areas of the conquered territories. This will not include the Bedouin dialects of Arabic and the contemporaneously emerging Classical Arabic variety. The term covers many differences that may have existed between the varieties that Arabs spoke, the varieties that non-Arabs produced, and the resulting contact-induced varieties that existed.

12 For the differences between theories of the linguistic situation in the pre-Islamic period, see Zwettler (1978) and Versteegh (1997).


THE ECOLOGY OF LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT As previously mentioned, the spread of Arabic, its evolution and proliferation were a function of the ecology of this evolutionary process during its initial spread in the fledgling empire around the seventh century. Understanding this ecology is essential towards a better understanding of the synchronic structure of the varieties of Arabic and their diachronic development. Therefore, this chapter will begin by introducing how concepts "evolution" and "ecology" are used here. 1 Both of these terms have been used with extensive vigour by historical linguists, as well as by several sociolinguists and creolists in the European and American traditions. It is, therefore, crucial to accurately define the scope and function of these key concepts and their relevance to the history of Arabic. Arabic is understood here as a cover term for a complex of sociolinguistic, geographic and functional varieties. Understanding the functional and causal relationship between ecology and development, however, will not be complete without defining language functionally in such a way that presents the mechanisms with which the earlier affects the latter. The definitions presented in this chapter are purely theoretical. Detailed examples from the Arabic language are given in the following chapters, where the demographic, linguistic situation and structures of Arabic will be discussed with more detail. 1.1

Language evolution in the present work is a term used to convey the collection of long term structural changes a language endures in the process of its use (Mufwene 2008: 1 and Mufwene 2001: xi). The notion of evolution is not advanced here as a sign of progression from a simpler form to a more complex one. Rather, it denotes the reaction
Defining key and premative concepts and re-defining already existing and stable ones operationally is traditional in studies of language change and development (Ritt 2004: 16). Definitions help establish the theoretical models to be discussed.



of languages, varieties and idiolects to certain linguistic and nonlinguistic factors. This definition distinguishes itself from that used by Christiansen and Kirby (2003). Evolution to them is the emergence of language as a distinctive characteristic of the human race (Christiansen and Kirby 2003: 1-15). Their goal is determining the origin of language. This pursuit is frivolous as long as the state of research in several fields remains inconclusive (McMahon 1994: 315). This analysis bases itself on a view that evolution is an equilibrium, a state of complex processes of continuous linguistic restructuring. Each stage presented is one of an infinite set that a given language reaches on a continuum, chosen in this context for its contrastive value. In the development of the dual system in Arabic, for example, the current evolutionary state (except in modern written Arabic) is that duals are functional only in some categories of nouns. Duals in pronouns, demonstratives and verbs are no longer productive. If the assumption that Classical Arabic now represents an older variety of Arabic than the modern dialects is acceptable, a quick comparative look at the dialects and Classical Arabic will show that the duals were productive in all categories of nouns, pronouns, demonstratives, and verbs in Classical Arabic. So, the contemporary evolutionary state is easily understood as one intermediate stage between a full morphological and syntactic usage of the dual system productively and a total obsoleteness of the system as a morphological category and syntactic function. In previous stages, one might presume the dual lost productivity in pronouns, demonstratives, verbs, and some categories of nouns gradually or at once. One can speculate even further that the current evolutionary stage of the dual system is not the end of the development of this category. Judging by the difference between the Arabic dialect of Cairo and the urban dialects of Morocco, for example, shows that the dual system is falling to disuse. Ecological factors allow such a development to move from just being an innovation to a real development. The semantic categories of nouns that take the dual suffix in Moroccan Arabic are much less than those in the dialect of Cairo. Such simple comparisons show that the stage of duals now is only one point on the developmental route of this morphological category. This understanding of evolution covers questions traditionally posited in the fields of historical genetic linguistics, pidgin and creole studies, second language acquisition and language change, utilizing their most recent advancements. If evolution is so multi-disciplinary and diversified, it is natural to object to the sufficiency of this analysis



when the subject matter is so broad. That is not the intention of this book; rather, its intent is establishing the main principles that governed the development of Arabic and its direction. The direction and behaviour of the development of Arabic, and all other languages, requires fully understanding the decisive internal and external factors in the linguistic situation. In other words, all aspects of language development, from birth, statis, equilibrium and death, are in fact a function of these internal and external factors and conditioned by them. These factors will collectively be defined here as ecologies. Ecology, for the purpose of this work, is defined as a three-dimensional concept. 2 It is a set of internal, external and experiential factors that facilitate, direct, inhibit and prohibit development. Internal ecology refers to the relationships among the member features of internal systems of the language in question/ and also refers to the functional load and paradigmatic symmetry of each of the systems, sub-systems, and/or structures. External ecological factors refer to the social, demographic, sociolinguistic situations in which the variety in study is found at one moment of history. These external factors serve as the backdrop against which the varieties in question respond, to which they react, and adapt their Such reactions take place in the internal structures of the variety in question and affect the internal ecology in turn, keeping the development in equilibrium. It is vital to this approach to emphasize ecological factors do not represent interaction with languages, but among speakers, presenting another set of variables in this ecology. Since any linguistic development does not become a part of the system until it is acquired, we deal with language development as a case of language acquisition. It has come to be realized, through recent developments in psycholinguistics, that previous language experience, including that of the first language, combines with other socio-linguisticfactors to determine if a case of transfer will take place or not. This experience can also contribute to the speed and direction of the process of acquisition (JarvisandPavlenko 2008: 12).

2 The idea of ecology used here conforms to Labov's study of language change as a social phenomenon. It is especially well summarized in the introduction (Labov 1994: 2-3). 3 This dimension is in harmony with the principle ofthe nineteenth century historical linguistics where language development is a function of intra-systemic causes. See the discussion in Thomason and Kaufman (1988: I). 4 This dimension is in accordance with the prominence given to the social networks and factors in the development of language advanced primarily in (Labov 1994).



This even holds true on the level of individual structures. Previous experience can also permit structure acquisition, encourage structural alterations, and, in some cases, hinder the maintained use of a structure in the learner's variety. Native speakers, the origin of any change and primary contributors to this linguistic evolution, have attitudes towards variation, and certain value judgements towards their language that might influence the process of development, change and evolution. In addition, native speakers do not acquire their native varieties by means of genetic transmission as they acquire gender, skin colour and other bodily features. Rather, they acquire it naturally from a social network, and process it individually. It is assumed that when native speakers learn their language through a process of transmission from the social grid, certain mutations happen. A process of incomplete learning based on incomplete data, usually through unconscious linguistic processing on the part of the speaker (J ones and Singh 2005: 18), results in creative aspects of grammar that linger on in the individual speaker's idiolect. As a result, the theories of first and second language acquisition are an important link between synchronic status of the language in its idiolect form and its potential to evolve (Kiparsky 2008: 23). Although the process of acquisition is a naturalistic one and not class-based, it is formally constrained by universal grammar and innateness. This purely structural claim does not deny the value of functional explanations of language evolution. According to generative theories oflanguage development, the functional aspects of language are also a part of the innate faculty of the native speaker (Kiparsky 2008: 25). If development takes place, therefore, it should take place first in the innate individual grammar5 transmitted among individuals by means of first language acquisition. One example of the innate native speaker's linguistic creativity is worth noting here. In historical linguistics, two cognitive processes, analogy and reanalysis, are emphasized when explaining language change. The details of both processes are beyond the focus of this

5 This dimension of ecology goes hand in hand with the perception of the generative school oflinguistics that language development is an intera-generational issue of first language acquisition, which takes place in the innate language faculty of the individual, regardless of the external factors. I tentatively agree with the generative school as long as more relative weight is placed on the internal factors of language development, not external factors. Factors such as language contact are not of first class importance to this school, as they are insignificant in comparison with internal developments (Welmers 1970: 4-5).



research, but it will suffice to say that through analogical expansion a speaker applies a structure, be it a sound, a morpheme or a syntactic structure, beyond its original function. This expansion happens when several features are used to convey the same function or slightly similar ones. Analogical levelling is particularly functional in paradigms. It smooths out the irregularities that might take place in a certain paradigm after its members promote its development. When a certain sound change affects, for instance, a morphological paradigm, it creates allomorphs of certain features affected by the change. These allomorphs are similar in function. But analogical levelling might delete this variability. Reanalysis is a process where a certain feature or structure gives up its traditional function to adopt another. One such example in Arabic is the modal verb rah (originally meaning 'to go'). It lost its original function as an independently functioning verb and became a modal preceding verb. Added to verbs, this modal complicates the tense of the original verb. The verb yi-wzin 'to weigh' is in the imperfective, but with the modal it becomes rah yi-wzin 'will be weighing soon'. This three-dimensional vision of ecology is based on the idea that an individual innovates for either a personal reason, such as an analogical process from incomplete learning, or to accommodate a new communicative function by reanalysis. The innovation must be tolerated in the system of the individual making the innovation (a matter of internal ecological factors). If so, the innovation joins a potential pool of varying size of structures competing to express the same linguistic and/or communicative function. As soon as the variant is introduced to the social network in which the innovator moves the innovation competes with the rest of the pool members. The speech community under study favours, and eventually, selects one over the others (external ecological factors), leading the unfortunate variants to different fates, such as disappearance, functional specialization or sustained marginalization. The chosen variant is disseminated by first language acquisition in the case of children and continuous adaptation by adults using their native language. Only then, it is a linguistic development. With that in mind, one understands evolution as innovations that manage to survive competing with other innovations over the same functional roles, and is approved by its linguistic system. Here, development is yet another key concept oflanguage change. Language development is seen here as the whole process spelled out in the previous paragraphs (innovation and evolution). It is an endless process that



involves systems and features alike. Innovation, by contrast, is not. It is a new feature, set of features, and/or chain of features expressing a linguistic function that it inherits from a precedent traditional feature. In other words, it is a disturbance of the random alliance between form and function. Both the process of development and its outcomes of evolution are the two components of language change. The purpose of this book, based on the above, is to introduce external and internal linguistic ecology and external non-linguistic ecology that serve as the catalyst for the evolution of Arabic, as it did after the emergence of Islam and the Arab conquests. The notion of evolution advanced here is, in fact, different from both the nineteenth century pre-Darwinian theory and the twentieth century post-Darwinian biological sense explained by McMahon (1994: 314-315). Under the influence of the 'language as organism' metaphor, the nineteenth century linguists regarded language as progressing towards maturity or from maturity towards decay, like a living entity. Two exemplary advocates of this point of view are Bopp and Schleicher, who, among others, used the notion of evolution in an anticipatory manner. However, this school of linguists did not adopt the strategies of the evolutionary process laid out in biology. Although transformism governed their thinking in this respect, 6 the 'language as organism' doctrine could not allow them to properly conceptualize that transformation. Hence, evolution could not happen within the theoretical framework of Darwinian theories without variation, mutation and natural selection. Evolution has traditionally also been seen as a series of related cumulative developments in a certain direction that does not necessarily move from primitive to advanced status. Evolution, accordingly, is a series of small changes on different levels, and across different paradigms, along an extended time span seen as targeting a certain structure or concept in the language in question. So, historical linguistics has traditionally explained a certain structure in retrospect because a series of certain linguistic events took place leading to this one. This kind of causal relationship is in fact a harmless mental map of certain linguistic developments into one diagram. What is harmful, however, are
6 This is a notion whereby a species or a language is presumed to develop into another species or language over time. For a comprehensible and small summary of the Darwinian theory of evolution and its adoption into the nineteenth century historical linguistics see McMahon (1994: 315-325).



explanations supporting certain developments taking place to achieve a certain articulatory, phonological, morphological or syntactic ease of expression or clarity of expression. Such teleological explanations of evolution have at least two theoretical problems raised here, because they shed light on the evolution of the Arabic language and weakness of this approach. First, pre-Islamic Arabic, especially in the western dialects, enjoyed two phenomena on the phonetic level. The first was the lack of vowel harmony, which characterized the eastern dialects and Classical Arabic (al-Sharkawi 2008: 691). The second was the existence in the same western dialects of an anaptyctic vowel between any two consonants on the boundaries of syllables (al-Sharkawi 2008: 695). If one conceptualizes evolution as a series of purposeful linguistic developments, one would be more inclined to believe that, since vowel harmony is basically a case of assimilation, the addition of anaptyctic vowels between two consonants must be a direct result of the lack of vowel harmony. Alternatively, this same approach supports the hypothesis that vowel harmony and anaptyxis are the causes of an earlier linguistic decision to use dissimilation, rather than assimilation for the presumed purpose of clarifying articulation. By the same token, one could also believe accordingly that the western dialects were moving towards a full clear articulation of each phoneme while the eastern group was not. Other sound features of the same group of dialects can be taken to support this teleological explanation, such as the retention of final vowels of their regular length in the middle of the word (al-Sharkawi: 2008: 691). No direct linguistic evidence supporting a causal relationship exists. Available data from scholarship in historical linguistics is inconclusive at best, in this case and many others. The data we have about the two phenomena come from the same time period, and neither have earlier evidence where one phenomenon exists independently from the other. In addition, assuming that the development in question is purposeful means that the language is a living entity with a will of its own. In this case, the language will have to will for the best. In other words, there will be languages that take a decision to improve, and innovate accordingly, to reach maturity. Others, who have similar traditional structures and do not take the same decision or take an opposite one, are decaying languages. Such thinking leads to the dangerous and unfounded ideas of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century that some languages are inherently superior to others. If the will for a directed development is that of the speakers, one must assume that the



speaker will always will the improvement of expression. If this is the case, how can researchers explain the absence of vowel harmony and the anaptyctic vowel from the dialects of Eastern Arabia before Islam? Does it mean that the speakers did not will the improvement of their speech? More importantly, do speakers objectively 'know' the better means to improve their speech?

Having precisely defined ecology and evolution, including the ecological mechanisms that have an effect on human language behaviour, it is far simpler to account for the individual speakers as the source of language, creativity in its use and monopoly over its use. Language is looked at here as a theoretical abstraction. It is basically a string of symbols organized in systems. Each of these systems consists of, in addition to the units, principles that govern the behaviour of these units and inter-systemic relationships among them. For the purposes of analysis here, there are two levels of language abstraction. On the one hand, there is the idiolect, where each person as an individual speaker of a certain language has his or her own version of the sets of units which form together the systems of the language they speak. The second extreme on this abstracted continuum is an extrapolation of the collective sum of the idiolects, and it is the language as accepted by the individuals forming a certain speech community. According to this approach, language is basically a degree of abstraction that both exists only in the collective mind of the users of the language on one end, and that does not exist independently of the speaker on the other. Any group of idiolects can form a single communal language or variety. They can group together on a geographical basis to form geographical dialects. They can also group according to a social factor to form social dialects and/or in-group varieties. The collection of these idiolects, in turn, forms a higher still abstraction of a speech community's language. Idiolects are not by definition stable as varieties; they are subject to continuous processes of acquisition and accommodations in the social context they are used in. These processes will always result in restructuring and system adjustment, not only on the level of the idiolect in question, but on the level of any communal variety this idiolect serves to make the extrapolation thereof as well. The uniqueness of idiolects



is twofold. Firstly, first language learners acquire their native tongue through a naturalist process of second language acquisition outside formal instruction. It happens by interaction with elders and peers with divergent idiolects, which leaves a big room for innovation. Secondly, naturalistic acquisition is not simply based on the 'database' generalizations of the speaker's linguistic cognition, but on partial, and sometimes false, analogies. This definition of language posited here is so appropriate because it accounts for both internally motivated language change and contactbased change. The innovation takes place on the first level of abstraction, the idiolect. Individuals, for unique purposes and under unique influences, innovate differently and accommodate one another differently as well. It is on the first level of communal language that a degree of variation is felt between the innovating idiolect and the communal extrapolation. Language change happens in the interaction among these three levels of abstraction. It is through the advancement and perseverance of a certain innovation from an idiolect to the different levels of communal varieties that a potential surface change is realized. Through certain non-linguistic factors, or ecological factors, the potential change propagates through continued use. It can be established as a change, or be disregarded all together. Since language is in a continuous state of movement, its noticeable mobility encourages the influence of theoretically unsound metaphors, especially those with organism analogies. 7 From very early on in the historical linguistic tradition, researchers anthropomorphized languages they studied (Mufwene 2001: 148). Since the middle of the nineteenth century, they assumed a language's 'behaviour' paralleled a biological organism with an identifiable life cycle. The organism metaphor, including the perceived birth and death of constituent languages, controlled the approach of historical linguistics and alternative studies of language development, preventing effective exploration of internally motivated language change, its motives and mechanisms. This vantage point conflicted with a point of view where variation occurred on the level of idiolects. If variation does not exist, internally motivated language change cannot take place. Accordingly, every development can only be explained as a function of external factors.

For a comprehensive discussion of the analogy, see Lass (1997).



The organism metaphor also does not explain the issue of speciation. Derivation of proto-languages branching out into separate languages, diversity in innovations and geographic distribution remain largely unanswered and problematic because of this very metaphor. Derived languages share with a proto-language basic genetic features. If language is an organism, where do innovations come from? By the same token, if daughter languages will have to innovate, why do they innovate differently when 'genetic' markers in their linguistic makeup would prime innovations spreading consistently? Because the influence of the organism metaphor is so pervasive, explanatory concepts have been devised to compensate for its theoretical weaknesses. Drift and parallel development, for instance, were established to account for similar developments in two varieties of the same tree, a traditionally problematic area for this approach. However, drift and parallel development, as concepts, do not have explanatory power of their own. They are mainly labels for developmental processes, the causes of which are unknown. Similarly, in some varieties of a language, a certain innovation takes place and never takes place in others. Conversely, the same innovation can take place quickly in one variety and with an inexplicably slower rate in other varieties. The dual system explained above illustrates the theoretical difficulty with the singleness of language advanced by advocates of the organism metaphor. The modern dialects witness a reduction of the dual system to some categories of the noun, while Standard Arabic keeps the dual system functional in all categories of nouns, verbs, pronouns, and demonstratives. The language as organism metaphor cannot explain this phenomenon. To overcome such limitations of the organism metaphor, Mufwene (2001 and 2008: 14) introduced the metaphor of'language as a species'. This metaphor claims that languages are species, while idiolects are organisms within the general structural features of the language species. This metaphor allows language to be seen as heterogeneous in nature, hosting a population of diversified idiolects despite their being alike by the general family resemblance. From this perspective, language can host internal developments. Idiolects evolve in diversified directions, develop at differential speed, and potentially cancel out previous developments. In addition, the 'language as species' metaphor permits researchers to use variation among idiolects to explain innovations, competition, and selection, which will be favoured or disfavoured by ecology.






The previous definition and metaphor of language betrays the central premise that this approach and the accompanying data verify. 8 Development happens when an idiolect innovates. 9 All idiolects innovate, for development is a given (Labov 1994: 9). But, what is development? It is the change that befalls language gradually, regularly and in certain constraints (McMahon 1994: 6). What is innovation? It is the new alternative features that exist side by side with other already existing features to express a certain linguistic function. Innovation may eventually become traditional to the system. It may also be integrated in the system, causing a potential alternation in the function or form of the original feature. This notion of innovation reduces language change to its smallest constituent parts, allowing us to regard the steps of any change in function from one stage to the other in the diachronic character of a grammar (Andersen 1989: 13). When an innovation becomes a part of the system, it becomes liable to further innovations that might alter its function or form. 10 An effective simile for these linguistic innovations is visualizing them as pixels replacing others in a certain picture. Due to the comparative nature of genetic and historical linguistics, developments are the net pixel changes in a certain time period relative to a latter period that contrasts it. One can, therefore, define language development as the total canonized innovations by all idiolect in the language at a certain random time period. Hence, the picture in which the innovated pixels replace traditional ones will certainly be slightly different from the picture in which the traditional pixels were themselves innovations. As the process continues, the conceptualized picture, representing the language's dynamic feature set, will evolve into yet another altered pixel set. Historical linguistics has traditionally focused on language development, but little work has been conducted on the mechanisms of

8 The same broad claims and general perspective is taken by Mufwene (2001) and (2008). One also does not help but assume that the same pattern of thinking is taken by Dixon (1997) and Mazrui and Mazrui (1998). 9 Innovation is defined here in accordance with Andersen (1989: 6-7). It is simply the reaction of speakers to circumstances, by which they allow themselves to deviate from the standard or the idiolect they use currently. 1 For a general idea and a philosophical discussion of the notion of change and its working in the speech community see Ritt (2004: 31-37).



that development. McMahon states frankly that the problem of actuation remains beyond the scope of the discipline (1994: 225). This book takes a different approach, combining sociolinguistics and historical linguistics to understand these mechanisms. When does development take place? When idiolects innovate, they create variable features of the language systems. These innovated features compete with the traditional features, with features of the same subsystem of another idiolect or with other innovations. It is important to note here that innovations must express the same functions as the traditional features. When they do so, the traditional correspondence between form and meaning is disturbed. The affected idiolect, therefore, will start to express the old meaning in a different form, causing a chain reaction in other idiolects towards this linguistic behaviour. This variation is essential to the development of any linguistic form, as any development cannot come about without a variation stage regarding the form in question (Marshall2004: 15 and Anttila 1989: 179). A word of caution is in order here. As idiolects differ and innovate for unique reasons and in reaction to unqiue non-linguistic factors, variation and heterogeneity are always more than just the sum of these developments, as not every case of variability will lead to development (Weinreich, Labov and Herzog 1968: 188). Here we come to the pivot of the discussion, ecology. If a variable meets with favourable ecological factors, it becomes an innovation and takes up its path into the traditional features of the system. If adverse internal or external ecological factors face this variable, it does not become an innovation. In the following three chapters, the book will lay out the available data regarding Arabic in the pre-Islamic era, the demographic situation prior to conquests in what later became the conquered territories and Arabic in the post-conquest period. to the research will conclusively show that the internal and external ecological factors were conducive to the development of the newer type of Arabic and the spread of the language in these regions, despite the relative scarcity of Arabs.


THE DEVELOPMENT OF ARABIC IN PRE-ISLAMIC TIMES Having discussed external ecologies, internal ecologies and their importance in the development of languages in general, this chapter will introduce external and internal ecology of the Arabic language, just prior to the Arab conquests, in particular. This chapter does not yield novel insights or data about the varieties of Arabic spoken in the peninsula in the pre-Islamic time period. It will introduce, on the other hand, an organization of the available data mentioned so far, attempting to draw as many conclusions from the data as it allows. The assumptions made here center around the state of evolution PreIslamic Arabic, its varieties and sociolinguistic makeup on the eve of the conquests to compare it with the state of Arabic under the different ecological circumstances of the conquests. We know much from the works of medieval Arab grammarians about the variety of Arabic in which poetry was rendered and in which the Qur'an was delivered. Far less data concerning the existence of peninsular dialects and their relationship with the poetic variety remains. As far as the varieties of Arabic in pre-Islamic times are concerned, there are more questions than answers. Was there more than one variety of Arabic used with different functions in the pre-Islamic period? If there were separate and distinct dialects, were they quite different from the pre-Islamic poetic language, and what was the function of that poetic Arabic, besides poetry? Giving answers to these questions will shed light on the role of both Arabs and non-Arabs in the process of second language acquisition (and the resulting language shift in Arabic), and on the subsequent development of modern Arabic dialects in the post-conquest era. The assumption here is that if the linguistic situation in the Peninsula before Islam was of the mono-variety type where linguistic differences are more or less stylistic, the differences between the Classical standard and the modern dialects must be attributed to the process of second language acquisition initiated by non-Arabs, who must have had the lion's share of the restructuring process, after the conquests. However, if there were dialects, and these dialects are in some manner reflected in the modern Arabic dialects, the process of



second language acquisition in the Islamic empire must be attributed to a joint venture between Arabs and non-Arabs together. The evidence for the first opinion is unconvincing because it does not rest on clear statements by the Arab grammarians of the classical period professing that there were no dialects. Evidence for the second opinion is insufficient because historical comparative studies with a sufficient degree of accuracy are unavailable. 1 The current understanding among the majority of the scholars of Arabic concerning the works of prior Arab grammarians supports the assumption that they thought of the language as a single variety, spoken by the Bedouins in the heart of the Peninsula. The more the Arabs approached border areas and sedentary life, the less pure their language was presumed, leading to presumed deviations from what came to be known as the Classical Arabic standard. The point of reference for this purity is in itself a problematic aspect in the history of the Arabic language. The revelation of the Qur'an added to that presumed purity an element of religious reverence. With that, it also brought about a new age of conquest. To those grammarians, a direct result of the Arab conquests was the emergence of a broken variety of Arabic that stemmed from the failing attempts of the mawati to learn Arabic. As a result, both varieties coexisted: the pure Arabic of the Bedouins and the broken vernaculars of the conquests. The Arabs reacted to this situation by devising corrective measures for linguistic performance on the model of the idealized Bedouin variety (Versteegh 1997a: 102-3 and Versteegh 1997b: 3). This chapter argues that this view does not necessarily represent the exact position of the Arab grammarians in the early centuries of the Islamic era on the linguistic situation both before and after the conquests. Different scholars from different schools of thought have advanced many competing and contradictory theories for the conditions of Arabic in the pre-Islamic era. These theories either take the same position as that of the Arab grammarians, or take, in various degrees, the other extreme voiced by Vollers ( 1906) that the language of the Qur'an, as we have it now, is a translation from the Volkssprache of the pre-Islamic Arabs. The main feature of this Volkssprache was the absence of case markers. V oilers argues that there was a large difference between the

1 Owens' (1998: 51-73) and (2006) study of the case system in Arabic is a notable exception in this respect.



language of the Qur'an and the vernacular spoken by the Prophet. Although this theory in its original form has long been rejected, its milder version continues to appeal to scholars of Arabic. This notion is touched on later in this chapter because our understanding of the development of Arabic as a function of the ecology of the conquests is contingent on our understanding of the linguistic situation before the beginning of these conquests. To assume that the non-Arabs, in their imperfect attempt to learn Arabic produced the dialects and urban vernaculars, sound analysis requires accurate data about the pre-Islamic linguistic situation to contrast with data regarding the post-conquest varieties. By the same token, assuming that the urban dialects after Islam were, at least in part, a result of a long linguistic change current in the Peninsula long before Islam, similar tendencies and features must be found in both varieties. Data sparseness is an especially acute problem in this regard. Details of the linguistic development after the conquests are vague, and few and details of the linguistic and sociolinguistic situation before the conquests in the Arabian Peninsula are fewer still. In addition, whatever available knowledge about the language elements in the Peninsula in the pre-Islamic period is derived from the examples and data collected, sorted and filtered by the Arab grammarians. As argued later, they focused on certain elements of the language, confirming their disinterest in a representative linguistic corpus like those in modern linguistic analysis. Although it is not accurate to claim that grammarians were not interested in dialect data, one can assume studying dialects as distinct varieties was not in their area of concentration. In this chapter, analysis will show that the dialects of the Peninsula before Islam were functionally and formally different from the variety used for poetry and the Qur'an. First, I support my assumption by proving that the grammarians concentrated primarily on a particular part of the linguistic scene of Arabic for their purposes. This data calls into question their sacred and unchallenged statements regarding the differences between varieties central to opposing arguments. Second, I show that, from those books, variations are indeed noticeable, albeit without great precision, to the known tribes of the pre-Islamic times. Finally, I attempt to define the functional role of the Old Arabic dialects and the variety of poetry in relation to one another. In this respect, it is stressed that the basic function of the variety from which Classical Arabic developed was poetic rendition.

32 2.1


To understand the scope and effectiveness of the available data, and also to appreciate the current differences in the interpretation of this data, a critical examination of the data source is in order. Unfortunately, the Arabs in the pre-Islamic period did not leave a written record or poem in which they explained the linguistic situation in their Peninsula from an eyewitness point of view. And since there are no written records of such a nature, we have to satisfy ourselves with anecdotal evidence found in the earliest written texts, the Qur'an and the books of grammarians. In the Qur'an, it is emphasized that the holy text was revealed in a 'clear' Arabic tongue/ defined as the tongue of all the Arabs. Thus, it came to be assumed that the language in which the holy text was revealed was identical with the language every layman in the Peninsula spoke in everyday communication. In this way, after the establishment of the new Arab Islamic state and the inception of grammar in the second and third centuries of the Islamic era, the Qur'an became, and still is, considered the best model for Arabic, and an inclusive and ideal model (Versteegh 1997a: 37). More importantly, every clan, and thus every person, in the Peninsula were believed not only to have spoken the language of the Qur'an in pre-Islamic times at least, but also to have received an equal share of the glory of being eloquent. The attribute referring to the language of the Arabs, 'Arabiyy 'Arabic' is, therefore, problematic for my theoretical framework. It blurs any regional differences and/or tribal dialects while implying the absence of diglossia from the linguistic situation. As a result, in the language standardization period, grammarians found themselves simultaneously dealing with Arabic on two distinct, and sometimes contradictory, levels. On the one hand, no dialectal and sociolinguistic differences were thought to exist in the Arabs' realization of their language. Arabic was considered a mono-variety language. On the other hand, variation kept occurring in the texts of pre-Islamic poetry and in the Qur'an itself; this variation indicated the possible existence of dialectal difference within this presumed single variety. Arab scholars themselves, for instance al-Hamadani in the fourth century AH, demonstrated an awareness of dialectal differences between, for instance, Himyar and other Arabic speaking tribes. Al-Hamadani

See for example verses XVI/103 and XXVI/195.



describes the variety of Himyar, which contained a verbal suffix -k for the first and second persons in the verb (katabku '1/you wrote'), as the 'language' of Himyar (Versteegh 1997a: 38). Therefore, it is tempting to think that the 'Arabiyy mubtn (Qur'an XVI: 103) attribute of the Qur'an blurred the Arab scholars' view of the dialects, despite their awareness of the variation. However, this folk assumption popular at the time controlled both the laymans' mind and the grammarians' attitude. To grammarians, the Arabic of a Yemenite was theoretically as good as that of a person from Qurays or the Kalb Federation. Therefore, poems from any tribe were used indiscriminately by some of the later grammarians as primary linguistic data. At the same time, Arabs considered that the tribes residing in Yemen differed ethnically from the Arabs of the north, the former being true Arabs-al- 'Arab al-'Ariba. Yet, poems from both groups received equal weight as linguistic sources (V ersteegh 1997a: 38). Although the effect of the Qur'anic attribute was exclusive of other linguistic varieties, it was inclusive of all the ethnic Arabs as speakers of 'clear' Arabic. To many modern scholars of Arabic, the presumed consideration of Arabic as one variety by medieval grammarians, from the second century AH onwards, is a sign of nostalgic romanticism. One wonders whether grammarians were really romanticizing their language, or is it contemporary reading and interpretation of their works that lead today's scholarship in that direction? Despite the attribute of the Qur'an and the theoretical views of the grammarians that the Arabic of poetry and the Holy Text was the spoken language of the Prophet, and thus the spoken language of the whole Peninsula, these same grammarians considered the Bedouin Arabs to be a better linguistic source than other sedentary Arabs. The reason given for this assumption was that the language of the Bedouins was less likely to have been corrupted by communication with non-Arabic speaking peoples. Moreover, since the theory held that the people of Southern Arabia, the Qahtanls, were the 'real' Arabs, their language had to be better than that of other Arabs. In this way, two hierarchies for social worth and linguistic purity would have been established. Sibawayhi chose Bedouins as the judges of correctness and sources of data (Levin 1998: 204). Another factor was to take the hierarchy of value and worth from its normal course, namely the prestige Qurays enjoyed among the Arabs before and after Islam. It was claimed that the Qur'an was delivered



in the language of Qurays. 3 The Prophet added more weight to this linguistic prestige, for tradition has it that the Prophet was the most eloquent speaker of Arabic. The Hijaz region to which the Prophet's clan belonged was not a Qahtan1 region, yet had to be considered as speaking the best Arabic dialect for non-linguistic reasons. The perception of Arab grammarians of the existence of differences is confirmed by the existence of a terminological distinction between luga 'dialect' and lisan 'language' (Anis 1952: 16-7 and Nassar 1988: 58). Admittedly, the grammarians assigned to the word luga more than one meaning. In some cases it meant speech in general, normal usage (as opposed to technical use), a permissible alternative, and/or provincialism. In other cases, it could technically mean a dialect (Rabin 1951: 9). But without doubt, the word luga had the technical meaning of dialect as a language variety as early as the third century of the Islamic era,4 and grammarians tried to define dialectal differences as early as the fourth century of the Islamic era. Ibn Paris (d. 395 AH), for instance, listed the differences among tribes as follows: differences in vowels; the addition of an anaptyctic vowel in the middle of a consonant cluster; realizing the hamza; differences in assimilation; differences in gender marking; and differences in plural forms 19). The differences among tribes in pronunciation and word structures caught the attention of grammarians from the end of the second century A.D. Among the earliest to write about the tribal dialects were Yiinus Ibn I:Iabib (d. 172 AH), and Abii 'Amr as-Saybaniyy (d. 206 AH) who wrote Kitab al-]tm, in which he recorded odd and archaic lexical items used in certain tribes. In the third century, several authors are said to have written books on tribal dialects; among them al-Farra' (d. 207 AH) and Abii 'Ubayda (d. 210 AH). In addition to treatises written on the dialects, there were books written about the dialect words in the Qur'an. Among the earliest authors in this field was Ibn 'Abbas, to whom a treatise under the title Kitab al-lugat fi al-Qur'an was ascribed.

3 See for instance the hadlJ 33506 4984-4987 in Path al-Bari vol. VI p. 621, where the third caliph 'Utman commanded the Quraysi copyists during the codification of the Qur'an to follow the ways of Qurays speech when they differ with Zayd ibn 'nbit in any way, as the Qur'an was revealed in this dialect. 4 Some scholars assume that even at the end of the second century of the Islamic era grammarians were aware of the existence of dialects. Levin (1998: 205) stated that Sibawayhi was aware that the Arabs who provided him with data "spoke various dialects." Levin (1998: 205, n. 7) mentions that Sibawayhi used the word luga frequently to describe dialectal differences.



In this treatise, both dialect and foreign words were listed according to their order of appearance in the Qur'an. Several other treatises were dedicated to the same subject in the third century (Nassar 1988: 61-2). In my opinion, the contradiction between a single variety and the perception of dialects is only apparent. Arab grammarians must have seen the Arabic they labeled kalam al-'Arab, 'the speech of the Arabs', as one language that was realized differently by different tribes. Since all realizations were intelligible and spoken by native Arabs (perceived as a distinct ethnic and linguistic group), they were correct linguistic sources. At the same time, linguistic proximity to the target model of pre-Islamic poetry and the Qur'an was the criterion of purity in language varieties (as far as the purpose of analyzing the language of the holy book was concerned), and in its use as linguistic evidence. This criterion existed because the Arab grammarians looked to the language of the Qur'an, and not the spoken language of the Bedouin Arabs as a model. 5 Although grammarians recognized different lugat within the same lisan, their main interest was the Qur'an and its language, because it is the 'clear Arabic tongue' of chapter XVI. The different dialects were marginallugat in comparison to pre-Islamic poetry, which belonged to the same linguistic level of the Qur'an. Dialects were marginal, from the grammarians' perspective, except when dialectal elements appeared in the holy text. This may be the reason why the number of sawahid 'language examples' from poetry outgrew the number of sawahid taken from Bedouin speech in the grammarians' works. Thus, on the horizontal level, different realizations co-existed, and on the vertical/hierarchical level, the language of the Qur'an was thought to be the pure Arabic. The purity of the Qur'anic variety served for grammarians as the milestone for linguistic correctness (hence the analysis), and the proximity of dialects to this purity determined their value. The practical preference for certain Bedouin dialects over others in grammatical arbitration was due to the grammarians' focus on the similarities of these dialects to the Qur'an. I cannot help but speculate that, had grammarians decided to study the everyday colloquial Arabic spoken at the beginning of Arab expansion,

5 The majority of sawahid in the Kitab ofSibawayhi were verses from the Qur'an and lines of poetry. al-Garmi mentions 1050 lines of poetry in the Kitab (Xizana, vol. I, p. 8 in the interdiction of Harun to the Kitab).



they would have paid more attention to variation shown in their works. They must also have recorded phenomena with more abundance of details and examples. Rather, they chose to concentrate on the variety pertinent to their field of inquiry, which began as an auxiliary to the study of the Qur'an. 6 Furthermore, if dialects had consumed the scholars' interest, they would have used Bedouins as informants for the purpose of discovering if certain features existed in certain dialects as opposed to others, or how certain dialects behaved in certain contexts. Instead, it is my understanding that they chose to use Bedouin Arab informants and arbiters to emphasize how their dialects realized certain features of the Classical language, as arbiters in theoretical disputes and as verification media. 7 A good example of the actual role of Bedouins in this respect is the famous story of the scientific duel between Sibawayhi and the Kufan grammarian al-Kisa'iy (Bernards 1993: 17). The story goes that in the court of ar-Rasid, al-Kisa'iy and Sibawayhi could not settle a theoretical dispute, and had to submit the case to Bedouin Arabs for arbitration. One Bedouin, who was waiting at the door, favored al-Kisa'iy's judgment over that of his adversary. Since the Qur'an was considered the pure model of Arabic, understanding its rules through different means of analysis meant reaching the ultimate rules of Arabic. In other words, the grammarians would limit themselves to the language of the Qur'an, for they needed nothing else. Therefore, when grammarians collected their data, they did not much care to compare between the language of poetry and the Qur'an and the common spoken language, which they considered a distortion of the former (al-Gindi 1983: 115-116). As Rabin (1951: 6) states: "Above all we must fully realize that to the Arab philologist the recording of dialect data was a sideline, something that did not form part of his proper business of codifying the laws of the Classical language." Another reason for the marginality of dialect recording was that few acknowledged major differences among dialects on the morphological and syntactic levels. This ignorance is well expressed in the statement oflbn Manztir (Lisan II: 77) that "all who lived in the land of the Arabs and spoke their language are Arabs, be they Yemenite or northern."

6 See Versteegh (1993), especially pp. 33-36 and 96-159, for the origin of grammatical terminology in early Qur'anic exegesis. 7 I do not agree with Levin ( 1998: 204-43) that the speech of the 'Arab was a source for Sibawayh's linguistic description, because all the statements relevant to this issue, in my opinion, are quite ambiguous.



This statement is a clear indication of the egalitarian status of whatever varieties were spoken in the Peninsula. This view explains the liberal treatment of lexical items as synonyms in Arabic lexicography, and the consideration, by later grammarians, of all Arab as equally good sources of linguistic information. Therefore, if in the grammarians' books an element was recognized as a dialectal element, it was described in most of the cases as lugat al- Arab, 'the dialects of the Arabs,' without specifying the particular dialect in which it was used. This attitude of dealing with the Arabic language as a unified whole, with no need to specify the local variety was not limited to the fields of philology. The same tendency could be found in other languagerelated fields as well, such as exegesis. A good example is the Tafsir of Muqatil, where the author explains the meaning of the word gulam, 'young man'. He explains that in kalam al-'Arab, 'the speech of the Arabs', this expression is used for the young men whose beards have not yet grown (Versteegh 1997b: 15). We can deduce from examples in the works of grammarians that they regarded the language as realized by Tamim, as well as other nonsedentary Arabs, as more correct than that of l:Iijaz, which was presumed to be the best for losing its regionalisms. This deduction is derived from the fact that grammarians tended to highlight deviation from the norm in their works. Moreover, the concept of qiyas, was so basic to the early Arabic grammatical thought, compelled grammarians to explain away any formal differences between their neat rules and a certain utterance. Although there is no statistic as to the percentage ofi:Iijazi data in comparison to the data from the east, one can see that the dialect of l:Iijaz had the largest share of cited examples. Therefore, there are less references to the eastern dialects in the works of grammarians (Versteegh 1997a: 39), which shows the proximity of these dialects to the language of the Qur'an, as opposed to the l:Iijazi dialects. Whereas grammarians made references to dialect words when they appeared in some of the pre-Islamic poetic sawahid, lexicographers were interested in dialect words for their own sake, again because the words belonged to the Arabs as a united linguistic group and the more words admitted to their inventories, the larger their workspace was. Currently, we cannot make out the principles according to which those words were included, except, as mentioned earlier, perhaps that lexicographers wanted to include all words of the language. But despite this interest, a late lexicographer like Ibn Manzflr was known for his disinterest in the dialect elements, and he simply deleted them from



the quotations he cited from earlier works (Rabin 1951: 8). It seems certain that personal preferences played no minor role in the organization and inclusion of certain words over others. Ibn Durayd, for instance, in his Jamharat-1-luga had a fascination for dialect words, and included Yemenite words more frequently than words he included from other dialects. Despite this, he did not include dialect words from his native tribe of 'Azd. Despite the previous assertions, one must be cautious against the generalization that Arab scholars completely excluded the study of dialects from their scope. Through different bibliographies we know that several authors wrote books under the title Kitab al-Lugat, or similar titles. Unfortunately, few of these books have survived to this day, and it is unknown if they were studies of dialects, collections of atypical words, or even word lists. Ibn an-Nadim in his Fihrist mentions the names of the following scholars as authors of books under the title Kitab al-Lugat: Yiinus Ibn :f:Iabib (Fihrist: 42), al-Farra' (Fihrist: 67), and Abu 'Ubayda (Fihrist: 54). Other titles show that dialects were studied not for their own sake, but through the medium of the Qur'an. An example is the Kit ab lugat al-Qur' an by Abu Zayd al-'Ansari (Flu gel 1862: 72). These were examples for titles of monographs on dialects that have not come down to us in text. Among the earliest books about the dialects in the Holy Book is that ascribed to Ibn Abbas under the title of Kitab al-Lugat fl -!-Qur'an. The book lists the names of the tribes that can be represented in the Holy Book by lexical items or phonetic features. The editor of the book lists twenty nine tribes (al-Munajjid 1946:6). This book, besides its dubious origin and attribution, is unfortunately not useful for the study of dialects, as it just ascribes words in the Holy Book to tribes. It does not systematically study the morpho-syntactic features of the dialects, nor even explain them. One monograph on dialects directly relevant to this analysis has been preserved. This monograph is Risala fz ma Warada fl -!-Qur'an min Lugati-1-Qaba'il, ascribed to Abii 'Ubayd b. Sallam, a third century scholar. It is assumed that later grammarians, such as whose quotations are largely identical with the treatise, references his work. There is a difference, however, in the organization between the quotations in 'Itqan and the text of the Risala. In the former, the items are arranged by dialects, while in the latter, they are arranged by the Qur'anic passages (Rabin 1951: 7). What distinguishes the Risala from the dialectal information in the lexicons is that the



Risa1a attributes words to dialects never mentioned elsewhere. The

author, for example, quotes words that he claims were used in Jurhum, whose ruins still dot the western coast of the Peninsula, near Mecca in the second century AH. Some modern scholars of Arabic assume that Sibawayhi was directly interested in the Arabic dialects, and that the Kitab deals with many dialectal features and differences typical of the Arabs' collective language in a detailed, accurate and authentic way representing an original focus on dialects so unusual in the cannon of Arabic grammarians (Levin 1998: 205-6). This assumption comes from the belief that Sibawayhi describes the language of the Bedouin Arabs, the Qur'an and pre-Islamic poetry were three equally valid linguistic sources. Levin goes on to say that in the Kitab the word 'Arab appears 670 times, 316 of which in the treatment of syntactic issues, and 354 (in the second volume) in dealing with morphological issues. Moreover, the singular form of the words 'arabiyy or 'a'rabiyy is mentioned seventeen times. Levin justifies his assumption that Sibawayhi was dealing consciously with the dialects of the Arabs by referring to his frequent use of phrases such as ft 1ugat 'ahli -1-I;Iijaz, 'in the dialect of the people of I:lijaz' (Sibawayhi 1: SO) and f'i jamt' 1ugat -1-'Arab, 'in all the dialects of the Arabs' (Sibawayhi 1: 90). It is correct that Sibawayhi used native Bedouin Arabs as informants, and it is also correct that he rejected any grammatical theoretical speculation that did not agree with the speech of the Arabs. But this does not mean that he recorded the spoken language of the Arabs and their dialects. The word 'Arab and its singular form are mentioned in contexts where native informants were used to verify a theoretical point, but not to deduce a rule. In addition, the sawahid of the Kitab are in most of the cases Qur'anic verses and lines of poetry (Harun 1982 Muqaddima). Furthermore, in the Kitab, Sibawayhi was interested in showing the frequency of a certain grammatical phenomenon in the dialects of the Arabs, which indicates that he may have been interested not in the dialects per se, but in the language of the Qur'an and in the proximity of the spoken dialects to it. On the historical level, the assumption that Sibawayhi was recording the dialects of the Arabs is an anachronism. The scholarly atmosphere did not encourage this kind of study during his lifetime, when the books of La/Jn a1-'Amma started appearing and denouncing the non -Classical varieties. Moreover, if the story of the theoretical dispute between Sibawayhi and al-Kisa'iy is of any truth, we cannot believe that Sibawayhi was



recording dialects, since a Bedouin rejected his argument and supported that of his rival. It was not until the second half of the seventh century AH that grammarians included dialectal elements in their grammars intentionally. One such grammarian was Ibn Malik, who had a special interest in dialects, and often includes them in his Tashtl. Commentators of Ibn Malik continued in this way, and preserved data from lost works (Rabin 1951: 7-8). This represents a new trend in the field of grammar that was meant to demonstrate the grammarians' knowledge of the varieties of their language. Besides the previously mentioned reasons for including dialect elements, in some cases, dialect elements supported the scholar's theoretical conclusions. The interest of such grammarians like Ibn Malik in pre-Islamic Bedouin dialects may also reflect their insistence on studying non-contemporary language varieties. This approach is not surprising given the relative exhaustion of topics concerning the language of the Qur'an and pre-Islamic poetry, especially in a field where synchronic linguistic studies were not an option. Were grammarians interested in the dialects as such, we would see in their works some sawahid from the Bedouin dialects of their time. In summation, all of the above seems to indicate that dialects existed, were qualitatively different to observing grammarians. If books that were directed to a certain variety of Arabic show some dialectal variation, the variation, though minimal, is noticeable. Even though the references to dialects were general, sporadic, and ad hoc, in actual reality dialectal variation was larger than what we know through books of old Arab grammarians (al-Gindi 1983 vol. I: 58-59). This marginalization of dialects led to the disappearance of data on variation and dialects. As a result of this disinterest, grammar books offer only a limited view of the dialectical variation.

Having presented Arab grammarians, their point of view and its points of weakness, it is time to examine the data they collected. Arab scholars, particularly grammarians, roughly divided the Peninsula, in the second and third centuries of the Islamic era, into three major regions with two linguistic divisions. The first division was between Yemen in the southern and the northern parts of the Peninsula. The division of Yemen consisted of one region, that of al-Yaman, the



dialect of which is referred to in the books of grammarians as lugat 'ahli-1-Yaman. The second division, which included the rest of Arabia, consisted of two regions. The first was the l:Iijaz region, which was located in the western part of the peninsula, and the second Tamim, which roughly corresponded to the eastern part of the peninsula with Najd in the center. The larger part of sedentary culture in the Peninsula was concentrated in the western part, where the region of l:Iijaz, with its large cities of Mecca, Medina, and Taqif was situated. 8 The majority of tribes in the eastern part of the Peninsula was partly nomadic and partly settled Bedouins. As mentioned above, the language of pre-Islamic poetry and Qur'an shared more similarities with the language spoken in Najd and the east than with that spoken in the west. A contrastive analysis of several features of the western dialects and eastern dialects will follow. Before presenting details with the description of dialects in the traditional dichotomy of east versus west, a word of caution is due here. This division does not enjoy the full support of all scholars of Arabic. Al-Gindi (1983 Vol. I: 55-65) offers geographic, socio-demographic and linguistic reasons why he does not subscribe to that division at all. Geographically, the division between east and west in the peninsula is not very clear. There are no natural barriers between the two regions. In a related point, the Arab tribes of the peninsula were in constant state of movement. Tribes that in a certain season lived in a place can very easily, and did, change its place of residence in the following season. Clans of certain tribes could also migrate on their own, without the rest of the tribe to a place where another tribe resided (al-Gindi 1983 Vol. I: 51-52). The easy terrain of the peninsula made the continuous roaming possible. The linguistic situation of the dialects of Arabic in the peninsula before Islam reflected this state of flux. Linguistically, dialects as isolated linguistic varieties did not exist, because there was no geographical isolation of different Arab tribes. There were similarities between eastern and western dialects, and differences as well, both inter-tribal and intra-tribal. Among the similarities between the two presumed dialect groups of eastern and western Arabia is the invariable treatment of the dual by some tribes. The western tribes of Zubaid, Murad, and Kinana used only the casus rectus of the

8 See al-Gindi (I983 voll. 55-60) for a summary of the divisions made by both modern scholars of Arabic and old Arab scholars of the peninsula.



dual. So did tribes such as Rabi'a and Bakr 'Ibn Wa'il, although they are geographically eastern tribes as far as the main bulk of the tribes believed (al-Gindi 1983 Vol. 1: 61-2). This is not the only example that can be found for the similarities between the two sides of the peninsula. Some phonetic features are also common among them. To site but one example, Sibawayhi (al-Kittib vol. 11: 170) mentions that some tribes in the l:Iijaz realize the hamza, which is among the main phonetic features of the eastern tribes. 9 In addition, there are differences among the tribes of the same geographical region. Al-Gindi (1983 Vol. 1: 70-73) provides us with a list of differences between several tribes of the eastern group. These differences are mostly lexical, morpho-lexical and phonetic. Variation is not limited to the tribes of the east; western tribes differ among themselves as well. It is common among the tribes of the west, l:Iijaz in particular, to pronounce the imperfective prefix with a /a/, and it is common among the tribes of the east to pronounce it with /i/. However, several grammarians ascribe to Hugayl pronouncing the prefix of the imperfective with /i/, instead of the /a/ representative of the geographical group (al-Gindi 1983 vol. 1: 74-75). Furthermore, additional variation can be found inside the dialect of one tribe (see al-Gindi 1983 vol. 1: 76-80). Two points are in order here. First, although the reservations of al-Gindi ( 1983) are valid and convincing, they weaken, but do not totally negate, the geographical modelling of the dialects. The similarities among tribes from the east and tribes from the west, the differences among the tribes of the same region, and inside the same tribe can and should be seen as linguistic aspects of variation between and among clans in adjacent areas and in close geographical or trade contact. Distant clans of different tribes demonstrate the main differences of the two geographical regions. Second, the elements al-Gindi lists are largely lexical and phonetic. Very few morphological and syntactic elements can be cited to support his opinion that the distinction between east and west is unfounded. Al-Gindi's comments are useful, however, as one should not expect the differences among eastern and western tribes to be covering and general among every clan of every tribe in the region. This discussion will elaborate further later in this chapter. But for the sake of discussion and clarification here, I will continue

9 Al-Gindi (1983 vol. I: 61-69) gives a comprehensive list of the phonetic, morphological and syntactic similarities between western and eastern tribal dialects.



to use the geographical distinction in order to present the linguistic situation in the peninsula before the Arab conquests and immediately thereafter.

The Dialect of Yemen

Despite the scanty and random references to dialects in the grammarians' books in general, the Arabic spoken in Yemen was the best represented, as a result of scholars' special interest in it during the third and fourth centuries AH (Rabin 1951: 25), especially the lexicographers Ibn Durayd and Naswan (d. 573 AH). Although home to a host of South Arabian varieties, Yemen does not reflect much South Arabian influence, except for some lexical items that may be mere loan words from that areal linguistic environment. A good example is the word ba'l, 'lord', which is still common in Mehri. Another example is raxima 'have tender feelings towards' (Rabin 1951: 26-7). The Yemenite Arabic dialect that was spoken in Himyar, a historically powerful region centuries prior, showed a great deal of lexical borrowing from South Arabian, and the retention of some archaic syntactic features (Rabin 1951: 42). During the time of al-Hamadani, the main source on Yemen, a dialect similar to the Central Arabian Bedouin dialects was spoken in the region east of Sarat and in the extreme south. al-Hamadani describes these dialects as 'correct' Arabic. In the central and western regions of the Sarat, different dialects were spoken. These dialects are characterized by al-Hamadani as mutawassit, 'middle' dialects. Rabin (1951: 45) claims that this attribute must mean that they were admixtures with Himyaritic. In the southern part of Sarat and the mountains around the local dialects showed strong traces of Himyaritic. In the area to the west, an admixture of Arabic and Himyaritic was spoken. In the villages, however, Himyaritic was predominant. Outside the villages, in the nomadic areas, West Arabian dialects were spoken (Rabin 1951: 45). Thus, there were two linguistic communities in Yemen, apart from the Bedouins in the east. The first was that of the settled farmer groups that spoke a mixture of Himyaritic and Arabic, or Arabic with Himyaritic influence, while the other group was the nomadic people who spoke West Arabian dialects. Although the Yemeni dialects spoken in this region were very similar to other Arabic dialects, some Arabs considered them incomprehensible. There are several anecdotes in the literature showing that Arabs did not consider the dialects of Himyar Arabic similar to their own.



One story tells that there was an Arab envoy that understood the Himyaritic Jib, meaning 'sit', as a command to jump, and jumped off a mountain to meet his doom. Despite its humorous and imaginary nature, it reflects the general folk attitude towards these dialects and their degree of correctness. Further, scholars shared the same negative attitude. The attribute tumtumaniyya was given to the Himyaritic dialect as a form of mockery used in literature. The northern region of Yemen, on the other hand, hosted tribes that spoke dialects so similar to one another they could be defined as part of a single group. It was different from the rest of Yemen in the south, and Hugayl and l:Iijaz in the north. Despite being distinct from both groups, the dialects of northern Yemen exhibited similarities with both. Rabin (1951: 64) claims that, because grammarians often ascribed l:Iijazi dialect features to Kinana, this region can be considered an extension to the West Arabian dialect group, which agrees in full with the view of the old Arab grammarians' and geographers' opinions, namely that Northern Yemen is essentially a part of l:Iijaz (see al-Gindi 1983 vol. 1: 55-60). Among the tribes that lived in this region were Kinana, I:Iari!, Xafam, Hamadan, 'Anbar, Zubayd and Murad. The first four of these tribes were frequently mentioned in the literature, but whenever a feature was mentioned as belonging to a certain tribe, it may have applied to the rest of the tribes as well. Rabin (1951: 64) also assumes that whenever the grammarians mentioned the tribes of Yemen, they meant these tribes living in the northern part. Following are some of the features of the regional dialects in collection, without a particular attention to the sub-division of the region. a) Phonological Features The absence of 'imala. Hamadani, however, states that the Bedouin tribe of Bani Harb in the south realized 'imala. The realization of hamza. However, in some cases the original hamza of the word was changed into the glide /w/. An example is 'ataytu/wataytu 'I obeyed'. This feature is still heard in some modern dialects. The sound corresponding to the Classical jlm is described as a voiced palatal sound.

b) Morphological Features
In some Yemenite dialects the feminine ending -at was generalized to pause positions. Yemenite dialect words may have received tanwfn even in the pause position.



The definite article of the Yemenite dialect was am-. It was not assimilated to dental and sibilant sounds like the Arabic definite article al-. Words that received this article could also be given tanwfn. An example is found in (vol. 1: p. 37): mani -m-qa'imun 'who is standing?' The dual suffix in northern Yemen -ani was suffixed invariably to the noun. Although other tribes in the peninsula used a single dual ending as well, they coupled it with a different treatment of the final short vowel. They either used -ana as a fixed form, or inflected the ending. This feature was ascribed to :Qabba in the north west of the Empty Quarter, which shows that this feature cut across dialect boundaries. In Northern Yemen there was a contraction of 'ala 'on' and the definite article in the word following it, producing 'al. The same ellipsis affected the preposition min and the following definite article, producing mil. There was a sentence-initial particle 'am that was used with the verb in the imperfect. An example is 'am natjribu -l-hama, 'we chop off heads' (Rabin 1951: 37). In southern Yemen, especially in the demonstrative pronoun for both genders was t:Ji, which was put after the noun it modifies. An example is is-sugl qi 'this work' (Rabin 1951: 75). The relative particle was qf, without distinction in gender and number. It was used in western Hadramawt and other places as well. In other places of Yemen and as far north as Hugayl, the Classical Arabic particle allaqf was used. But there was no distinction in number and/or gender. The negative particle was du. Another form that is still used in Ta'izz in the southern-most partofYemen is da'. This particle may have come from a Hemyaritic origin, since a particle da' was found in some of the South Arabian inscriptions around the middle of the sixth century A.D. First and second persons of verbs in the perfective end in the suffix -k, not -t. A good example is the saying of a woman: ra'ayku kawaladku 'ibnan m in fib 'I saw in a dream that I gave birth to a son of gold'. The verbs ra'ayku 'I saw' and waladku 'I gave birth' end in that suffix. The same use is still current in the Yemeni countryside.


The Dialect of 'Azd

The 'Azd dialect is rarely mentioned in literature. Whereas anecdotes and sawahid from other Yemeni dialects are available, the dialect of 'Azd received little attention. More confusing still is the fact existence of two tribes with the name of' Azd, one in Oman, and the other in the western part of Yemen. The few elements presented in the data, however, show the difference between this dialect and the rest of Yemen. Following are some of the features of this dialect:
Nouns retained the case endings a, i, and u in the pause position. The retention of the vowel a in the prefixes of the imperfective. An example is yaktub 'he writes'.

46 2.2.3


The Dialect of Hucjayl

The tribe of Hugayl was situated on the southeastern part of l:Iijaz, north of Xa!'am in Yemen, and to the northeast of Kinana and 'Azd. Its situation on the southeast of l:Iijaz connected it geographically to the eastern dialect group, which earned this tribe its fame of possessing a well-formed Arabic, hence the acceptance of grammarians. Although Hugayl did not produce any first-rank poet in pre-Islamic times, its language was famous for its correctness. Despite this connection with the east, the dialect of Hugayl belonged mainly to the western group, and functioned as an intermediate buffer between l:Iijaz and northern Yemen (Rabin 1951: 79). The evidence for this comes from the grammatical and lexical features it shared with the western group. As examples, the dialect of Hugayl had the words 'awwab 'obedient', Jaqib 'shining', and jadaJ 'tomb' in common with Kinana. In addition, the form maim 'yes' for Hugayl and northern Yemen shared na'am. In fact, Rabin (1951: 79) asserts that this feature was a general west Arabian form.

a) Phonological Features
The insertion of the short unstressed vowels in the middle of words. Examples are 'ibin 'son' instead of the Classical 'ibn, and the word jawazat 'nuts' sing. jawza. In Classical Arabic when the word in singular is on the patternfa'la, it receives an anaptyctic vowel a in the feminine plural, to become fa'alat. This vowel is not added when the second radical in the root is w or y, but Hugayl added an anaptyctic vowel to the roots with wand y as well. This is a largely western phenomenon. The absence of vowel harmony. The absence of the hamza. It is probable that in Hugayl the final long vowels were shortened, as was the case in l;lijaz. The transfer of glides wu and wi into the long vowels, a and f, respectively.

b) Morphological Features
In contrast toY emen, H ugayl used the relative pronoun allatjf. The plural of this pronoun was allatjuna, in all numbers and genders in opposition to Classical Arabic, which uses allatjfna. Concerning the taltala feature, Hugayl was claimed to have used both forms: -a- imperfective like l;lijaz, and -i- imperfective like the eastern tribes. This variation is also common in Tayyi'. Both tribes had contact with eastern tribes, which may explain the variation.




The Dialect of I;Iijaz

It is mentioned in the previous section that J:Iijaz Arabic features appear in the grammarians' books more frequently than features of any other dialect. It is, therefore, a much better represented dialect in comparison to others, despite the fact that the region's geographical definition is not as clear. In pre-Islamic times, J:Iijaz was the western part of the Peninsula, between Tihama in the southwest and Najd in the east. It included Bani Sulaym and Bani Hilal, whose territories extended deep to the east. In the north was the territory of Bali, and in the south was the territory of Hugayl. After the advent of Islam, Tihama was included in the J:Iijaz, and the Bedouin tribes in the interior were sometimes grouped into the J:Iijaz. It seems that, to grammarians, J:Iijaz referred to regions defined according to the postIslamic demarcation. In this way, the urban centers of Mecca, Medina and Taqif were included in that region. The term lugat 'ahli-l-lfijaz covers all differences that might have existed within this region. However, Rabin (1951: 95) claims that, at least in the urban centers, the differences must have been considerable, since people from different tribes and even different regions inhabited Mecca and Medina relatively shortly before the emergence of Islam. 10

a) Phonological Features
The use of the full forms of vowels, without eliding and/or vowel changes. In the eastern dialects, short unstressed vowels in words like 'unuq 'neck' were elided, thus making 'unq. This phenomenon was particularly common in the words that have /il or /u/ as medium short vowels (Sibawaihi al-Kitab vol. 11: 252).U The lack of vowel harmony, which eastern dialects did realize; e.g., l:fijazi ba'lr 'camel', corresponds to the eastern bi'lr. By the same token, uvular and pharyngeal consonants assimilated the following vowels in the eastern dialect group, while in l:fijaz they rested immune, e.g., l:fijazi 'uqr 'the main part of the house' corresponds to the eastern 'aqr.

10 As far as Mecca is concerned, it was inhabited by the southern tribe of Xuza'a before Quray8 took over in the middle of the fifth century A.D. (Dayf 1960: 49). As for Medina, it was inhabited by Palestinian Jews in the second century. These were followed by the two Yemeni tribes of Aws and Xazrag (Dayf 1960: 53). 11 For an extensive discussion of this phenomenon. see al-Gindi (1983 vol 1: 236244). In this section. al-Gindi discusses in detail the vowel harmony in different tribes and in different texts, ranging from the Holy Book to pre-Islamic poetry. He also discusses the phenomenon in nouns and verbs.



In the neighborhood of uvular sounds and pharyngeal sounds, l::lijaz had /u/ while the eastern dialects had /a/P The tendency to shorten the long final vowels in pause positions. As far as the short vowels at the end of words are concerned, the eastern dialects, Bakr in particular, elided it when the short vowel is a case ending followed by a suffix or object pronoun. In I:Iijazi the short case ending vowel before suffixes remains in place (al-Gindi 1983 vol. I: 245-246). The elision of the hamza. This phoneme was likely to disappear from the whole western part of the Peninsula, from Tayyi' in the north to Himyar in the south.

b) Morphological Features
The third person suffix pronouns -hu, -hum, and -hunna did not change to the -hi form after i and/or iy. For the singular relative pronoun, l::lijaz used allagi rather than the Western and Yemenite cjl and cju. For the feminine plural, l::lijaz used alla'i. The same form may have been used for the masculine plural as well. The dual suffix in l::lijaz may have had a single form, -ani, for the nominative, accusative, and genitive cases alike. lbn Hisam (Mugnl al-Labtb: vol. I, p. 37) in his justification for the nominative case of the demonstrative pronoun hacjan 'these two' in the verse 'inna hacjani (Q. XX: 63) claimed that the dialect of l::lijaz did not conjugate the demonstrative pronouns according to case. The absence of taltala. The imperative of verbs with geminate middle radicals was conjugated as the strong verbs. An example is 'urdud 'respond'.

c) Syntactic features
Some nouns were feminine in I:Iijaz and masculine in Najd and Tamim. Some of the examples are tamr 'dates', sa'lr 'barley', and 'path'. The word appears in the first sura of the Qur'an followed by a masculine adjective. In I:Iijaz, the predicate of verbal sentences agreed in number with the head verb (known as the lugat 'akalunl al-baragtJ), unlike the Classical language where the head verb is always in the singular. The same feature was ascribed to Hugayl and Tayyi' on the western part of the Peninsula, and to I;>abba in Najd. In l::lijaz, after the alleviated 'in and 'an, the subject took an accusative case, while in the Classical language and in the east, alleviated particles lose their effect on the following nominal clause.

12 For a detailed discussion of the phenomenon of vowel harmony among the tribes and for grammarians' comments on the tribes' use of the phenomenon. see al-Gindi

(1983 vol. I: 266-273).



After 'inna and its sisters, l;:lijazis put the subject and predicate of the sentence in the accusative case. lbn Hisam (Mugnl: vol. I, p. 35) explains the agreement between the subject and predicate in a nominal sentence after 'inna, following the structure of the l;:ladi! 'inna qa'a jahannama sab'tna xarifan, asserting that l;:lijaz did not distinguish between the subject and predicate in case endings after 'inna. The predicate of kiina and its sisters was given a nominative case in l;:lijaz, while an accusative case is assigned to it in Classical Arabic. In l;:lijaz, mii, la, and 'in had the same effect as the Classical laisa in assigning to the subject the nominative case, and to the predicate the accusative case. Bai9aw1 (cited in Rabin 1951: 185) claimed that 'asii 'perhaps' was inflected in the dialect of l;:lijaz, while in Tamim it was uninflected. The l;:lijaz dialect used the verb in the indicative after 'an. An example comes from Mujahid who read the verse 'arada 'an yutimmu -r-ricja'ata 'he wanted the suckling to be completed'. After man 'who' in dependent questions, l;:lijazis put the following noun in the same case as the original sentence, while the rest of the Arabs probably put it in the nominative case.


The Dialect of Tayyi'

':fayyi' was a tribe situated in the north of the Najd region. It occupied the southern frontiers of the Nufiid desert, and was also situated towards the northeast of the I:Iijaz region. ':fayyi' shared some linguistic features with the tribes of the eastern region, like the taltala. Rabin (1951: 93) claims that such common features are suggestive of the link role this tribe played between the dialects of the eastern and western parts of the peninsula. The territory of ':fayyi', during the early Islamic period, was not the historical habitat of the tribe. The tribe was traditionally known to have migrated from northern Yemen, together with the tribes with which it shared some linguistic features. But Rabin (1951: 93) suggests another explanation for the linguistic similarities among these tribes. He claims that ':fayyi' and northern Yemeni tribes may have preserved some ancient West-Arabian features that were common with Najd tribes, but were long disposed of in l:Iijaz and Hugayl.
a) Phonological Features
The final syllable was weakened and the final consonants were elided if they were nasals, laterals, t, and/or y. There was no vowel harmony and vowel elision in Tayyi'. 1'1 was changed into 1'1 in few words. An example is da'nf 'let me'. No other data about depharyngalization is available, though.



It is my opinion that the fate of hamza in this dialect is not known due to the absence of direct evidence.

b) Morphological features The suffix pronoun of the third person feminine in pause was ah and he in context, which is in harmony with the Classical and eastern weakening of final syllables. The singular feminine demonstrative was ta, not hat#hi. The relative pronoun was cju, which was used for the two genders and all numbers. The -t of the feminine plural was dropped in pause. Again, this is in harmony with the weakening of final syllables. The above list shows that the dialectal elements collected from the grammar books are random and inconclusive. However, two important aspects make themselves clear: there may have been tendencies for variation, and there was a tendency for dialect grouping. We notice from the list that there are some elements of agreement between the dialects of J:Iijaz and Yemen that group them together against the dialects of the eastern parts and the Classical language. On the phonological level, most of these dialects elided the hamza, except for parts of Yemen. Also, in the dialects of J:Iijaz and Yemen there was no 'imala or vowel harmony. There were also common tendencies among these dialects to transfer diphthongs into long vowels: Northern Yemen changed /ay/ into /at, and Hugayl transferred /wu/ and /wi/ into /u/ and /i/ respectively. In morphology, the dialects of J:Iijaz and Yemen shared some similar tendencies with different realizations. With the exception of Tayyi', all West Arabian dialects retained final morphemes unchanged in the pause position. In Yemen, the final -t of the feminine ending was not deleted in pause, and the nouns also retained tanwtn in pause. In 'Azd, nouns also retained case endings in pause. In J:Iijaz, the final vowel at the end of the second person singular pronoun was not elided in final pause position. With the existence of tendencies and features that group these dialects together, there are also features in variation that distinguish them. On the phonological level, the southern part of Yemen realized the hamza, as opposed to the rest of the group of dialects that elided it. In morphology, there was variation in the use of the demonstrative pronoun. In Yemen, the particle for both genders was dt, which was post-positioned to the definite noun. In J:Iijaz, however, each of the two genders had its own demonstrative pronoun. The relative particle



was another area of variation among the dialects. In southern Yemen and western Hadramawt, the relative particle was dt, without distinction of gender and number, whereas in northern Yemen, allaq"i was used without distinction in number and gender. Hugayl, like northern Yemen, used allaq"i as a relative particle for the singular, and had for the plural allaquna. As was the case with Hugayl, I:lijaz used allafjt for the singular, but had alla'"i for plural feminine, and probably masculine plural as well. In spite of the absence of clear textual evidence for the existence of dialects, variation in certain features among regions indicates the existence of varieties. These variable features are like the tip of an iceberg, where such features are random and scarce because they appear in books directed to issues obfuscating them with completely separate studies outside of dialectology. One can, however, imagine the difficulty for one dialect to use two realizations of the same feature concurrently. It would have been difficult for Yemen, for example, to use the post-positioned and gender-irrelevant demonstrative dt and the Classical language gendered singular, dual, and plural category of demonstratives simultaneously. Yet, how far apart were dialects from one another in structure and in lexicon, and how different were the dialects from the Classical language? At this point, the data available is inconclusive. In addition to indicators of variation, there are noticeable tendencies for language development in the data from the pre-Islamic period. Especially remarkable were the phonological changes, in both east and west Arabia. Although it is only natural for all languages to change (Crowley 1992: 38), the change that took place before the integration of Arabs with non-Arabs, and in the Arabian heartland, is particularly important as it may indicate that the tendencies towards change in the dialects, as opposed to the generally conservative nature of the Qur'anic variety, are due at least in part to an inherent difference between the two. Considering the tumultuous events preceding and accompanying the rise of Islam, mawalt may not have been solely responsible for the emergence of differences between pre-Islamic Arabic, Classical Arabic, and dialects, but may have simply added to the latent or/and working developments. The sound phoneme lf}.! underwent lenition in I:lijaz, northern Yemen, and Hugayl; it was almost completely devoid of pharyngeal friction, and went in the direction of /h/. All the examples we have for this change in I:lijaz seem to involve the conditioning that for the



change to take place /})/ must come before the open low short vowel /a/. As for Hudayl, the data shows no clear conditioning. A phonological (not phonemic) lenition was also taking place in the sound phoneme /q/ in I:lijaz where it was voiced. Another potential lenition was the change from /k/ to Is/ in Himyar, where the stop sound was changed into a palatal fricative. There is only one example for fortition in the data. In Yemen, the voiced palatal fricative consonant of the Classical language /j/ was changed into a voiced palatal stop consonant /g/. There are also indicators of anaptyxis, whereby a vowel is inserted in a consonant cluster (Campbell1998: 33). Such short vowels were current in Hudayl and in I:Iijaz. A good example is the word 'ibin, meaning 'son', where the medial i was added between the consonants band the n. This phenomenon goes together with the general tendency of the western part of the peninsula to preserve short and unstressed vowels in the middle of words, and to separate between consonants in syllable final positions. Dialects of the east, on the other hand, tended to delete unstressed high front and back vowels i and u. The semi-vowels, in both parts of the Peninsula, underwent changes when in the vicinity of vowels. The evidence indicates that the semivowel /w/ in Hugayl was deleted when it came before high vowels. This change may have brought about the compensatory lengthening of the following vowel. From the list given above, we can assume that linguistic changes were not limited to the phonemic structure of Arabic, but extended to morphological and syntactic elements as well. On the syntactic level, there is a difference between the rules of Classical Arabic, and the dialect of I:Iijaz, in particular, and other dialects in the western part of the Peninsula in general. Since the dialects of the east tended to be more similar to the standardized language than other dialects, we can assume they were more conservative than the western dialects. Both seem to be more elaborate, especially in the field of morpho-syntax. Certain syntactic developments in the line of uniformity and category reduction were taking place in I:lijaz and the Western dialects. Among them were those directed towards altering the 'amal, 'effect', of certain 'awamil, 'operators', on the nominal sentences they modify. According to the rules of Classical Arabic, and eastern dialects, after kana, 'was', the subject of the following nominal sentence is in the nominative case, while the predicate is in the accusative. In I:lijaz, however, both constituents of the sentence were in the nominative. The same gener-



alization of case happened to the 'amal of 'inna, 'certainly'. Again, in the standardized variety of Arabic, the subject of the nominal sentence governed by 'inna is in the accusative while the predicate is in the nominative. In I:lijaz, both constituents were put in the accusative. The same development towards over-generalization of case endings affected verbs and verbal sentences. After 'an 'that', I:lijaz put the verb in the indicative and gave it a 4amma, while the rules of the standardized variety give it afatl}.a. Verbs in verbal sentences in I:lijaz agreed in number with their agents as opposed to the Classical language, which limits the agreement between the verb and its agent to gender. The data illustrates that the dialect of Yemen was an extension for the dialect of l:Iijaz, since the two regions exhibited no major differences. In addition, within the general division of West Arabian dialects, some tribes shared features with the tribes of the eastern part of the peninsula. The clearest example was Hugayl, which, like eastern dialects, realized the hamza. Likewise, in Tihama, ellipsis affected short unstressed vowels as in the dialects of the east, producing forms like mil and 'al instead of min al- and 'ala al-, respectively. 2.3

Some indications point to the progress of innovations in the Peninsula. Current data argues that l:Iijaz was the fount of these innovations. Or, at least, it was due to its popularity with grammarians the dialect area where these innovations are noticed. On the phonemic level, the Western dialects were moving towards a more balanced system. Single voiceless sounds, like the hamza, were elided. It appears that the hamza was elided in I:lijaz in all environments, but was retained in Yemen, except when it occurred before the long open vowel/a/. If the hamza was fated to disappear from the old dialects of Arabic, this movement began in I:lijaz before Yemen, and before it was abandoned in all environments. These examples hint to the possibility that innovations were born in I:lijaz in the north, and traveled southwards in the seventh century, perhaps even before. The same spread of innovations from northwest Arabia towards the southwestern part seems to have affected morphological features as well. There was, for instance, a tendency towards generalizing a single relative pronoun in the northwestern dialects. Alla(jt was used for masculine and feminine singular in I:lijaz and Hugayl. The same



generalization affected Tayyi', where a single relative pronoun 4u was used for the two genders and all numbers. But Yemen, in the south, used two relative pronouns 4t and rJu. In the south, then, there was more than one relative pronoun, while in all other dialects of the West Arabian group, there was only a single pronoun. On the syntactic level, however, the dialects ofi:Iijaz and Yemen were on equal ground concerning some innovations. Take for instance the tendency to generalize one case ending for different sentence constituents under different effects. Both the dialects ofi:Iijaz and Yemen generalized the use of one dual suffix for all cases. Yemen used -ana while I:lijaz used -ani. Another case of generalization is the use of tanwin in Yemen, where words in pause position retained the tanwin. A casual look at the tribes of Hugayl and 'Azd shows that they did not share in some of the innovations in the data. One might argue that Hugayl was not a western dialect, but it shares with the western group of dialects so many features, that it seems quite approximate to them. 'Azd preserved full case endings, and in Tayyi', the hamza was replaced by h. This does not mean that where the case system was retained, it was not in a state of development. In 'Azd, the cases were realized on the word in pause position, whereas, according to the rules of the Classical language, they must be deleted in final position. Although arguably vague and incomplete, this picture suggests that the dialects ofi:Iijaz and Yemen share common tendencies. Other dialects share some features with these two regions, and differ from them in others, which they share with eastern dialects. A strong linguistic relationship between I:lijaz and Yemen was natural, due to the heavy influence of social and trade interests. Continuous trade flourished after the signing of the treaty between Persia and the Byzantine Empire in 561 A.D. This treaty blocked the trade routes in the north of the peninsula, and compelled merchants and caravans to use the west Arabian route between Mecca and Yemen (Shahid 1988: 181-92). Trade moved between the urban centers in Yemen and their equivalents in I:lijaz. Along this route, linguistic innovations may have spread from I:lijaz to the southern part in Yemen. But if this is true, what prevented the Bedouin tribes of Tayyi', 'Azd and Tihama from sharing in all the linguistic innovations common between Yemen and l:Iijaz, despite the tribes' positions along the route between the two regions? Anis (1952) also emphasizes the phenomenon of similar linguistic features among Bedouin tribes. This also includes Bedouin clans of sedentary tribes, as opposed to the sedentary tribes and clans. According



to Anis, it was natural that the dialects of Tihama, HU<jayl and Tayyi' exhibited differences from l:Iijaz and Yemen, because the former were Bedouin tribes who shared with other eastern Bedouin tribes similar linguistic features. From the data in the Arab grammarians' books, Anis notes that certain linguistic features were assigned to one sedentary tribe in the western part of the Peninsula and to another Bedouin tribe in the eastern part at the same time. Also, he observes that two opposite phenomena were assigned to some tribes. He attempts to investigate such paradoxes by assigning some features to the sedentary parts of a tribe and the opposite features to the Bedouin branch of the same tribe. The main differences Anis finds were in the realm of phonology. He lists (1952: 90) vowel harmony and 'imala as features of the Bedouin phonological behavior. Therefore, when grammarians as having one of these two features described parts of Hugayl, these were the Bedouin clans of that tribe, and we may further deduce that they were the clans adjacent to Najd. The same applies to other Bedouin clans in I;Iijaz and Yemen, as well. Although it is convenient to attribute contradictory features to different clans of the same tribes, the main problem lies in the fact that Anis does not provide an explanation for his claim that sedentary and Bedouin tribes and clans behave differently. Even if this theory is true, we do not know which parts of a tribe were Bedouin and which were not. More recently, al-Gindi (1983 vol. I: 36-38) accepts Anis' correlation between the lifestyle of a certain tribe and certain linguistic features. He, however, rejects the generalization of Anis that the majority of the inhabitants of the western part (l:Iijaz) were sedentary, and the majority of the inhabitants of the eastern part (Tamim) were Bedouin. Al-Gindi argues that the boundaries of l:Iijaz and Tamim, east and west, were not rigidly defined, and Bedouin clans were free to move from one geographical area to another, without having to change identity and linguistic behavior. Moreover, al-Gindi argues that Tamim, 'Asad, and Rabi'a (in the eastern part) were large tribal alliances that included several tribes, and might therefore have hosted different linguistic features. Anis and al-Gindi's hypothesis regarding this correlation between certain dialectal features and some factors of the external ecology of the Arab life style appears plausible. It is natural, in theory at least, for the Arab sedentary communities to gain and share in innovations easier than Bedouin tribes, since the former must have received the innovations through a constant line of communication with the source of



innovation. If, as I mention earlier, the innovations that distinguished West Arabian dialects from Classical Arabic moved from l:Iijaz in the northwest to Yemen in the southwest, these innovations must have sprouted somewhere in the northwestern area on the periphery. Later, the case endings may have begun to change in the Nabataean Kingdom in the first century A.D., and the change spread down to the rest of west and southwest Arabia along the trade routes. A detail explanation will follow later, but it suffices to say for now that the trade caravans between the Levant and Mecca, and those between Mecca and Yemen, were responsible for transporting innovation. Such a trade line is unlikely to transport innovation to off-line tribes and clans that were not stations along the route. Given this hypothesis, one can assume that the sedentary tribes along the western trade route were in the process of forming an evolving variety of Arabic, as opposed to the rest of the largely Bedouin dialects of Arabic. Although the data in the sources are random and few, it can be deduced that these sedentary dialects are characterized on the phonological level by the elision of the hamza in all or most environments, the lack of vowel harmony, and the absence of 'imala. On the morphological level, sedentary dialects are characterized by reduced categories. Finally, on the syntactic level, they are defined by the over-generalized use of the case endings. Unfortunately, data is too scarce and unorganized to warrant any firm conclusions. Nonetheless, the available data does show variation in many features from different levels of linguistic analysis, a strong indicator of the existence of dialects. A few signs of language change can be seen in the data, which indicate that linguistic innovations may have been moving from north to south. For social reasons, these innovations affected sedentary trade centers, which were in the process of forming sedentary Arabic dialects on the eve of the establishment of Islam. 13 In the pre-Islamic period, the demographic and geographical ecology enabled the dialects of the eastern and the western Arabia to move towards one another. This created clans inside a single tribe that
13 It is, therefore, quite understandable that during the standardization period whenever Arab grammarians wished to verify a rule, they would resort to Bedouin Arabs whose native place was not peripheral or sedentary. This is because these tribes may not have been influenced by the linguistic innovations that affected the sedentary Arabs.



shared linguistic features with clans of other tribes from another region. The assumption then is that there were different dialects for different tribes, but at the same time, the differences were not huge. The tribes were probably leveling out differences. It is pure assumption on my part, as the data is sparse, that some dialects must have had some influence on other dialects for social prestige or wealth. The aforementioned ecological factors do not make such an assumption very far-fetched. In addition, the new trade routes between northern Arabia and Mecca and between Mecca and Yemen brought into the peninsula linguistic features from the north. More detail will be presented later in this chapter, but it is enough for now to say that these developments necessitated a disturbance to the traditional linguistic systems already in place in the idiolects of the individual tribesmen and then the collective dialects of the tribes. The conquests and the later learning of Arabic informally in the Middle East were a good catalyst for these developments to establish themselves, disseminate, and have effect on the linguistic structures of Arabic. To speculate even further, the data points to a potential process of koineization. The linguistic varieties of Arabic that moved into the Middle East after the Arab conquests were not quite diversified. A degree of koineization must have been under way long before the succession of conquests. The coming sections will demonstrate that the influence of the sociolinguistic situation in the peninsula on the Arabic varieties that took part in the Arabicization process was decisive.

One of the grammarians' main mandates was to codify al-lisan al-'arabiyy al-mubtn, of the Qur'an and pre-Islamic poetry. I assume that in the process they did not devote enough attention to the preIslamic dialects, of which researchers know very little. Furthermore, they took a strong, negative position against the sedentary and peripheral dialects, and preferred researching the Bedouin dialects, as they were more approximate to the data they worked on. The question now is whether there was a hierarchical relationship between the fully diversified variety of the Qur'an (which then came to be known in the second and third centuries as the Classical language) and the dialects that were prone to innovations. Does this mean they are functionally different varieties?



Both grammarians and modern scholars of Arabic are divided between the two possibilities. Arab grammarians, as well as a few modern Western scholars (see Fi.ick 1950; Chejne 1969; and Versteegh 1984), insist that all the tribal dialects were quite similar to the Classicallanguage, albeit with minute differences, which did not amount to any major disparity in the Arabs' realization of their language. These differences were mainly stylistic. A common feature in the Arabian Peninsula, according to this theory, was the case system, which it uses extensively for arguing that the diversity of Arabic is a phenomenon that took place only after the introduction of Arabic in the Middle East. The majority of the modern scholars of Arabic, especially in the West, has always rejected this theory in its extreme form, and introduces a spectrum of alternatives. Vollers (1906) creates the antithesis of the Arab grammarians' theory, claiming that a major difference between the language of the Prophet and his contemporaries, which he calls Volkssprache, and the language in which the text of the Qur'an has come down to us, which he calls Schriftsprache, existed. According to this thesis, the former variety was marked, among other things, by the elision of hamza and the disappearance of case endings, which were a property of the Eastern Bedouin dialects. Western sedentary dialect speakers in elevated speech used case endings only (Vollers 1906: 169). Vollers further claims that in order for the Qur'an to be accepted as a revealed text, it had to be translated from the Volkssprache to the Schriftsprache by people who were well versed in the latter. Many Western scholars reject most of Vollers' theory, but his main point that there was a disparity between the colloquial speech on the one hand and pre-Islamic poetry and Qur'anic language on the other, remains a pillar in the study of Arabic. The degree of this disparity, however, is still a point of debate. Although there are a few indicators of the existence of dialects, the majority of contemporary scholars of Arabic are convinced that there were different dialects, which they label as pre-Islamic. They are also convinced that the language of pre-Islamic poetry and the Qur'an was distinct from these dialects. In what way are they distinct? Here, there is a great deal of disagreement. One distinctive feature of this variety of the language was the realization of the case endings. Among the first scholars of Arabic to formulate this assumption is Brockelmann, whom Fleisch relates, "The literary language of Arabia is a language of poets, made for the poets and comprehended by them above all



(Fleisch 1947: 100)." This functionally limited variety came to be labeled the poetic koine, stressing the most obvious function of that variety in pre-Islamic times. Some scholars assume that, since the language of pre-Islamic poetry was more similar to the dialects ofNajd in central Arabia, and the eastern region in general than to those of the l:Iijaz and the western area, this functionally limited variety must have had its roots in the central parts or in the East. This is probable because in Najd, where the eastern and western regions met, the Kingdom of Kinda created a powerful political magnate, attracting the attention of poets who composed their poetry in the variety that resulted from the meeting of Arabs in this kingdom. When Mecca and other urban centers flourished in the second half of the sixth century, the language of poetry appealed to the rising strata of urban merchants as a language of prestige. The main users of this variety, however, were the su'arti', meaning 'poets' or 'those who have knowledge' (Zwettler 1978: 109). This designation indicates that only poets were able to handle the rules of the poetic koine. It might also have meant that only poets were able to use the complex declension system and case endings. Although Western scholars of Arabic differ from old Arab grammarians in many respects concerning the position of the language of poetry, both groups agree about one aspect, namely the relevance of case endings. To many Western scholars, the case system seems to be the single most important distinctive feature of that Classical language (Zwettler 1978: 116). Ibn Paris (d. 395 AH) asserts in his designation of the genius of poets that they did not make any mistakes when using the case system, although they might take liberties in some other aspects of the language 275). Central to this debate in the first half of the twentieth century was whether case endings were a feature of the language of poetry alone, or was it a common feature among the dialects. It was so crucial because scholars regarded case endings as the distinguishing factor between the language of poetry and the dialects. The opposing theory of Vollers (1906) provoked a strong wave of criticism. Geyer (1909: 15), like Vollers, asserts that the language of the Bedouins must have been the Classical language with its full case system. His reasoning is that, in such a culture as homogeneous as the Bedouin's, it is difficult to assume that the language of poetry differed significantly from that of common everyday speech. The high classes of urban centers in l:Iijaz adopted this language of the Bedouins because



it symbolized their close association with their prestigious Bedouin heritage and ancestry (Geyer 1909: 15-9). In such a context, Geyer disagrees with Vollers concerning the translation of the Qur'an. According to Geyer, the Prophet must have 'written' the Qur'an from the start in the high variety of the language. Whoever wanted to make an impression on people and/or deliver a message of such magnitude and weight must use the highest language (Geyer 1909: 18). Geyer's understanding allows for a dramatic difference between the language of the Bedouins and the high classes in urban l:Iijaz on the one hand, and the laymen in these urban centers on the other hand. It is difficult to reconcile this conclusion with the idea of homogeneity of Bedouin culture, as Geyer seems to propose a strict socially stratified dialect difference. In addition, as we will see later, Zwettler ( 1978) argues that in several oral cultures and literatures the variety of composition is different from that of the daily use. Rabin (1951: 3-4), in denying the translation theory, states that since the Classical language of poetry started inNaj d, where a mixture ofWest and East Arabian dialects met, and amalgamated elements from different dialects. The flourishing of the poetic language in different parts of Arabia through fairs and court meetings established it as the medium of poetry. When l:Iijaz began producing its own poetry, it had to use the language that was formed elsewhere. Since various tribes differed from the dialect of Najd, they devised local forms of that poetic medium for their poetic compositions. Such varieties admitted mainly local vocabulary items into poems, and maintained the unity of the Classical language through the transmission of poems across tribes. When the Qur'an was delivered, it was revealed in the local version of the language, but adapted to l:Iijazi habits of speech. This means that it was not exactly the high variety that was used later by grammarians to develop Classical Arabic, and was not the dialect of the Prophet's everyday speech either. By this, Rabin denies any theory of translating of the Qur'an by early Muslims, without denying the existence of a difference between a high language and the spoken dialects. However, Rabin (1955: 21-2) asserts that certain modifications altered pre-Islamic poetry and the Qur'an by later grammarians in the standardization period. An example for alterations in the Qur'an was the addition of the hamza to the orthography of the Holy text. A similar addition of the case endings to the text of the Qur'an is, however, unlikely. Rabin goes on to state (1955: 26) that assuming that the case system was added in a later period as a marker of difference between



the dialects, the high language is too simplistic, and ignores other differences. The case endings were native to the text of the Qur'an, because, as Rabin believes, a translation of the text delivered in vulgar speech and 'translated' to Classical Arabic could not have been carried out without altering the consonant structure of the language. The text was originally delivered in the Classical language, and the Prophet was aware of it as such, because the Classical language served a social function of prestige (Rabin 1955: 27). Despite the wide rejection of the translation theory by many Western scholars of Arabic, it appeals to others. Kahle ( 1948: 163-82) attempts to prove Vollers correct by using traditions of the Prophet and a fragment of a story from al-Farra.' (d. 207 AH). In response to Noldeke's assertion (1910: 2) he supposed that the Qur'an was revealed in the spoken language, and the Prophet and his contemporaries recited it without 'i'rab. He concluded that the system without 'i'rab would not have been lost without a trace. He then attempted to find that trace. He claims that this assertion was not entirely correct, due to Noldeke's ignorance of some Arabic sources. Kahle asserts that there are some traditions and a fragment from the Kufan grammarian al-Farra' which exhorted people to recite the Qur'an with 'i'rab. Thus, he deduces that in early Islamic times, the Qur'an was recited without the case system, and this must have been the case from the beginning. He believes case endings were brought in by the qurra' who learned the poetic language from Bedouin tribes and pre-Islamic poetry. Rabin (1955: 25-9) rejects this notion and claims that the traditions promising heavenly rewards to those who recite the Qur'an with full, or even partial, case endings were directed to individuals, and not the qurra'. He continues to say that the traditions were not necessarily referring to the loss or partial use of the case endings, but possibly to their erroneous use, because making mistakes in the case system was not uncommon among even the most educated Arabs. Rabin (1955: 26) believes that the habit of reciting the Qur'an without case endings might have a long tradition in the case of Arabic, due to the manner in which texts were dictated, whereby words were transcribed in their pause forms. Reading in this kind of alphabet was also slow and difficult, and the exhortation for people to read with case endings was meant to avoid ambiguity and blasphemy. Most scholars of Arabic in the second half of the twentieth century A.D. rejected the translation hypothesis of Vollers, but adopted his notion of the coexisting varieties. The translation theory implies the existence of a diglossic situation, where, for a text to gain respect and



esteem, it had to be translated from the less respectable variety to the higher one. One such author is Zwettler (1978: 128-9) who criticizes both Vollers for his theory of the translation of the Qur'an and his critics, Geyer and Noldeke, for stretching their data to assume oneness of the Bedouins' language on the one hand and the Classical language on the other. "That," he comments, "goes well beyond what determinable facts can allow us to accept." Noldeke's uniform language variety provokes a response from Kahle in three different articles (1948: 163-82; 1949: 65-71; and 1959). In these articles, Kahle deals with the question of case endings and the language of the Qur'an. Kahle (1959: 142 and 1948: 181), like Noldeke and Geyer before him, is convinced that the language spoken by the Bedouins and the language of pre-Islamic poetry were identical. As for the urban communities of l:Iijaz, Kahle suggests elsewhere (1949: 67) that sometime before the beginning of the second century of the Islamic era, the Qur'an was read without case endings. Kahle bases his argument on the same text of al-Farra' (d. 207 AH) and a number of traditions ascribed to the Prophet and the first generation of Muslims collected by al-Maliki (d. 438 AH) in a book entitled at-Tamhid fi

Ma'rifat at-Tajwid. The book, at-Tamhtd fi Ma'rifat at-Tajwid, is divided into two parts.
The second part was divided into ten chapters. Chapter six contained 120 exhortations to read the Holy Book with case endings. Thirty one traditions in these chapters were ascribed to the Prophet and thirty six to his companions. By analyzing these traditions, Kahle concludes that, before the second century AH, case endings were missing from the vernaculars of the sedentary Arabs. Despite the fact that Kahle concurs (1949: 69) that these traditions were not mentioned in the canonical collections of tradition, like al-Buxari's and Muslim's, he nevertheless considers them authentic, since some of them were known to al-Farra'. Since Kahle assumes that the Bedouins spoke the Classical language, and is convinced that the Prophet spoke a different variety that was void of the case endings, he concludes that in this case Classical Arabic was developed on the basis of pre-Islamic poetry derived from the Bedouin dialects. Sometime before the second century of the Islamic era, the Qur'an was "adapted" to the vowel system, which was added to the consonantal structure of the text with a much later and conscious hand. People, who were hitherto



accustomed to reading the Holy Book without the case endings, were advised to use this system in their reading (Kahle 1949: 69). Kahle's assumption resembles that of Vollers, except in two respects. First, Vollers (1906) speaks of a 'translation' from the vernacular to the high language, while the later theory of Kahle speaks of a mere adaptation by the addition of vowels to the consonant structure of the text. The second difference is that in Vollers' theory the early Muslims themselves were the authors of the 'translation', because they were alert to the prestigious position of the high language. In Kahle's adaptation theory, the second century grammarians were responsible for this adaptation as they already developed their theoretical grammar from studying pre-Islamic poetry. Rabin (1955) states that the heavenly rewards promised by traditions for the complete or partial use of the case system were directed at laymen, not the qumi'. In addition the word lal;m, which is the opposite of proper use of case endings, means that the opposite is not the deletion of the case system while reading the Holy Text, but may have meant the wrong use of the system. Rabin also protests, as shown earlier in his response to Vollers, (1955: 26) that reducing the discussion to case endings belittles the matter, since the differences between the dialect of Mecca and the Classical language (see the list in the previous section) were more than just the case endings. Rabin (1955: 27-28) asserts that the Qur'an was delivered in the Classical language for the prestige and widespread acceptance it enjoyed among the Arabs. He goes on to say that the Classical language was known at that early period as a medium for writing, and that the early collections of verses and suras of the Qur'an in writing show that the culture of the early days of Islam recognized writing and the Classical language as its medium. According to Rabin, if the treaties and letters of the Prophet, which were mentioned in the historical literature, are authentic, this means that the Classical language was recognized as a medium not only for poetry, but also for other functions. This theory explains the attacks of the Prophet against poets while using their shared language. The translation theory and its counter-arguments are important in one respect: the perceived functionality of the variety of the preIslamic poetry and the Holy Book. It is here that the case system becomes especially important, not as an aspect of variation between and among varieties of Arabic, but as a potential indicator of functional difference.



Case endings as a Marker of the Classical Language

One point on which all scholars of Arabic do agree is that the language of the Qur'an was a language of prestige and formal production. However, Rabin, for instance, parts company with most with his assertion that this variety was not the spoken vernacular of any Arab, urban or Bedouin. In agreement with Rabin, Zwettler (1978: 130) comments: Even if the traditions adduced by Kahle actually went back to the early decades of Islam, they would provide additional evidence that, indeed, 'i'rab was omitted from the normal speech of the companions and of Muhammad himself, but notthat it was absent from the Qur'an as solemnly delivered by the inspired Messenger of God. Quite to the contrary, such insistent and repeated exhortations to render the Qur'an with correct 'i'rab, had they any foundation in historical fact, would have to have had in view a very real, if hard-to-achieve, objective: namely, the reproduction of an actual and perceptible linguistic phenomenon that marked the speech of Muhammad's Qur'anic delivery, but not that of his conversation. The same, according to the position of this study, would hold true for the poets. Thus, all that we can be sure of from accounts of solecisms (as opposed to dialecticisms or other anomalies) in Qur'anic or poetic recitations is that the reciters lacked the special linguistic formation of a poet or the inspiration of a prophet. Since the most important function of this variety, apart from the Qur'an, was poetry, at least in the eyes of modern scholars, it was designated as the 'poetic koine'. This attribution provoked some criticism from scholars who were not convinced that Classical Arabic was a spoken vernacular. Rabin disagrees (1955: 24) stating that it is "not an entirely happy term, since the Greek koine was, after all, a spoken language, and Classical Arabic, on this view, resembles more closely the status of Homeric Greek" Roughly during the same period, Fleisch (1947: 97-99 and 101) and Blachere (1952: 79-82) arrived at the conclusion that the language of the Qur'an was neither revised nor adapted, and was far from being the vernacular of Mecca. It was simply delivered in the poetic koine. To these scholars, the case endings existed to distinguish the poetic koine from various dialects. Although Rabin, Fleisch and Blachere agree that the language of pre-Islamic poetry and the Qur'an was not a spoken vernacular, each has his own point of view concerning the case endings in the preIslamic period. Fleisch, like Vollers and Geyer, identifies case endings as a feature, not just of poetry, but also of the Bedouin dialects, distinguishing them from other Semitic languages and dialects (Fleisch:



1947: 113). Rabin does not clearly state his position on case endings. However, his data suggests that regardless of who used the case endings, this system had weakened and started to develop in the early first century AH (Rabin 1951: 12 and 56-57). Rabin's conclusion is not in contradiction with that of Fleisch, since it is unclear whether case endings were used in the Bedouin vernaculars and the Classical variety. Nonetheless, the studies of Fleisch and Rabin do not consider the case system as an important indicator of language levels. The relationship between the case system and the poetic language came to be viewed differently with the publication in 1950 of Fi.ick's 'Arabiyya. In this analysis, he concludes that the case system did not serve as a distinctive feature of a certain variety, nor has it been considered a mark of language levels. Rather, Fi.ick seems to see in the behavior of the case endings in the first century AH a clear indication of a development towards the new caseless type of Arabic. Fi.ick explains that the absence of the case system from the urban and Bedouin dialects some time after the conquests was the main reason for later scholars to assume it was the main distinctive feature between the poetic language and urban dialects. He goes on to say that the case system of the pre-Islamic period already transformed into a superficial formal feature, often added to elevate the otherwise colloquial language. Therefore, he concludes that the abandonment of the case system signaled the beginning of Middle Arabic, and not that the development of Middle Arabic brought about the abandonment of the case endings (Fi.ick 1950: 14-15). Superficial as they seem from Fi.ick's analysis, case endings were used in the dialects of the Bedouins before Islam and thereafter. The Arab elite sent their children to the desert to learn the ways of speech of the Arabs, and scholars took educational trips to the desert for the same purpose. Arabs no doubt did this, Fi.ick assumes, because the Bedouin language was identical with the language of poetry and the Qur'an. Wehr (1952: 179-86), Spitaler (1953: 144-50) and Rosenthal (1953: 307-11) criticize Fi.ick for adopting the single variety theory on the basis that any reliable information available does not justify his conclusion. In particular, Spitaler and Wehr maintain that, between the first and third centuries of Islam, a special language variety, whose most outstanding feature was the full case system, did exist. Furthermore, this variety was used for the utterances of poets, seers, and orators. The Qur'an, which is a formal utterance itself, was revealed in this inflected variety of Arabic, although the syntactic word order displacement (a



notion Fi.ick relies on in rejecting Vollers' translation theory) is not the sole reason that suggests the Qur'an's revelation in such a variety. Zwettler asserts that based on the data from modern dialects there is a sense of continuity between non-Classical pre-Islamic dialects and modern Arabic dialects in many instances, since the latter were derived from the earlier. One feature common among all the modern Arabic dialects is the loss of the case endings, and no data dissuades researchers of the notion that the case was similar during the days of the Prophet and his fellow Arabs (see Zwettler 1978: 133-5). 14 Despite the criticism Fi.ick's theory suffers, it draws attention to an important fact: regardless of who in the Arabian Peninsula spoke a variety with full case endings, the case system by the time of the Islamic conquests was already a superficial system, probably due to prestige, and not of real linguistic function. This assertion also holds true in the variety that later became the Classical Arabic standard. Fi.ick's argument puts the case system within a general context of linguistic development independent of the conquests. Moreover, Fi.ick's assumption that all Bedouins used the case system is not new; it has its origin in the Arab grammarians' notions of their own language and in Noldeke (1904 and 1910). For these reasons, my analysis takes the side of this point of view. Noldeke, basing his conclusions on the existence of an accusative case ending (a short a) in modern Amharic, concludes that the Arabic dialects in the early centuries of Islam must have retained the functional case systems. Zwettler (1978: 121) rejects this evidence as controversial and limited, especially when Noldeke himself concedes that the Arabic dialects have not exhibited the case system for several centuries. Noldeke (1910: 4) tries to prove that the correctness and precision of the language of the Qur'an, in so far as case endings were concerned, shows that case endings were original in the spoken dialects of the period. Noldeke (1910: 5-7) further draws our attention to the modern Bedouin dialects that show vestiges of tanwin, which he considers to be additional evidence for the existence of the system in the dialects in an earlier period. From the data concerning modern Bedouin dialects, however, Zwettler comments (1978: 122) that the majority of tan win appearances are in non-casual speech, like proverbs

14 See a detailed discussion of the historical development of the case system in the Old Arabic dialects in Owens (1998).



and certain forms of oral poetry. A second fact in Zwettler's argument is that in these dialects tanwln almost always appears in the accusative, and it is optional in casual use. Zwettler goes on to say that were it not for our knowledge of the case system in the higher prestige variety, we could not have known that these vestiges of tanwln were a reduction of that once functionally productive system. Fleisch presents a different view of the linguistic situation in the Peninsula before Islam rejecting Fi.ick's assumption that the Classical language was a spoken vernacular (1964: 35-6). In his opinion, it was an artistic language developed and mastered by poets. This essential disagreement with Fi.ick, however, does not prevent Fleisch from assuming that the different dialects shared the synthetic feature of case endings with the artistic Classical language. According to Fleisch (1964: 42), Bedouins, at the time of early Arab conquests, spoke different variable dialects that had their particularities, and, at the same time, all shared the case system. To him, the case endings were not a residue of the past kept alive in the language of poetry alone, nor were they an artificial element of the artistic language, but a feature of the everyday language variety spoken in any geographical area. Children, therefore, would learn them exactly as they learn any other feature of the native language. At the same time, Fleisch admits that the case system was lost in some parts of the peninsula, but this loss did not ea use a major language change. It is clear, Fleisch goes on, that the use of the case system in the dialects continued for several centuries after the emergence of Islam. As proof, he (1964: 43) uses the testimony of al-'Azhari (d. 307 AH) that the Arabs of eastern Arabia speaking correct Arabic with full case endings when a Bedouin tribe abducted him for several years. This argument is in line with the data in the books of Arabic grammar, where dialects realized the case system, albeit differently from that of the Classical language. To Fleisch, like Fi.ick before him, the loss of the case endings from Bedouin and urban dialects, which can be attested from the early papyri and the grammarians' testimonies, was due to contact with non-Arabic speaking populations after the conquests. Fleisch, although he rejects the Classical language as a common vernacular as Fi.ick assumes, agrees with his assumption that Arabs dropped the case endings from their language for fear of miscommunication. He contends that non-Arabs spoke Arabic without the case endings, not because Arabs lost the system before coming to contact with them, but because they were accustomed to hearing the words in their pause forms (Fleisch: 1964: 43;



1961: 282; 1968: 30). One interesting aspect in Fleisch's argument is that he believes that the Classical language was reserved for certain functions, and dialects were the spoken vernacular. Both varieties were, in his point of view, different. Case endings happened to have been a common feature in the two linguistic varieties. Zwettler (1978: 137) finds it hard to believe that the complete analytic dialects of all urban communities in the young Islamic world emerged mainly from the use of pause forms of words uttered by speakers of a synthetic Arabic. This assumption overlooks the fact that, if the dialects truly used case endings, the pause form of a word is only one case among four. The function of pause forms as terminating, closely connected items makes it difficult for the native speakers to abstract them from coherent spoken language and give them other functions. However, the theory of non-Arabs learning the language in its pause forms is advocated by Blau (1965: 3), who, like Fleisch, assumes that the case endings were in full operation in the pre-Islamic Bedouin dialects. Blau (1961: 225) maintains that the synthetic preIslamic Bedouin dialects were more akin to the Classical language than the New Arabic dialects that were analytic in nature. Elsewhere (Blau: 1965: 2), he refers to the differences between the pre-Islamic Bedouin dialects and the Classical language as substantial, but at the same time, he asserts that they should not be overestimated, since the two varieties were typologically akin: that is, all were synthetic in nature. As evidence for the typological similarities, Blau (1965: 3) asserts, "The lack of pseudo-correct features in the Qur'an demonstrates that classical Arabic was not, structurally at least, different from idioms of Mecca" The proximity of the two varieties enabled the Prophet and the scribal apparatus that collected the Qur'an to avoid committing mistakes in putting the complete texts to writing. To Zwettler (1978: 138) this is an argumentum e silentio, failing to prove any point. It must be remembered, he protests, that early Muslims recorded the verses conveyed by the Prophet with utmost precision and care. In addition, during the collection period, it had been subjected to the most stringent control conditions. If the lack of pseudo-corrections means anything, it means that the scribes did the best of jobs given the circumstances. It is difficult, Zwettler concludes, to find in such a work the scribal lapses and dictation mistakes Blau was looking for. The main contribution ofBlau and Fleisch to the issue of the case endings was that they treat it as a single feature of the Arabic language, which may have been coexistent in the dialects and the



language of the Qur'an and pre-Islamic poetry. In spite of this, both remained two separate varieties of Arabic. The analysis conforms with the stance of Noldeke, Fiick and Blau that both Bedouin and sedentary Arabs in the western and eastern parts of the Arabian Peninsula spoke dialects that used a type of case endings. However, data will be presented that disproves Noldeke and Fiick's hypothesis that the language of pre-Islamic Bedouin Arabs was the Classical language. It suffices to say that Arabs spoke different dialects that had the case endings in common, but each tribe realized this feature differently, the same as other features. Data from the grammarians' work supports this point of view. It is known from these books that there were differences as far as the application of a certain case to a sentence constituent in different dialects. For example, the dialects of the West applied the nominative case to the subject and predicate of kana alike, while the dialects of the East are supposed to have applied the accusative case to the predicate of kana. The existence of case endings in the pre-Islamic dialects does not mean that they were identical with the variety in which the Qur'an was revealed. As illustrated in the following section, the case system, like other dialectal features, was in a state of development in the pre-Islamic times, and it is quite probable that it was on the verge of abandonment. 2.4.2

The Condition of the Case System in the Pre-Islamic Dialects

Having concluded in the previous section that the case system was a feature common in the dialects and the Classical Arabic alike, and that the Classical language was not the spoken vernacular, this feature can be used as an example to prove that the pre-Islamic dialects were in a state of development, and probably moving towards an analytical dialect, similar to the New and Modern Arabic dialects. This development opposed the stability of the Qur'anic variety and its features, case endings being one such feature. The assumption here is that the case system was sharply reduced before the period of the Arab conquests, if not abandoned all together in some areas. As a result of language contact after the conquests, the already shaking system may have fallen to disuse. Of particular interest to this purpose is the study of functional load carried out by Corriente (1971: 20-50) analyzing whether the case endings had any real role as a functional synthetic device in the poetic language and in vernacular Arabic. Corriente agrees with Fleisch and Blau that the case endings might have been a feature of the Bedouin and urban vernaculars as well as the poetic language. Although the case



endings were fully operative in the poetic language (as the Qur'an and poetry show), these texts show that there was a form of Arabic that did not realize the full case system, which coexisted at the same time and in the same place with the fully 'i'rab Arabic form. This fact caused, Corriente assumes, the coexistence of two different evolutionary states in the development of Arabic (Corriente 1971: 20-24). Since the Arabic that realized the case system was a synthetic language depending on the case endings for the expression of syntactic relationships, how could it be spoken as an analytic form by the same people in the same place and at the same time? This question, Corriente (1971: 25) contends, could be answered by determining the functional yield of the case endings as grammatical morphemes. With this goal in mind, Corriente conducted a survey of prose and verse texts from different periods, and discovered that the case endings, which characterized the poetic language and some vernaculars, had a very low functional load, since the meaning of the passages studied could be identified without the use of the case endings. Therefore, these cases became secondary elements in the realization of the dialects (1971: 25). It was, therefore, very natural for the later New Arabic dialects to drop them whenever this took place (1971: 40-41 and 44-45). Corriente concludes (1971: 28-29):
We are therefore inclined to believe that in agreement with the native tradition, early poetry, the Qur'an, and even the daily speech of many Bedouin tribesmen (used as a source of reference by much later urban grammarians), possibly also of some urban dwellers, was indeed characterized by the presence of the 'i'rab. On the other hand, linguistically this amounted to very little, except perhaps the social prestige attached to such forms. Their functional yield was equal or very close to zero already in the oldest samples of Arabic that we can find, and this happened because the prevailing structure of the language was rather analytical, as Middle Arabic shows clearly after it has gone one step further by dropping the secondary morphs which have now become completely idle, thus substituting not a new structure for an older one, but just one linguistic form for another, within the same structural frame. As for the Classical literary Arabic oflater periods, which was no more than a mere vehicle of written communication, and for the extent to which its 'i'rab was or is today read at all, our impression, subsequently confirmed by statistical count, pointed to a completion of the aforementioned trend toward analytical expression: the functional yield of the 'i'rab in prose texts tends to equal zero.

It was natural, Corriente continues, for the case system to be dropped,

since it was a secondary system and a legacy of the past that had no



direct or indirect influence on the linguistic performance in Arabic (1971: 32). When in use, however, the case endings did not cause any comprehension problems between people who realized them and others who did not, since they performed no syntactic function and were on the verge of disuse. But it is difficult to state exactly when they were completely dropped in daily use. Blau (1988: 260-70) poses some objections to Corriente's theory. Blau disagrees with Corriente, claiming that he depends on word order as a distinctive mark of analytic New Arabic and Middle Arabic and synthetic Classical language. Blau (1988: 261) insists that although analytic languages tend to distinguish between constituents by means of word order, it is neither a synthetic nor an analytic feature. Therefore, we cannot rush to the conclusion that a certain variety became analytic just because it observes a fixed word order in defining the function of its constituents. Analytical languages, like Hebrew, which mark direct object by morph words often preserve a free word order. Blau (1988: 261-2) further opposes Corriente's reasoning that since the functional yield of the case endings in Arabic was low, they were a secondary set at best. He contends that redundancy is a widespread phenomenon of languages, and it is not possible to consider a redundant aspect of the language as a secondary set. Therefore, low functional yield and redundancy do not demonstrate that the case endings should have been dropped in the spoken vernacular. Blau (1988: 262) states that nothing is inferred concerning the spoken language from the redundancy of the case system in the Classical language because the case system in the Semitic languages is generally redundant. It is not wise, as Blau (1988: 263-4) asserts, to equate between the Classical and Middle Arabic as two linguistic forms 'within the same structural frame', since Middle Arabic exhibits more analytical structures outside the field of the case endings than the Classical language, which exhibits more synthetic structures. Take, for instance, the feminine plural of pronouns, verbs, and adjectives that are superseded by the masculine (Blau 1966: 206), the reduction of the dual (Blau 1966: 209), separate personal pronouns are added to the finite forms of verbs (Blau 1966:389) and determinate direct objects are marked by li in some dialects (Blau 1966: 413). Blau ( 1988: 268) concludes that "my impression is, of course, thatthe rate offunctionallynecessary case endings in Arabic is quite insignificant, just as Corriente put it". Nevertheless, the redundancy of the case system in the Classical language does not necessarily mean its loss in



the vernacular, especially because languages always retain redundant systems and aspects. To this last point, Corriente (1973: 154-63) comments as follows:
One should regard the redundancy in Semitic inflectional systems, especially in Arabic with a more critical eye, in view of the frequent cases of absolute irrelevance, and, despite the higher incidence of free word-order, consider the structural and typological evolution from Old to Middle Arabic as less significant, in agreement with the just slight decrease of true rates of functional load observed between both forms of the Arabic language. Once we do justice to the real linguistic value of case and mood endings in Arabic, and consider that most instances of free word-order display reference pronouns (c#amfr 'a'id), very little is left in Old Arabic to justify current belief that this one is "much more" synthetic than Middle Arabic (Corriente 1973: 160-1).

Thus, Corriente assumes that the poetic language was moving towards an analytical type, and the case system was just one system under development. Diem (1973: 227-237) shows in one study of Arabic proper names in the Aramaic Nabataean inscriptions that the low functional load for the case endings may have been the result of a long process of development. The significant aspect of the written forms of these proper nouns is that at the end of each, there were letters indicating vowels u, a, and i. These vowels resemble the case endings as preserved in the Arabic Classical language. He notes that 95% of the simple nouns ended in w/u, while the rest ended in a, y/i or in no such letters. We can therefore deduce that the w/u finals were the rule. Diem (1973: 335) asserts that this w/u was nothing other than the nominative case ending in Arabic, which was added to the end of the noun to represent the once-heard sound that had long disappeared from pronunciation, but lingered in the conservative orthography. In the category of theophoric compound names, some inscriptions ended with none at all, while the majority ended with y/i, which can be considered an echo of the once pronounced i ending of the noun construct. As for non-theophoric names, like 'abd 'amr that did not form a noun construct, the second noun was written with a final w/u. At other times, no vocalic ending was written. Since non-theophoric names were later in development than the theophoric names, the simple noun part with its traditional w/u was simply annexed to the first part. Diem speculates that the forms with final y/i in compound nouns and those with final w/u in simple names belonged to a time when Nabataean Arabic



had case endings. Thus, final wand y must have represented the nominative and the genitive respectively. But by the time of the writing of these inscriptions, Nabataean Arabic must have lost its inflections, and the proof is the discrepant spelling of the compound nouns. The use of final w/u in non-theophoric names, while the y/i was used in the theophoric names means that the old case system was no longer in use, except as a fossilized orthographic habit (Diem 1973: 235). Diem speculates that the occasional forms without vowel letters in final position may reflect the actual everyday use of the language during the time of the inscriptions, where case endings no longer existed. Regarding the spread of this possible development, Diem believes that, if Nabataean Arabic lost its functional case system in the first century B.C., it is difficult to assume that the areas of central Arabia bordering the Nabataeans remained immune to this linguistic development until the seventh century A.D. It was the language of poetry that did not lose the case system. In addition, the relative importance of the Nabataeans until the sixth century A.D. may have enabled the innovation to spread into the Arabian heartland. However, the innovation did not creep into the poetic language because, apart from functional reasons, it was not a vernacular that was continuously checked by and subjected to fashion. Diem's analysis is important because it identifies the locus of the development referred to earlier in this chapter. The development towards a caseless language started in the peripheral area, where Arabic was only a vernacular. There is a strong inclination to believe that, due to the extensive contact between Arabs in the Arabian Peninsula and the Nabataean region in the period from the first to the seventh century A.D., the innovation moved to the northwestern and southwestern parts of Arabia, along the commerce lines and sedentary life in the Peninsula. Because cultural and trade relations between the Nabataean areas and the eastern and southeastern parts of the Peninsula were minimal, these regions maintained usage of the case endings longer than the western areas. Therefore, grammarians' admired eastern dialects a great deal. As evidence, there were more discrepancies between the dialects of I:lijaz and Yemen and Classical Arabic in the use of the case system than between the eastern dialects and Classical Arabic. While eastern nomadic tribes resembled the Classical language in its use of the case system, some other dialects retained only residues of the case endings. If these assumptions are true, it is immaterial if the



case system disappeared before Islam or after it because it was a system in development, moving towards extinction in the first century AH (al-Sharkawi 2008: 697). Still, many scholars believe that the case system may have continued to exist in the Bedouin dialects after the emergence of Islam and the conquests. All information about this issue comes from the anecdotes of Arab grammarians concerning the linguistic purity of Bedouin speech. Fi.ick and Noldeke accept these anecdotes readily as literal and correct. Others, like Rabin (1951: 18), take these references as a romanticized image of the early Islamic life and society that stems from the same mentality that ascribes linguistic change to contact. Later, Rabin (1951: 23) asserts that we must accept the stories about Bedouin informants "with a grain of salt", since the assistants of early grammarians were mostly ruwa, reciters of poetry. It is clear that the grammarians drew their knowledge from the ruwa who undertook the transmission of literary use of Arabic along generations. Blachere (1950: 37-48), who agrees with Rabin that the native Bedouin informants were probably ruwa, adds that they were known poets as well. Blau (1988: 135-45), who shares Rabin's apprehension, took a more moderate attitude towards native informants, declaring that Rabin goes too far. While researchers must regard the stories about all Bedouins' unshakably sound knowledge of Arabic, the current tradition of Classical poetry running in the Bedouin environment might account for the linguistic reputation of Bedouins. Ruwa helped to keep this poetic tradition alive. Another linguistic reason that aided in maintaining Classical poetry and buttressing the Bedouin reputation, Blau assumes is the difference between the analytic non-case realizing Middle Arabic urban dialects and the synthetic Bedouin dialects with the case endings. Blau (1988: 139) concludes: Because of the chasm between Middle Arabic dialects and Classical Arabic, the urban speakers had to overcome considerable difficulties when they tried to use Classical Arabic, whereas even ordinary Bedouins, speaking, as in the Djaahiliyya, synthetic dialects closely akin to Classical Arabic, could do so relatively easily and were less apt than the urban populations to make mistakes. It was therefore much easier for a rawl of Bedouin stock to transmit Classical Arab poetry. Moreover, even an ordinary Bedouin, speaking his own dialect, may have appeared to speakers of Middle Arabic vernaculars of lower strata of the town population to be speaking some kind of Classical Arabic, since he used case endings, the most conspicuous outward sign of the literary language. Against this background, the emergence of stories extolling the linguistic faculties of



Bedouin becomes quite understandable. Sometimes we assume that the heroes of these stories were not ordinary Bedouins, but ruwa, referred to, as it seems, by expressions like( ... ) al-'arabu-l-mawJuqu bihim. (... )

However, not all scholars of the standardization period of the Arabic civilization held those images of the Bedouins. Zwettler ( 1978: 153-4) mentions a testimony oflbn Sallam on the authority ofYii.nus Ibn I:Iabib (d. 182 AH) that 'iqwa' 15 was a common mistake among the desert Arab poets, spread more by minor poets, not major ones (al-Marzubani, Al-Muwassaf:z: 17). Zwettler then comments that both Yii.nus and Ibn Sallam held the idea that even the best of poets did not have the technical ability to master the rhyme scheme without 'iqwa', concluding that the statement of Ibn Sallam takes from the Bedouin poets any natural ability to deal with inflected synthetic poetic language. As far as the non-poet majority were concerned, Zwettler (1978: 154--5) quotes from Abii. 'Ubayda's (d. ea. 210 AH) Naqa'i4 the line by L?u'ayb, in which he said:
janl-ka man yajni 'alay-ka wa qad tu'di


'Who gathers you gain will do you harm, for there may infect healthy (camels), through resting places, those with the mange' (Zwettler's translation, p. 154).

Abii. 'Ubayda commented that some of L?u'ayb's descendants recited the words a$-$i/:laf:za mabariku 1-jurbi, thus putting mabarik in the nominative and al-jurb in the genitive. This recitation, he went on, would cause 'iqwa'. In agreement with his mentor al-'Axfas al-'Akbar (d. 177 AH), he went on to explain that the average Bedouin man could neither understand the poet's meaning nor interpret it. 'Iqwa' in that verse happened, because those who transmitted it did not understand it. The poet meant: "and the mangy (camel) may infect the healthy one through a resting-place." When the transmitters saw the reversed word order, they could not transmit it in an understandable manner. In addition, when they faced the word mabarik, which is a diptote, they were completely lost (Naqa'i4: 1026). Zwettler concludes from this example that the frank opinions given by Ibn Sallam and Abii. 'Ubayda, the later appearance of the opinions gratifying Bedouin informants, and the strong likelihood that those informants were ruwa

15 'Iqwa is 'enjambment', which is carrying the meaning of one line into the following one.



well-trained in the ways of Arabic poetry, testify to the sociolinguistic conditions and average knowledge of Arabic in common Bedouin communities of the second century of the Islamic era, perhaps earlier. He goes on to say that we can understand from the last example that the majority of Bedouin Arabs, who were 'unversed' in poetry or its technicalities, spoke a variety distant from the synthetic inflectional variety of poetry. Therefore, he concludes that the idea that Bedouin dialect maintained case endings well into the Islamic era cannot be accepted. In the pre-Islamic period, Bedouins, as well as urban dwellers, spoke vernaculars, which were not the same as the language of poetry and the Qur'an. The variation recorded above is proof of the existence of differences between the language of poetry and vernaculars. Additional proof is found in the tendency of vernaculars towards development, while the language of poetry retained its features unchanged. One such development is the case system. Diem highlights evidence that the case system exhibited signs of decay in Arabic vernaculars by the first century B.c. Corriente indicates the low functional yield for this system in the seventh century. The language of poetry, however, relied heavily on the case endings for metrical purposes. This disparity in the functionality of this system is a sign of language change, but does not mean in itself that the case endings were dropped in the dialects. I agree with Zwettler and Corriente that they were less functional archaic aspects of Arabic, but I strongly disagree with their deduction that they were dropped from vernaculars. The above list of vernacular features shows that they may have existed in the vernaculars. Some dialects, especially in the East, may have retained case endings in a more elaborate manner than the tribes living in the northwest and western Arabia. While this conclusion separates between the vernaculars and the Classical language variety of pre-Islamic poetry and the Qur'an, it leaves open the question of language levels, since the case system is but a single feature that may have been common in both varieties. Of critical importance is the functional distribution of Classical Arabic and vernaculars. One group of scholars, especially those who claim that the case system disappeared from the vernaculars before Islam, limits the role of the Classical language to formal elocution and religious utterances. To them, the formal and elaborate nature of the Classical Arabic qualifies it to be a Kunstsprache, a vernacular in its written form, an unlikely hypothesis. Support for this idea comes from the fact that the texts available in this higher prestige variety, including a full case system, are restricted to formal elocution. In addition, the



coexistence of two varieties in the same place, time and speech community, with one realizing the case endings and one not, supports this functional distribution.

Zwettler (1978: 144) understands the case system as encountered in the Qur'an and pre-Islamic poetry as a 'linguistic anomaly' and an archaic form. However, he sees that the case system was retained in poetry as a vital and functionally heavy element of the poetic expression for the following two reasons. First, the case system was alive during the formative era of the oral poetic tradition. Second, it existed in the inherited traditions offormulas, phrases and patterns, and complied with the demands of meter and prosody (Zwettler 1978: 145). Corriente, for his part, realizes the strong relationship between case endings and the pre-Islamic poetry (1971: 28) when he accounts for the high functional load of the case endings in this genre by appealing to the traditional Arabic taste in aesthetics. Corriente (1971: 29) explains that the difference between poetry and the inflected Classical language is that the earlier "follows old patterns more closely." As a result, the linguistic innovation during the late pre-Islamic period did not affect poetry, which was quite detached from the spoken varieties. Whereas Zwettler concurs with Corriente about the non-inflective form of spoken Arabic in the sixth and seventh centuries AH, he disagrees with him about the coexistence theory, implying that case endings were a feature of the Kunstsprache. He claims that all spoken vernaculars had dropped the case endings several centuries before Islam. All speakers of Arabic took part in this development, although the rate of development might have varied. Urban speakers may have dropped the cases earlier than other Arabic speakers. Since the development towards Arabic without 'i'rab started well before the Christian era, it is impossible that during the Prophet's time any Arab still used the case endings for daily purposes. However, the case system was alive and functional in the pre-Islamic poetry for metrical and rhyme purposes. This function was not needed in the poet's spoken vernacular, hence a split between the language of speech and the language of rendition. Zwettler assumes that in such cases the latter tends to be more conservative and traditional. Parry (1932: 6-23 and 1971: 331-3) explains the difference between the poet's own spoken language and that of



his art, which preserves forms and systems that have already disappeared in the vernacular. He claims that when the vernacular of the poet develops, his poetic diction also develops as long as the new development does not affect the set formulas of the poetic rendition and its meters. If the new development were anomalous to the metric formulas of the poetic tradition, the poet would not use it. Instead, he would reproduce the existing phrases and formulas. As a result, we find in the poetic language both the modern developments and the archaic forms, side by side. But in general, the language of oral poetry tends to be more archaic, due to the constant use of the ready set and attested formulas. Zwettler (1978: 146) regards Parry's explanation as applicable to the case of Arabic. He also considers the language of poetry and its offspring, Classical Arabic, as an archaic form that could never have served as a spoken language. The most archaic aspect of that language was the case system, which was a residual element from the earliest stages of Arabic's development. This archaic language of oral art included, apart from this ancient stage, several structural developments from other stages of Arabic's development simultaneously, as it accumulated features and structures. In light of Corriente's assumptions of the coexistence of two varieties, and Zwettler's modifications and comments, one can read Corriente differently. The Classical language could not have been spoken, but was the language of poets. It served them well as the language of formulaic prose and the Qur'an. One feature of this variety is that it lagged behind the vernaculars in development. In its slow development, it did not abandon formulas and expressions, but accumulated them. Spoken dialects, on the other hand, may have begun to do away with the case system as early as the beginning of the Christian era. As a poetic language, analysis must address whether or not speakers used Classical Arabic outside of poetry. Classical Arabic's position as a medium reserved exclusively for art can be determined by addressing two aspects: its function and its nature.


The Functions of the Classical Language

A simple look at the pre-Islamic legacy shows that the majority of the cultural products from this period were poems. Yet, there were recordings of some pre-Islamic speeches and a limited set of enigmatic utterances by seers, but these were few, scattered and anecdotal in



nature. Also, it is prudent to assume that they were modified or edited, since their prose style allows such a potential change. Given the social and political importance of ('eloquence') in the early Islamic period, the speeches quoted at length by al-JalJ.i:?, for instance, in his al-Bayan Wa-t-Tabyin were conceivably refined to support some tribe or another. Poems, on the other hand, are less likely to have been deliberately changed, except by a well-trained rawi or a grammarian. In this case, a forged poem becomes an exact copy of a real tradition. However, the possibility of forgery is slight because of its difficulty, and because of the availability of the material to a wide range of people by means of several rawis. In addition, the poetic tradition has been passed down from different poets belonging to different tribes in different regions, suggesting that the tradition was kept intact in the Arabian Peninsula as a whole, and was not reserved to a certain tribe. Poetry came down to the recording period in the standardization era by means of a chain of transmission (' isnad) of raw is, who inherited their tribal source of pride and register of events. There is no other trustworthy function of Classical Arabic from the pre-Islamic period. One objection may be that grammarians were interested in the language of that poetry because it explained the Qur'anic language. Therefore, more work to preserve poems was done, resulting in the appearance of collections and anthologies. In this process, grammarians may have neglected other forms of oral rendition and linguistic functions of the Classical Arabic. However, had there been any other form of that language variety, grammarians would not have hesitated to include them in their corpus. So, why did the grammarians choose not to use the speeches recorded in al-JalJ.i:?'s book, for instance, although they were in the same language variety of the pre-Islamic poetry? Either grammarians did not trust the authenticity of these speeches, or they did not know about them. Taking into consideration the close relationships between grammarians and 'trust-worthy' Bedouins, the second option is unlikely. It is difficult to believe that the Bedouin informants left out such monumental examples of their ancestral heritage intentionally. Likewise, it is difficult to imagine that grammarians willfully discarded this body of data. There was, from the beginning, a close connection between the language of the Qur'an and pre-Islamic poetry. Thus, this language was reserved only for poetry, and for nothing else. This assumption is clearer still when considering (later in this section) the nature of the poetic language. But the primary evidence for the connection between the two types of rendition, and the exclu-



sion of other genres, comes from the single most important pretext used by the Prophet's contemporary adversaries in Mecca, namely that he was a poet. In order to produce such a comparison between the Prophet and poets, fellow Meccans must have observed some stylistic and formal similarities between the prophetic production and that of poets. One cannot assume that they observed any content-related similarities, since a quick look at the pre-Islamic poems shows that they express different subjects altogether. It is safe to assume that the formal similarity that enabled the adversaries of the Prophet to accuse him of being a poet were nothing other than the fully inflected language the Qur'an used. The association might have been so strong as to invite a vehement defense from the Qur'an (LII: 30-31 and LXIX: 41. In XXXVI: 69) which declares that the Prophet had not been taught poetry, as it was not suitable for him. The sole formal difference between the two genres was that poetry used the technique of pause with tarannum, while the Qur'an used pause with 'iskan. Apart from that, the linguistic similarity was clear to the early compatriots of the Prophet. It prevented them, in fact, from comparing him to the seers, with whom he might have shared some content-related similarities. If there were other groups of people who used that type of language, the Prophet may have been assigned to them, as well. After the announcement of the Qur'an that was revealed in clear Arabic, in the standardization period, poetry more than the holy book was used as a corpus to produce the rules of that language. This means two things: first, both linguistic products belonged to the same language type, and second, poetry alone held the position of the model representation of the rules of this language variety. With no prose writings from the pre-Islamic period enabling research about the functionality of the poetic language outside the realm of poetry, one must assume that the language of poetry was unlikely to have been used as a prose medium. This lack of documentation is not compatible with early Islamic reports about the Prophet sending letters and writing treaties with his adversaries. The question then is what kind of language was used for these functions? One certain answer is that it was not the language of poetry. Had it been the medium for writing functions, grammarians in their books would have used the texts. In addition, the scribes the books of stra designated as the authors of agreements had no reputation for reciting or even composing poetry of their own. This means they may not have



been familiar with the language of poetry. Two exceptions to this rule were 'Ali and Zayd Ibn Tabit. As for the former, he was designated in the story of Abii-1-'Aswad's initiation of grammar as the forefather of codified Arabic grammar. In the sira of Ibn Hisam, 'Ali was the person responsible for writing down the document of al-Hudaybiya. As for Zayd, he was the poet of Islam in its early days, but there are no clear references for him as taking part in secular writing. His greatest role was in the first collection of the Qur'an, during the reign of the first Caliph. Unfortunately, old Arab sources are obscure concerning his part in editing correspondences. It is, however, interesting that most of the kuttab al-wal;ly and secretaries of the Prophet hailed from Mecca's prominent trading clans. It is possible that the mercantile background of these clans gave them some access to literacy (Watt 1970: 31), or even bilingualism. However, the question remains: which variety of the language did they use in writing? Since the purpose of these writings was presumably only functional, did they use their dialects? Did they use a foreign language? If the letters of the can provide researchers with a clue, one can say that the absence of a sign for the hamza indicates that the people in Mecca at least wrote in their own dialects, and thus did not feel the need to create a special symbol for a phoneme they did not utilize. The need for that came later when they had to produce it in the standardized version of Classical Arabic as seen inthe Qur'an today. Again, the lack of any documents from this period prevents any theory about the language variety of the treaties and messages of the Prophet to promote itself beyond the level of mere speculation. One fact remains: the only certain function of that Classical variety was poetry, which was used later by grammarians in their codification efforts. Therefore, there is no need to attempt unearthing other functions for that language variety. If this language variety was reserved to poetry in the pre-Islamic era, what was its sociological position? Was it a language of prestige or was it only a medium for the oral rendition of art? It is crucial to avoid confusion between the sociolinguistic position of the language of poetry before and after the Qur'an. After the Qur'an, this language acquired the attribute of "expressive Arabic" and became the language of revelation. Therefore, it acquired not only the prestige of eloquence, but also religious grandeur. Prior to the advent of Islam, Arabs described poetry as the Diwan al-'Arab, 'the register of Arabs', because it recorded their events and battles. In addition, each tribe had a poet to defend its honor, and those that were unable to produce a



qualified poet were considered to be at a disadvantage. All this shows that poetry had its position in the hearts of the pre-Islamic Arabs and their social fabric. It is a matter of common sense that the choice of a linguistic variety for a holy book should be of the best of the available varieties (Versteegh 1997a: 40). It is logical to assume that the language of pre-Islamic poetry had an aura of respect among the Arabs. This respect may have stemmed from the fact that it was the ancestral language. However, it is important to remember that, before Islam, poets and their medium of art were infamous for their 'harmful magical abilities'. The language of an enraged poet was described as a curse by the grand pre-Islamic poet Zuhayr (Dtwan Zuhayr: 1833). 16

The Nature of Pre-Islamic Poetry

If we turn to the nature of the language of pre-Islamic poetry, we find that it was very well suited to the function of artistic rendition more than anything else. For one thing, it was more grammatically diversified than the dialects. It had a fully operative case system and complete morpho-syntactic paradigms. Syntactic richness and morphological diversity is an advantage to the poet, providing him a wider range of options to create structures that suit different meters. It was also highly formulaic in its lexicon, structures, as well as in the subjects it expressed. Therefore, such a variety is more suited to poetry than to prose style expression. In this paragraph I demonstrate that pre-Islamic poetry reflects characteristics of oral poetry acknowledged by contemporary scholars. Determining these characteristics requires examining three aspects: formulaic structures on the verbal level; the lack of enjambment of the poem, which is a clear indication of orality; and the thematic structure of the poem, which clearly defines the subjects of poems to avoid pondering the choice of subject and suitable diction on the spur of the moment in oral composition (Lord 1965: 144-7). Monroe (1972: 1-53) studies the features of orality in the first ten lines of four pre-Islamic odes: the Mu'allaqat of 'Imru' al-Qays, in the tawil meter; and of Labid, in the kamil meter; an m-rhymed by

16 For more details about the presumed magical abilities of pre-Islamic poets see Dayf (1960: 196-99). For the purpose here, I limit the discussion to findings about the formulas. I do not enter into the content-related aspects of oral culture and oral poetry for space considerations.



Zuhayr, in the wafir meter; and a cl-rhymed by an-Nabiga, in the meter. Although this sampling poses the difficulty of inadequacy of finding formal aspects of oral poetry, due to its shortness, it is useful because it covers poems composed in the most frequent meters in preIslamic poetryP Monroe discovers that pre-Islamic poetry exhibited a high frequency of repeated vocabulary and/or structures in the form of formulas. Monroe (1972: 15-17) notes the verbatim repetition offormulas by the same poet, in more than one place and by more than one poet. Labid in 123/39 repeated li-man ta1a1un, and Zuhayr repeated the same phrase twice in 91/15 and 99/18. 'Imru' al-Qays repeated the complete hemistich of qifa nabkt min cjikra fJ.abtbin wa-manzi1i twice in Mu'allaqa/1 and in 160/65. 18 In some cases only one or two words in the phrase are repeated, as in the following: 'afati -d-diyaru, which both Labid included in his Mu'allaqa/1, and 'Imru' al-Qays used in 144/10. It was used by 'Imru' al-Qays in 157/4 as nabkt -d-diyara. Phrases and verses may include structural formulas, mean word groupings in the same metrical position put in similar syntactic and rhyme constructions. This is usually carried out by means of changing the consonants of the root while keeping its form to produce one of countless permutations. Take, for example, 'afati d-diyaru mentioned above. The same structural formula is found in Zuhayr's 1a'iba -z-zamanu in 81/2, an-Nabiga's za'ama -1-gudafu in 9/3, and in an-Nabiga's saqata in 10/7. 19 In some cases, the same word is repeated, but not in the same metrical composition or syntactic structure. They also do not appear in the neighborhood of the same or similar words. Monroe (1972: 23) calls this the repetition of conventional vocabulary. a1-liwa in the phrase bisiqti-1-1iwa appeared in 'Imru' al-Qays' Mu'allaqa/1; 138/5; and 124/17. It also appeared in Zuhayr 83/9 and 80/3. 20
17 Bateson (1970: 30), taking from Fleisch (1968: 47-52), asserts that the tam1 and kamil meters were the most frequently used in pre-Islamic poetry. The frequency of tawU meter was 50.11%, and that of kamil was 17. 53%. These two were followed by wafir and whose frequency of use was 24.77%, while the rest of meters' frequency was 6.37% for the given sample. 18 For more examples of verbatim and near verbatim repetition of formulas in preIslamic poetry, see Monroe (1972: 15-17). 19 A long list of structural formulas is to be found in Monroe (1972: 20-3). 20 Not all formulas were shared by all poets. Monroe argues that regional and temporal factors tend to allow poets to use more common formulas if they were dose to one another in time and place, and fewer formulas if they were separated in time



Pertinent to proving the formulaic nature of the language of preIslamic poetry is the percentage of formulaic structures per meter. Monroe (1972: 33) calculates 89.86% and 82.12% for tawil and kamil, respectively. Since these two meters were the most widely used in pre-Islamic poetry, it is safe to assume that other meters must have also depended on a high degree of formula use. As for 'Imru' al-Qays, the comparison of his poetry composed in tawtl meter with major and minor pre-Islamic poems in the same meter, and with his own poems in his Diwan, which were composed in the same meter, show that 89.86% of his verse is formulaic. The majority of formulas were either verbatim repetitions or words in phrases. The same is true of Labid, whose poetry composed in kamil was compared to all the kamil poetry of major and minor pre-Islamic poets, yielding a percentage of 82.12%, the majority of which were verbatim repetitions and words in phrases. The same procedure was followed with Zuhayr's poems composed in wafir, which yields the highest percentage of formulaic structures among all poets in the sample, 92.59%. an-Nabiga's poems, compared with major and minor poets in the same meter, yield a percentage of 85.62% formulaic structures. To determine if the formulaic structures of 'Imru' al-Qays' tawil sample formed a part of a collective repertoire with the works of preIslamic poets of the same meter, Monroe makes a comparison that results in an average of 33.24% from a total of 574lines. The comparison with post-Islamic poets yields 9.22% from a total of 348lines from Abu Nuwas, al-Mutanabbi, Ibn Zaydun and al-Barudi. The same procedure was repeated with the kamil formulas. An average of 30.46% of the total of 325 lines of pre-Islamic poetry is obtained, while the average of the comparison between pre- and post-Islamic poetry in the

and/or place. In this case, 'Imru' al-Qays can be grouped with 'Alqama, as opposed to Zuhayr and an-Nabiga on the basis of formula frequencies in their respective poems (Monroe 1972: 25-6). Nevertheless, there are general shared starting themes of naslb and among the poets, with their special formulas. This depends on the appeal of the topic to the audience and the poet alike. In addition, the repetition of words and formulas is contingent on the meter in which the poem is composed It has been discovered (Monroe 1972: 28-9) that certain words occur more in certain meters than in others. This also provides an explanation for the vast number of synonyms the oral pre-Islamic poets had (which the Classical language inherited in turn). Certain synonyms occur in particular meters and not in others. For example, the word talalun and its structurally similar synonym dimanun 'deserted encampment' are to be used in the wafir and taml meters, while diyaru is used in the kamil meter.



same meter yields 9.88% from a total of 299 lines collected from Abii Nuwas, al-Mutanabbi, Ibn Zaydiin, and Sawqi. 21 It is worth mentioning that, without documents proving that Classical Arabic was used for purposes other than poetry, the only logical assessment is that it was limited to this artistic function only. As for the treaties and speeches of pre-Islamic Arabs allegedly written and rendered in that language, this is not plausible. Had the grammarians known of these texts or trusted them, they would no doubt have included them in their corpus. Whoever believes that the texts of the pre-Islamic speeches and the saj' of seers were authentic materials must account for their absence from grammar books mainly dependant on poetry for data. In addition, the formulaic nature of pre-Islamic poetry indicates that this variety was not used for many functions. A limited vocabulary, repeated formulas and repeated subjects are the characteristics of the high prestige variety Arabic of the pre-Islamic period, once again confirming that 'real life' was expressed in another register. Moreover, there is a disparity between Classical Arabic and some of the dialects, mainly in the form of category reduction in the dialects, as opposed to full categories in the high language. In conclusion, two ecological factors must be taken into account when looking at the transition from the pre-Islamic period to the postconquest era in the Arab world. The first point to keep in mind is that Arabic was in a process of development before the conquests. Duals and case endings are just two examples that the limited data allowing speculation. As seen in the beginning of the chapter, these developments were taking place in an environment that may have grown accustomed to the diffusion of linguistic features. Secondly, the functional load of the poetic language reserved it for the use of very

21 Zwettler, who analyzes the Mu'allaqa of'Imru' al-Qays only, used two categories of formula: verbal and syntactic. He divides the thematic structure of the Mu'allaqa into three themes: (1) nasfb and development (from line 1-52), (2) the poet's horse and hunting scene (from line 53-70), (3) and the description of a rainstorm and its effect on the landscape. For (1), the percentage of verbal formulas is 22.3%, 26.3% for syntactic formulas, and 55.2% for the combined formulas. The highest figures within this division lay in the first and second parts of that theme, which are lines one to fifteen, where the subtotal for combined formulas is 68.4% and 71.4%, respectively. For (2), the figure for verbal formulas is 46.0%, 22.8% for syntactic formulas, and 62.3% for combined formulas. For (3), the figure for verbal formulas is 38.9%, 24.3% for syntactic formulas, and 50.9% for combined formulas. The total figure for verbal formulas in the whole poem is 38.9%, for the syntactic formulas 24.3% and for the combined formulas 56.1% (Zwettler 1978: 62).



particular and small users. Being out of the daily use of the layman speech community of tribal dialects preserved the morphological and syntactic categories of the poetic language from the development the dialects were undergoing at the time. The case system is but an example on this disparity. It was reserved in the less used poetic language, and was in a process of development in the vernaculars.


ARABIC AFTER THE CONQUESTS Islam and the Arab conquests are the major ecological factors in the development of the Arabic language in terms of varieties and the structures within the varieties. After the advent of Islam, and because of it, the Arabs developed for the first time a prose style prototype to aspire to. The Qur'an, as a holy book, was introduced for folk prayer, legal speculation, and interpretation. Every believer, therefore, came into contact with its language by varying degrees. Unlike the pre-Islamic poetry, the Qur'an was to varying degrees an accessible model of daily importance and relevance to the layman. Therefore, it brought what came to be known as the Classical language into the consciousness of the common people making the speech community of the Arabs. In addition, the conquests introduced Arabic as an official and popular world language to the large infant empire. Millions of non-Arabs came into the Arab empire, and had to communicate among themselves as well as with the Arabs in Arabic. Arabic became the lingua franca of this budding empire, especially in the new, not yet cosmopolitan garrison towns of Basra, KUfa, Fustat and others. As a result of its position as a lingua franca, Arabic endured much geographic and ethnic variability and adaptability, at the hand of Arabs and non-Arabs alike. One linguistic outcome of the conquests was the emergence of new urban vernaculars of Arabic, which formed one basis of modern Arabic dialects. In reaction to the rapid changes in Arabic dialects, and the disability on the part of Arabs and non-Arabs to deal with the language of the Qur'an, Classical Arabic emerged and matured by the end of the second century AH at the hands of grammarians. By the end of the second century, Sibawayhi had already completed a well structured book that later came to be the 'Bible' of Arabic grammar. To modern historians of Arabic, this book is the usher of the Classical Arabic Period, this variety's golden era. This new situation in the Arab world brought about a massive and informal language learning process for all parties in the conquered territories after the Arab conquests, Arabs included. Naturally enough,



non-Arabs in urban centers had to learn Arabic, and probably contributed to the development of its formal structure. They also had to deal with the new medium becoming more functionally relevant to their daily lives, especially following the emergence of Islam. The resulting variety was designated later on Classical Arabic. Additionally, New Arabic and Middle Arabic arose as terms defining varieties in relation to the Classical Arabic variety. Arabs themselves had to learn the variety in which the Holy Book was revealed for religious purposes, and also to cope with the new functions of that variety that the empire brought about in their everday lives. As presented in the previous chapter, the language of pre-Islamic poetry was functionally limited, and therefore out of the cognitive communication inventory of the Arabs. Using this prestigious variety for several administrative and communicative purposes after the conquests required more than exposure and a passive limited working knowledge of the variety. Learning was mandatory. Few years after the conquests Arabs and non-Arabs produced a body of texts addressing different aspects of life in the new empire in this variety. The linguistic output of this functional expansion showed signs of deviation from the norms of the Holy Book and pre-Islamic poetry. Unfortunately, grammatical knowledge and a good command of Arabic were not accessible to every Arab, for even the noblest members of the royal Umayyad dynasty committed linguistic mistakes. Poets, who were in pre-Islamic times the primary inheritors of this prestigious and sacrosanct tradition, committed linguistic mistakes that can clearly be seen in their composition in the second century AH. Several anecdotes refer to the linguistic mistakes of the ruling Arab elite in the Umayyad Empire. 1 However, the existence of the Qur'an as a linguistic model was the ultimate point of reference for the new prose writings to imitate. A separate phenomenon that took place at the same time as the emergence of Arabic prose and Middle Arabic texts was the appearance of urban vernaculars, which were a part of what came to be collectively designated in the literature New Arabic dialects. They are vernaculars that came into being, as I will argue in the following chapters, through

1 See al-Bayan: voL I p. 32; Ibn Qutayba al-Ma'arifp. 118; and al-Mubarrid al-Kamil p. 366. For the linguistic mistakes of the poets of the period see chapter one

in Flick (1950).



the process of natural second language acquisition2 on the part of the non-Arab urban dwellers and the different linguistic accommodations of the Arab settlers in these centers. These urban dialects were different from the language of the Qur'an and pre-Islamic poetry from which Classical Arabic developed. They were exclusively the domain of quotidian interaction among individuals, while Middle Arabic was the domain of writing for which the Qur'anic model always served as the perfect prototype. New Arabic, on the other hand, was foreign to the Holy Book. When new converts wished to understand the Qur'an, they had to have it interpreted and explained linguistically, as well as in matters of content. Diglossia, therefore, must have been felt only by those who were somehow engaged in scribal activities or in other scholarly pursuits of the new empire. The Arabs' initial lack of interest in teaching their language, the high degrees of illiteracy among both conquerors and conquered peoples and the functional limitation of the Classical language-to-be prevented it from reaching every individual, or even from being a separate linguistic register during that time. Even those individuals (Arabs included) who were involved in scholarly or administrative activity were often unable to free their writing from the influence of their vernaculars. This chapter will discuss the linguistic situation in the conquered territories after the emergence of Islam resulting from the new ecological complex. It will also introduce Middle Arabic texts as a body of evidence for a phase of interlanguage within the new linguistic and communicative context of the conquered territories. Due to the written nature of this textual evidence, earliest written record of the collaborative nature of the process of learning Arabic in the urban centers of the conquered territories will be presented. As such, Middle Arabic is a record of a phase of interlanguage during an attempt to learn Classical Arabic. It must be looked at here merely as a strong indicator that Arabs were also active in the new innovations induced by the new sedentary ecology. The reader is invited to look at the body of evidence chosen here as merely an example of what an informal learning process of this kind might lead to. Following this will be an examination of the linguistic features of the New Arabic vernaculars, their emergence and their role in the process of Arabicization. In discussing linguistic features of both Middle

See chapter five for a definition of natural second language acquisition.



Arabic text type and New Arabic vernaculars, I limit myself to the morphological and syntactic aspects only, for they are easier for the purpose of comparing Arabic dialect features and universal and Arabic Foreigner Talk (later abbreviated as FT) features and aspects. Although Middle Arabic texts and New Arabic vernaculars are process of language learning, both processes are different. In learning Classical Arabic, both Arabs and non-Arabs were participants in the learning process. The source of input for this learning process was the Holy Book, pre-Islamic poetry, and the other sources that started to emerge in the urban centers after the conquests. As seen later, the varying degrees of accessibility may have caused the different types and degrees of deviation from the norm. In the case of New Arabic vernaculars, however, Arabs themselves were the input source. As we will see in the coming chapter, Arabs were a majority in the urban centers, and input was significantly greater. Secondly, Middle Arabic textual data confirms for active learning processes during that period. New Arabic vernaculars, however, are varieties that came about as a result of informal processes of language learning and ecologically induced input providing process on the part of the Arabs of their already developing native tongue. This development is the subject under discussion during the rest of this book. The reader should consider Middle Arabic texts not as a part of the development of New Arabic varieties, but as textual evidence for the effect of inter language processes on the learning of Arabic in informal settings.

After the beginning of the Arab conquests, the Arabic language became a medium for writing on a large scale. The earliest documents of written texts in Arabic are two papyri dating as early as twenty two AH (Hopkins 1984: xli). The language of these documents is called Middle Arabic. 3 It is a group of non-literary written texts, which failed to follow the rules of the language of poetry later set by grammarians, although they were written with this model in mind (Versteegh 1997a: 114). Neither can researchers consider Middle Arabic a group of texts

3 Middle Arabic documents are huge in number, but their exact numbers are difficult to determine. Hopkins (1984: xl) estimates the numbers of papyri as only




written in the vernacular, since the author's tendency towards a higher style is obvious. Some texts indicate that their authors mastered the rules of the Classical language-to-be in varying degrees, while other texts were detached from the rules of this model. However, the data is easily classified into three rough categories of Middle Arabic texts: literary Arabic with vernacular admixture, which includes many scientific writings of the early centuries of the Islamic era; semi-Classical Middle Arabic; and vernacular texts with Classical Arabic admixture (Blau 1981: 25). Therefore, 'Middle Arabic' must be understood as a designation given to a certain group of texts on a point dynamically shifting between two ends of a continuum of perceived correctness among its speakers. It is, in this sense, not a separate historical variety dividing between, say, Old Arabic and Modern Standard Arabic. We can also speak of contemporary Middle Arabic writings, whenever authors, in modern times, fail in some, or many, instances to observe the rules of Modern Standard Arabic. In addition, it must not be treated as a completely different and independent variety of Arabic because authors and scribes opted for the poetic language, and the grammatical features of the resulting Middle Arabic texts are not stable as is the case with any interlanguage data. On the contrary, they are governed by the degree of the authors' as well as the audiences' knowledge of the desired model. Following are some of features of this process.


The most important distinctive element of Middle Arabic is a deviation from the norms of the Classical language. Deviations are not stable and consistent. Variability takes the shape of variant use of syntactic features of the standard norm. One author may use an incorrect form in a certain line, and use the correct form in the same text. In other cases, we know that an author such as Maimonides was in command of the rules of the Classical language from texts he wrote in syntactically and morphologically correct Arabic. Yet, we find that the same author willingly wrote texts in deviant Middle Arabic style. Pseudo-corrections are a sub-category of deviations from the Classical Arabic standard and are found in Middle Arabic texts (Blau 1981: 27 and Versteegh 1997a: 115). These deviations happen when the author of a certain text wishes, in his desire to write according to the Classical standard, to avoid features of New Arabic. Because the author



in some cases is unable to use the Classical standard in the best way possible, the form he or she uses is neither the correct Classical Arabic element, nor the vernacular he or she wishes to avoid. Such deviant forms are collectively called pseudo-corrections, which in turn are divided into two subcategories: hypercorrections and hypocorrections. In some cases, the author fears the interference of the vernacular in his writing; therefore, he attempts to use a form of the standard norm that does not resemble the vernacular. Although the form he uses is a correct Classical Arabic feature, it is not correct in that particular syntactic or morphological context. One such example is the use of the indicative mood ending in the imperfective verb in the place of a jussive ending, because the jussive modal ending is formally identical with the vernacular ending of the imperfective verb. In such a case, an author would use lam yaktubuna instead of lam yaktubu, because the latter form resembles the urban vernacular form. Hypo-corrections, on the other hand, are incomplete forms of the Classical language. If, for instance, the dual verb, in the vernaculars, takes a plural subject, in the texts of Middle Arabic the author strives to avoid this plural agreement. To do this, he puts the verb in the dual, but not in the correct form of the dual needed in that syntactic context. As in the case of hypocorrections, hypercorrections occur in the elements that take more than one ending according to their positions in the sentence, while in the vernaculars there are no case and no markers. This means that pseudo-corrections take place in the areas where vernaculars depart from the standard. The two types of pseudo-corrections reflect the fact that the author knows of the disparity between the language standards and the vernaculars in certain features, but does not know the form that he or she should use, or does not know where to use a certain form in writing. In the cases of hypocorrections, the author merely knows that there is a disparity. Beside pseudo-corrections, deviations from the Classical language norms take the shape of an inexplicable form. One clear example is the generalization in some texts from the third century AH of the masculine singular demonstrative pronoun hafi.a for feminine and inanimate plural nouns. Conversely, the feminine singular demonstrative pronoun is found before masculine nouns in some texts of the same period (Hopkins 1984: 65). Besides mistakes, Middle Arabic texts also reflect a tendency to copy vernacular elements. For instance, the masculine singular pronoun was written huwwah in some texts from the



third century AH, and the second person singular feminine was written 'anti. In addition, the second person feminine singular verb ending was a long "i, i.e., kuntt (Hopkins 1984: 70). If this analysis correctly assumes that knowledge of the standard variety and the ability to read and write were limited to only a few Arabs, it was natural for those literate Arabs to make mistakes when putting the Classical language to use on everyday situations. In addition, it is insufficient to ascribe the deviations in Middle Arabic texts only to the effect of scriballapses or incomplete knowledge of Arabic. It is likely that the authors, especially in the first century AH, dictated to a scribe, who may not have been of Arab ancestry. In such cases, it is quite unlikely that a scribe's mistake went beyond orthographic or spelling lapses, which, one would think, is common with foreign language learners in spelling and dictation tasks in the classroom. If this is correct, then the Arab author's knowledge of Classical language was incomplete, especially in cases of large texts where formulas and set phrases are minimal. The appearance of pseudo-corrections in Middle Arabic texts is not constant. We cannot assume that authors and/or scribes always used the indicative instead of the jussive mood, for instance. Although this seemed sometimes to be the case, the pseudo-correct form often alternated with other forms, including the correct ones.

Middle Arabic as a Marker of Identity

Middle Arabic also reflects substrata! and adstratal influence. Content aside, a text written in correct Classical Arabic does not reveal the identity of the author or his ethnic background; it only indicates that the author is linguistically well-trained. Middle Arabic is a different story, however. Researchers can know, or at least infer from some of the written texts, whether the author was an Arab or a non-Arab citizen. By the same token, the audience to whom the text is directed can be identified, as well as the universality of the subject matter. Moreover, taken together, the identity of the author and the degree of the text's adherence to the norms of Classical language indicate the linguistic stratification of different social groups in the early Arab Islamic Empire, in addition to reflecting their access to the language of the Qur'an. Arabic developed its prose style in the period of the early conquests. Before the emergence of Classical Arabic as defined by grammarians



roughly at the end of the second century AH, the presumed urge towards writing in the best style possible left authors with whatever was purely Arabic (Qur'an and probably the Bedouin dialects) as a linguistic model. Since the Qur'an was revealed in a variety different from the vernaculars, any attempt to mimic it was apt to produce, as seen above, mistakes and pseudo-corrections. Consequently, the fewer deviations from the norm a text contained, the better acquainted the author and the target groups were with the Classical language. Similarly, when the texts contained numerous deviations, the author and/ or the target readership were likely less acquainted with the norms of the Classical language. Since the Qur'an is the only textual model available from the early period, those who were frequently exposed to it must have produced more pseudo-corrections and mistakes in their writings, as their education in the system was incomplete at best. Muslims, therefore, must theoretically have made more pseudo-corrections in their writings than the Jewish and Christian citizens of the Arab empire, who were not exposed to the Qur'an with the same frequency and intimacy. Pseudocorrections demonstrate two facts at the same time. First, the Qur'anic model was so pressing that the Arab Muslim writers felt the need to use its model. They were more likely to make mistakes than a writer who did not respond to the pressure of this model. In some cases, incomplete knowledge, which is induced by the exposure to the language of the Qur'an, directed the writers to use some features and abandon others, which they considered vernacular. Therefore, the indicative ending of the imperfective verb was used after lam (yaktubuna instead of yaktubu) because the latter resembled the vernacular verb ending of the third person masculine plural. Second, pseudo-corrections reveal that the rules of Classical Arabic were not part of the native tongue of the early Arabs in the conquered territory. The Classical language rules were more or less acquired features from exposure to the Qur'an, which every Muslim dealt with on a daily basis. On the other hand, Jews and Christians produced more deviations than pseudo-corrections. Although it is claimed that Jewish authors also aimed at writing in the Classical language (Blau 1981: 24), they did not produce the same pseudo-corrections, and they were more prone to using the vernacular in their writings. One possible reason for this is that Jews and Christians did not place the Qur'an as the model for linguistic excellence, and were less constrained by its rules



(Versteegh 1997a: 121). Therefore, it is logical to conclude that nonMuslims were more inclined to use vernacular vocabulary and syntactic features, as well as more loan words from Hebrew, Greek and Syriac than Muslims. Because the language of the Qur'an was not spoken as a vernacular, all authors, including Muslim Arabs, were apt to make mistakes, but the degree of deviation depended on the degree of exposure. If one assumes that the majority of Jews and Christians in the incipient empire were of non-Arab origin and were unfamiliar with Arab culture, especially with poetry, knowledge of the Classical language model must have been minimal at best. Therefore, colloquialisms, more than pseudo-corrections, must have colored the writings of non-Arabs more than the Arabs. It seems that the authors of Middle Arabic texts, even those whose perfect knowledge of Classical Arabic grammar was attested to beyond a doubt, were aware that their audience was ill-acquainted with the rules of the Classical language. This is apparent in the discrepancies in style and correctness between different writings by the same author. In texts written for the Jewish community, the degree of Classical Arabic features is less than in texts written for the general audience, including all communities and sects. For instance, although David Ben Abraham, to whom Pereq was attributed, knew the rules of Classical Arabic, the text of his book teems with Middle Arabic features (Blau 1981: 27). Writings that were not to go beyond the limits of a specific community, informal writings, private letters, notices and religious writings (in the cases of Christians and Jews) were written in less deviant Middle Arabic. On the other hand, writings of general appeal, like works of philosophy and medicine, were composed in correct Classical Arabic. Maimonides, for instance, wrote his philosophical treatises in a language that can safely be defined Classical Arabic (Blau 1981: 25). As far as the Christian Arabs in Syria, Palestine and Iraq are concerned, their knowledge of the standard of Classical Arabic must have been similar, or at least approximate, to the knowledge of Jews and Christians of non-Arabic ancestry. If the poetic model was blocked from the majority, they must have had little more knowledge of poetic Arabic. The lower socio-economic strata produced Middle Arabic writings with comparatively more colloquialisms and mistakes than higher strata. Naturally enough, Maimonides (twelfth century) responded to letters addressed to him from lower strata in a language far less clas-



sical than that of his philosophical and medical writings, directed to presumably higher levels of educated people. Comparing his correspondence with that of his contemporaries, his writing still contains far less vernacularisms than the writings of his correspondents. Maimonides, who was a distinguished member of the Jewish community in the Islamic Empire, wrote texts that contained a minimum of Middle Arabic features in writings that were not only those of general appeal, but also writings specific to the Jewish culture and faith, such as in The Guide for the Perplexed and the Commentary to the Mishna. Although such writings targeted the Jewish community, they targeted fellow elite Jews in particular. They targeted those who could read in Classical Arabic. It is also possible that writings with such restricted target groups were originally written in the Arabic script, unlike many of the Judeo-Arabic Middle Arabic texts that were transcribed in Hebrew characters. Not only high literary or scientific writings are in more or less Classical Arabic, but also letters written by the high class nonArab community members contain fewer Middle Arabic elements. Not only do the Middle Arabic texts reveal an incomplete command of the rules of the standard language, they also reveal that, to some strata of the Arab Muslim Empire, even the Arabic writing system was inaccessible. This is clear from the abundance of texts transcribed in Hebrew and Aramaic letters. Works written in Arabic that were transliterated into Hebrew script were those of medicine, geometry, and philosophy. Even religious books written in Arabic were transliterated into Hebrew, including the Qur'an (Blau 1988: 85-96). Fables like Katila wa Dimna were also transliterated into Hebrew (Gothic 1934: 103). Even some texts of Arabic poetry were known in Hebrew script (Alone 1960: 522 in Blau 1988: 85-96). There is, however, a low proportion of belles-lettres transliterated in Hebrew characters, which suggests the general inability of the average Jew, and presumably Christian, to read the Arabic language of art, while the language of commonplace books and technical writings was somewhat better understood. The transliteration of technical books, books of spirituality and fables indicates that while the non-Arab lower strata of the Muslim empire used Arabic as a medium of transferring information they did not use Classical Arabic, especially since the previously mentioned types of books leaned more towards the vernacular than the higher language. Would it be feasible to be acquainted with a solely written variety of the language if you do not know the writing system?




Characteristics of Middle Arabic

The following tendencies can be noticed in the texts of Middle Arabic. The reader should be aware, however, that, as an interlanguage, Middle Arabic does not reflect these tendencies consistently and faithfully.
1) There is a tendency to approximate the norms of the Classical language. This tendency takes several shapes as illustrated in the following:

Middle Arabic texts tend to use internal passive (Hopkins 1984: 71-2) more than the use of the Vth and Vllth verbal forms as in the vernaculars. Although there is a tendency towards abandoning the case endings, particularly tanwln, is attested, especially in the masculine accusative. Examples of tanwln 'alif are not rare: it is used with adverbs, direct object. maf'Ul muflaq, the predicate of kana, after 'an, and after numerals (Hopkins 1984: 161-2). There is also a tendency in the Middle Arabic texts to observe the agreement rules of the Classical language.

In general, however, the points of agreement between the standard language norm and Middle Arabic writings are not stable or unanimous. Tanwtn 'alif occurs in positions where it is impossible for it to occur according to the rules of Classical Arabic (Hopkins 1984: 174-6). As far as concord is concerned, when referring back to a noun that has been mentioned earlier in the text, concord is rather loose (Hopkins 1984: 146).
2) In Middle Arabic, there are some formal similarities to the spoken vernaculars. Following are some features in which Middle Arabic and the vernaculars correspond: Numerals after ten in Middle Arabic texts have become compound nouns that are invariable in gender and case (Hopkins 1984: 116, 188 and 191). In the second person feminine singular of the perfective verb a final long -1 is added in Middle Arabic as opposed to the short -i suffix of the Classical language. Verbs that start with the semi-vowel /w/ in the past tense like waqafa 'he stood up' keep this semi-vowel in the present tense in Middle Arabic, as opposed to the Classical language, which drops the semi-vowel in the imperfective. Although this phenomenon is rather rare, it is by no means absent from the papyri (Hopkins 1984: 81).



In both nouns and verbs, masculine plural endings are generalized to the feminine plurals. The same generalized ending covers the feminine and masculine dual as well (Hopkins 1984: 92-3). Nomina relativa are invariable for both gender and number (Hopkins 1984: 140). 3) Typical ofinterlanguage data, there are some features in which Middle Arabic differs from both the Classical language and vernaculars: The definite article al- may be added to the attribute in an adjectival phrase without being present in the noun it modifies (Hopkins 1984: 182). Nomen regens can be separated from its nomen rectum by an attribute in numeral phrases (Hopkins 1984: 177). The personal pronoun is mentioned before the conjugated verb without any apparent purpose of emphasis (Hopkins 1984: 204-5).

It is true that pseudo-corrections reflect a tendency on the part of the

writer to use another standard of which his knowledge is incomplete. It is also likely that the authors may have believed that the other standard they tried to use was higher prestige. These deductions mean that the point of departure and the cornerstone in Middle Arabic texts was intended to be the Classical language as suggested by most of the modern scholars of Arabic (see Blau 1988: 64). Pseudo-corrections simply suggest that there was a discrepancy between the dialect they used for speaking and writing and another impressive and socially pressing model. This model was respected and elevated, but inaccessible or at least not mastered. Due to the lack of accessibility, the learning process of the linguistic medium of the Middle Arabic texts was not complete. The formal similarity between Middle Arabic texts and the dialects does not suggest that authors commenced work from their own spoken dialects, while attempting to introduce better structures. If formal similarities mean anything in such a phase of interlanguage, they mean that, due to incomplete knowledge of the target variety, users resort to previous linguistic experience to fill in educational gaps for a communicative purpose. If it is true that the language of the Qur'an was not spoken, and was merely a Kunstsprache inaccessible to laypeople, it is difficult to assume that the Classical norm was the language of nonacademic writings laypeople used daily. This is especially true of the first half of the first Islamic century, where the rules of the high language were not found in manuals.



It is to be expected, therefore, that non-Arabs, whose knowledge

of Classical language was by default incomplete, produced Middle Arabic texts with more vernacularisms, less pseudo-corrections, more loan words from their substrate/adstrata languages, and non-Arabic orthography. It is also natural that the lower strata of Arabs and nonArabs alike wrote texts in nonstandard Arabic more than in the correct standard of Classical Arabic, due to their lack of knowledge of this high model. Pseudo-corrections were the result of incomplete exposure, but not education in the ways of the Classical language.

Now, focusing on New Arabic, data confirms that native speakers of the target language contributed to the learning process positively. New Arabic vernaculars were the varieties spoken by Arabs and non-Arabs in the urban centers of the conquered territories. They are the ancestors of Modern Arabic dialects, which are considered here to be the main source for the reconstruction of the vernacular Arabic's historical development (Versteegh 1997a: 98). It is assumed that New Arabic spread immediately after the Arab conquests both in the incipient urban centers (Basra, Kiifa, and Qayrawan), and probably in the already existing towns of Damascus, Aleppo, Alexandria and others. The emergence of these vernaculars was a result of contact between Arabs and non-Arabs, and the subsequent adoption of these varieties as the second (then native) language of the non-Arabs in and around these urban centers. Therefore, modern Arabic dialects are among the main sources for reconstructing New Arabic vernaculars. For this similarity, I resort to these dialects to collect the features of New Arabic. Apart from Modern Arabic dialects, features of New Arabic come down to us from the first Islamic century by means of taking guidance from Middle Arabic texts and the papyri, in the form of vernacularisms and pseudo-corrections. In the previous section, one saw that the features of Middle Arabic (even from texts as old as the second half of the ninth century AH) are formally similar in some structures to Modern Arabic dialects. The earliest texts reflected the same features of Middle Arabic and Modern Arabic dialects as the later texts (Blau 1988: 72-3). These same features of New Arabic and Modern Arabic dialects can



be traced back to a psalm fragment dated by Violet (1902) to the end of the eighth century. Features of New Arabic can be traced back even to the beginning of the eighth century via remaining papyri scrolls. The papyri are everyday transactions and literary documents written in Classical Arabic, but still contain some deviations that reflect a possible tendency towards the spoken vernaculars. These features suggest that Arabs spoke the New Arabic vernaculars very early in the Arab Empire. One feature of New Arabic in these documents is the plural of masculine nouns, where casus rectus is replaced by casus obliquus. The same phenomenon affected duals as well. In verbs, the vernacular form replaces the standard-ending form in the papyri as early as the eighth century, and the dual as a syntactic category is replaced by the use of the masculine plural (Blau 1988: 79). Besides the sources of Middle Arabic and modern Arabic dialects, there are some descriptions of the New Arabic vernaculars by Arab scholars. Interest in New Arabic is reflected in two types of writings: geographical books and general digest books. The discrepancies among varieties of New Arabic were the main concern of authors who wrote about language. (d. 255 AH), for example, stated that different peoples in different urban centers spoke different varieties of New Arabic, and this variation was due to the differences in dialect among the Arab tribes that settled in each of the cities. Therefore, Kiifa spoke the variety that was spoken by the tribes that eventually settled there. asserted that this phenomenon occurred in other cities that were developed and inhabited by different tribes (al-Bayan I: 18). also spoke of the difference in the lexical wealth of each variety of New Arabic. He claimed as an example that the Arabic of Basra included Persian lexical items, such as xiyar 'cucumber' and bazar 'market', since Persians inhabited the area (Versteegh 1997a: 130). Furthermore, lexical and phonetic variations caught the interest of travelers and geographers who were keen on listing the regionalisms and peculiarities of the different regions they visited, including the famed geographer al-Maqdisiy (d. 335 AH). Not only did the geographical variations catch the attention of Arab writers, but also so did the linguistic variations among different social groups. Ibn Xaldiin (d. 757 AH) emphasized the differences between the dialects of New Arabic and Bedouin Arabic dialects, thus demonstrating an awareness of the social distribution of dialects. He gives the example of the pho-



neme /q/, which is pronounced as a voiceless glottal stop in most of the urban New Arabic dialect areas, while Bedouin dialects and the pre-Islamic Classical language voiced it (Muqaddima: 557). 3.2.1

Features of New Arabic

Since the New Arabic features mirrored in Middle Arabic texts reflect similarities with Modern Arabic dialects, it is inferred that New Arabic vernaculars were generally analytic in nature, a type different from the generally synthetic Classical language of the Qur'an and pre-Islamic poetry. However, one must be careful with the concept of an analytic type. Modern Arabic dialects, and theoretically also New Arabic vernaculars, exhibit more analytic tendencies in nouns than in verbs, which seem to still be highly synthetic in nature. The movement of New Arabic from a synthetic to an analytic type oflanguage is reflected in the following: The loss of the case system. As appears from modern Arabic dialects and Middle Arabic texts, New Arabic vernaculars lost the case system, except in some fossilized expressions and in adverbials. Largely stable word order. Since vernaculars lost the case system, a fixed word order is observed to a large extent in order to distinguish between sentence constituents. This feature appears in Middle Arabic writings as well. The spread of genitive exponents. In modern Arabic dialects, there is a genitive exponent that links between the first and second parts of the structure. We may, by analogy, assume that the same exponent was used in New Arabic as well. Masculine plural endings are generalized to the feminine endings in nouns and verbs of New Arabic dialects. Category reduction. Sedentary dialects are marked with the reduction of the category of gender distinction in the plurals of verbs and pronouns; the category of the dual is eliminated in verbs and pronouns; of the three perfect forms of Form I verbs in Classical Arabic, fa'ula has disappeared in the dialects. Disappearance of the internal passive. In the modern sedentary dialects, the internal passive was replaced by either the n-form or the t-form of the verb. A phonetic development with morphological implications is the merger of the feminine endings. The three feminine endings of the feminine singular noun merged into -a in the dialects. Verbs with final radical w disappeared in the dialects. They merged into the final y-radical verbs. This development is a matter of degree only, since the development is also visible in the Classical standard. This kind of verb is present in Form I only.

102 3.2.2


New Arabic in Context

Looking at the dialects, it is easily noticeable that they (together with the New Arabic vernaculars) share with Middle Arabic texts some linguistic features diverging from the Classical Arabic of the Qur'an. The rather small list above shows some of these features, such as the disappearance of the case endings, and the loss of the dual. In some other features, all the dialects moved along one line in development, but the development took different forms. The above list provides two examples for this phenomenon, one being the genitive exponent. All dialects developed a genitive exponent after restricting the use of the status constructus, but each dialect developed a different genitive exponent. In Egypt the exponent is bita', while in Syrian Arabic it is taba', and in Iraq mal. The second example is the treatment of weak-ending verbs. In Syrian, weak-ending verbs are treated as strong-ending verbs, i.e., ramu ('they threw') is like katabu ('they wrote') (Versteegh 1997a: 100), while the Muslim vernacular of Baghdad does the opposite: kitbaw and mashaw ('they walked'). Besides this development, there is another independently developing tendency in the dialects that is not apparent in the above list. One such example is the fronting of the question words in most of the dialects, as well as in Classical Arabic, while in Egyptian Arabic the question word is not fronted in the in terr ogati ves. For features common among all modern Arabic dialects, several theoretical explanations are proposed. Although it stands to reason that some of the current differences among dialects are due to the fact that each region acquired the dialect features of whatever tribe happened to settle in it and impose its speech on the heterogeneous linguistic community, there are features common to all modern dialects. These features exist despite the different dialectal base and the original languages of the native populations. Diffusion, general drift, and a koine have been proposed to explain these similarities that cut across modern Arabic dialects. One explanation for the general unity and mutual intelligibility of dialects is that they developed from a common origin, namely preIslamic Arabic. Some scholars claim that the dialects of pre-Islamic Arabia were not very different from one another. Therefore, the base for the New Arabic dialects was thought to be highly uniform (Blau 1988: 25). Blau (1988: 25) adds that Classical language played a role in bringing the dialects even nearer to each other, after whatever devia-



tions from the norms of Arabic had been caused by interference from the substrate languages. According to this assumption, the prestige of Classical language facilitated the adoption of its features by various dialects. These features formed the common denominator among the dialects. Assuming that the Classical standard played a role in the formation of the linguistic make-up of the New Arabic vernaculars in this formative period is an anachronism. The first evidence for Classical Arabic grammar appeared by the second half of the second century AH Consequently, it is difficult to assume that it exerted any influence during the first century, in which New Arabic was already in use. It is important to keep in mind that it was a variety known best by those who worked on the study of the Qur'an and language. Its influence, therefore, could not have easily spread into New Arabic vernaculars, whose speakers were mostly illiterate non-Arabs. Moreover, the lack of a uniform educational system hindered the spread of any features of Classical Arabic. Even some Middle Arabic texts that were supposedly written in Classical Arabic teeming with features of the New Arabic vernaculars. Middle Arabic texts that were written during the high period of the codification of Arabic, in the third century, include the same New Arabic features and pseudo-corrections found in earlier texts. As a result, the Classical norm cannot be considered a unifying factor in the early history of Arabic. As explained later, its development took a different course, and performed a different function in the linguistic context of the early Islamic centuries. Blau is correct in his hypothesis that a common pre-Islamic base was responsible, in part, for the uniform development of vernaculars, as the previous chapter highlighted the geographical and tribal ecologies facilitated a degree of harmony among different dialects in the period before the conquests. There are, however, features not found in the variety of the Qur'an that developed similarly in all the vernaculars. The theory of a common base does not explain these features, especially in the absence of a common linguistic center, which can be considered responsible for the spread of prestigious features to all other dialects after the conquests. Some of the developing features of New Arabic are justifiably ascribed to the effect of general drift (Blau 1988: 25 and 1965: 12), by means of which several dialects developed the same features independently, and as a continuation of developments current in the pre-conquest period. The disappearance



of the glottal stop from the modern non-Peninsular dialects as an independent phoneme is a good instance of the dynamics of general drift. Some pre-Islamic Arabic dialects elided the hamza, while some other dialects realized it as a phoneme, and New Arabic as well as modern Arabic dialects outside the Peninsula dropped this phoneme all together. The disappearance of the case system can be considered another case of general drift, whereby the already shaky system in preIslamic dialects (see Owens 1998 and 2006) is abandoned in Modern Arabic dialects, and in New Arabic. New Arabic continued this development, and may have enhanced it. The previous chapter assumes that some pre-Islamic dialects in the East might have kept the case system, while some other dialects, mainly Western dialects, may have used a reduced case system. Other dialects may have abandoned it altogether. New Arabic dialects tipped the balance towards the abandonment of the case system, especially in a context where the native languages of the conquered lands lost their case systems long before the Arab conquests. The disappearance of the case system from the New Arabic vernaculars came as a result of that system's unstable position in the pre-Islamic dialect base used in the Arabicization process. The urban centers were Arabicized by speakers of Arabic dialects that had lost the case system a long time before the conquests or, at least, had a reduced system thereof. The New Arabic dialects later spread the caseless varieties to other areas in the conquered regions. The disappearance of the glottal stop as a separate phoneme may have spread to all urban New Arabic dialect areas through the same way. Therefore, general drift is not an explanatory device for the circumstances that produced a specific feature or linguistic development like the loss of the case system and the glottal stop. General drift is actually a descriptive term, not an explanatory one. Proponents of general drift assume that Arabic lost the category of duals, the glottal stop, and the case system as other Semitic languages lost these features before. Therefore, the uniformity of New Arabic dialects in these features is only logical. Relying on general drift to explain the development of Arabic dialects in a certain direction, as opposed to the Classical norm, is not adequate. It does not explain how these innovations came about and why they came about at this particular moment in the history of the Arabic language. In addition, it does not explain the differences among modern dialects. If general trends were



responsible for the proximity of modern Arabic dialects, what caused their differences, and what caused the development of similar features among the dialects, but with different forms? The explanatory power of this proposal is minimal (Versteegh 1997a: 103), and the question remains, why do Modern Arabic dialects agree with one another as opposed to the Classical language in a surprising number of features? It has been assumed that similar features in modern Arabic dialects were a result of mutual contact among New Arabic vernaculars (Blau 1988: 26). Similarity between dialects, according to this theory, resulted from the spread of features and structures from a certain prestigious center into other areas. While this theory is feasible, it is not without its problems. First of all, we do not know of any privileged dialect that would have diffused its features to other dialects from the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf. Diffusion in the current times is feasible because of the technical advancement of mass media, different channels of communication and transmission that carry linguistic features very far from their original centers. In the first two centuries of the Islamic era, however, there were no such media. Nor was there a wide circulation of manuscript books. The book, in turn, was a medium for the privileged few who could read. Secondly, it is quite difficult for a dialect to borrow a certain trend of development from another dialect, while still producing an original form for it. It is difficult, for instance, for a certain dialect to borrow a verb conjugation system that lacks the dual or an analytic genitive structure. Even if diffusion exerted any influence on the linguistic situation in the early centuries of the Arab conquests, it existed in a very limited context and in special sociolinguistic conditions. Moreover, it is a formidable task, in the current stage of research, to identify the locus of diffusion and route, let alone exact dates. With the absence of modern telecommunication media and technology, diffusion could have occurred only by means of neighborhood interaction or migration. Even in these limited contexts, diffusion cannot account for the numerous similarities all over the Arab world from east to west. In cases where a certain dialect was situated geographically beside another dialect, like the case of different Jewish dialects in many Arab regions, the diffusion of even lexical features hardly occurred in the early centuries of the conquest. In the Jewish dialect of Tafilat in southeast Morocco, the verb ra is used for 'see', as opposed to saf 'see' used by the neighboring Muslim dialects (Heath and Bar-Asher



1982: 77). Similarly, until early in the 20th century the Jewish dialect of Algiers preserves ra 'see' as opposed to saf in the neighboring Muslim dialect (Cohen 1912: 54). In the east, Baghdad until recently was a city famous for its communal dialects where Muslim, Christian and Jewish dialects of Arabic coexisted for a long time(Kaye 1989: 213).4 In Muslim and Christian Baghdadi Arabic saf ('see') is used as opposed to the Jewish 'ayan (Blanc 1964: 164). In the above cases of Jewish dialects in Morocco, Algiers, and Baghdad, diffusion of the privileged Muslim dialect word saf did not occur in spite the factors of neighborhood and prestige. The stratification of features could have been one reason to separate dialects and prevent diffusion, despite spatial proximity and prestige. The lack of media and a linguistic center, as well as sociolinguistic barriers, make it difficult to believe that diffusion may have been responsible for the huge similarities among all the Arabic dialects. But the above examples do not necessarily conclude that diffusion did not take place altogether, but tracing its route is not always possible. 5 Despite the theoretical problems hampering diffusion as a means of spreading innovations from a prestigious linguistic center, the idea did not subside easily. It was suggested that the locus of diffusion was found in the military camps of the early conquests, where Arabs produced a common variety that was later taken to the conquered territories. Ferguson (1959: 616-30) attempts to explain the striking and profound similarities among modern Arabic dialects by suggesting that the New Arabic vernaculars emerged from a koine resulting from the gathering of speakers of different tribal dialects in early garrison towns, during the early period of the Arab conquest of the Middle East. Many dialectal differences were leveled out, and many common features emerged through intricate processes of loaning and leveling. According to Ferguson, the pre-Islamic dialects of Arabic were different, but after the conquests, these differences were minimized. As a result, a common variety came to be used in the urban centers, from which the koine transformed into today's urban Arabic dialects. Nowadays, dialects may retain some features that existed in tribal dialects of pre-Islamic Arabia, but these features are few. More apparent are
See Blanc (1964) for a description of the different dialects ofthe city. There are some indications that the negative sircumfix ma-sh of Egypt and North Africa has come to Egypt from the west by means of diffusion as I show later in this chapter.



the common features these dialects acquired from the koine base. In the early period, the koine co-existed with Bedouin Arabic dialects, as well as with the Classical Arabic variety, from the second century of the Islamic era. According to this theory, Arabicization took place by means of this koine, and any differences among the dialects are the result of borrowing and individual development that took place after the initial dissemination period of the koine itself. Ferguson argues in a principally sound manner, that the koine may have begun before the period of the conquests, but its development and spread took place in the incipient cities and camps after this period. However, a specific time frame for the beginning of the koine cannot be identified from the current state of the data. In spite of the challenge in identifying a time frame or a locus for the beginning of the koine, and in fact its very existence, there are some common features among the modern Arabic dialects that Ferguson claims could not have resulted from anything other than a koine. Among these features is the loss of the dual (Ferguson 1959: 620). Two main similarities among Arabic dialects convince Ferguson that this feature did not come into existence by general drift. The first is the disappearance of the dual from verbs, pronouns and adjectives without a trace. The second is the plural concord of dual nouns, where a verb, pronoun or an adjective referring to a preceding dual noun, must be in agreement. Whenever a verb, adjective, or a pronoun refers to a preceding plural noun, it is in the feminine singular if it refers to objects or animals, and in the plural if it refers to human beings. It is expected that the same linguistic behavior with the dual nouns in the dialects. But whenever a dual noun occurs in the modern dialects, it requires a plural agreement, not feminine singular, even if it refers to an object or an animal. These two aspects, Ferguson claims, assure us that the dual in the dialects developed from a variety other than the Classical language. Another feature that could not have come from the Classical language, Ferguson argues, is the loss of the final -w verbs. There are five categories for the weak verbs that have a long -a vowel in the final position. One category among these verbs in the present tense changes this -a into -au. This category has disappeared in all the Modern Arabic dialects. The change of the form of geminate verbs is yet another feature that developed in all the dialects similarly, while Classical Arabic did not innovate. In all the modern Arabic dialects, first and second



persons of the perfect of geminate verbs are inflected like the final -y verbs, while in the Classical language first and second person perfect geminate verbs are inflected like the sound verbs. Another feature Ferguson ascribes to the effect of the koine is the gender of the cardinal numbers three through ten. In Classical Arabic, the cardinal numbers have two forms. The first ends with the feminine marker, and it is used with masculine nouns. The other form does not have a feminine marker, and it is used with feminine nouns. In Modern Arabic dialects, the form with the feminine marker is used when no noun follows the cardinal number. Whenever a noun follows a number, the form without the feminine marker is used, regardless of the gender of that noun, except in very few cases that have to do with money and requesting items in certain contexts. The numbers from thirteen through nineteen in Classical Arabic have two parts: one for the form corresponding to 'ten' and the other is a digit part preceding it that corresponds to one through nine. The 'ten' form always agrees with the following accusative noun in gender, while the preceding digit part disagrees with the gender of the following noun. In the Modern Arabic dialects, the two parts have become a compound word with no trace of gender disagreement. The astonishingly common element among all dialects is the existence of a velarization in the number thirteen through nineteen, and sometimes eleven and twelve, too. The velarization is in the -t-, which is the feminine ending of the digit part of the number. In all dialects it became a -f-. The loss of the feminine comparatives is another feature common among the modern dialects, which Ferguson ascribes to the koine. The Classical Arabic comparative form, 'aCCaCu, has the feminine CuCCa. In the Modern Arabic dialects, the comparative became 'aCCaC, regardless of gender. Another feature ascribed to the koine is the plural of the adjectives CaCiC. In Classical Arabic morpho-syntax, the plural of CaCiC pattern is CiCaC. In the Modern Arabic dialects, the plural of the CaCiC pattern adjective is CCaC/CuCaC. This feature cannot have developed in all dialects except through one source. This source is not the Classical language, but the koine. Another development Ferguson ascribes to the koine is the change of the nisba suffix from -iyy in the Classical language to -i in the Modern Arabic dialects. Although all dialects vary in their treatment of the Classical vowels and vowel contrasts (-i and -iyy), they all have



the same -t nisba suffix. This change took place, surprisingly enough, while the vowel contrast in the Classical language remains functionally heavy. On the lexical level, there are three vocabulary items that Ferguson ascribes to koine formation: gab (jab) ('to bring'); saf ('to see'); and the relative particle. As for 'to bring', in Classical Arabic, this meaning is expressed by using one of the two verbs that mean 'to come', 'ata or ja'a with the preposition bi- ('with'). In the dialects, the verb 'ata disappears, and a variant of j,fa remains in use. But the meaning of 'to bring' is expressed by the fusion of the verb and the preposition. The resulting verb is gab, and the imperfect yigtb. In the dialects, this verb is a regular hollow verb. In the Classical language, there is no trace of such a fusion between this verb and the preposition. Concerning the second verb 'to see', it was and remains ra'a!yara in Classical Arabic. In the dialects, the verb is shaf In these dialects, there are some traces of the traditional verb, such as the marginal Moroccan word rani 'I am' and derivatives such as warra 'to show'. The third and final feature of the alleged koine is the relative particle illi. The relative marker in Classical Arabic is allaflt, which differs according to gender and number and in agreement with the noun it modifies. In the pre-Islamic Bedouin dialects, there was great variation in the form of this particle, and thus, it is not surprising that it disappears in the New Arabic vernacular. But the fact that it developed in a very similar way, apart from slight phonetic variations, in all dialects, can, according to this theory, be explained only by the existence of a koine. Besides the velarization of t in the numbers thirteen through nineteen, there is another phonetic feature common among the urban dialects as opposed to the Classical language, taltalah. It was described by Arab grammarians as a dialect feature, and therefore, it is natural that it remains in Modern Arabic dialects as a continuation from the old Arabic base. However, in pre-Islamic Arabia, some dialects did not have the taltalah feature, and I expect that dialects without taltalah are reflected in the spectrum of Modern Arabic. The fact of the matter is that all Modern Arabic dialects have this feature in the affixes. There are two theoretical difficulties with the theory of a koine as the base input source for the Arabicization process: the first is demographic, and the second the features Ferguson uses to motivate his claim. It is commonly assumed that the development from pre-Islamic to New Arabic took place in the new urban centers established during



and after the conquests. It is hard, though, to believe that koine took shape during the short period of the initial conquests for several reasons. The entire conquest of Iraq took approximately five years and nearly ten years in Egypt. In Syria, there were no garrison towns after the abandonment of al-Jabiyah due to the plague. As can be seen in the following chapter, during the period of the conquests, the inhabitants of garrison towns were not a stable group. Armies were always seeking further conquest, and there was a constant influx of newcomers from the peninsula to join the ranks. It is improbable for a certain linguistic feature to be developed and standardized against such a fluctuating social background. The success of the conquests encouraged the migration from Arabia to the garrison towns (al-Musawi 1982: 71), especially Basra. Newcomers came with their old dialect habits fresh from Arabia to meet others who were also not long isolated from their native regions and dialects. Contact with Arabia was constant, and in such a context, it would be difficult to maintain any linguistic innovation, provided it took place in the first place. Moreover, mostly tribes that spoke one dialect, or similar dialects, carried out the migration to a garrison town like Basra. Most of the migrants to this garrison during the early conquest period were from Tamim and Bakr (as-Sayyad 1990: 47), which spoke dialects quite approximate to the Classical language of poetry and the Qur'an, and probably maintained a case system of a sort. The situation in other garrison towns must have been similar, since it was customary for soldiers to bring their families and relations from Arabia to live with them. In such a case, even if a koine existed, the minute differences between the original similar dialects will be leveled out, but that resulting koine would differ from the koine produced, for instance, in Fustat where most of the inhabitants originally spoke West Arabian dialects. The demographic structure of garrison towns would have dictated various koines, not a single one. In the light of such demographic circumstances, it is difficult for a koine to have existed in the garrison towns in this early period. According to the demographic and geographical circumstances of Arabia before the conquests, one is inclined to think that a koine or a continuous process must have been taking place before the conquests. When Arabs came to the garrison towns allot of the differences must have been leveled out already. Several points of criticism have been directed to the linguistic aspect of the theory of the koine. First, the fourteen features of a koine,



ascribed by Ferguson, can be seen as a result of a general trend in all Semitic languages. Blau (1988: 27-8) claims that the loss of the dual from verbs, adjectives and pronouns is a phenomenon that took place in all other Semitic languages, making it a result of a general drift that took place in all the dialects separately. Another feature that Blau (1988: 29) ascribes to drift is the loss of the w-final verbs, which disappeared from the other Semitic languages (Hebrew and Aramaic) before Arabic. As mentioned before, general drift is not the cause for a certain innovation; it merely states that the behavior took place in more than one language. An innovation like this, as I suggest later, must be the result of a modification process affecting an already precarious element. Other features are too difficult to ascribe to a koine with any certainty, such as taltala. The -i- of the imperfect verb existed side by side with the a-imperfect in pre-Islamic dialects, and the two forms were distributed. But the use of the i-imperfect was the result of a later generalization. As for the i in the other inflectional suffixes, it came, Blau (1988: 28) claims, through an intricate process of mutual contact and parallel developments. Other features were bound to be eliminated in separate dialects separately. The loss of the feminine elative was, Blau claims, a development bound to take place because this feature in the Classical language was a special formation and a very limited structure (Blau 1988: 31). New Arabic dialects that inherited the limited use of this feature must have abandoned it independently. On the other hand, the feminine of calor words and ordinal numbers is much more stable than the feminine elative because they exhibit normal formation. Consequently, they remain functional in the dialects. Secondly, the three lexical items Ferguson uses to support the koine theory, saf, gab and illi, may not be products of a koine. Cohen (1963: 139-41) shows that saf and illi are not common to all sedentary dialects, and therefore, could not have been features of a single source koine. Kaye (1989: 212 and Talmoudi 1984: 50) demonstrate that in the dialect of Susa, the verb ra is used to mean 'see' instead of saf. Cohen (1975: 106) shows that the Jewish dialect of the city of Tunis uses ra for 'see' and not saf. Jewish dialects of Arabic in Iraq and Yemen, in addition to North Africa, did not use the verb saf (Kaye 1989: 212-5). The dialects that lost contact with the mainland Arabic dialects in the Middle Ages, Maltese Arabic and Cypriot Maronite Arabic, do not have saffor 'see'. Cowan (1966: 416) points out that Maltese



Arabic has the verb ra for 'see'. Newton ( 1964: 45) states that Cypriot Arabic uses the root r ' y for 'see'. This means that the use of saf, in North Africa at least, cannot be dated before the year 1290 A. D. after the separation of Malta from the rest of the Arabic speaking world (Cowan 1966: 417). Therefore, the use of these lexical items could have resulted from mutual contact or diffusion. The fact that certain urban dialects in North Africa and Iraq do not share certain distinctive features with the surrounding dialects is a point the koine theory needs to explain. Contact and borrowing between dialects is not a strange phenomenon in Arabic. A clear case is the use of the negative enclitic -s in the dialects of North Africa and Egypt. The absence of this form from the dialects of the Gulf and greater Syria shows that this feature could not have come by means of Ferguson's koine. In addition, the absence of this form means that it must have spread before the prolonged strong ties between Syria and Egypt in the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods. The fact that the Si'i dialects of greater Syria have the negative form -s indicates that it was probably used in Fatimid Egypt at the time of their migration from Egypt in the tenth century AH (Brustad 2000: 371). It is, therefore, often difficult to identify whether a certain feature, especially phonological and/or lexical, spread as a result of a koine or as a result of contact and borrowing. Thirdly, Modern Arabic dialects have few syntactic differences. Great similarities exist between dialects in verb systems, the use of participles, time reference, and temporal framing (Brustad 2000: 1667). There is also a strong parallel among dialects concerning patterns of negation. All dialects have three patterns for negation: one is for negating verbs (Brustad 2000: 284-301); one for negating predicates (Brustad 2000: 301-6); and one for categorical negation (Brustad 2000: 306-13). All dialects, in addition, behave similarly in using these forms and in exchanging one for the other. Moreover, sentence typology in all the modern dialects is the same. All dialects are of SVO and VSO type. Both typologies are used in a principled manner (Brustad 2000: 368). Even when other types of word order occur (OVS, fronting, predicate-fronting), they behave in the same manner and have similar functions. It is difficult to accept that these striking syntactic similarities among dialects developed from a single koine. Rather, these similarities likely originate from a basic similarity among pre-Islamic Arabic dialects that shared the same roots.



Fourthly, the existence of certain features in geographically isolated areas means that they did not develop through mutual contact, or a koine, since they are not common to all dialects. The indefinite-specific article si that is found in Moroccan and Syrian Arabic is not found in Egypt or the Gulf dialects. Such a feature must either have developed in Syria and Morocco independently in parallel developments, or have come from a common origin: pre-Islamic Arabic dialects. There are other patterns of nominal marking that refer to the same origin. Among them are: the topic article wal:zid 'one', demonstrative articles, and the use of non-gendered demonstrative pronouns in modifying low-individuated nouns (Brustad 2000: 370 n. 1).6 The above historical and linguistic criticism greatly challenges Ferguson's koine theory. 7 A koine may have existed, but in a manner different from that described by Ferguson. After the emergence of garrison towns from camps, and after the end of the period of major conquests, life started to take permanent shape in these towns. Because the inhabitants of each garrison town came from approximately homogeneous linguistic backgrounds, it was easy for minor differences to be leveled out. If it is true that certain tribes took part in the conquests of certain regions, then these tribes with their dialects inhabited one garrison town and not the others. This means that the Arabs of Basra belonged to a group of dialects that have many features in common, and the same goes for other garrison towns. Provided that this scenario is true, several koines must have appeared, each in a garrison town, in a different region. Since the syntax of the modern Arabic dialects is more or less similar, differences among the koines must have been phonetic and morphological m ore than anything else. However, if phonetic and morphological differences were leveled out by means of different parallel koines, how do we account for the similarities among modern Arabic dialects, each of which supposedly came from a different koine? Cohen, in a modified type of the koine theory, claims ( 1970: 105125) that the similarity among dialects came about by means of convergence. According to Cohen, differences among tribal dialects were leveled out in the military camps, and each region developed its dialect from a regional koine, locally by means of independent evolution.
For more on these patterns and definitions, see Brustad (2000). For a summary of Ferguson's theory, see Miller (1986: 47-74). For the criticism of the fourteen features, see Blau (1965: 12 and 1977: 21-24), Bloch (1967) and Cohen (1970: 115-119).



According to this theory, local New Arabic dialects developed from the regional, modified variety of Arabic, in addition to whatever substrata! influence the native language of the region exerted. Later, when certain regions began to be more prestigious than others, their linguistic features spread to other regions. Moreover, all dialects began to borrow features from the Classical language and that of the Qur'an. These two unifying factors brought dialects together. One example for the spread of linguistic features by mutual contact is the diffusion of the negative circumfix ma-s in Egypt from North Africa. The absence of this form from the other Arabic dialects adjacent to Egypt means that it did not spread by mere dialect contact. The use of this circumfix by Si'i dialects in greater Syria indicates that it was a feature reserved to Si'i dialects of the Arab world. If this is true, one would assume that it developed in North Africa and spread to Egypt with the Fatimid dynasty. When Driiz and Si'i migrated to Syria, the circumfix persisted in their dialects. Therefore, the western part of North Africa was a linguistic center from which the ma-s circumfix spread throughout the western part of the Arab world. The displacement of communities by migration carried this circumfix to Syria. If convergence was responsible for bringing together dialects that developed independently, it should not only be responsible for morphological and morpho-syntactic aspects of the language, but also for phonological and phonetic aspects. This does not seem to be the case judging from the modern Arabic dialects. In urban dialects of North Africa, the Classical consonant phoneme /q/ is used, while the urban dialects of Egypt replace it with the phoneme !'!, the glottal stop. Another difference concerns the Classical consonant phoneme of /j/. In some Syrian dialects it is so pronounced, while !g! is used in Egyptian Arabic. If we assume that convergence affected levels only higher than the sounds of the language, how can the theory of convergence account for the development of similar features in remote dialect areas that did not come in contact? The Moroccan and Syrian indefinite specific article si is a good case, because while it exists in both dialects, it does not in Egyptian Arabic. Were all the similarities among dialects a result of a process of convergence, Egypt would have developed a form like si, or at least a variant of it. The parallel development of certain aspects of the dialects, in my point of view, without a doubt, points to the fact that the grammatical aspects existed in all the input sources for Arabicization. In other



words, these linguistic similarities existed in pre-Islamic Arabic. Again, the previous chapter confirmed that all the conditions in the peninsula were conducive to such approximation. Dialects nonetheless did produce different forms in the process of acquiring the language, or simply used the original source. Similar aspects and different forms suggest a common origin for all dialects, which guaranteed a similar syntactic structure for all dialects. However, dialects developed independently, and produced different forms for the same aspects. Take for example the prefix aspectual markers and the genitive exponents. At certain points in the history of Arabic, due to sociopolitical reasons, certain features were diffused from one dialect area to another. One feature that spread from one center outwards is the lexical item saf ('see'). Any later process of convergence, however, did not unify the dialects completely. Certain features of unique dialect development persisted. Cohen (1970) also hypothesizes correctly that several koines must have emerged in the different regions outside the Arabian Peninsula as an initial phase in the development of New Arabic vernaculars, in order to iron out any linguistic differences between the different tribes participating to the garrison. In each region, one or more garrison towns, where the koines were initiated, were established. If, as I explain in the following chapter, the new urban centers contained inhabitants who spoke somewhat similar pre-Islamic dialects, the differences must have been small, and may have been easily reconciled. The new urban koines spread to the rest of the conquered regions. After this primary stage, diffusion could have taken place as in the case of the negative circumfix in Egypt, which came to this region from North Africa by means of migration. Parallel development may theoretically have been responsible for the development of similar tendencies in different forms, such as the genitive exponents and the indefinite specific articles. To take the example further, if the case system was decaying in pre-Islamic Arabic, and if all the dialects needed to develop exponents, they did. They still developed, however, different exponents because the innovation was not defused from a linguistic center of prestige to other areas. A koine as a primary stage in Arabicization, together with later processes, may have been responsible for the similarity of modern Arabic dialects in some shared features and tendencies. Theoretically, however, I do not hold the idea of a koine or several urban koines in high esteem. Two points are worth mentioning



here. First, the aforementioned pre-Islamic situation and the overall harmony of dialects taking part in the conquests of certain regions as I will explain in the coming chapter render the concept of a koine superfluous. Secondly, the presumed koine did not iron out all differences among dialects. There are differences on all levels of linguistic analysis. Its explanatory power is, therefore, not strong. The theory of differentkoines in urban centers of the conquered territories does not explain the differences among modern Arabic dialects. Although syntactic structures among all the modern dialects are very similar, in some cases, dialects follow unique routes of development, not common ones. In Syrian Arabic, for instance, there is an object resumptive marker li- that marks highly individuated direct and oblique objects. This preposition marks objects shifts to sentence-final positions (Brustad 2000: 353). Its function is to identify the position of the dislocated object. The use of this preposition for this function exists in the Syrian dialects only. This marking parallels other cases where Syrian Arabic accords syntactic attention to the individuated noun; the indefinite-specific article (Brustad 2000: 370) is an example. In Moroccan Arabic, besides the normal relativization with illi, there are other unique strategies that exist nowhere else. There is the relative pronoun Jas that relativizes low-individuated non-human nouns (Brustad 2000: 106-7), and requires no position marking by a resumptive pronoun. Even in the case of relative clauses using illi, Moroccan Arabic rarely uses a position-marking resumptive pronoun, except in negative sentences. The domain of morpho-syntax is especially variable among Arabic dialects. In Syrian Arabic, the imperfect verb prefix b- is functionally heavier than in the other dialects. It expresses, as in Gulf Arabic dialects, a future function, or, like Egyptian Arabic, expresses a state indicative function. In addition, Syrian Arabic uses more modal markers than the other dialects. These elements and their development await explanation. Some scholars propose that differences among modern dialects may be the result of substrata} influence in each region. Substrata} influence is the influence of an original native language that has already disappeared. In such cases, the speakers of Arabic dialects are thought to have come under the influence of a language long gone in certain features, which distinguish this dialect from other dialects, which did not fall under the same influence. Since the input language was not very diversified, different features, according to this theory, must have



developed independently, when the native populations first learned Arabic and spoke it each with their own idiosyncrasies. 8 In the Arab world, the proposed influence of the original native language is of two kinds: adstratal and substratal. We speak of adstratal influence when the native language is still spoken side by side with Arabic. This type of influence remains current in North Africa, where Berber dialects are still spoken. Versteegh (1997a: 104) cites three examples for the Berber influence on the Arabic of the Algerian dialect of Djidjellii. First, in the Berber dialects there is a group of approximately 150 words that start with the prefix a-. The same prefix extended to words of Arabic origin as well, such as asder ('breast'). Contemporary speakers of Arabic use this prefix as a definite article, for it is mutually exclusive with the original Arabic al-, and the words can be heard with and without this prefix. In the same dialect, certain words change the gender under the influence of the equivalent Berber words; lh'em ('meat') is feminine, while it is masculine in Arabic. Like Berber, the word ma 'water' is plural. In the case of Berber, there is the prefix a- just mentioned, which also occurs with Arabic nouns. This is probably an example of interference in a bilingual context. It is not certain that the case will remain so in the case of the disappearance of the adstratum from the linguistic scene. As for the change of gender and number in the other two cases of Berber influence, the same change of gender in some nouns is a common phenomenon in other Arabic dialects that had no contact whatsoever with Berber. In Egyptian Arabic, ras ('head') is feminine, unlike ra's in Classical Arabic. In regards to Arabic and Aramaic in Syria, we have a case where substrata! influence has been suggested. One phenomenon attributed to the influence of Aramaic is the voiceless production of the phoneme /q/ as a glottal stop. The fact that other dialects share this feature weakens the plausibility of such an explanation, however. Another phenomenon of alleged Aramaic influence on Syrian Arabic is the elision of the short vowels /i/ and /u/, and the change from interdental sounds to dentals. The last feature is also shared by Egyptian Arabic dialect, while many other dialects share the elision of short vowels (Versteegh 1997a: 103-105).It may very well be the case that a certain phenomenon in a certain dialect developed through the influence of

8 For more on the history, development, and scope of transfer or cross-linguistic influence, sees (Jarvis and Pavlenko 2008).



the substrate, but the mere fact that more than one dialect with different substrates shares the same phenomenon makes it difficult to determine whether the phenomenon is a result of substrata! influence, or of natural and/or internal development. The fact that Egyptian Arabic lost the interdentals, and shifted to dentals, which were found in the Coptic language, pointing to a possible Coptic influence in the production of Arabic interdental phonemes. When we consider that Syrian Arabic shifted interdentals to dentals, this hypothesis weakens, especially as the shift took place from a marked feature to an unmarked one, i.e. the shift is natural. Marked phenomena are more likely to change than unmarked phenomena, so it is very likely that the development from interdentals to dentals, for instance, was natural. After the introduction of a certain language change, like the shift from interdental sounds to dentals, it is possible that a context is created where the two features exist side by side for a time. In a context like this, the role of the original language in the process of second language acquisition is selecting one of the two variables. If the substratum does not have the old variable, it is natural for its speakers to select the innovation. In the case of shift from interdentals to dentals, Coptic and Aramaic did not have interdentals, and it was reasonable that speakers of these languages would use dentals. Therefore, the role of Coptic and Aramaic could have merely been tipping the balance towards the innovation, and not creating it. The same goes for case endings. In the pre-Islamic dialects of Arabia, the case system existed in some dialects, and disappeared from others. Since the native languages of the conquered regions either already lost the case system long before the Arab conquests or did not have it in the first place, it was logical to use the caseless system provided there was exposure to the two kinds of Arabic dialects. The case of the alleged influence of Coptic on Egyptian Arabic is a good instance for the state of research on this phenomenon. Coptic substrata! influence was carefully studied, and yielded negative results in most of the proposed cases. 9 As far as the influence of Coptic on Egyptian Arabic phonology is concerned, several instances were proposed. Praetorius (1901: 145) proposes that 'the abundance of vowel colors' in Egyptian Arabic is the result of Coptic vowel behavior. But

9 Despite the generally negative results, some scholars assume that it is only reasonable that Egyptian Arabic was influenced by Coptic (Palva 1969: 128).



the fact that the Palestinian dialect group shares this richness with Egyptian Arabic weakens this explanation (Littmann 1902: 681). Bishai (1959: 63-4 and 1960: 227) lists seven other proposed instances of alleged phonological influence of Coptic on Egyptian Arabic: the phonematization of /p/, !g/, le/ and /6/, the laxness off'/, lack of aspiration in the voiceless stops, palatalization of velar sounds, and fronting certain points of articulation. The last three instances are merely allophanic changes, while the first four are phonemic. As far as the first four elements on the list are concerned, Bishai (1959: 64-70) shows that they are not the result of Coptic influence. He claims that the phonematization of /p/ was a result of contact with European languages, as it occurs in fairly recent European loanwords (1959: 65). He also claims that the phonematization of the Cairo /g/ cannot be the result of Coptic influence, because this sound occurs only in Bohairic Coptic as an allophone of /k/ (1959: 65). As for the laxness of!'! and the phonematization of /e/ and /6/, Bishai claims that they have come through a process of internal development. The laxness of !'!, according to Bishai (1959: 67-8) cannot be labeled a result of Coptic influence. The same tendency took place in Akkadian in ancient history, in some l:Iijazi Arabic dialects where this sound was depharyngealized and in Modern Hebrew in recent times. On the syntactic and morpho-syntactic levels, Spitta (1880: x) and Galtier (1902: 212-216), as early as the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth A. D., declared that there is no grammatical feature that can be attributed to Coptic influence with certainty. But Bishai (1959; 1960: 225-229; 1962: 285-289; and 1964: 39-47) adduces substrata! grammatical influence. In this respect, five features were ascribed to the effect of Coptic: word-order of interrogatives (Praetorius 1901: 145-147); mcHimperfective as expressing imperative; the pattern 'a+personal pronoun+perfective to express the past tense; the use of the demonstrative pronoun in non-verbal sentences; the use of the adjective+ 'an as a comparative pattern (Li ttmann 1902: 681-684). Bishai ( 1962: 287) states that the indicative form of the verb expresses the imperative in Coptic. In some cases, where causative verbs are used, a prefix ma- precedes the indicative to express imperative. He goes on to state that although Egyptian Arabic expresses imperative in the same way as Classical Arabic, there is another form that does not appear in Classical Arabic and/or in any other dialect, which is



formed from the prefix mii- and the indicative form of the verb. The form mii tisrab ('drink'), Bishai claims, is a form of the imperative that does not exist in other dialects of Arabic which do not share this use of mii with Egyptian Arabic. It must, rather, have come from Coptic because of the similarity in the form and its use. Palva contradicts Bishai's explanation when he (1969: 130-4) asserts that although this use is not attested in any other Semitic language, there is a similar use in Classical Arabic. Palva (1969: 131) asserts that mii is used in Classical Arabic affixed to other particles to express requiring with urgency or politeness. In addition, the same use of mii+imperfect, Palva maintains, seems to exist in Palestinian Arabic as well. Another feature of Egyptian Arabic Bishai ascribes to the substrata! influence of Coptic is the word order of interrogative sentences ( 1962: 286). If the sentence constituent in question is the subject or predicate of the clause, the question word is fronted in Coptic, Classical Arabic, and Egyptian Arabic. When the word under question is an adverbial, the question word is also fronted in Classical Arabic, Coptic and Egyptian Arabic, with the possibility of post-positioning it. But when the word under question is the object of the verb, it is fronted in Classical Arabic, but is obligatorily post-positioned in Coptic and Egyptian Arabic. This explanation is plausible, even though it is theoretically possible, at least, for Classical Arabic to post-position the question word in the same case that Coptic and Egyptian Arabic post-position it. 10 According to Diem (1979), in order to ascribe a feature of the modern dialects to substrata! influence, two conditions have to be fulfilled. First, the feature should exist in both the modern Arabic dialect and the original language. Second, wherever the same original language was not spoken, the feature should not exist (Diem 1979: 12-80). These two conditions make it impossible to ascribe most of the variations among modern Arabic urban dialects to substrata! influence. The voiceless production of /q/, the shift to dentals from interdentals, and probably the fronting of the question word in Egyptian Arabic need to be explained by means of a more general and universal process of development. Very few aspects of some Arabic dialects, according to Diem (1979), can be attributed to substrata! influence. One such case

1 For opinions against Bishai's, see Galtier (1902), O'Leary (1934: 252). For total rejection of the Coptic influence on Egyptian Arabic in word-order in the interrogatives, see Munzel (1950: 766-76).



is the elision of the short vowel /a/ in open unstressed syllables in Lebanese Arabic, which may have been influenced by the phonemic structure of the Aramaic substratum. Another case of substrata! influence involves South Arabian and the Yemenite dialects of Arabic. In the first example, first and second person singular in the perfect tense have the suffix -k-, instead of the Classical Arabic -t-. This feature exists in the western mountains where the Himyaritic language was spoken (Versteegh 1997a: 106). In addition, the plural patterns fa'awwil and ji'wal, which are exclusively used in some Yemenite dialects, exist in Mehri, and could have been borrowed into Arabic even before Islam. These two plural patterns exist in the mountain areas where the first Arab tribes settled in the region. Even if, in addition to the cases mentioned by Diem, the post-positioning of question words has come about through substrata! influence, all these instances are minor. There is no major syntactic difference among the modern dialects of Arabic that is caused by the influence of the original native languages. The effect of the original languages is naturally felt in the lexicon. Several studies have been conducted to investigate the effect of the Coptic lexicon on Egyptian Arabic. Most loanwords of Coptic in Egyptian Arabic are in technical contexts, such as Christian worship, names of animals, tools, and plants, and place names. No common words have spread from Coptic to Egyptian Arabic. Still, the total number of loanwords in Egyptian Arabic, according to Bishai (1959: 136) is only 109Y Explaining the similarities among the dialects by a koine or general drift is not satisfactory for the reasons given above. Similarly, the differences among the dialects cannot have come about by means of the substrata! influence, or at least, the current stage of data and research does not support this idea. Some theories have appeared which claim that the similarity between the dialects and the Classical language is due to the common pre-Islamic base or to the later influence of the Classical standard. These theories assign the differences between the dialects and the Classical standard to the acquisition process of Arabic by non-Arabs and the corruptive effect thereof.

For studies of Coptic loanwords in Egyptian Arabic, see Sobhy (1950) and Bishai (1959: 92-134, and 1964).

122 3.2.3


New Arabic as a Function of Acquisition

Slight differences among the dialects point towards variation in the input sources. Substrata! influence cannot explain them, and the overwhelming similarity among the dialects does not seem to indicate different development of certain dialects apart from others. Yet, one cannot overlook the effect of divergence in the later phases of development. There has always been a division among scholars as to what caused the difference between New Arabic dialects and Pre-Islamic Arabic. On the one hand, old Arab grammarians and some western scholars ascribe the deviation to non-Arabs, whose deficient acquisition of the language produced the loss of the case system and its side effects-the change from a synthetic to an analytic type of language. On the other hand, most Western scholars claim that New Arabic vernaculars are a result of changes that were already taking place in preIslamic in pre-Islamic times. In the period of the conquests, and immediately thereafter, Arabs concentrated their presence in camps, and communication with nonArabs was reserved for functional purposes. 12 Therefore, the primary interest must have been in communication, not linguistic accuracy. To meet the pressing need for learning Arabic, non-Arabs found no schooling or organized language teaching. According to the Arab grammarians, the resulting deficiency in Arabic learning by non-Arabs was transmitted to the Arabs themselves, because the non-Arabs penetrated every layer of the Arab society. Lal:m, 'deficiency' in Arabic, crept to even the highest level of Arab society, and Arab children inherited the deficient form of Arabic as a mother tongue. This process took place in the urban communities, but the desert remained, for a while at least, immune because non-Arabs did not penetrate it to the extent that they did in the cities. When Bedouin Arabs migrated from I:lijaz and other parts of Arabia, and intermingled with non-Arabs in the cities, the language they heard became their own. Eventually, they lost their native intuition and became themselves speakers of the new type of Arabic. As for those who did not leave Arabia in the period of migration after the conquests, they retained their pre-Islamic dialects. Grammarians of the second and third centuries AH felt the difference between New Arabic, which they described as corrupt, and the pre-


See the third section of chapter four below.



Islamic Arabic, which they described as pure, to be immense, because they assumed that the language of the Qur'an was the same as the Bedouin dialects of the day. Therefore, they depended on Bedouins as informants in their linguistic studies. Fi.ick, who adopts the same opinions as Arab grammarians, claims that the differences among dialects were merely stylistic (Fi.ick 1980: 15)Y Furthermore, if there were any differences between these dialects and the language of the Qur'an, they were leveled out in the period of the conquests by means of the military koine. As a result of the conquests, the Arabs controlled vast areas of land with different landscapes, and hosting different cultures. According to Fi.ick, Arabs would have been lost in these cultures were it not for the unity of speech they all shared. This speech remained unaffected by the other languages of the empire, because some Arabs maintained their old Bedouin life style. The settlement policy of the second Caliph encouraged this attitude and forbade the Arabs to settle on land or engage in agricultural activities or any lifestyle other than war. Therefore, Arabs remained in campsites (Fi.ick 1980: 19), where the stylistic differences among their dialects were leveled out. The later break of the self-imposed isolation of the Arabs, according to Fi.ick, led to the emergence of the urban dialects, which were called the new type of Arabic. According to Fi.ick, the Arabs who inherited the deserted lands of the old state had to settle in the countryside in small numbers. Even in places where Arabs were a majority, huge numbers of natives immigrated. In the military camps, large numbers of Persian troops, for example, joined the Arab armies in Iraq. Large numbers of merchants and craftsmen of native origin lived off of the military garrison towns. Although these groups had limited contact with Arabs, the effect of their presence was felt. A higher degree of contact resulted from importing large numbers of slaves into the garrison towns and the Arabian heartland. Communication between Arabs and these nonArab household workers had to be carried out in the sole possible linguafranca, Arabic (Fi.ick 1980: 19-21). This continuous contact led non-Arabs to learn Arabic incorrectly because of the lack of formal language education. Deficient learning of Arabic was characterized, according to Fi.ick, by the disappearance of the case system (Fi.ick 1980: 21-22). Up to the third quarter of the first century of the Islamic era,


This conclusion relies on the Arabic translation of this monograph.



according to this theory, the type of Arabic spoken by the mawali did not affect the Arab elite, due to the social barriers between the two groups. The infiltration of mawalt in Arab society brought about the transmission of linguistic features from New Arabic to the speech of the Arabs. Mawalt were nurses, mothers, slaves and concubines of the Arabs, whose contact with the mainland was minimized by the spread of urbanization. Non-Arab household members who spoke deficient Arabic surrounded Arab children, and the children learned this Arabic as a mother tongue. To Fi.ick, the introduction of New Arabic spread from the bottom layers of society to the higher Arab elite. What facilitated the emergence of New Arabic rather than learning correct Arabic, besides the lack of formal learning, was the continuous use of languages other than Arabic in the garrison towns. Bilingualism was a common phenomenon in the garrison camps in the first century (Fi.ick 1980: 24-26). By the beginning of the second century AH, mawalt, whose Arabic was deficient, but who perfected other Arabic sciences, were in prominent positions in religion and in literature. Even the Umayyad Dynasty, the symbol of Arabism, produced caliphs like al-Walid whose Arabic was not as eloquent as that of his father 'Abdu al-Malik. In this scenario, mawali are assigned two conflicting roles at the same time. Initially, mawali had to learn Arabic. In this process, they produced a form that was not similar to the input variety to which they were exposed. Then, when they infiltrated Arab society and households, they taught the modified Arabic to the Arab children. Thus, the mawali created the New Arabic type, but its dissemination and nativization were the job of the rising Arab generations after the beginning of the second century of the Islamic era. Fi.ick assumes that the Peninsular Arabs spoke the language of the Qur'an. Therefore, it was natural that he sought to explain the deficiencies of Arabs and non-Arabs in producing this variety after the Arab conquests. Agreeing with Fi.ick, the deficient learning of the language of the Qur'an produced an incorrect version of this variety in the poetry, writings and even the elevated speech of Arabs and non-Arabs in the later Umayyad period. However, in the previous chapter explains that the vernacular of the Peninsular Arabs was not the variety of the Qur'an, but composed of different dialects that included trends of development, and that the differences between vernaculars and the Qur'an were more than stylistic. It is logical to assume that speakers of the



vernaculars could not speak the language of poetry, although eastern dialects had some features in common with the language of the Qur'an and poetry, most likely a sort of case system. Therefore, it was natural that Arabs and non-Arabs after the conquests failed to produce correct utterances in the variety of the Qur'an. One idea in the scenario drawn by Fiick is rather interesting. He assumes that non-Arabs transmitted the modified language to new generations of Arabs when mawalz penetrated the lives of the Arab elite. It is difficult to imagine that native Arabs, whose notion of grammaticality was strong, could allow their children to acquire 'faulty' varieties of their language. The implausibility of this idea becomes clearer when we consider that contact with non-Arabs, whatever their numbers and social roles, took place only in Arab cities and communities where Arabic was the prestigious language of the majority. This scenario also does not explain how this process began, and does not identify the linguistic input. One explanation is provided by a theory of pidginization posited by Versteegh (1984): [A]ll modern dialects of Arabic [are] originally pidginized varieties of CA, which were almost immediately creolized by children who were born of foreign mothers and Arab fathers or of foreign parents who belonged to different linguistic communities with only Arabic as a common language (Versteegh 1984: 115). Modern Arabic dialects, according to Versteegh, are the result of the informal attempt of non-Arabs to learn the Arabic language, which was originally similar to that of the Qur'an and pre-Islamic poetry. Contrary to the beliefs of other scholars of Arabic, Versteegh assumes that there was no major discrepancy between the colloquial language and the Classical Arabic variety in pre-Islamic times (Versteegh 1984: 2). One argument in favor of this view states that there are no pseudo-corrections in the pre-Islamic "texts", which is also supported by Blau. Another argument is the testimony of the Arab grammarians who trusted the authenticity of the Bedouin Arabs. To Versteegh, these testimonies are too explicit to be ignored, and can only lead to the conclusion that the vernacular and the literary language were one and the same, even after the Arab conquests (Versteegh 1984: 3). The pre-Islamic vernacular used the case system, as posited by Versteegh (1984: 4). He assumes accordingly that this feature is not effective in distinguishing between the old and new types of Arabic.



According to Versteegh, the linguistic situation changed dramatically after the conquests. On the one hand, the Bedouins, whose connection with the new cities was minimal, retained their old speech habits, until finally sedentarization affected them. On the other hand, Versteegh (1984: 5) believes that the changes that took place in the language used by Arabs in the cities of the conquered lands resulted from corruption at the hands of non-Arabs attempting to learn the language of their masters. The originally uniform language became the essence of the Classical language, while the corruption that resulted from a radical departure from the rules of the old type of Arabic and the urgent need for a lingua Jranca resulted in the emergence of spoken vernaculars. Essentially, diglossia became the distinctive marker of the linguistic situation (Versteegh 1984: 6). To understand the nature of the development from the pre-Islamic to the new type of Arabic, Versteegh ( 1984: 6-7) posits that we must resort to the modern Arabic dialects, the direct descendants of the New Arabic vernaculars. For this purpose, Versteegh concentrates on two types of the Arabic dialects: the Sprachinsel, which are dialects that lost contact with the main Arabic-speaking community and Arabic pidgins and trade languages. Sprachinsel dialects are interesting because they show the Arabic creolized varieties without any leveling that may have been caused by contact with the Classical standardY Versteegh examines Arabic pidgins and trade languages because they show the degree of decay that may affect a language under a certain set of circumstances. Versteegh ( 1984: 17) goes on to state that after the conquests and the emergence of New Arabic urban vernaculars, the Classical language did not die, but remained as the language of literature, religion and probably that of high society as well. The only group that retained Classical Arabic as a spoken vernacular for any length of time was the Bedouin Arabs of the desert. The response of the Arab grammarians to the emergence of New Arabic vernaculars, Versteegh (1984: 9-11) claims, was to study the Arabic grammar with the sole purpose of correcting the pronunciation of the Qur'an and its recitation. Versteegh (1984: 19) correctly states that the different theories setting out to explain the emergence of the new urban vernaculars, as
14 The idea of Sprachinsel is not very accurate as some of them have lived as mainstream Arabic dialects wrtil a later period, and should, therefore, have had some contact with the Classical standard The Arabic variety spoken in Malta is one such example.



opposed to Classical Arabic, limited themselves to explaining either the similarities among dialects or the differences among dialects and the substrata! influence. No explanation, however, has been proposed to address the similar tendencies and the different realizations among them. In his point of view, it is difficult to reconcile these theories because they stem from conflicting starting points. Some theories assume that changes that took place after the conquests were latent in the language of pre-Islamic Arabs, and continued after the conquests. Therefore, they do not accept a sudden break between the two linguistic situations. Other theories propound the unity of language in the pre-Islamic period, and envision a sudden break in the language between the post-conquest and pre-conquest eras. At the center of dispute between the two groups lies the case system. While the first group assumes that the case system was in decay before the conquest, the second group believes that it was still in use. The case system, to Versteegh, is 'relatively irrelevant' since it is a mere feature of change alongside more subtle and dramatic changes, i.e., the change from synthetic to analytic language structures. Versteegh (1984: 26) seeks the explanation of the modern Arabic dialect similarities and differences by the input used in learning Arabic. In this respect, differences between vernaculars and the language of poetry before Islam do not matter. Along this line of thinking, it is to be expected that the input to be learned was the vernacular. Since Versteegh believes that there were no major differences between the vernaculars and the Classical language, it is immaterial which of the two varieties was used as a learnable input because whatever differences existed between the two varieties, they were merely regional minute differences. As a result, it does not matter whether the differences were koineized immediately after the conquests. What matters the most, is that there were large numbers of people who felt the urge to learn Arabic as quickly as possible. Arabic was the language of Bedouins in the Arabian Peninsula, and came to be adopted by a large group of different peoples who belonged to different cultures (Versteegh: 1984: 27). In this scenario of Arabic acquisition, the input source was simplified to a large extent, and was brought back to the mainstream of Arabic at a later period, thanks to the pervasive influence of the Classical standard. According to this theory, Arab grammarians launched the study of grammar to counter a corruptive trend in the language of the Qur'an.



While Versteegh agrees with grammarians about their purpose, he does not regard the differences between the Classical variety and New Arabic dialects situated in urban areas as a collection of linguistic mistakes, but as a fundamental difference ( 1984: 28) caused by sociolinguistic circumstances in the conquered lands. These circumstances allowed the non-Arabs to pidginize Arabic varieties instead of acquiring a normal Arabic dialect as a second language. Apart from Arabs in the new growing urban centers, there were groups of non-Arabs whose native languages differed. A lingua franca, therefore, had to be devised for communication. As for the countryside, Versteegh (1984: 65) maintains that in the beginning of the Abbasid Empire, and under the lamentable economic conditions, native farmers were forced to abandon their land and seek a living elsewhere. Arabs, for the first time, were allowed to own land, and they resettled abandoned villages. This demographic movement may have resulted in the intensification of contact among different peoples who spoke different languages. Versteegh (1984: 66-67) claims that when the Arabs were limited to their camps and communication was limited, groups of interpreters may have been used as intermediaries between Arabs and non-Arabs. These people must have had some knowledge of Arabic and whatever language was spoken in the conquered region to be able to carry out the task. The difference in prestige between the source language and Arabic as a target language was in favor of Arabic; cultural, military, and religious factors led to tipping the balance towards Arabic. Versteegh (1984: 67-68) claims that communication and language learning in such a context will always result in a primitive variety of the target language, which will become stable with time. Because the urban communities of the first century were heterogeneous, non-native speakers of Arabic used this primitive variety of Arabic even among themselves. Owning slave women and inter-marriages led to children who adopted this variety as their mother tongue. Versteegh (1984: 68) claims that as long as the primitive variety of Arabic was functional in communication with native speakers, non-Arabs did not try to learn a more correct variety. Arabs themselves, who assumed that non-Arabs would never be able to speak the language correctly, did not bother to correct the utterances of non-Arab interlocutors. Three facts made the Arabs adopt the broken down variety produced by non-Arabs. First, isolation from the native land and the absence of fresh migrants to fortify the



old habits of the target language were few. Second, the huge difference in number between Arabs and the native peoples in favor of the latter helped in spreading the broken down variety to all groups and did not enable the Arabs to impose their norms. Third, there were a significant number of intermarriages, which brought the primitive variety of Arabic into the home to facilitate communication between husband and wife or master and slave, or even among slave spouses who might have come from different linguistic backgrounds. In addition, marriages of this kind gave the children the primitive variety as their native source of input. In the need for communication in the presence of the three above factors and the absence of formal education, Versteegh (1984: 70-72) claims that it is natural to see the emergence of a pidginized variety of the target language and its stabilization as a creole. There is an aspect that helped pidginizing Arabic: the gulf between Arabic and the substratallanguages spoken in the conquered lands before the conquests. Therefore, no positive transfer was available. Versteegh (1984: 79) claims that, although Arabic dialects have undergone several different, and even contradictory, phases of development yielding the spoken vernaculars of today, it is not difficult to compare the phenomena of the end result with the other varieties (Classical Arabic) that did not undergo all these stages of development. Arabic dialects came into existence as a result of a process of pidginization, and then became creolized, as they became the mother tongue of new generations. Classical Arabic then influenced them and brought them back to its sphere in a process of decreolization. The last process was partially successful in obliterating the marks of the first two processes. It is, however, feasible to trace elements of pidginization in the modern Arabic dialect. Versteegh (1984: 91) lists four characteristics of the pidginization process mentioned by Heine (1982: 17) in his study of the Arabic Ki-Nubi Creole: explicit linguistic transmission tends to become more implicit; redundant linguistic items and rules tend to be abandoned; inflectional construction tend to become analytic; and context-sensitive rules tend to become context-free. The first two features aim at simplicity by eliminating the redundancy, and the third feature also aims at simplifying the language for the learner by using one morpheme instead of bothering with allomorphs and exceptions (Versteegh 1984: 82). Central Arabic dialects exhibit similar tendencies to those of the peripheral Arabic-based pidgins (Versteegh 1984: 82). In the phonology



of Arabic dialects, Versteegh claims, the inventory of phonemes is simpler than that of the Classical language, thanks to the pidginization process. Following are the phonological features that Versteegh ascribes to the effect of pidginization:
The merger of I dl and le!/ The disappearance of marked interdental phonemes The disappearance of the diphthongs lay/ and law/ and their replacement with long le/ and /o/, respectively In the peripheral dialects, purely Arabic phonemes have merged or disappeared: /'/ has merged in /'/ in Chad Arabic and partly merged in Anatolian and/'/ have disappeared in Nigerian Arabic

In the domain of morphology, Versteegh (1984: 83) asserts that one of the features of pidginization is the reduction of redundancy. Following are examples for features of this process in the morphology of Arabic dialects:
The loss of the case system from the nominal declension The emergence of new aspectual, mood, and tense markers The simplification of verb vocalism and the reduction of morphological verbal classes The disappearance of the internal passive The dramatic reduction of productive verbal forms The merger of verbs with final radical win verbs with final radical y The development of analytical genitive The periphrasis of interrogative pronouns and adverbs The use of an indeclinable relative marker

Similarly, Versteegh (1984: 99) ascribes four syntactic phenomena of the modern dialects to the effect of the pidginization process. These are as follows:
The generalization of the word order SVO The use of serial verbs The change in agreement rules when the verb precedes its subject, and between the subject and its adjective, regardless of the animateness of the subject The use of hypo tactic verbs in asyndetic modal constructions

These features, Versteegh claims, indicate that the modern Arabic dialects are the result of several processes of second language acquisition. Although these features show a drastic change from pre-Islamic dialects, later processes of leveling brought the resulting pidginized varieties back to the vicinity of the Classical language. Even in modern



times, leveling processes are not a foreign phenomenon to the Arabic language varieties. A contemporary case of leveling is taking place in the Juba Arabic Creole (spoken in Southern Sudan), where exposure to the prestigious dialect of Khartoum caused leveling by means of introducing agreement and aspectual markers to the verbal system for the first time in the creolized variety of Juba Arabic (Versteegh 1993: 72-3). The theory of pidginization has provoked a wave of criticism. 15 One point of criticism has to do with the interference of the Classical language in the decreolization process. Ferguson (1989: 5-17) asserts that although the historical structure given by Versteegh is plausible, and that some of the features of modern Arabic dialects are newly introduced classicisms, the similarity among the dialects is a result of several factors (latency, parallel innovations in sister-dialects, koineization, diffusion and borrowing from the same external source). All dialects of New Arabic have a prefix t-in the second person singular and plural and the third person singular feminine, which has persisted from the pre-Islamic dialects. There is no evidence that this feature has been lost at any moment in time in any Arabic dialect. In addition, reflexes of taltala in the sedentary dialects' subject marker prefixes of the imperfective verb refer to the existence of a feature that came by means of koineization. Furthermore, Ferguson also claims that the replacement of the synthetic genitive of Classical Arabic in New Arabic dialects by analytical expressions (using genitive exponents) is a case of drift, 16 as similar developments took place in other Semitic languages. Ferguson, opposing any role for the Classical Arabic standard in bringing together the dialects, cites the agreement patterns in both the dialects and the classical language as evidence to support that the classical features in the dialects cannot have come about through interference. In Modern Arabic dialects, there is a dual in nouns, which cannot be combined with personal suffixes or used for the plural. In addition, there is a pseudo-dual, which has the same morphological ending of the "real" dual, but is used for the paired parts of the body and their


For different opinions and criticism on the theory of pidgini:zation, see Ferguson

(1989), Diem (1991). Holes (1995: 19-24), and Fischer (1995).

16 Versteegh and Ferguson are mistaken, as the genitive construct has not disappeared in the urban dialects. An alternative view is that a distribution of syntactic functions between the construct and the analytical genitive. In addition, the appearance of the genitive exponent cannot be attributed to the shift from pre-Islamic Arabic to New Arabic, as some of the Gulf Arabic dialects have genitive exponents. For more details and examples, see Brustad 2000 (70-87).



countable plurals. Pseudo-dual nouns lose the final -n when combined with personal suffixes. Real dual takes plural agreement, which cannot be attributed to the interference of the Classical language because, in Middle Arabic documents, the dual takes either feminine singular or plural agreement. In Ferguson's point of view, therefore, the distinction between real and pseudo-dual must have been a feature of preIslamic dialects. The existence of an equivocal agreement pattern instead of plural agreement is yet another argument against Versteegh's decreoli:zation hypothesis. In Egyptian Arabic, it is acceptable to say gana gawabat kittr and gatna gawabat kittr, both meaning 'many letters reached us'. The structures are identical with the agreement pattern of the Classical standard. Ferguson claims that, in the Modern Arabic dialects, the structure guna gawabat kittr, where there is a plural agreement between the verb and the agent, is gaining popularity as opposed to the Classical type. For a native speaker of Cairene Arabic, the structure guna gawabat kittr is quite odd, while Gana/gatna gawabat kitir is a familiar structure. The Classical agreement pattern is heard more often in Egyptian Arabic. But the existence of similarity between the Egyptian Arabic and Classical Arabic in the agreement of the verb and its agent does not necessarily indicate the interference of the classical standard. Apart from my native intuition, there is no evidence that an agreement in number between the verb and its agent prevails currently over the classical model. Moreover, the so-called pseudo-dual, in my point of view, is nothing but a reflex of the pre-Islamic dual system, which is fully functional in the Classical standard. In the New Arabic vernaculars and in modern Arabic dialects, the dual noun retains the final -n before a personal suffix. This development, however, was incomplete, and the old behavior, whereby the loss of the -n before suffixes, remained in a single class of nouns, the body-parts. Moreover, the ending -en of the so-called pseudo-dual (i.e. riglen) does not express the plural, as Ferguson claims. Body parts have broken plurals, i.e., the plural of widn 'ear' is widan, the plural of 'en 'eye' is 'uyiln, and the plural of rigl 'foot' is rugill. Therefore, the pseudo-dual may merely be retention of the pre-Islamic dual, and thus the dual in the modern dialects is not two systems. From the above, we cannot use the agreement patterns in the modern dialects as evidence against the interference of the Classical variety, as Ferguson claims.



Some scholars claim that the Bedouin dialects, rather than Classical Arabic, were the variety that brought New Arabic vernaculars together. Peninsular Bedouin dialects are thought to have launched a great process of leveling in a second wave of Arabicization, centuries after the initial conquests. Diem (1978: 128-47) denies the power of the Classical norm in bringing together the diverse sedentary vernaculars. To Diem, the sedentary vernaculars are koines of Arabic that came into being as a result of a massive process of convergence, which took place during the formative era of the conquests. These vernaculars were full of innovations. After the initial period of the conquests and the emergence of the urban centers and their koines, there has been another wave of migration out of the Arabian Peninsula. This second wave was gradual and its destinations were places that were sometimes not affected by the sedentary vernaculars. The Egyptian countryside, for instance, was Arabicized by such later waves of migration. The same took place in North Africa, where Banu Hilal arabicized the region in the eleventh century. Bedouin dialects, being more conservative than the simplified varieties, must have brought into the linguistic scene in the conquered territories the conservative elements Versteegh assigns to the Classical language. For instance, Diem claims, the second wave of migration brought into Iraq the lgl as a reflex of /q/, and brought the same reflex into the upper Egyptian countryside, as opposed to the urban dialects which use the glottal stop as a reflex of /q/ (Behnstedt and Woidich 1985: 6-8). It is difficult to believe that the Classical Arabic standard brought the innovative, urban New Arabic dialects nearer to one another. It is equally difficult to accept that the Bedouin dialects influenced New Arabic vernaculars. On the one hand, to assume that the Classical standard brought dialects closer to each other in a process of leveling, we have to be sure that it was accessible to the urban societies. From the books of La/:m al- the data indicates that laypeople made frequent mistakes in using Classical Arabic. Even literate people may not have had complete access to Classical Arabic, as inferred from Middle Arabic texts. Classical Arabic, moreover, was reserved to some domains of writing, poetry, and the Qur'anic sciences, which are not a part of the common lore of the mostly illiterate population of the urban centers. On the other hand, for the Bedouin dialects to influence the urban vernaculars, they have to be prestigious. Were the Bedouin dialects during the third and fourth centuries prestigious, and



did speakers of New Arabic vernaculars feel the need to adopt Bedouin features? Even if Bedouin dialects were prestigious, why do urban and Bedouin varieties continue to be different until now? While answering these questions, it is important not overlook the possibility that in the learning process of Arabic in the garrison towns, the vernaculars were not very detached from the pre-Islamic input source. Otherwise, two separate vernaculars, one for Arabs in the garrison towns and another for Arabs in the Arabian Peninsula, would have existed in the early urban centers for a period of time, of which something must have come down to us in the literature in the form of anecdotes. Holes (1995: 19) rejected the whole creolist model on the basis that the data we have does not support it. In addition, the historical circumstances are not similar to circumstances that have produced other creoles in the world. Holes (1995: 19-20) asserts that there is no mention in the Arabic grammatical literature of any variety that can be described as a pidgin. Even data extrapolated from the treatises of La/:m al-'Ama is not indicative of pidgins. In these works, the examples of the mistakes committed by the common people do not reflect a broken variety of the language, but the precedents of the modern urban dialects. It is difficult to accept the views of Holes regarding the silence of grammarians concerning the claimed pidgins as evidence against the existence of simplified varieties. On the one hand, it is logically an incorrect argument, and on the other hand, it has been mentioned earlier that the sole interest of grammarians was the language of the Qur'an and poetry. Whenever a dialect was mentioned, it was a Bedouin dialect from the Peninsula. No urban vernacular was ever described, analyzed or even used in an anecdotal manner. Holes (1995: 20-21) asserts further that Middle Arabic texts, the main source of direct linguistic data for the early centuries, give us evidence against the pidginization hypothesis. In spite of the problems relating to scribal errors and bad writing, and the fact that the texts were written documents, they are a useful source of data because it is difficult to prove that they were tampered with in an attempt to correct mistakes, since they reflect the practical nature of everyday documents. The language of these texts reflects a great deal of variation in the domains of morphology and syntax, indicating a language in a state of development. Development in this case was from a type more similar to Classical Arabic than to a type that leans towards modern Arabic urban



dialects. They show absolutely no similarity with any pidgin or even a creole language. Although Middle Arabic texts reflect signs of development, and indeed signs of simplification, they still exhibit features of the pre-Islamic type, and in no way show the drastic simplification and reduction of pidgins. There was, in addition, an apparent awareness of the Classical type and aspiration thereto from the earliest writings. Holes adds that the development from the period of these documents to the present day witnessed no dramatic language situation or change, which argues against any creolist model. Holes (1995: 22) goes on to say that in pidgins, there is a drastic restructuring of all language levels of the target language. Is it possible, he wonders, that from the early period of the conquests in the mid-seventh century to the early ninth century the Arabic language was pidginized, stabilized, creolized and then decreolized? Certainly not, as there is not the slightest evidence for this model in the literature. Holes (1995: 22-23) asserts that world pidgins usually result from the need to communicate in limited contexts. Because the indigenous languages of the conquered peoples were different (Coptic, Aramaic, and Berber), and the target language was Arabic, we should expect different pidgins, Arabic-Coptic, Arabic-Aramaic, and Arabic-Berber. Different creoles would have to result from the different pidgins, and the decreolization process would have brought out some leveling and similarities, but not the surprising degree of similarity that we see among modern Arabic dialects. The evidence we have from Middle Arabic shows great similarities among the texts from an early period. All the texts show similar developments away from the Classical standard. All the varieties we have, despite differences in degree, show similar morphological reduction of categories, syntactic symmetry and analytic features. These similarities are difficult to explain using the theory of pidginization. Even if one assumes different pidginization processes did take place, one would expect the resulting creoles to differ substantially more than they do, show more substrata! influence and lexical borrowing and be much more reduced in syntax and morphology. 3.3

Concurring with Holes, there is no linguistic evidence for the existence of stabilized pidgins or reduced varieties in the history of the



Arabic language dialects. One strong piece of evidence against the pidginization hypothesis is the striking similarity among the modern dialects of Arabic in morphology and syntax. Egyptian, Moroccan, and Syrian modern dialects show a very strong similarity to the syntax of the Arabian dialects of Kuwait and Najd, even though the latter have gone through restructuring (Brustad 2000: 370). It is beyond a doubt that Modern Arabic dialects derive from a common origin. All dialects exhibit similar tendencies as well as striking syntactic similarities. Brustad (2000: 370) lists some of these developments as follows: patterns of nominal marking, i.e., indefinite-specific article si/f}itta; the 'new-topic' article wal}id ('one') in some dialects; demonstrative articles; and the non-gendered use of demonstrative pronouns in modifying nouns of low individuation. These, in addition to the disappearance of the internal passive and the spread of genitive exponents, show that modern dialects come from a common origin that is not the classical variety, because dialects show these similarities in structures and patterns that oppose the classical standard. However, rejecting pidginization as a potential cause of the differences between Modern Arabic dialects and the Classical Arabic standard does not mean that such a process never existed. As the following chapter will demonstrate, socio-historical circumstances in areas around garrison towns were conducive to a process of pidginization, and even to the emergence of simplified Arabic-based lingua franca. For non-linguistic reasons, however, these varieties did not contribute to the Arabicization process that was taking place at the same time in the garrison towns themselves, and they eventually disappeared without a trace. Whatever simplified varieties existed must have disappeared due to the rapid expansion of Arab garrison towns. Successive generations could not have learned the pidginized varieties as native tongues, since they must have been exposed to a better and more frequent input source from the garrison towns. It is assumed that simplified varieties of Arabic as lingua franca were first-generationlimited products for communicative purposes. These second-contact generations learned Arabic properly from Arabs, albeit informally and with a modified input. Horizontal expansion of Arab garrison towns changed the circumstances that were previously conducive to pidginization. Elsewhere, on the fringes of the garrison towns, new circles of multilingual communities came in contact, and Arabs were a minority. These circumstances were more likely to have resulted in simplified and restructured varieties of Arabic as a lingua franca.



The idea of similar syntactic structures for the modern dialects shows that the input source of Arabicization was shared. The idea of a common origin for the modern Arabic dialects does not necessarily mean that this origin was the koine which some claim existed in the early stages of Arabic acquisition. If there has been any koineization, we should speak of a group of regional koines rather than a single koine, due to geographical isolation and to the circumstances surrounding conquests. Furthermore, as I show in the following chapter, regional koines could not have existed in the early decades due to rapid movement and constant demographic change in the demographic make-up of the new garrison towns, especially in the first fifty years of conquest. Koines may have been formed after the initial flurry of conquests and the stabilization of the demographic structure in garrison towns. The effect of the presumed regional koines on the language must have been, in my point of view, more on the phonetic level than on anything else. If it is true that tribes similar in dialects conquered certain regions, the original differences should have been theoretically minimal. By realizing that the syntax of modern Arabic dialects is highly similar, we assume that it should also have been so in the early days of the conquests. If there were differences, they were minimal nonetheless. Because there are apparent discrepancies among the phonetic structures of modern Arabic dialects, it is expected that the sounds of early pre-Islamic dialects or dialect groups differed more than in their syntax. It may very well be possible that koineization was responsible for leveling out the already minimal discrepancies among dialects, and it is also possible that koineization grouped dialects nearer to one another on the phonetic level, and resulted in dialect groups. It is difficult to establish a time frame for the beginning of koineization, or even describe a history of its progress. Based on the continuous influx of Arabs into garrison towns and their expansion on the one hand, and the increasing contact between Arabs and non-Arabs on the other hand, it is sound to assume that koineization and second language acquisition took place simultaneously. In addition, it seems possible that it took place over a lengthy period of time, at least longer than the first fifty formative years of conquest. In any case, if a common origin and different regional koines partly explain the striking similarities among modern Arabic dialects in general and among specific groups of dialects, the question remains what explains the development of these dialects independently from Classical Arabic? It is clear above that the influence of the substratum cannot explain the



development of vernaculars towards an analytic type of language. In fact, it is logical to remember the remoteness of Coptic, Berber, and Aramaic from the language type of Arabic as a preventive factor for any tangible first language interference in the acquisition of Arabic during the first few centuries of Islam. It is only logical to think that whatever differences between vernaculars and the classical language, and the differences among peninsular dialects, came into being as a result of innovations from the learning process itself. This means that the differences between the pre-Islamic type and the modern vernaculars are partially the result of the acquisition process. Did all the vernaculars develop the tendencies and features independently, or did some features and tendencies move from one region to another? Shared markers and tendencies among dialects can, in a few cases, be ascribed to a socio-demographic factor. One such factor can be the movement of a certain feature from a dialect into another through diffusion. Although I claim above that diffusion was responsible for the spread of the lexical item saf and the negative circumfix ma-s, it cannot, theoretically at least, be claimed that all the syntactic and morphological similarities of modern Arabic dialects resulted from a wide range of marker diffusion. There are barriers that blocked the effective influence of diffusion in the first few centuries of Islam. First, there was no single center of prestige and influence among the new urban centers to spread innovations and linguistic features. Second, Arab towns, in the first few decades of the conquests at least, were isolated centers of gathering and administration which were surrounded by non-Arab populations. This image will be further elaborated in the following chapter, but it is enough to say now that there was no mass media to facilitate the movement of a certain feature from one end of the Arab empire to the other. The two cases of saf and the negative circumfix demonstrate the difficulties of spreading a certain innovation by diffusion, although they themselves are a result thereof. In the case of saf, it is apparent as shown earlier that its spread was quite late, in the twelfth or thirteenth centuries. More importantly, although the lexeme saf exists in all the Arab countries in modern times, pockets of non-saf usage exist in areas where saf was widely used. The Jewish dialects of North Africa and Iraq did not join in using the saflexeme, although they exist in the middle of other non-Jewish dialects of prestige. It is, therefore, a case of incomplete diffusion wherein sociolinguistic circumstances may



have played a preventive part in the use of this lexeme by these Jewish dialects. The case of the ma-s circumfix shows the same stratification. The sti Fatimids brought the negative circumfix with them from North Africa into Egypt. When groups of Shi'ites and Druz migrated after the fall of the Fatimid Empire, they settled in Syria, where this feature was not adopted into the inventories of other Sunni Levantine speech communities. Rather, it was reserved for these migrating groups, probably as a marker of identity. Were it not for migration, the negative circumfix could not have spread. Alternatively, I attempt to explain the differences between the Modern Arabic dialects and the old type of Arabic through a model of informal second language acquisition. In cases where the target language is learned informally outside the classroom, the single source for acquiring target language features is the native speaker. Communicative situations become the sole contexts where the non-native speaker receives target language input. In such contexts, target language learning and teaching is incidental, ad hoc and functional. I assume that Arabic, in the early centuries of the Arab conquests, was learned informally and sometimes unintentionally while Arabs and non-Arabs were achieving non-linguistic goals. In cases of informal second language learning, like in contexts of pidginization, socio-political and demographic factors stand out as most important, because they determine the quantity and quality of input and the degree of approximation to the target language by the non-native learners. Socio-demographic circumstances can result in the emergence of a pidginized variety for temporary functional use. In a few cases, the resulting communicative variety becomes the lingua Jranca of several linguistic groups in contact, and may be acquired by children of different groups as a second language or even as a native tongue. A different set of socio-demographic circumstances may lead to the emergence of qualitatively different levels of interlanguage and the subsequent target language acquisition by the non-native group. This assumes that the informal acquisition of Arabic as a second language in the conquered territories in the early centuries of Islam was a function of a group of socio-demographic factors, which were conducive to the emergence of two coexisting and simultaneous varieties. As shown in the coming chapter, the pattern of urbanization in the first fifty years of the Arab conquests and the resultant demographic change granted Arabs social prestige and demographic majority in areas where Arabic dialects



were learned as a foreign, then second, then first language. In other areas, the same factors granted Arabs social supremacy, but not the demographic majority. In these areas, pidginized varieties must have existed, as the access to target language input was minimal. Although the structure of modern Arabic dialects does not reflect any trace of a creolist model as claimed by Versteegh (1984), and although we have no reflection in Middle Arabic texts of the drastic restructuring characteristic of pidgins, there were simplified varieties of Arabic in the vicinities of garrison towns in the early centuries of the Arab conquests that were not the origin of modern Arabic dialects. In the literature, there are several anecdotes for the use of a mixed language in the non-Arab quarters of the new Muslim cities, especially Basra. (Bayan, vol. I, p. 61) and Ibn Qutayba (al-Si'r Wa s-Su'ara', 210) mention some of the early drastically simplified utterances of non-Arabs in their mention of the interactions between Arabs and non-Arabs. In some of these anecdotes, Arabic words are used in Persian syntactic structures. One example is the interaction between Ibn Mufrig, who was being dragged in the streets of Basra, and Persian children in the streets who were following him. They asked him in Persian what was going on, and he answered them in Arabic words and Persian grammar as follows: 'arab'ist, nabt.d. 'ist, 'us'arati zatib 'ist, sumayya rusbt ('this is water, this is wine, this is raisin juice, and this is Sumayya the prostitute'). Such anecdotes indicate that such simplified varieties may have existed in and around urban centers, but cannot have developed into New Arabic vernaculars that were mirrored in Middle Arabic texts as early as the eighth century. There must have been other more structurally complex varieties that formed the linguistic base for Middle Arabic texts. Pidginized varieties can always occur in contexts where different linguistic groups coexist and where one language is chosen as a lingua franca. Usually, the input used to acquire this pidginized lingua franca is severely limited, due to the few numbers of native speakers in the communicative context. As shown in the coming chapter, some of the new Arab garrison towns in the first century of the Arab conquests brought together several Persian speaking groups, East African slaves of heterogeneous linguistic communities, as well as Aramaic and Arabs came in contact during a short period of time in newly established plantations. Naturally enough, Arabic was selected as the lingua franca, as it was the language of the master landowners. The source of



target language input was limited, due to the relatively few numbers of Arabs outside the garrison towns. In such a case, it is logical to greatly simplify the target language. Restructuring Arabic was acceptable in these vicinities because there was no large number of native speakers of Arabic to give a wider range of input, and because such simplification produced the desired communication. It is, therefore, natural for anecdotes such as the one I cited above to exist. In other areas of the conquered territories, namely the garrison towns themselves, Arabic-speaking people formed majority communities, in which Arabic was the native language. Although communication was for functional and not linguistic purposes, Arabic was adopted as a second language by first generations of non-Arabs. Arabic as spoken in these garrison towns, as shown in New Arabic reflections in Middle Arabic texts, shares some similarities with contemporary dialects. I claim that non-Arabs had to learn Arabic as a foreign language in the garrison towns, and for this purpose, they had an abundance of target language input. Native speakers of Arabic, who were themselves keen to communicate with non-native speakers, simplified their speech. I claim that non-native speakers of Arabic acquired this simplified input, and learned Arabic informally. Furthermore, they must have noticed the discrepancy between their target language utterances and those of the native speakers, leading to attempts at improving their speech to approximate the target language input in a monitoring process. 17 In garrison towns, the conquests brought relatively large numbers of Arabs to the conquered territories. These numbers lived in the garrison towns themselves, which were isolated from densely populated conquered territories. When the economy of garrison towns started to flourish, it attracted non-Arabs as it had attracted Arabs before. NonArabs, who came into towns in small groups, or even as individuals seeking jobs, had to live in mostly Arab cities that used Arabic as the major language. A variety of Arabic was the single prestigious language of the Arabs. Therefore, communication had to be carried out in this variety. Socio-demographic factors did not only determine the language used for communication, hence learning, it also determined the type oflearnable input non-Arabs learned. As monolingualism was
17 Monitoring in this fashion is a process whereby the learned system functions to alter the output of the target language learner (Gass and Selinker 1994: 145). For more on the monitory hypothesis, see (Krashen 1982 and 1986) and (Larsen-Freeman and Long 1991: 240-9).



the norm among Peninsular Arabs and non-Arabs alike, it was difficult for both groups to use Arabic in communication, unless Arabs modified their speech to make it comprehensible to non-Arabs. The modified variety Arabs used with non-Arabs was of the Foreigner Talk (FT) variety, whereby native speakers modify their speech when talking to a non-native speaker so as to increase comprehension. As I explain in chapter six, FT input is usually grammatical, albeit less complex in structure at all levels of linguistic analysis. Since Arabs provided non-Arabs with the modified FT input in communicative contexts, it was natural for non-Arabs to acquire these features as correct Arabic. The result was an interlanguage, a modified version of the type of Arabic used between and among Arabs. As is natural in cases of informal second language learning, these differences may not be leveled out, because informal language learners almost always fossilize at a stage slightly different from the native speaker level of the target language. It is, therefore, natural to talk of Urban Arabic as different from Bedouin Arabic or Peninsular Arabic. It may be quite reasonable to assume that initial outcomes of the learning process were interlanguage phases that were relatively remote from the native speaker's Arabic, but the cohabitation of Arabs and non-Arabs in the garrison towns provided the latter with opportunities to level out major discrepancies. At a certain level of interlanguage, where differences were no longer felt or functional, the learning process fossilized. To reiterate, the socio-demographic circumstances in the first half century of the conquests dictated that Arabic was to be learned as the language of communication between Arabs and non-Arabs, not any other language. In the meantime, they dictated the type of learning for Arabic as a communicative language, which people learned informally. Furthermore, it dictated that the Arabs, as native speakers of the target language, provided non-native interlocutors with modified input to facilitate communication. I claim that the modified FT input non-Arabs learned is what formed urban New Arabic vernaculars. If this assumption is accepted, it is no longer difficult to explain differences between pre-Islamic Arabic, Classical Arabic, and Modern Arabic vernaculars (as direct decedents and reflections to New Arabic vernaculars). It is also possible to explain the pluriform development of some grammatical features of the dialects. The differences between Peninsular Arabic and or New Arabic, cannot be more than the outcome of modification on the part of native speakers of Arabic while providing input. If learners in informal second language acquisition



contexts have a single source of input, they learn it as Arabs deliver it, without restructuring, because there is an abundance of target language input and constant contact with native speakers. In addition, the native speaker's simplification is learned as the target language. If pre-Islamic Peninsular dialects were more akin to the Classical language of the Qur'an, especially in the eastern regions of the Peninsula, than New Arabic and modern dialects, the differences between the former and the latter, are the accumulation of native speakers' modifications to their original vernacular-and of course, natural innovations. In fact, through a simple comparison between Classical Arabic and modern Arabic dialects, we easily see the effect of the modification process. Entire categories in the Classical language are reduced in modern Arabic dialects. In the verbal system, subcategories are reduced in the modern dialects in comparison to the Classical language and to modern Standard Arabic. The categories of duals and feminine plural are eliminated in verbs and pronouns in all Modern Arabic dialects. In nouns, the category of the dual is not stable at all. As far as nouns that refer to human beings are concerned, the use of the dual ending -en is highly marked, while the use of the numeral structure 'itnen mudarrisln, meaning 'two teachers', is the norm. As far as the nouns that refer to objects are concerned, the dual ending -en is used. In adjectives, however, the categories of duals and feminine plurals are abandoned all together. In comparison to the Classical and Modern Standard Arabic, contemporary dialects reflect other modification strategies that aim at making grammatical relationships more explicit. In the modern dialects, the reflexive verb forms V and VII are used to express the passive voice, instead of the internal passive used in Classical Arabic. Another explicit expression of grammatical relationships is the development in all dialects of prefixed aspectual markers, including bi-, ha- and ka-, in addition to lexical aspectual markers, such as kan ('to be'). The development of the genitive exponent in all the dialects, albeit in different forms, is yet another similar outcome of the native speakers' desire to make grammatical relationships clearer to learners. Although the meanings assigned to prefix aspectual markers in each dialect are slightly different, they play more or less the same grammatical function. By the same token, the difference in form among the genitive exponents of the different dialects is merely a different outcome of one possible strategy to address the problem.



The following two chapters will introduce the socio-demographic circumstances that brought about the informal second language acquisition of Arabic in the urban centers of the conquered territories, then explain the features of this process and the input used therein.



It is widely accepted that the Arabicization of Iraq, the Levant, Egypt and North Africa was a process of informal second language acquisition (Holes 1995: 24). The distinction here is that the differences between the resulting Modern Arabic dialects and pre-Islamic Arabic dialects are a function not only of the informal acquisition process, but also of the modification of input by native speakers in this learning process. Both the learning process and the input modification are triggered and conditioned by non-linguistic factors. In this chapter, I introduce the socio-demographic circumstances of the conquests, which caused the acquisition of Arabic and triggered the input type used for the process. The critical role of non-linguistic factors in language change and language shift is stressed by several authors (Thomason and Kaufmann 1988; Fuck 1950; Versteegh 1984). The case of the Arabicization of the Middle East is, however, unique. The novelty in the case of Arabic is that, not only did the circumstances surrounding the conquests affect the process of language acquisition, but the sociolinguistic circumstances before the conquests were also conducive, if not decisive, to the rapid language shift to Arabic. In order to confirm the role of informal acquisition in the development of Arabic, the relevant non-linguistic factors that affected the manner of language acquisition in the now Arab Middle East, and the modification of the learnable input used in this process, must be explained. The post-conquest socio-demographic circumstances were somewhat uniform in all the provinces of the Arab Middle East, with the exception of North Africa. Therefore, the relevant factors are presented in general terms, without any special attention to one particular province. When examining the socio-demographic factors in the provinces before the Arab conquests, there are major discrepancies in the qauntity of data and studies concerning social and economic life. Egypt will be a case study here for the period before the conquests for several reasons. First, there are many new studies on numerous aspect of the Egyptian social history in late antiquity. Second, there are numerous documents from the period at our disposal and available



for analysis, including the third reason, important in its own right, numerous Middle Arabic texts originating from Egypt. The underlying assumption in this chapter is that not only were the socio-demographic circumstances after the conquests conducive to the spread of Arabic, but before the conquests as well. Three relevant points concerning Greco-Roman Egypt are vital to our purpose here: the socio-demographic situation; the linguistic situation and functional distribution of the language before the conquest; and the position of Greek in non-Greek urban Egypt. It is also claimed here that the non-linguistic ecology of the Arabic language after the conquests was decisive in this respect. The non-linguistic factors enhanced the Arabici:zation process after the Arab conquests, and prevented Arabs from being absorbed linguistically into the surrounding majority population. Three main factors motivating this conclusion are the numbers of Arab soldiers and migrants in the conquered territories in the first half century of the conquests; the establishment of garrison towns in Iraq, the Levant and Egypt; and development of intercommunication between Arabs and non-Arabs in the conquered territories. Dealing with these aspects is necessary because it is assumed that there is a positive correlation between the concentration of Arabs in a certain region or area, and the choice of Arabic as a language of communication in and around that particular region. There is also another causative relationship between the manner in which Arabic was acquired, as well as the input used in acquiring Arabic, and the demographic distribution of the Arabs in the conquered territories. The validity of these assumptions is emphasized by the opposite case of Arabic in Persia, where Arabic-speaking tribes were unable to maintain their language as the spoken vernacular in the region after its initial spread in the first two centuries. As a result, they were linguistically incorporated into the Persian speaking population. In Persia, Arabs did not establish garrison towns or urban centres to receive the constant, large incoming waves of Arab migrants. Instead, the Arab migrations were disbursed, and Arabs never established majority groups to impose their own language as a language of communication. Arabs lived on the fringes of existing Persian cities in small numbers, where they had to communicate with the Persian-speaking people for commercial purposes. The intent of this chapter will be to show that the socio-demographic and ecological factors of the Arab conquests and the manner of Arab



settlement were the important factors in the emergence of New Arabic vernaculars in the way they developed. The brief comparison between the Arab world and Persia must be taken in this light merely as a signal to underline the potential weight of urbanization in the process of informal second language acquisition, at least in the particular case at hand. The point behind the survey of the linguistic situation in Egypt during late antiquity is to prove that in collaboration with the patterns of migration and urbanization after the conquests, the difference in function between Arabic and the language spoken in the conquered territories before the conquests (in this case, Greek in Egypt) as foreign languages facilitated the acquisition of the former and hindered the acquisition of the latter as a native tongue.

The following paragraphs will introduce three factors in Egypt that facilitated, in collaboration with the Arabs' manner of settlement, the Arabicization of the province: the socio-demographic situation in the cities and villages of Egypt; the linguistic situation in the country immediately before the conquests; and the position of Greek in the urban centres of Egypt. Of critical importance in the case at hand is the function of a certain linguistic variety in society and the social group that used it. It is assumed here that the social stratification and compartmentalization of language in the linguistic situation of late antique Egypt is vital to the Arabicization process for the reasons explained below.

The Socio-demographic Situation

The physical form of the late antique Egyptian cities from the fourth century was typically Greek, and similar to other Greek urban settlements in the Roman Middle East (Bagnall 1993: 45-46). 1 All cities acquired the political institutions required to grant them the status of a polisthe city council. Moreover, they had the social institutions required for this status, such as the gymnasium. But how accurately does this

For Egyptian cities and nome capitals, see (Bowman, 1992), and (Lukaszewicz, 1986) for public buildings and their construction in Roman Egypt.



reveal the real identity of cities in Roman Egypt? Latest excavations in Edfu reveal that the internal parts of the cities and the poorer quarters had very few wide streets and houses without courtyards. Poor and popular quarters resembled the countryside more than they resembled cities, for ground floors of houses were normally occupied by shops or workshops, and animals were kept in houses (Bagnall1993: 49-51). In short, poor quarters outside the main Greek roads resembled the villages more than the polis, and no visible signs of Greek urbanism (such as colonnades and arches) could be seen. This physical form indicates that, in general, the Egyptian nome capitals were only superficially Greek, if we exclude Alexandria from this judgment. Human beings and animals were densely concentrated in a tiny space, as the size of an average Roman Egyptian city was scarcely over a single kilometre. Besides the small size of the average cities, they housed relatively fewer numbers than the Arab garrison town of Fustat in the beginning of the second half of the first Islamic century. The evidence from papyri shows that an average city like Hermopolis, which occupied 120 hectares of land, consisted of approximately 7,000 houses (Roeder 1959: 107). The number of inhabitants of the city was somewhere between 25,000 and 50,000, and most likely towards the higher figure. However, Hermopolis was larger than the average metropolis. An average metropolis would probably house around 16,000 inhabitants (Bagnall1993: 53). 2 The image we have of an Egyptian metropolis in late antiquity is that of a small semi-urban community of small land proportion and limited number of inhabitants, but with a high population density. Such communities, although having Greek social and political institutions and some Greek architectural elements, were not typically Hellenistic. As for villages, there were 2,000 to 2,500 villages, which cultivated around 1,000 hectares ofland (Bagnall1993: 110). The numbers of village inhabitants ranged from a few hundred in small villages to 5,000 in large villages, with a broad spectrum of numbers in villages between these two figures. 3 Likewise, the sizes of villages ranged from the very small occupying around fifteen hectares to city-size village such as Karanis which occupied eight-nine hectares (Husselman 1979: 7).

For more on population estimates in late antique Egypt, see (Rathbone, 1990). For the population of the villages and Egypt in general, see (Rathbone, 1990) and (Bagnall1985: 289-308).
2 3



Although it is difficult to make any generalizations from these figures, for the data we have concerning village sizes is limited to the Fayyiim region, the size range of villages overlaps with the sizes of some no me capitals. The village of Karanis, for instance, was as large as the town of Thmouis. But this does not mean that all the nome capitals were as small as Karanis, for it occupied only a third the size of Arsinoe, for example (Bagnall1993: 110-11). The small-sized villages were densely populated, but lacked independent internal political structures and institutions. There was hardly any trace in the Greco-Roman papyri of resident officials from the nome capitals in villages, resulting in a lack of identifiable public buildings. However, there were military garrisons and posts situated outside the village proper. But these military camps did not interfere with the village housing or work areas. Even temples, as religious institutions, which occupied village centers dwindled as early as the fourth century (Bagnall1993: 113-4). On the eve of the Arab conquests, temples became largely non-functional on the administrative level. The overlap between the size of some villages and that of nome capitals is by no means unique. Villages shared with poleis a similar density of population in small plots of land, and the lifestyle of most of the lower strata of the city dwellers was similar if not, in some respects, identical with the lifestyle of villagers, for some city dwellers were farmers and fishermen. In some cases, the role of city dwellers is complementary to the agricultural economy of the country. In the production of olive oil and wine, the olives and grapes were produced in the countryside and processed in the adjacent city. The same may also be said for grain and flax (Bagnall 1993: 79-80). Moreover, some of the city-size villages began, in the fourth century, to acquire some Greek physical features that had hitherto been reserved for the metropolis, such as the public baths (Rowlandson 1998: 12). This does not mean, however, that city and village were identical in their social structure and in their share of wealth. In addition to government and control, the differences between the metropolis and the villages existed in the form of wealthy land-owning Hellenistic upper classes. Another difference is that the villages showed no trace of government bodies, many of which were abolished after the third century. There were no local government bodies such as village councils or assemblies. In this matter, villages depended on the cities.



With this data in mind, researchers can safely assume that Egypt witnessed no rise in urban centers or an urbanism characteristic of Greeks that distinguished them from Egyptians as an ethnic group. This lack of distinction may have led to a lack of integration. Egypt in late antiquity hosted three distinct groups: Roman citizens, Greek citizens of the metropolises, and local Egyptians. The population was largely hierarchical in organization.4 Excluding Roman citizens and the citizens of Greek cities, all the inhabitants of Egypt were collectively called Aiguptioi, resulting in the contemporary moniker, 'Egyptians'. Rowlandson (1998: 11) presumes that this collective census entry was a reflection of the strong degree of integration of the descendants of the original Greek migrants in the local population outside the Greek cities. Inside the classification of Aiguptioi, however, there was a sharp distinction between the more Hellenized inhabitants of Greek metropolis who formed the elite few in the nome capitals, and most probably controlled the largest portions of the farming lands in the villages, and the masses of Egyptians, mostly residing in the villages. Although the upper Greek classes lived in the cities and the local Egyptians dominated the villages as working classes, the boundaries between urban life and rural life were, as mentioned earlier, not clearly defined. In addition to geographical proximity and similar life style, the villages were economically related to the cities in more than one sense. First, whenever a landowner from the village wanted to have a loan, he or she had to go to the city (Bagnall1993: 74). The wealth of the metropolitan elite depended on property in the villages, and on deputies and bailiffs residing there. In Hermopolis, six percent (450) of the population (7,000 families) were landowners capable of living entirely off their farmlands in the villages (Bagnall 1993: 71). Below this top socio-economic bracket, there were two groups of landowners. One group owned portions of land ranging from ten to one hundred arouras. The land largely supported this group. The second and wider group was that of owners of less than ten arouras. Members of this latter group were merely cushioned by the income from their small farming property. Third, several products were cultivated in the villages and processed in the cities, such as wine and oil. Another aspect of the strong relationship between city and village was government. In the fourth century A.D. the government became a

See Bowman (1992) and Rathbone (1990).



local matter. The office of the lagistes was invented to control the city councils, and all the authorities of different urban functions, such as security and market control and supervision, were answerable to him directly and exclusively. The city council no longer answered to the central government, but reported to the locallagistes instead. The new urban administrator controlled not only the city apparatus, but also the surrounding villages. The village officials reported immediately to the logistes, who appointed them to carry out almost every function in the countryside, such as supervision of tax collection, security, and appointment of other officials and subordinates (Bagnall 1993: 60-2). The city controlled the village through the Greek landed city dwellers. The central government was minimally represented in both village and city. The administrative position from the fourth century onwards showed a decentralization of government and the concentration of power into the hands of local Greeks. The central government's representation was visible only in the form of military garrisons stationed on the village borders. Not a single official came from outside the region or the name to hold office (Bagnall 1993: 62-3). In addition to the wealth of the Greek citizens as large landowners, Greeks controlled the administrative positions in Alexandria and the name capitals as well. Starting in the third century A.D., the landed Greeks controlled the government of the metropolis through management of the councils (Bagnall 1993: 55). They were able to collect both wealth and power, and became the prestigious elite outside the Greek cities. However, the Greek population lost its high position to the dominance of Christianity, the faith of the majority. Paganism, along with Greek institutions, such as the gymnasium, were discredited (Bagnall 1993: 59-60). The Greeks' privileged status in the name capitals and their sense of class and identity helped to maintain their status as an elite group. Had Greek not been the language of government, these small elite would have gradually acquired the language of the local population. Egyptians in the villages were not exposed to Greek as an administrative language because the Greek authorities in the cities carried out their duties by means of local deputies. Several points here are worth highlighting. First, the difference between ethnic Egyptians and ethnic Greeks was blurred both geographically and politically. Second, the ethnic Greeks derived their separate identity from administrative function and cultural institutions, which were largely endangered by the advent of Christianity as the religion of the majority of Egyptians.



The Linguistic Situation in Late Antique Egypt

In the nome capitals, and to a lesser extent in the villages, three languages were commonly used side by side: Coptic, Greek and Latin. The functional relationship between these languages is not clear, despite the fact that there is a wealth of papyri from the Greco-Roman period at our disposal. The functional distribution of Latin, however, is clearer than that of the other two languages. In Roman Egypt before Diocletian, the function of the Latin language can be summarized as follows:
[T] he edicts and decrees of the central government were Latin, when they concerned the Roman armies, Roman magistrates, or Roman individuals; the correspondence between the Roman magistrates was mainly written in Latin; the official language of the Roman army was Latin and the documents of the Roman citizens inside the sphere of ius civile had to be originally written in Latin (Kaimio 1979: 27).

Kaimio further remarks that Latin was a marginal language in Egypt, since it was not spoken by any social group of substance, and was not even dominant in the army (Kaimio 1979: 28). However, to judge from the papyri, more Latin was used in the fourth century onwards than before. More Latin came to be used in court proceedings and in letters written by high officials who were eager to use some token Latin in their correspondences. Otherwise, the same functions of Latin in the third century continued in the fourth century and thereafter (Bagnall 1993: 231). Documents from the sixth century show an interesting phenomenon on the sociological level. There appeared with a certain degree of frequency glossaries of Latin words in Greek transliteration with case and declension endings. These glossaries were bilingual or trilingual tools for Egyptians who felt the need to use some Latin without being well-versed in it. There were, in addition, conversation manuals in Latin, Greek and Coptic. Although no such documents were discovered earlier than the fourth century, it is difficult to assume that Latin acquired higher importance in the later period than in the period before the fourth century. These guides are important because they show a tendency towards using Latin in conversation, and prove that Latin had its presence in the linguistic community, especially in the professional arena, where the more prestigious position demanded a strong command of Latin. However, Latin was not a widely spoken language in daily life, despite its relative importance in the govern-



ment. The function of everyday vernacular was carried out by the other two languages, Coptic and Greek. Bearing in mind the previously mentioned fact that the village in late antique Egypt was a satellite of the city and its political government and in economic activities, it is no surprise that Latin was minimally represented in the villages, if at all. Likely, it was a code largely reserved to the cities and to the army units, which were situated outside the villages. Turning to the other two languages, it is difficult to set Greek apart from Coptic in function, and to distribute them, due to the numerous factors at play in language use in the sixth and seventh centuries, and due to the lack of documentation in this respect. Gender, class, occupation and wealth are factors to be reckoned with in any description of the linguistic situation. It is widely thought that Greek was barely used in the countryside (Youtie 1975: 203 and Harris 1989: 190), and that Coptic was the vernacular language for most Egyptians (Rubenson 1996: 77). On the surface, this generalization is viable. However, Greek documents in the form of governmental papyri recorded the number and status of Greek speaker, and are the sole source of evidence for the period (Bagnall 1993: 241). In the fifth, sixth, and seventh centuries, Coptic was used mainly for religious purposes and in monastic literature and correspondence. For secular purposes, the Egyptians did not use the Coptic script to record daily life in their local language. Coptic gained more ground in secular and legal matters only in the sixth century, and after the Arab conquests (Wipszycka 1984: 281). 5 From the fourth century, Greek functioned as the most common vehicle for written documents, despite the growing use of Latin. Egyptians could not run the temples, write tax receipts, send official letters or private correspondences in their native language; instead, they did so in Greek. It is difficult to imagine that individuals who did the recording and writing were unable to speak Greek, for it is unusual to be able to write, but not speak a language. Recording letters in Greek meant structuring utterances in Greek. It follows from this logical assumption that Youtie's generalization that Greek was barely heard in the countryside is not completely correct. There are several types

5 For the Coptic documents in the archive of Dioskoros of Aphrodite in the preArab period, see MacCoull (1988 36-47). For sources and references on the question oflanguage in late antique Egypt, see Rubenson (1995, 95-99 and 109-115).



of documents and an abundance of individual documents written in Greek in the villages. As shown earlier, the Greeks were concentrated in the urban communities, and if they owned land or ran an office in the countryside, this was usually done through Egyptian deputies. Therefore, those who wrote Greek in the village were most probably natives, and were bilinguals and literate. By the same token, the illiterate were mainly monolinguals, for they did not need to speak Greek (Youtie 1975: 189 and Wipszycka 1984: 279). Although the documents are abundant, they do not provide accurate information on the authors and their socio-economic background. We do not know, for example, who wrote the body of a certain letter in the village, or if he is the original author or a professional scribe (Bagnall19933: 242). In very few cases is the matter clear. In three letters from the village of Karanis, the author was one Aurelius Kasios, who wrote in his own hand. This fluent writer belonged to the few village officials who came from a wealthy, land-owning background of the elite. He and his brother together owned around sixty-seven arouras, and both belonged to the liturgist elite of the village. The example of Kasios suggests that the landed elite of the villages were able to speak Greek. At the same time, these three letters show that the author also wrote on behalf of two half-brothers, proving that not all elite family members were proficient or able writers or even speakers of Greek as a foreign language. Another conclusion from Kasios's letters is that the group of liturgists, by virtue of their office, was more able to use Greek than other elite members, let alone the community of villagers. However, comparing these letters to others written by liturgists, it is clear that few of the other liturgists were as fluent as Kasios (Bagnall 1993: 242). Although it is difficult to come up with generalizations from Aurelius Kasios's letters (especially when the abundance of late-antique documents is not as forth coming with information as expected), it is noticeable that Greek speaking and writing was mainly reserved for the elite and liturgists of the villages. Inside these relatively small groups, there were individuals who were better skilled in the language than others. Some were hardly able to sign their names. In general, the majority of village liturgists were only able to put their signatures on documents and receipts written for them by others (Bagnall 1993: 243). It is unclear whether the same officials had difficulty in writing Greek as a result of their inability to speak it, or if writing Greek did



not require speaking skills at all. It is tempting to speculate that, since Greek was not the mother tongue of the Egyptian village dwellers in late antiquity, the lesser the degree of literacy in Greek, the weaker the ability to use the language for non-writing functions. There are numerous examples of illiterate, wealthy liturgists who owned more land than their literate peers. One example is Aurelius Isidoros, who left a complete archive of documents he did not write himself. He was a rich landowner who held liturgist duties, including tax collection, for two decades. He was completely illiterate, like the majority of tax collectors in his time and office. This example shows that Greek literacy and speech were not a requirement for office in the villages. But it seems more likely to find Greek literacy and speech among those with office and land, than with farmers and the poor. Illiteracy was, in fact, the norm for village dwellers, especially with women (Bagnall 1993: 243), especially when they did not hold any office that required writing. Women were always represented by another, usually male, person in written records. Moreover, when letters were directed to them, they were often addressed through an intermediate translator. In the Roman army, the sole official presence of the empire in the villages, some soldiers were literate, while others were not, and relied on the help of literate friends in documentation tasks. Moreover, nothing suggests that Greek literacy/speaking was linked to any of the army offices. 6 Therefore, literacy (and presumably knowledge of Greek) and illiteracy (and the lack of this knowledge) coexisted (You tie 1971: 620). Moreover, scholars assume, albeit without any real evidence, that literacy declined in the Roman army in Egypt in late antiquity (Harris 1989: 294). One cannot help but wonder whether illiteracy specifically meant the inability to speak Greek. It is difficult to assume that Coptic was the language of military operation, although it could very well have been the language of natural conversation among soldiers that were mainly local recruits. Officers spoke to their soldiers in Greek. Therefore, it is not odd to assume that, at least in the army, there were many more bilingual individuals than literate individuals. Another institution where bilingualism was not related to literacy was monastic life.

6 For a useful study of the literacy in the army under the Roman rule, see (Harris, 1989). See (Bowman, 1991: 126) for the complexity of evidence concerning this matter in the army.



In the monasteries in late antiquity, there were groups of bilingual monks who were able to translate for their monolingual peers (Dummer 1968: 34-38 and Rouseau 1985: 46). The existence of bilingual monks in the monasteries gives a stronger indication for the spread of the phenomenon of bilingualism in Egypt in late antiquity than initially expected. This is mainly because monastic life attracted people from different backgrounds and occupations. The examples of military and the civil service demonstrate that bilingualism was only functional; people needed the Greek language for documentation in the case of liturgist offices, and soldiers needed it to carry out their duty in the army, but neither group needed it for daily life. In addition, the rarity of fluent writers of Greek and literate women among the village elite shows that the knowledge of Greek was strictly functional. It also shows that Greek was not spoken as a mother tongue in these parts of the province. Given this assessment, one wonders if the emergence of Christianity as the official religion of the empire affected Greek. In other words, did the struggle of the Egyptian church to maintain its autonomy and monophysitic religion against the imperial orthodox faith affect the position of Greek? The papyri provide little evidence as to the attitude of Egyptians towards the Greek language in late antique Egypt. But we can speculate that there was a negative attitude, which later helped in the abolishment of Greek's status after the Arab conquests.

Greek in the Cities

Certainly, Egyptian cities and nome capitals were more Greek than the villages. They hosted schools, administrative canters and, above all, ethnic Greek citizens. However, the countryside was not isolated, and therefore, the difference between city and village in the use of Greek must have been a matter of degree. Social groups to whom the Greek language was not a native tongue or a functional tool in office were illiterate in Greek and monolingual. On the top of the social ladder, civil officials were literate and had to use Greek, if they were not themselves Greek. Some liturgical offices even required literacy (Bagnall 1993: 246). In fact, there are many examples of literate civil servants in the cities. This means that these officials were bilingual in one way or another. Women of the urban Egyptian upper classes were most probably monolingual, as they did not need to use Greek for their daily lives. Wealthy women who owned property and land dealt



with written documents, but they may not have had to process them themselves. Most simply drafted their signatures, and in some cases, this was done for them by male relatives or business agents. In such contexts, these women did not need to use Greek. There were groups whose jobs obliged them to be versed in the Greek language. These were the private and public scribes (Harris 1989: 249). Some of the Egyptians involved in church ranks were also bilingual and literate. But the question is, were there Greek monolingual individuals in the Egyptian cities? There is no direct evidence for this phenomenon. However, the church provides one significant example for discussion here. Some of the new monks were Greek speakers who learned dialects of Coptic only in the monasteries where they lived. Their number is unknown. There were certainly a few groups of Greek-speaking monolinguals that managed without having to learn Coptic, especially in Alexandria, although sometimes they had the help of deputies and servants (Bagnall1993: 259). It is also unclear whether all Greek speakers were ignorant of Egyptian. But the majority of city dwellers outside the Greek elite class, professional scribes, and priests were most likely monolinguals in Egyptian, especially women. It was possible to run a private business in the city while being illiterate in Greek. With the effect of Christianity and the rise of the Egyptian church put aside, the cities housed more speakers of Greek than the villages. In addition to the ethnic Greeks who were self-conscious of their status, nome capitals hosted the emblems of Greek culture, such as schools and government offices. These institutions were run by Greeks, in Greek. Thus, the cities were significant for hosting two different languages. Unlike the linguistic situation in the countryside, the difference between the vernacular and the language of writing and office in the cities was not solely functional, but rather ethnic as well. In both communities, however, the majority of monolingual Egyptians outside the government offices did not need Greek, and the few monolingual Greeks did not need Egyptian to function in their daily lives and jobs. Even Egyptians whose jobs required the knowledge of Greek did not need this functional language for purposes other than office. It may be correct to state that the use of Egyptian and Greek was compartmentalized to a large extent in urban Egypt. Compartmentalization of language use in Egypt increased in the fourth and fifth centuries when Christianity became the dominant



religion of the masses of Egyptians, especially after the schism between the Egyptian and Byzantine Churches became definite in the wake of the Council ofChalcedon in 451 A.D. (Rubenson 1996: 78). The spread of Christianity resulted in the near-complete eradication of paganism and its vehicle, the Greek cultural tradition. This change affected the functional use of Greek by non-Greeks in non-functional fields. Moreover, after 451 A.D., the use of Greek in church and its literature was a sign of betrayal of the 'true faith' of the Egyptian church. Therefore Coptic, not Greek, became the vehicle of new ideas. Although Coptic used in the literature of the church and faith was heavily affected by the Greek technical and common vocabulary and Greek form and content, its use was a sign of the church. 7 Thus, in the sixth and seventh centuries, Coptic was able to take from the Greek language some of its written functions (church and religious writings), but not the administrative function. From the above rather simple sketch of the linguistic situation before the Arab conquests, it can be concluded that the Greek language was largely confined to administrative functions in the sixth century. It had little significant social function outside the ethnic Greek communities, which were small concentrations, located outside Alexandria and a few other metropolises. In fact, after the emergence of the Egyptian Church as a rebel body that expressed the faith of Egyptians, as opposed to that of the Greeks, the Greek language acquired a negative significance. Not only was it the language of the pagan civilization of the Greeks, but also as the language of the oppressive church. An administrative language with a poor reputation is always readily abandoned when the system that supports it loses power. The functional tasks left empty by Greek after the conquests were filled either with the new language of power, or with the vernacular. Judging by the papyri, it is safe to deduce that the written functions of life, such as contracts, receipts and marriage documents were written in Arabic, Coptic or both. This left Greek with one task of universal importance. The general administration of the province was carried out in Greek until the last quarter of the first century of the Islamic era, when a political decision of Arabicization dismissed Greek from Egypt after many long centuries of dominance. The same fate befell

7 For features of the Coptic texts in the fifth century, see L.- Th. Lefort (1850: 65-71) and Nagel (1971: 327-355).



Latin, which lost its few functions in the military and legal terminology after the Roman military retreated from Egypt and after the Arab Muslim legal system substituted its Roman counterpart. This fate did not affect the vernacular of the Egyptians in the first century of the Islamic era, as it maintained its compartments of daily speech and religious writings. In fact, Coptic became largely a literary language in the second and third centuries of the Islamic era. The development of Coptic into a literary language is not within the scope of this thesis, but suffice it to say that, contrary to Greek and Latin, Coptic acquired more ground as a written language at the expense of Greek after the arrival of Arabs in Egypt. The coming of the Arabs to Egypt as conquerors did not threaten the position of Coptic because it never occupied the compartments of administrative languages in the previous era. However, the arrival of Arab settlers did represent a threat because the two languages competed in the fields where Coptic had been traditionally used prior, as described in the coming section. When Arabs entered Egypt, Greek was only a language of government, and Coptic was a language of everyday speech. At the same time, Greek was not spoken by a large group of monolingual city citizens. The achievement of the Arabs was the establishment of garrison towns, which provided Arabs with areas where their language could be spoken as a native language in everyday speech. 4.2

This section will concentrate on how the Arabs settled in Egypt and communicated with Egyptians. It will also introduce the ecological changes caused by the demographic disturbance initiated by the presence of the Arabs in Egypt as early as the first half of the seventh century. 4.2.1

The Conquests

The number of Arab soldiers in the conquests of Iraq, Syria, and Egypt was initially minimal in comparison to the native populations of the conquered territories. In the year 13 AH, the conquest of Syria began, and the period 13-15 AH witnessed major confrontations between the Arab and Byzantine forces (Donner 1981: 112). The period between sixteen and twenty seven AH witnessed the pacification of the northern



regions of Syria, as well as the coastal cities. Before the end of the second decade of the Islamic era, Northern and Southern Palestine were captured by means of small forces and no major battles. Although there is great disagreement among historians as to the date of the conquest of Iraq, it is estimated that the date of the battle of al-Qadisiyya as between years fourteen and sixteen AH (Donner 1981: 212). Al-Tabari and al-Waqidiy claimed that the battle of al-'Ubla in southern Iraq took place in the year fourteen AH. The occupation of al-Mada'in was also claimed to be in the year 16 AH. al-Tabari claimed that the conquests of Ahwaz and Xiizistan took place between the years sixteen and twenty AH (al-Sharkawi 2002: 120-121). Many Arab historians (Futit/J, 56) date the conquest of Egypt by the year eighteen AH (Kennedy 2000: 62). Contemporary Western historians date the beginning of the conquest in the year nineteen AH. The fall of Babylon took place in the year twenty AH, and was followed with the fall of Alexandria, which took place, according to the Arab sources, in the same year (Futit/:l Misr, 80 and al-Xutat, 288). Modern sources, however, date the fall of Alexandria in the second half of the year twenty one AH. The second conquest of Alexandria, according to Ibn 'Abdu al-I:Iakam, took place in the year twenty five AH (Futit/:l, 178). In the year thirty one AH, the Arabs reached as far south as Aswan, where, after some failing attempts to conquer, they signed a peace treaty with the Nubian kings (Futit/:l Misr, 188). Up to the completion of the conquest, no major contact between Arabs and non-Arabs could have taken place, since the Arab armies were constantly in battle, and there was no settled lifestyle. Therefore, it is difficult to believe that any major migrations to Egypt, Syria and Iraq took place before the years twenty, twenty seven and thirty one AH, respectively. It is equally difficult to believe that the Arab troops of the early conquests engaged in civil and social interaction before the completion of the conquests. In fact, no references in the literature to any such activities in such an early period are known to exist. These military campaigns brought spikes in the numbers of Arabic troops in the region. The number of Arab soldiers taking part in the conquest of Syria was approximately 24,000, divided among four army divisions, each under a different leader. Three leaders commanded 7,000 each, and the fourth, 'Amr Ibn al-'As, commanded 3,000. An additional 1,000 troops were later added to the relatively tiny num-



her as reinforcements (Donner 1981: 126). Similarly, the conquest of Southern Iraq took place by an army of 2,000 soldiers. However, the number of soldiers who took part in the battle of al-Qadisiyya was estimated by al-Tabari to have been between 6,000 and 12,000 men. Donner (1981: 193) estimates this army as only 6,000. The number of troops participating in the conquest of Egypt was around 3,500 to 4,000 men (FutuJ:t, 56 and Kennedy 2000: 62). Later reinforcements doubled the number of troops (FutuJ:t, 61), but it is interesting that Ibn 'Abd al-I:Iakam is the only historian who mentions this reinforcement. By the time Alexandria came under Arab siege, additional reinforcements of 12,000 troops came to the aid of the Arab army. The total number of troops in Egypt, therefore, must have been between 16,000 and 20,000. Given this data, it is difficult to assume that such a limited number of soldiers in the conquests caused tangible demographic changes in the social and demographic structure in the conquered territories. 4.2.2

The Establishment of Garrison Towns

The distribution of Arabs in the conquered territories was another ecological factor that kept them separate from the native populations of the conquered lands. In this way, it helped the Arabs not only in retaining their language, but also in establishing themselves as a concrete ethnic body inside the structure of these provinces. The circumstances of Arab settlement in the Middle East vary from one place to another. There is, however, a common feature in the behaviour of the Arab armies in this respect, which is the establishment of garrison towns and the concentration of troops in camps that were situated far from densely populated native areas. Arab armies in Iraq established their main headquarters for conquest on the borders between the Arabian motherland and the land of Iraq. In Syria, Arab leaders initially observed the same strategy, but after the plague of the year eighteen AH, the garrison town of al-Jabiya was abandoned. In Egypt, there were no direct borderlines between the land of conquest and the motherland. Still, the Arabs established their camps on desert spots in Babylon, Jiza and Aswan. Moreover, apart from the case of al-Jabiya in Syria, Arab garrison camps developed into semi-urban centers, and eventually into complete urban centers of dense population, as soon as conquests proved successful and lucrative (al-Musawi 1982: 71). The positive outcome of the conquests encouraged more Arab civilians to migrate to the new garrison encampments and establish prominent



dwellings there. Chief among the reasons for this process was the desire to benefit from the financial gains and grants given to the jund and migrants. Arab historians, especially al-Blathuri and Yaqiit, tell us that news of the conquests' success reached Peninsular Arabs and prompted waves of immigration, particularly from the Tamim and Bakr tribes (al-Sayyad 1991: 47). Historians mention that soldiers sent for their wives and children to follow them when they felt that their position in the new garrison towns was solidified (al-Ja4i?-, al-Bayan, vol. II, p. 226). Migration to garrison camps not only turned them into semi -urban, and later to urban centers, but also caused a gradual demographic change and population displacement in the conquered territories themselves. Arabs moved into areas that had hitherto been only sparsely populated. In these communities, Arab migrations immediately after the end of conquests formed majority groups, where their culture and language were the norm. However, these demographic changes did not initially influence the largely rural societies in the conquered territories. Arab migrations were mostly directed to non-cultivated land outside the countryside. It was always the policy of the early Caliphs to avoid using the cultivated land for purposes other than agriculture by their native owners, and to avoid owning estates and fields (Kennedy 2000: 67). It is this isolation of the incipient Arab garrison towns that first formed Arab majority groups, and later allowed them to spread horizontally and vertically, without fear of being integrated or absorbed into the native communities and languages. Another example was Basra, established on the borders between pre-Islamic Arabia and the Aramaic speaking Persian lands, on the site of an old market (Salabi 1974: 133). Similarly, Kiifa was built a few hundred miles to the northwest of Basra, and south of Anbar and west of Mada'in. Kiifa also was established in a place that was previously uninhabited by non-Arabs. In Egypt, as in Iraq and initially in Syria, the Arabs did not live in existing centers of administration, but rather in encampments on the edge of the desert. In Egypt, and in Syria, the Arabs may have avoided residing in coastal cities in order to avoid potential Byzantine sea raids (Kennedy 2000: 64). The site eventually chosen for the residence of the Arabs was an empty desert spot to the north of the famous Roman fortress of Babylon (Kennedy 2000: 64). The only exception to the rule of the Arabs' residing in desert spots in the conquered territories was the case of Syria, where Arabs settled



in already existing cities (Donner 1981: 245). Arabs chose to reside in Damascus, Aleppo and which was the early center for Arab administration in the province. The geographical isolation of the early Arab makeshift communities in conquered territories enabled them to develop unhindered and extend freely on the spatiallevel. 8 Although Syria witnessed no Arabs living in isolation from the conquered populations, Arabs lived in the cities that were largely deserted by pro-Roman citizens. In these cities, Arabs were not a tiny minority vulnerable to integration. Apart from the self-imposed evacuation on the part of non-Arab, pro-Roman citizens, the Syrian cities were partly inhabited by Arabs long before the Arab conquests. It is also assumed that Arabs were particularly attracted to Syrian cities because of the potential commercial benefits they hoped to achieve in these booming commercial centres. Commercial prospect was relatively lacking in other non-Syrian urban centres occupied by Arabs. Apart from the cases of al-Jabiya and al-Ramla, of which hardly any information is available, all garrison towns grew fairly rapidly into garrison towns of relative importance and large size. It is difficult to understand how this process took place exactly. In general, however, it seems that the early Arab leadership had a clear policy against the settlement of Arabs in the middle of densely populated areas, where they would form a linguistic and ethnic minority. In addition, Arab garrison encampments were not to be built on sites that were separated from the motherland by any natural geographical barrier, such as rivers (al-'Ali 1953: 34). This policy was very clear with the establishment of Basra, where the second Caliph openly rejected the choice of any site to the east of the Euphrates (al-Sayyad 1991: 46). In the case of Kiifa, the Caliphal prerogative was that the Arab soldiers be moved to the desert outside al-Mada'in, where no water barrier separated them from their Caliph (al-Baladhuri, FutuiJ, 267). Similarly, in Egypt, the leader of the Arab armies initially preferred to establish Alexandria as headquarters of Arab divisions in Egypt. The Caliph objected to this choice, however, on the basis of long established settlement policies (Kubiak 1987: 58), despite the Nile River only running to the east of the city at this time. The lack of natural barriers afforded relative ease

8 The case of the Arab towns in North Africa is similar. Qayrawan and Rabat were established as garrison towns in areas uninhabited by native Berber tribes.



in the commute to and from the young garrison towns, which in turn granted the Peninsular Arabs the chance to migrate safely and easily. In conclusion, relatively few numbers of Arab troops took part in the conquest of the Middle East, and they camped in isolated spots in the conquered lands. Such a situation could not have led to the language shift of densely populated provinces like Egypt, Syria, and Iraq. At the same time, this isolation helped the meagre numbers of Arab troops to maintain their identity and language, presumably because it did not lead to a sudden demographic change which invited an urgency of communication. The geographical location of the garrison towns, moreover, granted Arabs the ability to migrate to the new communities, but barred non-Arabs from doing the same, as these communities were not in agricultural land. Originally, garrison towns did not interfere in the economic and political makeup of the conquered territories. Thus, migration to the garrison towns was easy and lucrative to the Arabs, but difficult for non-Arabs and not worth their while, at least in the pre-Umayyad period. The manner of Arab settlement in the provinces is also significant to the discussion here. Two particular aspects in this respect warrant special attention. First, Arabs, apart from the case of Syria, did not direct their migration to the already existing cities. Second, garrison towns grew into important densely populated urban centres. These two aspects enabled the Arabic language to become an important majority language in the conquered territories, despite the small numbers of Arabs in comparison to the native population in the first few centuries of conquest. 4.2.3 Arabs and Non-Arabs in Garrison Towns In Egypt, until the beginning of the Umayyad period, the presence of Arabs outside Fustat was minimal (Kennedy 2000: 69). Although there were approximately 12,000 troops in Alexandria in the year 43 AH, this number was apparently very limited since the governor complained of the threat his men felt from the locals (al-Kindi, Kitab al-Qu4ah, p. 36). In Iraq, as mentioned above, living in already existing cities was not desirable, for more than just policy reasons (Ibn Xayyat, Tarix, vol. I, 109). Arab settlement in the countryside of the provinces was also minimal; there were very few Arabs in the alluvium of Iraq in comparison to the numbers of Arabs in and around the garrison towns. In the first three decades of the conquests, the presence of



Arabs outside the garrisons was limited to a few outposts of military personnel sent to the vicinities of Basra and Kflfa to maintain security and aid in tax collection. These outposts seem to have been concentrated around Basra and probably Kflfa as well. But the outposts of guards on the eastern and northern frontiers of Persia were recruited from the Persian troops that joined the Arab armies in the wake of the conquest of Persia (Donner 1981: 239). Inside the villages of the countryside, the Arabs were minimally represented, if at all. The native farmers remained on the land they farmed before the conquest. Before the Umayyad period, very few pieces of land were granted to the Arab chiefs. These were the estates that were abandoned by their owners during the conquests. When these were granted to Arabs, they were given to tribes who contributed troops in the conquests (Donner 1981: 240). It does not seem to be the case, however, that Arab farmers or landlords worked on, or ran, these estates. In Egypt, the first major Arab presence in the countryside took place only in the year 109 AH, when al-Walid Ibn Rifa'a, the Umayyad governor of Egypt, transferred a group of Qaysi Arabs to Upper Egypt (Kennedy 2000: 74). During approximately the same period, another group of around 5,000 Qaysi Arabs migrated to the Eastern I:Iawf in the northeast of the province. These two moves were the first of their kind, where Arabs settled outside Fustat or the other garrisons of Jiza and in considerable numbers (Kennedy 2000: 75). If these figures are accurate, we must then assume that up to the beginning of the second Islamic century, Arab presence in the Egyptian countryside was reduced, and the main destinations of migration were the garrison towns. Bearing in mind that conquests brought several waves of migration to Egypt and other parts of the new Arab provinces, the garrison towns must then have been booming beyond expectation. The garrison towns attracted most of the Arab migrants from the Arabian Peninsula. Mobilizing large numbers of Arabs to the countryside, at least in the case of Egypt, resulted from fear that the residents of garrison towns would react against newcomers. In the aforementioned case of moving a few thousand Qaysis to the Eastern I:Iawf in Lower Egypt, the Umayyad Caliph Hisam agreed on settling the migrants in Egypt only under the condition that they avoid living in Fustat, in order to prevent conflict with local Arabs. If this account of the incident is accurate, it indicates that the Arabs had more incentive



to migrate to garrison towns than to the countryside. It seems clear, from several anecdotes and traditions in the Arabic sources that the garrison towns of Iraq and Egypt grew rapidly after the conquests proved successful because residents of these towns received 'afii' from the dzwan. Donner (1981: 231) estimates the beginning of the Arab migration to the garrison towns in the conquered territories by the end of the conquest of Iraq in the year seventeen AH. Migration began by members of tribes that had participated in the conquests because they were thought to deserve the privilege more than other tribesmen. These migrants were identified in the historical literature of the Arabs as rawadif'follower', since they came at a later period. The economic attraction of towns and the initial decline of residence in the countryside allowed these incipient communities to grow vertically in terms of density of population, as well as horizontally. Migration to garrison towns was characterized by two conflicting attitudes: steady growth of these towns in terms of the numbers of residents, and the reluctance of the early inhabitants to receive new migrants. The resistance of Egyptian Arabs whose names were recorded in the diwan al-jund of Fustat to receive new migrants stemmed from the fact that they were jealous of the 'ata' they earned. They were determined, therefore, to protect their share of the revenues of the country (Kennedy 2000: 65 and Hinds 1972: 450-69). Not much data exists concerning the reaction of Iraqi Arabs to the waves of migration from the motherland. Due to the rapid expansion of Basra and Kiifa, it is likely that there was not much of a resistance, or it was not as fierce as it was in Egypt. However, it is possible that this resistance, wherever it existed, was selective, not only in Iraq, but also in Egypt. It seems that the undesirable migrants were those who belonged to tribes other than those that took part in the initial conquest and whose names were not in the dzwan. The rawadiffrom the already existing tribes were always welcome, and they were like drops of water that gradually filled the pool of garrison towns. Therefore, a certain degree of homogeneity in the garrison towns resulted, and a constant influx of Arabs was maintained without fear of depopulating Arabia. Garrison towns expanded rapidly, both vertically and horizontally, due to consecutive waves of Arab migration. During the period of early conquest, and immediately thereafter, the garrison towns were free of any ethnic or linguistic communities other than the Arabs. This is due to the fact that garrisons were established as a springboard for



further conquests (Donner 1981: 266). During the reign of 'Umar (13-23 AH) military encampments that started as mere groups of tents were declared 'afn$iir (sing. because of their newly acquired administrative role in the conquered territories (al-Sayyad 1991: 45). The success of the conquest of Iraq brought new migrants from the Peninsula to Basra. Hundreds of Bakr and Tamim left Arabia to join relations and friends in (al-Musawi 1982: 71). Migration to the new garrisons in Iraq and Egypt was kept under control by 'Umar, who feared that the migration would depopulate Arabia. After the year 23 AH, however, the third Caliph abandoned this policy, and large numbers of Arabs migrated to the garrisons (al-Tabari, Tar"ix, vol. V, 134). In the case of Fustat, continuous waves of Arab migrants settled in the city (Kennedy 2000: 64). As mentioned earlier, the number of soldiers in the initial conquest of the province was around 15,500 troops (alKindi, Kitab pp. 8-9). By the beginning of the Umayyad rule, the number of Arabs in the d"iwan of Egypt rose rapidly, and may have reached 40,000 (Ibn 'Abd al-I:Iakam, Futuf:l, 102). In the reign of Marawan Ibn al-I:Iakam, the number of soldiers registered in the d"iwan was around 80,000 ('Umar 1990: 50). The rise in the number of soldiers resulted in two processes of reorganizing the d"iwan of towards the end of the first Islamic century. Although the d"iwan was closed in the Umayyad period, low-key Syrian migration to Egypt continued until the end of the reign of Hisam in the year 125 AH. Increasing the density of garrison towns was accompanied by expanding the rudimentary urban planning. This expansion was achieved through redistributing the land to accommodate the newcomers. At one moment in the very early history of for instance, several Arab tribes sought to enlarge their respective shares of the land in the garrison towns, and several disputes and land conflicts threatened the very existence of Arabs in the place (al-Tabari, Tar"ix, vol. 4, p. 70). To resolve these disputes, Abu Musa al-'As'ari (17-29), the governor of the city, embarked on a process of redeveloping the town on basis of xutaf. He issued each tribe xutat for its residence (al-Balathuri, Futuf:l, 347). Enlarging the outer boundaries of the cities and reorganizing their internal structure was, in all the cases of Arab garrison towns, accompanied by a tendency to exploit farmland in the vicinities. Abu Musa made use of the hinterland surrounding where he distributed lands fit for agriculture among tribal leaders (alSayyad 1991: 49). To encourage agriculture, the early government of



Basra distributed wasteland to developers. All through the Umayyad period, qatifi', meaning 'land gifts', of varying sizes outside were granted to army leaders and tribal chiefs. In this way, many residents of became landowners, who either worked on their lands and lived in or had other less wealthy residents work the land while they lived elsewhere as absentee land owners (Lapidus 1981: 182). The demand for land for purposes of agriculture and building seems to have been so great that it alarmed 'Umar, who sent messages to the residents of discouraging the Arabs from owning land al-Bayan, p. 262). The expansion of urban centres by means of encouraging agricultural activities was a common phenomenon among all garrison towns, and was not limited to the hinterlands of In KUfa, efforts were made to stimulate the agricultural production and create more sources of food for the developing town. For this purpose, swamps around the city were drained and prepared for agriculture (Lapidus 1995: 46). As for the manner of land exploitation in Egypt, it is far less clear than the situation in Iraq. Although we know that Arabs lived in several places in the province, it is not known how they managed and cultivated the agricultural land, especially in the pre-Umayyad period. We know, for example, that 20,000 Arabs lived as a garrison in the southernmost part of Egypt in the third decade of the Islamic era, under the leadership of Ibn 'Abi (al-Maqrizi, Xutat, vol. I, p. 323). But Arabic historical sources do not mention any economic activities for these troops. The same can be said about the Arab garrison in Jiza, where Arabs lived in xutat like those in Fustat (al-Ya'qiibi, Mu 'jam, p. 86). The aforementioned garrisons could very well have been military posts but not settlement cores. It is assumed, therefore, that Arab tribes owned lands in the countryside, but whether they lived on these lands or were absentee land owners who merely lived off the revenues is an open question. Although al-Maqrizi (Xutqt, vol. IV, pp. 28-9) mentions the villages owned by different Arab tribes, he is ambiguous as to whether they lived on the land and formed Arab agricultural communities or not. The garrisons of Fustat, Jiza, Alexandria, and Upper Egypt were the only spots of Arab concentration in the fertile Nile Valley. The Nile Delta and the Valley remained exclusively Egyptian. However, Arabs did live in the Eastern desert and Sinai in preIslamic times. By the time of the conquests, Arabs were living in Sharqiyya, Qena and along the Red Sea coast (Holes 1995: 18 and 'Umar



1990: 20-1). Greek historians state that some of the Upper Egyptian towns were semi-Arabicized as early as the first century before Christianity ('Umar 1970: 12-13). But the Arabs never attempted to penetrate the 'Fertile Valley' during any period of their existence in the Egyptian desert, instead they lived in isolation from the native peasant population. We have no clear reference to any influence of the Arabic language in Egypt before the conquest. It is, therefore, justified to speak of Arabicization as a function of Arab conquests, and of the manner of settlement as a continuation of pre-Islamic strategies. So far, it was proposed that the Arab existence in previously nonArab provinces took the shape of tiny spots of Arab concentration, which in time, grew larger in size and in density. Also proposed was that, although Arabs were a small minority in comparison to the native populations, they established Arab majorities for themselves inside the garrison towns. The question remains, how did the Arabs and nonArabs communicate and interact, and how did this interaction bring about a full Arabicization of such large a portion of the Arab world? Although the garrison towns of Iraq and Egypt were designated by the second Caliph as management centres for the conquered territories (al-Sayyad 1991: 45), no clear or explicit reference exists in the historical literature as to the existence of large non-Arab constituencies inside the garrisons, which were not initially attractive for non-Arabs because they were not old centres of administration and government. Although garrison towns were Arab in structure, the following successful urbanization process caused profound, yet gradual, changes in the economic life and demographic structure of the conquered territories. This, in turn, brought about the mobilization of non-Arabs into and around garrison towns, especially in Iraq. The decline of the irrigation system of the Tigris River on the eve of the Arab conquests destroyed the agricultural land east of the river. In Syria, the second half of the first Islamic century witnessed an agricultural decline following a commercial catastrophe, due to the barriers established against the flow of produce from Syria to Anatolia, the major supporting market of Syrian grape and olive production. In Egypt, over-taxation and continuous revolutions in the second half of the first century greatly damaged the agricultural economy of the country, and caused the partial evacuation of the countryside. In addition, the transportation of agricultural products was adversely affected after the full conquest of Egypt, which was the main food basket of the Eastern Empire



(Kaegi 2000: 55). However, agricultural destruction was selective. In the areas where Arabs established garrison towns, agricultural activities were encouraged, as mentioned earlier. The areas around were planted with date-palm forests. The situation in Egypt must have been similar to that of since the Umayyads had a clear policy of land exploitation for agricultural purposes. Fifty years after their establishment, garrison towns enjoyed financial stability and agricultural development, contrary to the rest of the conquered territories. In such situations, it is natural that non-Arabs would flock to the garrison towns voluntarily as tradesmen and craftsmen. In addition, several thousand slaves were imported from East Africa to work on the land around and Kflfa (Lapidus 1995: 46). Inside the outer limits of garrison towns themselves, especially in Iraq, sizable groups of non-Arabs resided. Soldiers of non-Arab stock always joined the Arab victorious armies and settled in quarters adjacent to the garrisons. In addition to soldiers, there were slaves working in the houses of Arab residents in the garrisons, who were in charge of the household duties. By the second half of the first century, Kflfa, and certainly Fustat must have been surrounded by quarters of poor non-Arab clients. These groups could not have penetrated the cores of garrison towns in sizable numbers, simply because garrison towns were already established and heavily populated by Arab tribesmen. We have several references in the historical literature of the following centuries to communities of non-Arabs in the garrison towns (al-Ja!J.i:?, al-Bayan, vol. I, 61 and al-Balathuri, Futul;l, 366). One indicator of the strong representation in and around the garrison towns is the establishment of a church in Fustat during the reign of Maslama Ibn Mixlid from forty seven to sixty eight AH ('Umar 1990: 35). Furthermore, it was the fashion of the second half of the first century to use non-Arab troops to quell sectarian and ideological uprisings. Ibn Qutayba ('Uyitn, vol. I, p. 132) and Yaqut (Mu'jam, vol. I, 522) mentioned that in the year fifty four AH, 'Ubaid Allah Ibn Ziyad recruited a squad of 2,000 Persian archers, and positioned them in The same happened in Kflfa, where several thousand troops of Persian origin worked under Arab command. They were known as J:Iamra' al-Daylam (al-Balathurii, Futul;l, p. 280). These troops lived either outside the garrison towns themselves or resided in quarters isolated from the civilian quarters. In general, they were part of the non-Arab circle surrounding the garrisons. The position of the Arabs



was established as hosts, employers and landlords. Although there is nothing in the literature that hints at the ratios of Arabs to non-Arabs, it is certain that the constant influx of Arab migrants and the detachment of the garrisons from densely populated native areas must have prevented the assimilation of Arabs into the non-Arab languages and cultures. It gave them, instead, the status of a majority group in every respect-political, linguistic, and in terms of the sheer numbers of people.

The difference between Greek and Arabic as two dominant languages is a difference between minority and majority languages. 9 On the demographic level, as we see above, minority languages are those whose speakers are fewer in number than speakers of other languages in an identified area (Owens 2000: 1). Speakers of Greek as a native language in the nome capitals, where the largest concentrations of ethnic Greeks existed, were certainly much fewer in number than native Egyptians. The situation in the countryside was even clearer than the situation in the nome capitals. As far as the concentration of the Greeks was concerned, they were concentrated in the metropolis and in the nome capitals only. Moreover, Greek, as a language of a demographic minority group, meets three of the of the socio-ethnic criteria of a minority language specified by Allardt (1984: 201): common descent; distinctive linguistic, cultural or historical traits related to language; and social organization of the interaction of language groups in such a fashion that the group becomes placed in a minority position (Owens 2000: 2). The following confirms these criteria:
1. Greeks in Egypt in late antiquity were self-conscious of their identity

as non-locals, and social and political institutions in the nome capitals intensified this feeling. 2. As for the second criterion, Greeks spoke different language, had a different historical background, were on a different social stratum from the locals, and had a different cultural tradition than the native Egyptians.
See discussion of 'minority' and 'dominant' languages in the introduction in

Owens (2000: l-44s).



3. As for the last criterion, Greek was reserved for the administrative and legal domains, besides being the language of the ethnic-Greek Egyptians. Starting in the fifth century, some of the literary functions of the Greek language were taken over by Cop tic, leaving Greek with fewer non-interaction functions than before the fourth century.

The Arabs' situation as a linguistic and ethnic group in Egypt, and indeed in North Africa, the Levant and Mesopotamia, was the opposite of that of the Greek. In the first fifty years of the Arab conquests, the Arabs established a major garrison settlement in Fustat, in which the Arabs formed a linguistic and ethnic majority. All social and interaction functions inside the garrison were carried out in Arabic. Like other Arab garrisons in the Middle East, Fustat expanded vertically in terms of density, and horizontally in terms of space, during the first fifty years of the conquests and beyond as a result of constant Arab migrations, firmly establishing Arabic as a vernacular. The relative isolation of the garrison town from the Egyptian name capitals and villages granted it a free space and prevented integration between Arabs and non-Arabs. When native individuals and small groups, pushed by harsh economic circumstances, migrated to the vicinities of the garrison towns, they found that the Arabic language was the language of the majority group, and Coptic, in this part of the country, became a minority language of no social prestige, public function, or even substantial group of speakers. After the year seventy eight AH, the administrative domain of the Greek language was taken over by the Arabic language, which had been used on a small scale from the beginning of the conquests in bilingual receipts and contracts. After the conquests, Greek lost its prestigious status as the language of the ruling elite, and by the Arabicization of the dtwan, it lost its major function in administration, already having lost its position as the language of faith and culture in the fifth century (see Rubenson 1996: 78). Therefore, Greek's status as a prestige language collapsed so quickly thereafter, because, as Kahana and Kahana (1979) explain, prestigious languages of non-native speakers endure only so long as appropriate socio-political scaffolding exits. When this scaffolding does not exist any longer, as it occurred after the Arab conquests, and when a stronger prestige language confronts it, as it occurred after the Arabicization of the government, it decays relatively quickly (Owens 2000: 4). Therefore, native speakers of languages other than Arabic, such as Greek and Coptic, found themselves in the position of a majority



group in terms of sheer number of inhabitants outside the garrison towns. Inside and around the garrison towns, however, Arabs were the majority, and their language was the prestigious language that carried out all functions, social and political. Arabicization of the new urban Egypt, and indeed other parts of the Arab world, took place in two concomitant processes that were complementary, yet independent. These processes were not taken in definite steps at identifiable time points, but as a rough estimate, took place over the first century of the Islamic era. The first process was a redistribution of linguistic functions. By the end of the first Islamic century, Arabic had already inherited the functions of Greek as an administrative language. It is true that both Greek and Coptic was used in some contracts and receipts, but they were used together with Arabic. In addition, Arabic quickly became the sole medium of such texts. The only written function Coptic took was in Christian religious writings. This process left untouched the function of the everyday vernacular for Coptic. The second process was the eo-articulation of Arabic with Coptic as a spoken language. The effect of this process was reserved to the garrison towns and their vicinities. When garrison towns were established as tangible urban centres of economic power, and when the economic situation pushed peasants away from their farming lands, small merchants, labourers, and farmers started to migrate to the vicinities of garrison towns. For these groups, Arabic was essential for obtaining work in the garrison towns. Rudimentary forms of Arabic must have materialized, but due to continuous exposure to Arabic linguistic input, these interlanguage varieties more closely borrowed from and imitated Arabic. 10 Therefore, the Arab garrison towns were the core from which Arabic spread in waves on different levels of linguistic complexity.

10 Interlanguage is the degree of proficiency of a second language learner, which is always below that of a native speaker. For more on interlanguage, see (Gass and

Selinker 1994).


INFORMAL SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION AND FOREIGNER TALK The conclusion of the previous two chapters was that the spread of Arabic after the conquests must be interpreted as a result of a process of informal second language acquisition. In this process, nativespeaker input was abundant, due to the majority status of Arabs in the conquered areas. Due to the urgency of communication between Arabs and non-Arabs, both groups needed to communicate in modified language in order to facilitate functional communication. Due to the same majority status and to the privileged position of the Arabs, Arabic became the medium of communication. With its increasing importance, Arabs must have modified their language to accommodate non-Arabs. It is, therefore, important to explore the relevant types of second language acquisition and the types of input therein, as found in the enormous body of literature on informal second language acquisition.


For the purpose of this chapter, there will be no differentiating between second and third-or-more language acquisition. The main interest here is the lower strata of the conquered lands' populations, who were largely illiterate and monolingual. 1 Thus, a distinction such as this is irrelevant. Moreover, this distinction is of no substantial importance since our main interest is the input that led to the acquisition of Arabic. Another categorization I do not consider relevant here is the difference between acquisition and learning. Some theories give acquisition the meaning of 'picking up' a language through constant exposure, while assign learning the meaning of conscious internalization of language through studying it (Krashen 1981:1-2). Although this distinction appears to be relevant here, it is hardly possible to

See section two of chapter four above.



distinguish which part in an informal learning process of the learners' language is acquired and which is learned. It is also difficult to know if a certain structure or item is acquired. 2 Furthermore, defining when a certain language item has been acquired has been historically inconsistent as of late. Due to this variation in definition, acquisition and learning will be considered here one and the same. Two other distinctions must be maintained here. The first is between foreign and second language. While the latter means the non-native language that plays social, institutional and administrative functions in individual lives of theese communities of learners, the former refers to for non-native language learners expose themselves to in settings, such as classroms (Ellis 1996: 12). In this study of language shift and Arabicization, the focus will be the case of second language acquisition, rather than foreign language acquisition, because Arabic played multiple functions in the individual and social spheres in the conquered territories. The second distinction of relevance to our purpose is that of naturalistic (informal) and instructed (formal) second language learning. The former means that acquiring the language takes place in naturally-occurring communicative situations where a non-native encounters a native speaker of the target language, and receives learnable input during the exchange. Instructed or formal second language acquisition, on the other hand, takes place in the classroom or a similar environment, with the guidance of a teacher and/or a textbook (Ellis 1996: 12). I disregard instructed second language acquisition, since it is difficult to assume that during the first century of the Islamic era organized language teaching existed. Naturalistic language acquisition, on the other hand, is of vital importance to us as it corresponds to our view of the manner of language shift in the conquered lands in the first century of Islam. Informal second language acquisition is defined here as the acquisition of a non-native language (that has social and institutional value to the learner), in a naturalistic manner, without the guidance of a teacher or a book.

2 Some scholars (Bickerton 1981: 202-206) consider an item acquired once it appears in the learner's production Others (Dulay and Burt 1980: 234-252) consider an item acquired only when it reoccurs in the learners' second language production with a high degree of accuracy.






The purpose of this section is not to give a detailed scenario of what happens when a second language is informally acquired. It rather aims at determining the effect of such a process on the strategies and tempo of learning, input processing and the final result of language acquisition. Klein ( 1986) bases the distinction between 'spontaneous' and 'guided' language acquisition on psycholinguistic factors. He claims that in spontaneous language acquisition, learners focus on communication, and learn the language as their communicative tasks develop. He also argues that in the case of formal language acquisition, there is a conscious concentration on specific forms and structures of the target language that must be learned. On the other hand, advocates of the sociolinguistic distinction between formal and informal second language acquisition claim that it is highly improbable to assume informal second language acquisition is subconscious and instructed learning is conscious. They, on their part, focus on the settings in which informal second language acquisition takes place, and on the relationship between these settings and the learning process and outcomes. Based on this difference in approach, the two fields of research are considered here to be complementary. 3 5.2.1

Psychological Factors in Informal SLA

Klein ( 1986: 16) defines the process of informal 'spontaneous learning' as denoting "the acquisition of a second language in everyday communication, in a natural fashion, free from a systematic guidance." Such an acquisition process is not uniform, because the acquisition purposes of learners determine the strategies they use in acquiring the target language, and naturally the end result. This means that the type of Arabic learned by a civil clerk who seeks to retain his job is expected to be different from the type of Arabic learned by a craftsman or a merchant seeking to be able to communicate when buying and selling in the target language. Not only is the purpose of acquisition important, but also the sociolinguistic surroundings, for they determine the degree of accessibility of input that a non-native speaker can process.

3 Ellis (1996: 12), who is one of the proponents of the sociolinguistic approach on naturalistic second language acquisition. points out that it is yet unknown if there is a difference in the learning processes between formal and informal settings.



Two features of the process are crucial to our purposes. First, the process takes place during everyday communication. Second, it must be carried out without any guided or structured education (Klein 1986: 16). Communicative strategies are used by the learner to facilitate the learning of simple input during the initial stage of exposure to the target language. Learners must use linguistic and non-linguistic knowledge to single out learnable input and approximate it (Klein 1986: 16-17).4 Klein also states that in a process of spontaneous second language acquisition, the focus is not on linguistic correctness, but on communication. Minimal attention is paid to the language itself, and maximal attention is paid to effective message delivery, by any means at the disposal of the learner. 5 As far as the feature of lack of guided teaching is concerned, Klein (1986: 18) states that any kind of second language acquisition-spontaneous or not-is invariably a guided process. The guidance of a spontaneous process can come in the form of the amount of data available, the field of lexical items, the correction of a mispronounced word or structure or a native speaker imparting the meaning of a certain word to a non-native learner. This is not carried out in a classroom by means of selected and structured features of the target language. In such a process, learners have to define and identify input, rather than receive it. They also have to deal with a series of problems in learning that input: analysis and synthesis (Klein 1986: 54-62). 6

4 The approximation task is dynamic because it involves analyzing items and elements of the target language (Klein 1986: 63), synthesis of elements into structured utterances (Klein 1986: 111 ), and then matching oflearner output and target language structures (Klein 1986: 138). 5 It is argued that rules and formal structures are the domain of the language in a teaching environment. In communication, however, there is no desire and hardly any opportunity, for such a teaching process. Later in this chapter, readers will see that this claim is not entirely correct, since learners in informal settings do aspire for a degree oflinguistic correctness, especially when correctness is sociolinguistically relevant. 6 Knowing about the common aspects among languages is not helpful in introducing rules and structures, but it can help the learner determine word boundaries, hence lexical items, for which he or she must use other means in order to understand Likewise, knowledge of the learner's native language, if it was approximate to the target language, might help him or her in matching and assuming rules, and in dealing with the lexicon, for example. A learner of a target language that is not related to his native language is at a disadvantage, since this type of knowledge does not help him or her, and, on the contrary, might cause first language interference problems. The greatest help comes from whatever knowledge the learner has of the target language, for it might aid in 'cracking' the input he receives. In early stages of second language acqui-



Therefore, access to input in second language acquisition is a crucial starting point in the learning process. In the structured teaching environment, the teacher determines the amount and field of input the learners receive, but different factors are operative in spontaneous learning processes. Klein (1986: 43-44) distinguishes two factors: the amount and quality of information available to the learner to process, and the opportunities of communication available for the learner to receive more input and test the already acquired language items in output,7 In the early stage of second language acquisition, a correlation between the input the learner receives and the contextual cues is imperative for determining lexical meanings of sound strings. In this manner, the learners acquire lexical items first, and this knowledge will enable them to acquire functional items. The spontaneous acquisition, however, does not mean that a modified input is out of the question. Native speakers of the target language tend to modify their language to suit the presumed second language ability of the learner. Since spontaneous second language acquisition takes place through social interaction, the opportunities of communication give the learner two advantages. First, they expose him to new input, and also repeat the already learned input. Second, they allow the learners to evaluate their deduction of learned items' meanings and their produced output (Klein 1986: 46). Through continuous exposure, self-evaluation, and observing the native speakers, learners can proceed to higher levels of difficulty in the second language. Interactive communication takes the shape of a conversation. Although conversations have always been generally recognized as useful for the purpose of language learning, their importance was thought to be limited to practicing of rules after the learners acquired them. Since the middle of the 1970's, however, research in second language acquisition has emphasized the positive role of negotiated interaction

sition, this type of knowledge can be misleading, because the inferences the learner may reach can sometimes be false (Klein 1986: 65). 7 The process the learner has to carry out without a teaching aid is to synthesize the structures and items previously analyzed into output utterances. This process has to do mostly with syntax. where learners align words to form an utterance. It is a secondary process that follows analysis. When input is analyzed, learners can use the result as components for their own output. In this synthesis process, the conclusions of analysis are checked, and their validity and correctness evaluated (Klein 1986: 79). Thus, the more the learner is exposed to the target language, the more his analyzed input helps him in synthesizing elements in structured utterances.



in the language learning process. 8 It is now established that interaction is not only an arena for practice, but a means for learning new structures of the target language as well. Although under the pressure of carrying out interaction without interruption, the non-native speaker may not pay attention to the input provided or the corrective feedback of the native speaker interlocutor, the explicit feedback is likely to draw the non-native's attention to correct his/her utterances (Gass 1997: 114-115). Brock, Crookes, Day and Long (1986: 229-236) discovered that if non-native speakers pay attention, their grammatical systems may change to accommodate the corrective feedback of native speakers. This may take place when the communicative task requires attention, like in the case of communicative games, for example. The claim here is that the locus of learning the second language is interaction, which is not a cause of learning, but a means for highlighting structure and providing feedback (Gass 1997: 131) while interlocutors are attending to their business. Although informal second language acquisition takes place on the side of functional social tasks, it is not incidental or a matter of chance. 9 Socio-communicative factors, in addition to the previously mentioned internal mental factors, collaborate to control the tempo and the final learner variety of the second language in a complex process. Klein (1986: 50) claims that despite the collaboration of the sociocommunicative factors and the internal mental factors in determining

8 For studies of the role of conversation in informal second language acquisition see the works ofGass and Varonis (1985: 37-57 and 1989: 71-86), Long (1981: 259-78 and 1983: 177-193), Pica (1987: 3-21 and 1988: 45-73), Pica and Doughty (1985: 115-132), Pica, Doughty and Young (1986: 1-25), Pica, Young and Doughty (1987: 737-758) and Varonis and Gass (1985: 71-90). 9 Informal second language learning has its difficulties. The learners, for instance, are required to learn certain aspects of the language, but since languages are complete entities and interrelated grids of aspects, learning one aspect entails learning the whole system. Learners are then required to single out the basic knowledge for learning, and synchronize different aspects together to form that complex whole, which is their learner variety (Klein 1986: 48-9). As learners develop their levels, they must acquire a new balance of complex items of the target language, and repeat the process each time they develop, until they reach the final stage. Klein (1986: 49-50) then states that the abilities of the individual learners to synchronize aspects of the language variety, produce sound evaluations, and learn more input (internal factors), besides social and socio-communicative aspects of input providing, produce a degree of variability between individual learners. Despite this variability, second language acquisition follows universal laws that approximate learner varieties to one another. The effect of internal and external factors is mainly on the tempo and end result of the learning process. It might also affect the structure oflearned items.



the tempo and end result of acquisition, socio-communicative factors have the larger effect on the learning process. As far as the tempo is concerned, the pressure exerted by the need to communicate and the situations in which the learner is put are likely to increase the speed of the learning process. By the same token, limited access to linguistic input, due to limited communication, will, by necessity, slow down the processes of acquisition. As learners progress in the second language, the effects of accessibility to input and the communicative needs may wane. As the learner's verbal communication ability improves, the amount of new information decreases, and the surrounding environment stops, at one point in the process, providing them with learnable input. The end result of the learning process is certainly affected by the same internal and external factors. In informal learning processes, the learner always fossilizes at a point lower than that of the native speaker, especially in phonology. Fossilization takes place when the learner ceases to distinguish tangible discrepancies between his or her output and that of the native speakers, an internal factor, and when discrepancies no longer hinder the communicative task or stigmatize the learner, an external factor (Klein 1986: 50-52). The social act of communication is the real test for the learned input. Therefore, the degree of accessibility to input in the target language, through frequency of communication, will determine the time a learner needs to reach a certain interlanguage stage, and the diversity of communicative situations will diversify input. That, in turn, affects the end result of the learning process. Due to context problems and focus on communication, learners achieve a better understanding of lexical items than functional items. It is to be expected then that learners are more likely to produce less grammatical utterances with fairly accurate content. In every communicative encounter with native speakers of the target language, learners carry out an analysis of the input in order to determine items and their meanings. In this they depend on contextual clues and native speaker accommodation. If communicative contexts provide most of the input in informal second language learning situations, and if native speakers modify their input to non-native interlocutors, it is expected that learners will take this modified input as the target language and process it as such (provided of course that non-native learners do not hear unmodified target language input in addition to the modified input). It is, therefore, logical that varieties different from those accessible to nativespeakers appear as a result of informal processes of learning the second



language. Based on the above, it is also predictable that the degree of simplification in the learner varieties is to be partly determined by the accessibility and volume of input. In determining the input non-Arab learners of Arabic used in their second language acquisition process, three aspects are of particular importance: accessibility to input through frequency and versatility of communicative situations; native speakers' modification of their verbal utterances; and the urgency and motivation learners feel. The previous chapter introduced the assumption that the establishment of Arab-majority garrison towns in the conquered territories was responsible for providing Arabic input to the speakers of native languages. A corollary conclusion is that the individual natives felt the urge to use Arabic with their Arab masters and employers. The following paragraphs discuss the effect of sociolinguistic factors on the nature of the input provided to non-native learners by a native speaker. 5.2.2

The Sociolinguistic Factors of Input

There is a recent trend in SLA research to treat informal language learning as a process influenced greatly by social context and environment. One of the advocates of this theory is Ellis (1996), 10 who correlates positively between the degree of success in learning the second language and choice of variety on the one hand, and the social contexts in which the second language learner finds himself or herself on the other hand. It is, therefore, necessary to introduce the broad features of the social contexts in which the learning process takes place and their effect on the learners' output. Despite the prevailing assumption that there is a positive correlation between second language acquisition that takes place in "naturalistic" settings on the one hand, and the concentration on the communicative value of an utterance rather than its correctness on the other, Ellis affirms that 'learners in natural settings often resort to conscious learning and may deliberately seek out opportunities to practice specific linguistic items they have studied (Ellis 1996: 215).' Although the input is randomly introduced, and the acquisition takes place outside a classroom, and without any structured framework, consolidating a rule can, sometimes, be deliberate on the part of the learner. Such a


See especially page (Ellis 1996: 214).



process can result in a grammatically sound item learning, as proved by Lennon ( 1989) in the study of German second language learners of English in Britain. This means that there is no necessary link between setting and type of learning. The determining factors in the process, as seen by the sociolinguistic approach in second language acquisition, are the social conditions of the learning process. These conditions may predispose learners to engage in formal or informal learning strategies, and thus produce different outputs. Another relevant assumption is that due to the continuous communicative demand on second language learners, their level in the target language is higher than that of a learner who studies in the classroom. It can produce a 'native-like' proficiency (Schinke-Lano 1990: 216). This argument is supported by empirical results of several studies that compared classroom settings and social communication settings. D' Anglejan ( 1978) claims that with high motivation, students who take intensive courses in the second language do not necessarily become fluent in it. One reason may be that they are not exposed to communicative tasks that involve native speakers of the target language. One representative case (Ellis 1996: 215) is that of Vietnamese migrant workers in California, where communication with native speakers of English in the workplace proved to be a useful strategy in the learning of English as a second language. Another supportive case for the same point is provided by Fathman (1978: 213-222), whose results led her to conclude that second language learners in the target language environment produce better results in oral proficiency than those studying in a foreign language context. Not only oral proficiency, but also communicative strategies are higher rated in the case of learners in the natural environment (Fathman 1978: 222). Based on these results, we can assume that the more language learners are exposed to communicative demand, the better response they should give. Fathman's study also states that despite the differences in the grammaticality of utterances between learners of English in an informal setting and learners of English in the classroom (the latter perform better in grammar related tasks), the output of both learners is similar. Communicative competence and oral proficiency are, however, better in the case of informal setting learners than in classroom learners. Fathman's conclusions concerning difference in errors between informal and formal second language learning are also useful for our purposes. Formal second language learners in Fathman's study produced more over-generalization errors than informal setting learners.



Substitution errors are made by informal second language learners more than by formal language students. Omission and word order errors are also made by informal second language learners more than by formal language students. Formal classroom students also encountered additional problems (Fathman 1978: 220-221 and 223). What one can deduce from Fathman's study is that classroom education produces more grammatically sound language utterances. Informal second language learning, on the other hand, produces more fluent speakers. Thus, learners in both contexts produce mistakes in the target language, but both produce different types of mistakes. This conclusion contradicts the previously mentioned remark of Fathman that both types of learners produce similar types of output.U A final aspect of the relationship between proficiency and informal second language acquisition is provided by an experimental study done by Gass (1987: 229-248), who studied the difference in sentence interpretation between formal and informal English and Italian second language learners. In the case of English, Gass found no difference in sentence interpretation between formal and informal language learners. However, informal second language learners of Italian did much better than formal learners in interpreting sentences. Gass explains that in the case of English, where sentence interpretation depends on word order only, no difference was found, but in the case of Italian, where sentence interpretation is more complex, informal language learning provides learners with efficiency in problem solving. Complex rules are not easily taught in the classroom, and there is no exposure to continuous input. The final conclusion, then, is that as far as complex rules are concerned, informal learning can be more efficient. The results of studies discussed so far give the impression that informal second language acquisition better results in oral fluency than classroom learning, produces more grammatically efficient learners than classroom teaching, and helps learners achieves native-like proficiency. Those conclusions are by no means indisputable, however. Ellis (1996: 216) summarizes evidence from the studies discussed above to prove that conclusions. The examples mentioned above can not be taken as absolute. While Fathman's (1978) study proves that informal learning leads to more oral proficiency than learning in the classroom, it also proves that there is a great deal of variation in pro-

11 See (Eilis 1996: 216) for the research concerning the relationship between formal/ informal language acquisition and proficiency, and its contradictory results.



ficiency among learners of the target language; they vary from most successful in oral production to least successful. Gass (1990: 37) and Ellis (1996: 216) refute the assumption that informal second language learning can lead to native-like oral proficiency, stating that learners of a second language do not produce native-like status in the target language, be that in the classroom or in informal learning. This assertion is supported by the results of longitudinal studies, 12 where adult second language learners are reported to fall short of the native-like proficiency claimed above. In addition, a high degree of grammatical competence in informal second language learning does not seem feasible, since there is a growing accumulation of evidence that classroom instruction leads to a high degree of grammatical competence, more than informal learning. Attempting to resolve the conflict in the conclusions presented above, Ellis maintains that it is important to distinguish among different contexts within the informal second language acquisition process. For the purpose of this study, the focus will be on the first two of three relevant contexts Ellis discusses. The first is the context where the target language is the native language of one or more social groups in the speech community. The second context is when the target language is not a native language of any social group, but is used as an official language only. The third context is when the target language serves as a lingua franca used in certain defined contexts only. Most research is directed to the first context-that in which the target language is a native language of the majority group. Migrant workers and linguistic and ethnic minorities are the subject and focus of this type of research. There is a degree of variation with regard to the assimilation of these groups to the norms and rules of the target language. In some cases, learners achieve a stable interlanguage 13 that distinguishes their linguistic, ethnic group or worker group. These interlanguage varieties depend on the social conditions the learner finds himself/herself in.

12 See the studies of Schumann (1978), Klein and Dittmar (1979), Schmidt (1983) and Meisel (1983) for examples. 13 "The language system that the learner constructs out of the linguistic input to which he has been exposed has been [... ] referred to as [... ] an interlanguage (Selinker 1972) (Larsen-Freeman and Long 1991: 60)." 'This system is composed of numerous elements, not the least of which are elements of the NL, and the TL. There are also elements in the IL that that do not have their origin in either the NL or the TL." (Gass and Selinker 1994: 11). It varies systematically, exhibits common accuracy orders and developmental sequences, and is influenced by the native language of the learner (Larsen-Freeman and Long 1991: 81).



It is useful to take a concrete example for informal second language acquisition, 14 that of migrant worker groups arriving in a context where the target language is the native language of the majority group, as is the case of migrant workers in Germany. The different communities of migrant workers live isolated from the majority of Germans to a great extent, and also live isolated from one another. Italians are isolated from Spanish or Turkish workers, and so on. The structures and lexical items learned by these groups are the ones they need to survive and work. Some of the learners acquire certain levels of proficiency in German. But any degree of proficiency in German, the target language here, is related to the degree of isolation from society, and to the number of years spent in the target language environment. In the process of acquiring the language, learners pass through different stages, and each is marked by the acquisition of certain rules and structures. In all these cases, no native-like stage is attained, although all the interlanguage varieties move towards it. The nature of each of these interlanguage varieties is defined by some internal factors that have to do with the learners themselves, and other external factors that concern the social background they find themselves in. Among the factors of the first category are age, gender, attitude towards the target language and education. Among the factors that related to social background are duration of stay, type of work, location, degree of social contact and mobility (Klein & Dittmar 1978: 2-3). As mentioned earlier, time is crucial factor in the beginning period of learning. In the case of migrant workers in Germany, the duration of stay was effective during the first two years. But after that initial period, other factors tended to be more influential on the results of the learning process (Klein & Dittmar 1978: 4). To be able to determine the effect of other factors on the language levels of learners, a comparison between syntactic rules and the social environment was carried out. It was discovered that contact with native German speakers during leisure time and age at the time of arrival in Germany were the most important factors in the learning process and in performance. The stable learner interlanguage variety is determined, then, by a host of complex social and individual factors. These together produce dif14 In section three of the previous chapter I assert that Arabs formed majority groups in the garrison towns and played the role of employers and landlords. It is therefore useful to look at other examples where foreign workers acquire the second language of the host majority group.



ferent varieties when structured in different combinations. But the period of exposure to the target language and the quality of that exposure are particularly critical in the beginning. Although the period of stay in the target language environment is positive in the beginning period, its effect is mitigated by the fact that learners find it difficult to separate learnable items at that early stage. Thus, the amount of learned items is much less than the input offered. Nonetheless, the frequent input, which keeps occurring in the interaction during this early period, helps the non-native learner to recognize input items, and thus the potential for learning increases (Gass 1997: 17). It is clear that the period of stay helps learners to achieve better levels of proficiency when accompanied by frequent input, or in other words, frequent input is most likely to be learned according to the period of stay. In some other cases, the learners of the target language might achieve learner varieties approximate to the target language model. Fast and efficient target language learning takes place when learners try to assimilate with the majority group that speaks the target language, thereby improving their social condition and status. Taylor (1980) describes the case of Norwegian migrants to the United States, where learners achieve an approximated learner variety of the type of English spoken in their communities. Again, levels of individuals in these groups are defined by previously mentioned factors (see the Heidelberger project reported above). The motivation of individual learners and the degree of communication in the target language, especially with native speakers, are particularly important (Ellis 1996: 217-218). From the previous two examples of migrant workers in Germany and Norwegian migrants in the States, it seems that the degree of approximation of the target language correlates positively with the approximation of the learner culture with that of the target language culture. The high degree of the Norwegian migrants' social integration aided them in achieving advanced interlanguage, which migrants from different national backgrounds in Germany failed to achieve. The second context of natural language learning mentioned above is learning a second language that serves as an official language only. 15 A good example is English as an official language of government in

15 This context is also relevant to the study of the Arabicization of the conquered territories in the first centuries of Islam. For a long period, Arabic remained an official language only in many parts of the conquered regions, save the garrison towns.



some of the former British colonies, such as Nigeria. In this context, the target language was not used as a native language in the mostly heterogeneous speech communities. It was chosen as a language for government only, since it was the language of the former government. 16 The literate sectors of that type of society are the most likely to achieve a degree of bilingualism. On the national levels, a certain degree of proficiency in the target language is achieved quickly, and individuals seek to increase their proficiency for the social and economic gains that accompany high proficiency. Despite rapid and widespread learning of the target language, achieving high levels of proficiency is unlikely, as learners often fail to achieve a sufficient cognitive ability for the target language (Ellis 1996: 219). The attitude of learners towards the official target language is different from the attitude of learners of the majority-spoken language. Official language learners are less likely to resist the target language, since it does not threaten their ethnic or national identity. In learning the majority language, on the other hand, there is the possibility of changing group identity, which causes learners to be sensitive to adopting the target language as a language of speech. The problem with such a second language-learning context is that it excludes certain social groups. Peasants, workers, and illiterate sectors are likely to be shut out of the sphere of the target language. The development of regional varieties is a main characteristic of the official target language. As mentioned before, high levels of target language proficiency are unlikely, and the speakers develop simple systems that are in some cases approximate to pidgins (Ellis 1996: 220). There is a resemblance between lower levels of these varieties, in African countries, for example, and the migrant worker language in Germany as discussed above. Simple varieties are not the norm, and the contrary can also take place. Learners of the official target language can develop an elaborate and flowery variety of the target language, in which the main interest is the form of saying information rather than communicating information. 17 One good example in this respect is the

16 In some cases, the choice of a foreign language as an official language was due to a desire to maintain a balance between the native languages, if the population is linguistically heterogeneous (Ellis 1996: 219 ). 17 This attitude towards the official target language is particularly relevant It is easily assumed that non-Arab clerks and scribes tried to produce the best Arabic they were capable of and decorate it with case and dedensional endings to exhibit a good command of the language.



Babu English variety oflndian clerks in the colonial government (Widdowson 1977: 163-164). To these functionaries elaborate expressions and poetic style are not functional, but they exist for their own sake. Learners of the target language who tend to use babu language style are more likely to produce vacuous utterances, even though they are linguistically sound (Widdowson 1977: 269). Learning the second language in an official language context might also result in the emergence of different standard varieties of the target language. Different varieties of French and English occurred in the former English and French colonies. In these standards, over-generalization in the use of target language rules is a salient feature. Another feature is the heavy reflection of the first language's structures in target language use (Kashru 1989: 15-21). Users of these standards do not view their variety as an interlanguage, but as a fully developed standard language. They often have a positive attitude towards it as the standard local form of the target language as used by native speakers (Ellis 1996: 220). There will be no further elaboration on the third case where the target language is the lingua franca of the communicative context, but not the native language of any of the involved interlocutor groups. The case is not applicable to the communicative environment of the conquered territories in the early two centuries of the Islamic era. Native speakers of Arabic were always a common denominator in the urban communicative environments during this early period.

The Informal Acquisition of Arabic

From the above, it is easily deduced that, in informal second language acquisition, learners are conscious of the mental processes of learning and can manipulate them in order to achieve grammatical correctness and higher levels of accuracy in the target language. Complex grammatical tasks tend sometimes to be better handled by an informal learner of the second language than by a student. Yet communicative strategies and oral proficiency are more salient features of informal learning than grammaticality. The amount of time a learner spends in the target language positively correlates with target language oral proficiency. The social conditions, however, are the major determining factor of the learner's attitude towards grammaticality or unconscious communication, making utmost use of communication opportunities, and accessibility to input. The degree of communication and assimilation of the learner in the target language cultural group defines the



proximity of the learner interlanguage to the target language standards. In other social contexts, where the target language is not a native language in society, certain members of the community acquire a certain degree of functional proficiency in the target language, and others are prohibited from doing so for socio-demographic reasons impacting their access to the mainly administrative language. As in the context where the target language is the native language of the majority group, context determines not only whether or not language acquisition takes place, but also determines the degree of proficiency. Despite determination to learn the target variety and conscious learning, local standards often times emerge, with degrees of grammaticality different from those of the target language standards. In applying these results to the case of acquiring Arabic in the two contexts of administrative language and vernacular language, it is possible that non-Arabs tried consciously to learn Arabic from Arabs they contacted in the garrison towns. In the process, non-Arabs not only learned, but also tested their learning and modified their output against the amount of input they received from the majority group. If communication is intense and conscientious, a high proficiency and fluency in a relatively short time is expected. This actually was the case, due to the majority status that native speakers of Arabic enjoyed in urban areas.

This section will examine the types of input related to informal second language learning. In this respect, it begins with the general features of input, and then move to discuss Foreigner Talk as the assumed input register in native-non-native target language interaction in the early decades of the Arab conquests. 18

Input and Interaction

As noted above, both the native speaker and context structure are important factors in the process of informal second language acquisi-

18 As shown in the previous chapter, two factors might have led to the use of FT input rather than the emergence of a pidgin: the presence of Arabs in native Arab settlement areas in large numbers, and the lack oflanguage diversity among non-Arabs.



tion. Native speakers present input to the learner. 19 The sociolinguistic context and the perception of language learners' levels direct native speakers to modify their input to communicate messages. In informal language learning, input is provided through an interactive encounter with the native speaker, in which language teaching is a side product of the communicative function. Alternatively, input can be provided by what Ellis ( 1996: 26) defines as 'non-reciprocal discourse'. A good example of this type of input is listening to the speech of native speakers of the target language. Studies of second language input have, therefore, focused on the kinds of modification a native speaker applies to his/her speech with non-native speakers, and the discourse structures of interactive context. Krashen (1986: 2) introduces the related concept of 'comprehensible input'. According to this concept, learners of a certain language acquire morphemes and other linguistic items according to the input they can understand. Grammatical items are learned with the help of contextual clues and linguistic knowledge that learners have of the target language. An important corollary to this concept is that if input is comprehensible enough, and frequent enough, learners will acquire the required grammatical rule, without the need for learning it consciously. In Krashen's view, input is the most important environmental factor in the process of second language acquisition, which cooperates with the language acquisition device (LAD) in the brain in internalizing an item (Krashen 1986: 2-3). The supporting evidence for the role of comprehensible input hypothesis is furnished by modified registers. Krashen (1986: 8) states that the modified Foreigner Talk aimed at communication, not teaching, is always resorted to by native speakers

19 Input has garnered increasing interest in the field of second language acquisition. Until the 1960's, Behaviorist views oflearning introduced input as the sole factor in language acquisition; in other words, students will learn what they receive. In naturalistic settings, then, learners learn what suits their levels from the flux of input received. In this view, learners are passive in the acquisition process. With the emergence of cognitive psychology in the 1960's, input was considered a mere trigger for a language device built in the human brain. Because every human being is endowed with a language-learning faculty in the brain, it starts to work as soon as the learner is exposed to input in the target language. This view, in turn, has been modified by studies that emphasize the role of interaction in enhancing the learning of second language. Interaction is claimed to help learners in learning structures and language items that are otherwise beyond their level. While the first view is now history, the controversy between the advocates of the mentalist and interactionalist approaches is still fierce.



with learners. The sole purpose of modification is to provide learners with comprehensible input. To carry out communication, the speakers tune their utterances to the levels of the non-native speakers (Krashen 1986: 9). Evidence for this claim comes from research carried out by Gaies (1977: 204-212) and Freed (1980: 19-27). Another source of evidence is the research related to age differences and language acquisition. In early acquisition periods, adults acquire foreign language elements faster than children, due to the amounts of comprehensible input they receive and helpful contextual clues (Krashen 1986: 12). In addition, adult learners own conversational abilities that enable them to decipher language input. 20 Long (1981: 268) carries the concept of comprehensible input a step further when he asserts that input and interaction are related concepts. He rejects the hypothesis that non-modified input and interactive discourse cannot lead to second language acquisition. Long claims (1981: 272) that modifying the input and not the interactive discourse does not facilitate acquiring the second language, except in so far as the marked varieties are concerned. In addition, modified interaction appears to be the factor that sustains conversations between native speakers of the target language and learners. As learners always have lower levels of competence in the target language, native speaker interlocutors often find themselves obliged to modify their discourse to make sure a message is communicated. Modified discourse is so basic that Long (1981: 273) assumes that modified interaction can facilitate language learning even without a modified input in some cases. The point here is that interaction facilitates the comprehension of input. When input is made comprehensible, it also facilitates the process of encoding it as learnable input as well. Gass (1997: 131) explains this by stating that through negotiations, formal aspects of the language become salient, thus creating a readiness for learning. 21 The comprehensible output hypothesis is another relevant concept, which is advanced by Swain (1985: 235-153). Swain's hypothesis is
2 For a review of age differences and language learning, see Krashen. Long, and Scarcella (1982: 161-172). 21 Several studies attempted to understand what makes a certain type of input comprehensible. Such a study was carried out by Pica, Young, and Doughty (1987: 737-58), who examined the impact of interaction on comprehension But whether interaction leads to the acquisition of new linguistic items remains an open question since relatively little research has been done to inspect the cause and effect relationship between the two.



that learners need the comprehensible input to be able to analyze it, structure an utterance of their own, and then produce. In this way, learners are able to acquire grammatical elements that they cannot acquire merely by comprehending what is being introduced to them. The argument here rests on the assumption that comprehension can occur globally without the need for discreet analysis of input, while this is not the case with production.22 Despite the few empirical studies on both comprehensible input and comprehensible output, the studies available enable researchers to establish an interactive model, according to which the native speaker of the target language sends communicative messages in a modified language (often made more salient). The language learners on their part learn the input and try to simulate it in a comprehensible output, which can in some respects be different from the original input. This collaborative context gives the learner the chance to obtain input, analyze it and produce verifiable output. At the same time, the native speaker of the target language will be able to assume the language learner's level and modify output accordingly. The effectiveness of such a model is supported by the study of the discourse's importance in the acquisition of second language carried out by Hatch (1978), who assumes that cooperation between interlocutors in a discourse increases the learnability of the second language. Interactive contexts are then the loci for language acquisition, but acquisition itself is an ambiguous process. Is it an end result of a complex process, or is it, in itself a process that starts with the perception of input and ends with integration into the learner's interlanguage? It is important to concentrate on the latter interpretation of acquisition since the main interest here is the input that caused the language shift towards Arabic. In this light, the question arises, what makes some input perceived, and some not? In other words, what enables the non-native speaker to realize a piece of input and decide to learn it? The answer to this question is, as mentioned earlier, that input must be comprehensible. 23 There is a need to distinguish between comprehensible input, which is an imperative in the acquisition process, and comprehended input, which is the desired outcome of the process. The first implies that the native speaker, rather than the learner, is the one

22 23

For a summary and evaluation of research on input, see (Ellis 1996: 26-28). See a discussion ofKrashen's comprehensible input in (Gass 1997: 81-82).



who enables input to be comprehensible, while the latter focuses on the learners' ability to process the input. To achieve comprehensible input, saliency is a crucial factor. Saliency can come about through frequency of the rule during interaction, stress or repetition. Regardless of the reason, salience highlights the rule to be noticed by the learner, and noticing a rule causes it to be learned (Schmidt 1990: 139). Bardovi-Harling (1987: 385-407), who defines salience in terms of the frequency of appearance, claims that salience of a certain marked rule can lead to learning it before an unmarked one. 24 Moreover, salient rules tend to be more frequently used by learners of the language. Bayley (1994: 157-81) notes that in his study of phonetic acquisition, learners relied on salient past tense markers. Another factor to make comprehensible input, apart from salience through frequency, is the formal modification of input to suit the nonnative speaker. Modification means bringing the formal aspects of the language to the presumed level of the non-native speakers. Through being able to analyze the input and understand it, it becomes further processed (Gass 1997: 23). Thus, Foreigner Talk, as the register specific to native speakers of the target language use with non-native speakers, is useful as a means to make input comprehended. On the one hand, it helps both interlocutors to carry out meaningful utterances, keeping an interaction active as well as it facilitates communicating linguistic data.

Foreigner Talk

In situations of informal second language acquisition, as in the case of Arabic in the early centuries of the Islamic era, the existence of a modified input is critical. Acquisition of a second language without a modified input is highly unlikely (Long 1981: 271). Therefore, it is safe to assume that, in naturalistic second language acquisition, learning and interaction in the target language are possible only through Foreigner Talk (FT) input. As an input providing register, FT is the continuum of modifications applied by a certain native speaker to his or her language when interacting with a non-native speaker. The main purpose of the use of FT is to carry out communicative interaction or conversation with the interlocutor rather than teaching the target language. Modification, therefore, is not an educational phenomenon.


A similar conclusion was reached by (Doughty 1991: 431-469).



Assuming that the process of learning Arabic was informal, and that the early communication between Arabs and non-Arabs was functional and not educational, it is logical to believe that input provided by Arabs to non-Arabs was most likely in the FT register. Before studying the characteristics and strategies of FT, it is necessary to address a theoretical problem, the treatment of input-providing registers as fixed and stable registers. Reviewing literature on input will enable the identification of two types of studies: studies that deal with input as text and studies that deal with it as an interactive continuum (Ellis 1996: 246). The second type is the treatment of text in discourse. The first type of research is built on the assumption that there is a disparity between the prescriptive ideas of what the input text should be on the one hand, and the real input provided by native speakers to non-native learners, on the other hand. In fact, this disparity is related to the native speakers' linguistic performance, in opposition to the written grammars of their respective languages. The details of these studies will not be presented here, 25 but an example will be used to elucidate the problem this research underlines. Since there is a difference between native speakers' use of their language and abstract idealistic description, the problem is how to identify the input that a language learner learns in a naturalistic setting. More than that, it is likely that a language learner, moving into and among different circles and social networks of native speakers, receives different input types that vary qualitatively and quantitatively. In such a case, it is hard to measure the non-native interlanguage. In addition, it is easy to be misled by the interlanguage concerning the development of second language acquisition. Even in cases where there is a standardized and generalized variety of the language in common use, native speakers, among themselves and with non-native speakers, do not adhere to the standardized variety rules. Modification and adjustments seem to be the norm rather than the exception in communicative language use. The second type of input studies, which tackles input as a discourse exchange, tries to overcome this problem through assuming that whenever a native speaker is addressing a non-native learner in the target language, a modified version of the language is in use during the communicative exchange. Input, therefore, is dealt with as a sociolinguistic variable determined by context. But the same problem as


For a summary of results, see (Lighbown and D'Anglejan 1985), and (Ellis 1996).



referred to above appears once more when FT studies try to determine certain linguistic features of the native speaker's input as belonging to FT, while other features are not. An inventory of features is presented as the building blocks of a register of FT in a certain language. Again, the nature of the communicative context, sociolinguistic conditions, acting psycho linguistic aspects and language levels of the target language learners vary in each encounter, thus making it difficult to match whatever inventories exist with real context-bound FT. Since it is difficult to reach definite positions according to the results of studies that bound to certain conditions, the practice of obtaining FT features, and thus the dispute over the question whether a feature is part of a FT register or not, should be abandoned as useless. In the following review of the literature on FT, the focus is on three areas: contexts and psycholinguistic conditions that trigger FT input use; the strategies and characteristics of FT; and the relationship between such input and second language acquisition. The following review focuses on cross-situational, cross-linguistic and generalized aspects of FT, rather than those that are language specific. Accordingly, in the study of Arabic FT input in the following chapter, the assumption is that the universal aspects of FT are more likely to appear in Arabic FT than not. In addition to which it is possible that Arabic has its specific FT aspects. In the light of the absence of a clear vision of the specific language variety used by Arabs in different regions with different learner groups, such method seems safe enough. Adopting this method, and abandoning the fool's errand of determining features of FT, demonstrates that, in the complexity of social networks and the range of vertical and horizontal mobility of the target language's native speakers and non-native learners between and among networks, features are hardly quantitatively and qualitatively stable. Over a single moment in time, with all variables equal, native speaker A can use feature X with learner B in a certain context. The same interlocutors might use feature Y in a different context. Different interlocutors can use different sets of features at the same hypothetical moment in time. Considering strategies and characteristics of FT, rather than discrete linguistic features, accounts for all the infinite theoretical and actual language modification strategies used by a native speaker in a conversation with a non-native learner. One important aspect of the literature is the controversy caused by the findings proposing that sometimes no structural modifications are carried out to accommodate non-native speakers. Arthur and his col-



leagues. (1980: 111-124), in their comparison of airline workers' speech to native speakers and non-native speakers. find that the elicitation of typical FT features, like length and complexity of utterances, is not uniform. In addition, the difference in speech rate is not significant, though more in the case of talking to non-native speakers. The failure of the study to find disparity between airline workers' speech to both groups can be attributed to the authors' search for particular features, and to the perception of the native speakers of the level of non-native speakers, who might have performed well on the phone during the conversation for any number of reasons. Smith et al. (1991: 175-185) designed a study to see if there is a difference in the speech rate hewteen native speakers and between native and non-native speakers. Eighteen native speakers of English are paired with either a native speaker or a non-native speaker. The non-native/native is the same person: a bilingual and bicultural German American actress. She speaks in three different modes: Standard English, accented English, and broken English. In the accented English mode, she shows some difficulty with syntax and word choice, and occasionally asks for help from the native speakers. In the case of broken English, she displays greater comprehension and production problems. As in the Arthur et al. (1980) study, results are mixed. While clear accommodation features are recorded, some instances of higher speech rates with non-native speakers are also recorded. Smith et al. (1991) conclude that, generally speaking, the interaction recorded in their study was complex and confusing. Those results seem in contradiction with most of the literature on FT, but variability may be a key concept to consider here. The majority of empirical research leads to the assumption that regardless of the interlocutor, native speakers adjust their speech according to the level of the interlocutors (Gass 1997: 66). Accommodation varies according to the level of the non-native speaker, the context and the experiences of the native speaker. Evidence for the native speaker's modification of speech, upon recognizing the level of the non-native speaker to be low, is found in the study carried out by Gass and Varonis (1985: 149-162). Furthermore, Gaies (1979: 185-193) finds that the proficiency levels of non-native speakers in the target language are an accurate predictor of the native speakers' modification of speech and syntactic complexity. Kleifgen (1985: 59-68) presented findings with evidence of previous experiences' and skill effect on FT use. In this study, kindergarten teachers are found to be skilful users of FT. They accommodate their linguistic levels to suit non-native speak-



ers' levels, and increased the complexity of their speech when nonnatives showed development in second language learning. Thus, it is possible to state that FT modifications depend on contextual, learnerrelated and native speaker-related conditions and circumstances (in addition to language-related factors). However, when modification takes place, it exhibits some general characteristics, which I discuss in the following paragraphs.

Ungrammaticality in FT

One of the most notable and frequently examined characteristics of FT is its degree of grammaticality (acceptability). In some of the early studies, FT is described as the ungrammatical input provided by native speakers to non -native interlocutors (Ferguson 1971: 141 and 145-146). The ungrammaticality of FT is attested when the members of a speech community interact with one another and employ a certain functional item, which they do not employ when talking to a foreigner. The classic example is the absence of the copula in the FT register of languages that normally use it, and the absence of inflectional morphemes from the speech of natives of inflectional languages when talking to foreigners. Without extensive discussion of the topic, it is enough to say that there are three types of ungrammaticality: omission, as in the example of deleting the copula; expansion, where a redundant functional item is added with the aim of clarification (A good example is the addition of a separate pronoun before or after a conjugated verb in Arabic); and replacement, such as changing the position of a functional item in the sentence. 26 Despite most literature on FT finding that interaction (discourse) modifications and grammatical input modifications are the most common (Ellis 1987: 133-134 and 1996: 254-257), with ungrammatical input least commonly used, ungrammatical FT can occur in a vast array of situations, in both conscious and unconscious speech. Ferguson and Debose ( 1977: 99-121) assert that ungrammatical conscious FT register can be used in what they call 'talking down' situations. Clyne (1978) also finds that foremen in Australian factories use ungrammati-

26 For a detailed discussion of ungrammatical input types, see (Ferguson 1975: 1-14) and (Ferguson and Debose 1977: 99-121), especially its discussion from page 105 to 107.



cal speech in their directions to foreign workers. 27 Ungrammaticality has also been found to occur unconsciously in interactions between friends (see Hatch, Shapira, and Wagner-Gough 1978: 39-60) and in direction-giving or assistance in the street (see Larsen-Freeman and Long 1992). In addition, ungrammaticality takes place in all levels of the language. Ellis (1996: 253) gives examples from phonology. One example he mentions is that epenthesis and the replacement of fully pronounced vowels for reduced vowels are among the salient features of FT. On the lexical level, FT can include the use of words with slightly different meanings, and the use of foreign words. 28 Another aspect of ungrammatical input in FT is its relationship to the social and psychological connections and assumptions of the two interlocutors. Using ungrammatical input seems to be motivated by one or more factors. Long (1983: 126-141) draws out attention to the primacy of these factors. 29 Meisel (1980: 13-41) confirms the assumptions made by Long when he reports that Spanish and Italian workers consider the use of ungrammatical FT to be pejorative because it expresses the native speaker's contempt of their status. The same results are obtained in the classroom environment, when Lynch (1988: 109-116) studies teachers' FT. The study asserts that students thought the teacher's use of ungrammatical speech implies 'talking down' to them. However, it has also been noticed that ungrammatical FT occurs among friends of equal status. Thus, it might be the level of the nonnative speaker that compels the native speaker to use non-declined nouns or reduced verb conjugations, for example, since the issue of status definition does not stand as a likely reason for using ungrammatical input among friends. Empirical research (see summary in Ellis 1996: 254-257 and Gass 1997: 70-76) shows that ungrammatical FT is not the norm when talking to non-native speakers of the target language, but the exception because it is highly marked. Another reason is that it carries effective

27 For further discussion of ungrammatical Foreigner Talk in this respect, see the Heid.leberger Forschungsprojekt Report (1978: 1-20). 28 Meisel (1980: 19-20) gives more examples of "ungrammatical" use of lexical items in German FT production 29 Long (1983: 126-141) draws attention to the fact that native speakers use ungrammatical input for four reasons: when the learner's proficiency in the target language is low; when the native speaker thinks that the non- native interlocutor is in a lower social status; when the native speaker has only addressed non-native speakers of low proficiency in his/her past experience; and when the interaction is spontaneous.



social messages, often unfavourable, that can convey to the non-native interlocutor the difference in social status between himself/herself and the target language native speaker. Despite the fact that ungrammatical FT is marked, it can be used to serve a function other than the announcement of social status. Ungrammatical FT can be used even in the classroom to clarify meanings of words (Gass 1997: 70). Gass and Lakshmanan (1991: 181-203) find that ungrammatical FT is used often with low-proficiency learners. The data includes interactions between native speakers of English and two non-natives, one of whom is an adult, Albertu, the other a five-year old child. While interactions with both the native speakers of English used ungrammatical input (as the levels of both were low), more ungrammatical FT was used with the child. Ungrammaticality is functional in some of the cases, but is still considered exceptional because it is contextually bound.
Grammatical FT

The positive correlation between ungrammatical FT input and defined contexts affirms that it is a particular type of discourse that is used for a certain social position definition and power determination. The same phenomenon leads researchers to investigate grammatical FT input. Arthur, Weiner, Culver, Lee, and Thomas (1980: 111-112) assert that, contrary to Ferguson's assumption (1971: 143), the adjustment attempted by adult native speakers of a language when talking to non-native adults are almost always within the accepted rules of the target language. The kind of ungrammatical FT presented above is unique. They follow Hanzl's (1975) definition of grammatical, but modified, input as Foreigner Register. They put this register in opposition to Ferguson's Foreigner Talk, which is marked by its ungrammaticality. Arthur et al. ( 1980: 113) go on to say that the modification in the foreigner register is not just along the scale from grammatical to ungrammatical, or from formal to non-formal, as is the case with any register, but on the scale of complexity to simplicity as well. The simplification of FT is presented in the following paragraph. It is sufficient to state that FT can be grammatical, as well as ungrammatical. It is not a contradictory phenomenon, to the assertion of Ferguson, that FT can be ungrammatical because ungrammatical FT is only so in context, and is to be treated as a sociolinguistic variable that is primed with non-linguistic messages.




FT as Modified Input

The main characteristic of FT as a register is that it is modified to suit the presumed level of the non-native interlocutor. In the literature, three types of modifications are mentioned for the FT register users: simplification, elaboration, and regularization. While simplification is a move undertaken by the native speakers of the target language to make their language easier, regularization and elaboration are aids for comprehension that a native speaker undertakes in order to help the non-native learner. Most of the research on FT is directed towards simplification, as it is assumed to be the determining factor in the language learner's acquisition of the target language in naturalistic settings. 30 Target language simplification takes place on different levels of the linguistic structure. On the phonological level, simplification can be in the form of lower speech rates, full utterance of sounds and less phonetic processing. There are several studies that measure utterances in this regard. Speech rates are measured by counting the number of syllables per second, and articulation rates are measured by calculating the ratio of the number of syllables to total articulation time (Ellis 1996: 255). 31 Although many theories are suggested as to the modification of temporal aspects of the native speaker's language, very few studies produce empirical data to support them. Among those that have, are two studies by Henzl (1973 and 1979), in which he shows how target language speakers make adjustments to different language learners at different levels. In the earlier study (Henzl 1973: 206-222) it was discovered that even inexperienced native speakers of Czech were able to simplify their speech when addressing learners of Czech as a foreign language. Accordingly, Henzl hypothesizes that native speakers of the target language are constantly alert to the contextual and situational conditions they are in, and to the differences between themselves and the non-native learners of the language, leading them to simplify their utterances. In this study (Henzl 1979: 159-167) the researcher studies the professional language teacher's simplification behaviour in the classroom. The study group was composed of eleven

3 For a summary of the research results on FT modified input, see (Ellis 1987: 135-6) and (Long 1983: 177-193). For a review of the empirical research on the subject, see (Eisenstein 1983: 160-176). 31 For a review of the studies of temporal aspects of FT, see (Griffiths 1991: 345-364).



teachers: five teachers of Czech, three of German and three of English, who were all native speakers of the languages they taught. Recordings of teachers' speech directed to students were compared to recordings of the same teachers' speech directed to native speakers. In speech directed to foreign learners, teachers use slower rates of word pronunciation than the rate they use with native speakers. As speech rates slow, they are accompanied by accentuation of words and more word boundary definitions. As far as pronunciation is concerned, Henzl (1979: 164) discovers that teachers use the standard phonology of their respective languages inside the classroom. Outside the classroom, mixed dialectal and standard pronunciations detected. A higher frequency of unreduced vowels and consonant structures are present in the lower rate speech directed to foreign students. In English, the initial vowels are preceded by a glottal stop. As far as the characteristics of speech are concerned, Henzl discovers that like other FT results, teachers in his study speak slower and louder to foreigners than they do to native speakers of their language. In addition, teachers make pauses that correspond with word boundaries, and make longer pauses between phrases. 32 Henzl's (1979: 161-162 and 1973: 210-211) studies of teacher FT in English, German, and Czech also reveal simplification on the lexical level. Among the simplified lexicon strategies are the use of vocabulary teacher knows students have already mastered, the use of paraphrases, and the use of simple synonyms for difficult words. Other strategies involve over-generalization of the semantic field of words that usually have a narrower field when used with native speakers. In addition, FT lexicon is structurally simple; teachers use no idiomatic expressions or compound words with foreign students. As in FT phonology, more standard language vocabulary is used in talking to foreign students than when talking to non-student natives of the target language. The same results are obtained by studies on non-teacher FT production. For example, Ferguson and Debose (1977: 104) notice the tendency of the target language native speakers to use standard forms, to avoid regional and dialectal idiosyncrasies, and to use simple forms of words when talking to foreigners. 33
32 Hakansson (1986) obtains similar results from his study of Swedish language teachers and their talk to foreign students. 33 Ferguson (1975: 4-8) also notices the same strategies in his study of English language FT vocabulary.



As far as simplification of the target language grammar is concerned, Henzl ( 1979: 162) discovers that subjects in the study made some structurally sophisticated alterations to their sentences when talking to foreign students. Sentences directed to foreigners are very wellformed, and short. The length of sentences decreased with the lower levels of foreign students. As for the use of subordinate clauses, most of the subjects produce fewer subordinate clauses when talking to foreign students than they do when talking to native speakers. Ferguson and Debose ( 1977: 104) also find that simple and short sentences were the norm. They also notice that in FT input, native speakers tend to reduce inflection, and over-generalize the use of morphemes. A good example is the use of 'me' in the sense of 'mine', 'I' and 'me'. They also find that FT register is relatively lacking in function words: prepositions, articles and conjunctions. 34 Although all these studies share English FT as a common denominator, most of the recent research on FT input assumes that simplification is a universal strategy. Professional language teachers (see the studies of Henzl 1973 and 1979) and laymen (see Ferguson's studies 1971, 1975, and 1977) produce the same simplification strategies. In addition, the same FT simplification strategies take place in different languages. Romaine (1988: 77-81) collects results from research done on FT in non-European and European languages alike in order to point out the striking similarities between simplification strategies in all of these languages. She finds in Ferguson (1975), Mi.ihlhausler (1986), Henzl-Thomas (1982) and in her own research evidence proving the striking similarities in simplified FT input across languages. 35 This universal agreement among speakers of different languages supports the statement of Corder (1977: 11-18) that people have universal rules for simplifying the language grammars, which are not learned from previous experiences, but remembered. It is at least theoretically possible to assume that Arabic FT most likely used the same simplification strategies. In fact, Tweissi (1990) produces similar results on the phonetic level, whose findings will be discussed in chapter six.

34 For more examples on simplified FT input grammar in English, see Ferguson (1975: 4-5), and for German, see the list presented by Meisel (1977: 93-94), and for a list of FT simplifications in general, see Hatch (1983: 65-67). 35 Clements (1992: 75-92) finds the same similarity in simplification strategies in the Korlai Portuguese Creole spoken in India



The second type of modification is regularization. On the syntactic level, for example, native speakers favor a set word order when talking to foreigners. It is expected then that if and when a language has two or more types of word order, one of them is used in FT input, disregarding the semantic functions given by the different positions of items in the utterance. Regularization also means avoiding irregular items or verb conjugations, or regularizing them. Lastly, there is elaboration. With this type of input, native speakers tend to prolong the duration of their utterance by using redundant grammatical forms in order to make their messages clear. Similarly, long paraphrases of word meanings are given to avoid the use of a certain word (Chaudron 1983: 130). In addition, several synonyms of a presumably difficult word are given consecutively in order to make the meaning clear to students. This phenomenon is easily noticed in the language classrooms, and in content classrooms that contain a number of non-native students of the instruction language. Chaudron (1983 126-146) notices that in university lectures that include ESL students, certain elaboration strategies are used, which are absent in lectures given to native students. It is not clear if the same strategies of elaboration are used in non-classroom contexts because there is a lack of research in this field. But, the theoretical potential for such a strategy is there, since FT input is a continuum from the most modified to the near perfect target language production. Elaboration, therefore, is the addition of more formal information than usually available to learners. The purpose behind this process, which is contradictory to simplification and its omissions, is to make input more easily comprehensible by the addition of more formal clues to the message. Despite its common sense effectiveness, research on elaboration produces conflicting results. While Issidorides (1988: 317-339) and Issidorides and Hulstijn (1992: 148) state that the existence of redundant function words does not hinder comprehension with their presence or absence, there is a possibility that redundancy facilitates learning, as Gass (1997: 77) claims. Positive results for the role of elaboration in comprehension come from the literature review done by Parker and Chaudron (1987: 107-133), in which they found that elaborate modification of the target language has a positive effect on comprehension. More positive results still come from studies designed to assess the effect of elaboration in combination with other modification strategies. Yano, Long and Ross (1994: 189-219), realizing that simplification (by reducing information in utterances) leads to



comprehension, give learners three types of texts: unmodified texts, simplified texts, and elaborated texts. Simplified texts were made of short sentences and simple words, while elaborated texts were composed of paraphrases and explanations for rare words. The results show that simplified and elaborated texts are more comprehensible than the unmodified text, as expected. The interesting finding is that no significant difference between simplified texts and elaborated texts is recorded, but when the students were required to make inferences from the texts, elaborated texts proved to be more helpful. This conclusion supports the idea that both simplification and elaboration lead to better comprehension, but in different fields. Kleifgen (1985) and Hakansson (1986) discovered that simplification, regularization, and elaboration are continuous in nature. That is, native speakers use them in degrees that differ according to the level of the non-native speaker. Hakansson, for example, found that teachers of Swedish prolong their utterances to non-native speakers and use more subordinate clauses and embedded sentences as students develop. Similarly, Kleifgen found that native speaker kindergarten teachers increase the complexity of their input with non-native children who exhibit signs of linguistic progress, and retain a high degree of modification with other children who do not exhibit the same signs of development in language use. 36 Thus, in general, FT input is modified to suit the level of the non-native counterpart, despite being grammatical.

FT Discourse

Research in FT input is directed into two directions: the linguistic aspect of this register, formal modification of input, and the impact on interaction and discourse. The second type of FT research receives momentum after the preliminary findings of Long (1980 and 1981: 273). Long found that modified discourse in interaction without formally modified language items can facilitate second language acquisition. Similar results are reached by Gass and Varonis (1994: 283-302) when they found that both modified input and interactionally modified input contribute positively to immediate comprehension. But on the level of linguistic production, interactionally modified input is more


For a summary of research on FT input modifications, see Ellis (1996: 254-257).



useful. Studies of FT discourse involve two aspects: discourse management, which is the native speaker's strategy to ensure the delivery of messages, and discourse repair, which is the native speaker's reaction to a breakdown in conversation or an error in message decoding on the part of the non-native speaker (Ellis 1996: 257). Scholars found that the strategies native speakers use with nonnative interlocutors do not always differ qualitatively from the strategies they use with native speakers of the target language. It is the frequency of using some strategies that often times distinguishes FT discourse from inter-native speaker discourse (Ellis 1987: 133). In addition, the studies on FT discourse do not show any effect of the discourse strategies used by native speakers with non-native learners on the formal aspects of FT input. This makes features and strategies of FT discourse less relevant to our topic than its formal aspects. Therefore, the details of discourse manipulation of native-non-native interaction will not be expanded further here. It is worth noting that, since the input provided to the non-native learner is generally grammatically acceptable, and since interaction is the locus of second language learning, native speakers may have certain attitudes towards errors that non-native learners make while producing the target language. In other words, native speakers may choose to correct certain aspects of target language learners' output and leave others uncorrected. If the native speaker's attitude towards correction and feedback is universal, as shown in cases of modification, there may be an explanation of the differences between the language production of native speakers and non-native second language learners and users, as groups. 37 In this vein, Chun, Day, Chenoweth and Luppescu (1982: 537-546) conducted a study to investigate whether native speakers of the target language correct errors committed by non-native speakers in the course of an informal interaction, and if so, when this correction takes place. The study recorded two different types of conversations between native and non-native speakers of English in Hawaii: a free conversation carried out between groups of two interlocutors, and the recording of a game. Since the second type involves instruction,

37 The differences between the old type of Arabic and the New Arabic vernaculars might be partly explained by the choice of the native speakers of Arabic not to correct certain aspects of the learners' output. This might be particularly correct when errors are made in aspects that were already under development and innovation before the conquests.



it can be considered a quasi-educational setting. The following error types are extracted from fifteen hours of recorded conversation: factual errors, discourse errors, word choice errors, syntactic errors and omission errors. Although pronunciation errors were recorded, they were ignored. Upon analyzing the data, a total number of 2,134 mistakes were found in the utterances of non-native interlocutors, 189 of which were corrected. The percentage of corrections was 8.9% of the total number of mistakes. The researchers also found that the distribution of error correction percentages among different types of errors is not balanced. The highest percentage of error correction was that of factual errors, 89.5%. It was followed by discourse errors, 35%, then word choice errors, 15%. The percentage of syntax error correction was 7%, while the lowest percentage was that of omission, 2.5%. Researchers explained the relatively low percentage of error corrections by the desire of the interlocutors to keep the conversation flowing, because if error correction percentages were to rise over the 8.9%, the meaningful interchange was to be hampered. It is, therefore, hardly surprising that the factual and discourse error correction percentages were the highest. This major difference between discourse and factual error corrections and purely linguistic corrections can be explained by the interest of the native speakers in the content of the communicative interaction, hence the high degree of factual error corrections. The researchers ascribed the low percentages of syntax and omission error correction, 7% and 2.5% respectively, to a relative disinterest in the formal aspects of the message. The same interest in the content, rather than the form of the conversation on the part of non-native learners, was attested by the number of times in which they require help from their native speaker interlocutors. Requests for help are recorded in fields of vocabulary only, and no grammatical requests were recorded. Researchers combined the word search pauses and the direct help requests (ninety in total) with the 15% word choice error corrections, and came up with a total of 25% correction rate by native speakers. Again, this is not surprising since vocabulary is directly relevant to the content being exchanged. On another level, non-natives whose proficiency in the target language is higher received fewer error corrections than the lower proficiency level students. The percentage was 13.4% in lower level interlocutors, compared to 3.0% in the case of advanced level interlocutors. The results of the previous study show an interest in the correction of content related aspects, rather than formal erroneous aspects of target



language. In addition, Schegloff (1977: 361-382) and Gaskill (1980: 125-137) showed that there is a tendency, facilitated by the structure of native non-native conversation, to "decipher" other-correction. This means that self-correction occurs more than other-correction in the conversation. When other-corrections take place, they are "modulated" and occur after a pause, meaning that the native speaker does not interrupt the language learner except when the latter is unable to produce the correct utterance. Moreover, when the native speakers make corrections, they introduce a word or any other item, not as the correct item to be used, but as a suggestion that the non-native interlocutor may assess. The proposed suggestion, then, is an attempt on the part of the native speaker to try to complete the message that the non-native speaker tries to deliver. Again, this engenders concentration on content, not on form. Although Gaskill ( 1980) completed his study with over-individualized data from a single non-native speaker, and although the study of Shun et al. (1982) is artificial (interlocutors knew they were recorded, and parts of the analyzed data are artificially elicited), the similarities between the results lead to the conclusion that native speakers rarely take interest in formal modification of the language learner's language, even though interaction is important as a source of input for language learning in informal settings. This is due to their interest in the content. Based on this conclusion, whatever form the language learner receives and learns is not corrected, except by means of the learner's own initiative, because of the disparity between his or her own production and that of the native speaker. In spite of this tendency towards self-correction, Day et al. (1984: 19-45) found that native speakers sometimes correct non-native speakers in naturalistic conversations when both parties have a low level of social distance. Day et al. conducted a study to identify the error correction types used by native speakers, distinguishing two types of error correction: on-the-record, being explicit and direct, and off-the-record corrections, being the suggestion type. Subjects are of different proficiency levels in the target language, English. The recorded natural conversations were analyzed for mistakes committed by the non-native speakers and the corrections given by native speakers. Despite the fact that errors corrected in general are fewer than uncorrected errors ( 117 out of 1,595, or 7.3%), on-the-record corrections occur significantly more than off-the-record corrections. In addition, as in Chun et al. (1982), more on-the-record corrections are given to the lower level subjects, and fewer to those in the higher level. The authors also claim



that the social acquaintance of native speakers and non-native speakers may affect the degree of on-the-record corrections; the more friendly both groups are, the more overt on-the-record corrections are given. In addition, it seems possible that even when native speakers of the target language are mainly interested in functional communication, they can give on-the-record corrective feedback to the lower level nonnative speakers in order to clear up any misunderstanding that might result from a miss-produced utterance. It is unfortunate that not many studies have been conducted on the study of formal corrective feedback in native-non-native speakers' discourse. Based on the meagre figures provided for corrected errors, it is a safe assumption that very few formal mistakes are corrected, and corrections are contingent on perceived language levels and degree of social distance. An important question for the purpose of this work is, of course, whether non-content related errors correction make a difference in the learner's language acquisition, which it clearly does as evidenced by Carrol and Swain (1992: 173-198). The two researchers conducted an experiment to discover if error correction assists adult second language learners to establish morphological generalization and restricts the application of generalizations, and its other effects, if any, on different levels of the second language. The direct purpose of the study is to test the effect of error correction on the ability of subjects to produce correct morphological generalizations. There were seventy nine subjects in total, and all were adult English native speakers learning French. The proficiency level of thirty nine was intermediate, while the remaining forty were advanced. Subjects are divided into an experimental and a comparison group, and members of both groups were trained in two rules of French suffixes. The experimental group members received corrective feedback for their false answers in a feedback session. Afterwards, all subjects received a guessing task that includes new unseen stimuli, and were re-tested on the seen items they received corrective feedback for. The control group underwent the same procedure, except for the feedback sessions. The analysis of results of the second testing of the feedback items show that the experimental group performed better than the control group. However, the comparison between both groups in the guessing task revealed no significant difference. Carrol and Swain (1992) concluded from these results that feedback impacts the learners' production of the target language, but it is difficult for corrective feedback to enable the learner to produce a generalizable rule of the second language. This is suggested by the lack



of significant differences between control and experimental groups on the guessing task. The results also showed that error correction can be helpful for learners to retain the meaning of words, and was more effective with advanced students than with intermediate. Thus, Carrol and Swain ( 1992) concluded their study by confirming the hypothesis that error correction does not change the internal learner's grammar of the second language, but aids in acquiring new items, like vocabulary. Consequently, two conclusions can be reached. First, error correction is local in scope. When the non-native speaker repeats the specific item being corrected, it may be produced properly. However, this rule cannot be generalized to apply to similar items. Second, all the studies discussed above stress that the error correction may influence vocabulary choice. This is hardly surprising, given that the main purpose behind a native to non-native speaker discourse initiation is functional. In an informal setting, learning vocabulary enhances the non-native speaker's ability to acquire the target language through widening the scope of communication. When more vocabulary is learned, a nonnative speaker may be expected to express a wider range of topics verbally, besides being able to employ his mental ability in acquiring other non-vocabulary target language items. Arabic diachronic progression is an excellent example, where nonnatives learned the modified reduced input the Arabs gave them in the form of FT output for the sake of communication. As shown earlier, the received input is never learned as is, but modified by the non-native learners. When modified learned input was reproduced, native speakers of Arabic were less likely to correct linguistic errors than content-related errors. If any correction of linguistic errors was carried out, it was mostly directed to vocabulary errors due to their communicative value. Since the linguistic items exchanged in the conversation performed this function, they were consolidated as correct target language items. If self-correction is preferred over other-correction, as shown by Schegloff et al. (1977: 361-382) and Gaskill (1980: 125-137), learners of the target language learned the correct forms of the language later by themselves through observing the native speakers of Arabic in conversation. When non-native learners noticed the difference between the items they used and the items native speakers used among themselves to express the same concepts and functions, they adopted the native speakers' item as the prestigious one. If FT strategies are somehow universal, and if formal errors are less often corrected than content related errors, one can assume that, two



factors account for the probable disparity between the spoken varieties the Arabs used among themselves during the first century of the Islamic era and the non-native interlanguage types (which became the early basis for the modern Arabic sedentary dialects, in morphology and syntax more than lexicon). The first is the FT input provided by native speakers of the target language, and the second is the attitude of both interlocutors towards error correction and its use. As shown later, modified FT input is the sole responsibility of the native speaker of the target language. Learning that input incompletely is the role of a non-native speaker, and so is correcting the erroneous elements later through exposure to native speaker-native speaker interaction. Thus, it seems that the most plausible source for any interlanguage variety in a case of systemic language shift carried out by means of naturalistic second language acquisition is FT input provided by native speakers of the target language. 38



In the formative period of a pidgin or a contact-induced variety, where the new contact language is still partially intelligible to the speakers of the lexical source language, no major difference between the two can be detected (Thomason and Kaufman 1988: 168 and 171).39 The coming section will explain the structural similarities between FT input as introduced by native speakers of a certain target language and the simplified variety of this language produced by non-native speakers. Such similarities indicate that the former might have contributed in the formation of the latter. I assume that no syntactic or lexical items of the lexical source language are accessible to non-native speakers of the lexifier without the initiative of native speakers. While assuming that a simplified variety of Arabic appeared in the early period of contact in the conquered lands, establishing the link between

38 For an elaborate discussion of the relationship between FT and interlanguage varieties, see the following section. and for more examples, see Naro (1983: 109-112). 39 Thomason and Kaufman (1988: 174-175) argue that in processes of pidgin formation, simplification is carried out by both the native speakers of the lexical source language and the other participants in the context. But when the lexical source language is a target language for second language learning, simplification is one-sided. Native speakers of the lexical source purposefully simplify their speech for the nonnative learners, who take the simplified variety as learnable input.



pidgins (and contact language types in general) and FT register input adds extra emphasis to my theoretical assumption.

FT as a Prerequisite for Pidgin Creation

Although most scholars in the field of pidgin and Creole studies do not agree on the definition of a derogatory term like pidgin (Todd 1990: 1), a pidgin in its simplest form is a language that results from an urgent need for communication. It is a practical solution to an immediate communication problem (Sebba 1997: 17). Since pidgins develop between and among people who are usually adults and have their established communicative means, a pidgin serves a limited function, that of intermediating between two persons in limited situations when they have no shared language. This is why pidgins are always, at least in their formative period, limited codes (Andersen 1983: 3). If sociolinguistic conditions are favourable to a pidgin, it expands to be able to further address needs and solve additional communicative problems, thus reaching stability and expanding towards the development of a more sophisticated variety. 40 Pidgins, in this respect, are not unique, since the existence of any natural language is contingent on the urgency for communication and the existence of a linguistic model to follow (Mi.ihlhausler, 1986: 51). These two factors determine the relative facility of the new variety and its development. The second factor is dependent on the first. This means that if the need for communication is urgent, interlocutors must choose a model for communication that both conveys messages effectively and is easy to learn. Thus, FT register is repeatedly suggested as the linguistic model used effectively, at least in the early stages of pidginization. In some cases, the dire need for communication led Europeans to deliberately simplify their languages to teach non-natives their language so that they could play the role of translators. Naro (1978: 314-349) claims that the Portuguese in the sixteenth century simplified their language for the purpose of teaching it to West Africans in the metropolis, so that they could intermediate between the Europeans and the West African natives in trade matters:n Moag (1978: 68-98) records the same phenomenon in the case of the Fijian language.

40 41

See (Thomason and Kaufman 1988: 169-170). See (Thomason and Kaufman 1988: 354 n 5) for a criticism ofNaro's assumptions.



Several scholars propose FT as an essential factor for the continuation of the pidginization process. This proposal is based on the fact that several historically unrelated pidgin and creole languages share certain characteristics that are inherent in FT registers. One must agree that FT must be operative during the early stages of pidginization, but the assumption of a relationship between FT register and pidgin on the basis of similarity between universal characteristics of the former and current features of the latter is not convincing. The current states of stable pidgins and developed creoles, such as Tok Pisin and Chinese Pidgin English for instance, resulted from elaborate and complex linguistic developments, which involved several processes of structuring and restructuring. Therefore, it is hard to determine if any feature of pidgins evolved directly through FT, or by means of internal development, or even by transfer. That being said, Mi.ihlhausler (1986: 106107) is sound in his belief that FT can be viewed as an important factor in the development of pidgins in their early stages only, that is, as a source of comprehensible input to trigger processes of pidginization. As far back as the beginning of the twentieth century, the role of FT in starting pidgins was understood, albeit vaguely, by many scholars, although no clear idea of FT as a register was then formulated. Schuchardt (Romaine 1988: 72) attributes the reduced structure of pidgin languages to the deliberate masters' simplification of their languages when interacting with slaves in colonies. He claims that the Western partner in the interaction tries to strip his language from any linguistic aspect that is purely Western, and so did the non-Western interlocutor. The purpose of this deliberate act of simplification for both sides is to make themselves understood. The Western side acts as a teacher, providing the non-native with simplified input, which is imitated by the other party. This view developed against a background of perceiving pidgins as the outcome of non-native speakers' failed attempts to learn the model language. This view is represented by Hesseling (1933), who places the burden of restructuring the target language on the non-native learners. This attitude towards the resulting varieties of the target language resembles that taken by the Arab grammarians of old. When addressing the differences between their varieties of Arabic and the new urban varieties that took shape in the second century of the Islamic era, they referred to them as a form of corrupt speech. Despite Romaine's comment (1988: 72) that Schuchardt's proposal carries a condescending tone, the mechanics of input providing and



pidginization he presents (however simplistic it may sound) resemble in many respects our contemporary view of how second language is learned in an informal context. Bloomfield ( 1933: 472-473) presents a combination of the previous two ideas in his sketch of the pidginization process and the role of FT register (which he calls 'baby-talk') therein. According to him, the non-native speakers (speakers of a lower language) cannot make much progress in acquiring the language of the masters (who speak the dominant language) during communication. This failure leads the masters to resort to "baby-talk", which is merely an imitation of the learners' failed attempts at producing the target language. Since non-native speakers do not find an alternative to the recycled 'baby-talk', they learn to speak it. The result of this mutual imitation is a conventionalized jargon. Yet another stage appears when non-natives learn this simplified version of the 'dominant language'. They take it a step further from the original by another failure in learning as well as the melding of this variety to suit the non-natives' originallanguage sound and grammar systems. Thus, the emerging pidgin is far removed from the original language. Bloomfield goes on to state that all the European languages that were used on the colonial level produced similar conventionalized jargons. In the light of the research results concerning informal second language acquisition and FT registers, much of Bloomfield's theory would appear to be incorrect. This is because researchers now know that the native speaker of the target language initiates the process by providing FT output to the learner, and the non-native's role comes when he starts to learn the provided input. The interesting aspect in Bloomfield's theory, however, is the final part, where he asserts that in trying to adopt the simplified variety provided by the native speakers, learners take it a step further from the original standard of the target language. This assertion resembles the results reached by Gass (1987) that non-native learners are unable to acquire a native-like proficiency of the target language. Another interesting aspect in Bloomfield's theory is the relationship between differential power, social dominance and the type of input. Bloomfield seems to assume that the dominance of a group will dictate its language as the medium of communication. This assumption agrees with one of the FT functions outlined above, namely that it asserts the differential power structure in an interaction. Moreover, other studies of pidgin and creole languages show that the differential power in an interactive context determine the amount and the complexity of the lexifier language in the pidgin (Mi.ihlhasler 1986: 144-145).



Up until the beginning of the 1970's, scholars spoke about simplified or corrupted varieties of the target language without defining simplification. Ferguson (1971: 141-151) is among the earliest scholars to overtly introduce the direct link between FT register and pidgin languages. He asserts (1971: 147) that the FT register in any speech community is an 'incipient pidgin', meaning that the main source for the grammatical structures of pidgin languages is the systematically simplified version-FT register-of the lexifier language rather than the result of first language transfer. Ferguson (1971: 148) further asserts that assuming the FT as the initial stage of learning helps to explain the wide range of similarity among unrelated pidgins, through assuming the universality of simplification as the FT strategy. The universality of simplification is attested, for instance, by the tendency of native speakers of languages with a copula to omit the copula in the register they use with non-native speakers of the target language. Another feature of simplified varieties is generalizing the use of the third person of the verb for first or second person in Spanish (Ferguson 1971: 143). Ferguson's main contribution in this respect is that he directly relates the grammar of a pidgin to the FT spoken by the lexifier's native speakers, thus giving the target language native speakers the credit for reducing the forms of their language. Corder attested similar connections between FT and pidgization (Romaine 1988: 76-77). Corder observes that FT, pidgins and interlanguage share similar features, which include: drastically reduced or absent morphological systems; reduced numbers of personal pronouns; fixed word order; relative lack of function words; disappearance of the copula; and reduction of the article system. He then concludes that the process of second language learning is a progressive one, which may start with a simplified/modified variety (FT, for example) and then expands in later phases of learning. Although all the previous results seem to indicate the direct relationship between FT and pidgins, the question remains whether FT use always lead to pidgin formation. There is not always a direct correlation, on the theoretical level at least. In some cases, such as that of German FT provided by native speakers to the migrant workers studied by Hinnenkamp (1982), the process does not end with the emergence of a German pidgin, despite the similarity of processes and some linguistic features as well. Hinnenkamp (1982: 10) asserts that the conditions of the European city in which the migrant workers live, and the manner and amount of communication between them and the native speakers are not conducive to the emergence of a pidgin. In addition to certain



sociolinguistic conditions in which a pidgin can emerge, Hinnenkamp adds a theoretical problem to diminish the relationship between pidgin languages and FT register. He asserts that the high degree of FT variability does not allow us to assign it an important role as an input for language learning. This claim rests on the fact that only a quarter of the informants in the data collected from the German native speakers simplify their language at all. In the FT provided by this group, a high degree of variability and inconsistency existed. The same variability is found in Corder and Caracowian's (1978) elicitation of Polish FT. The lack of consistency in FT input is further stressed in Miihlhausler (1986: 101), who states that the FT simplified input is often times variable, not categorical. He illustrates his point by trying to elicit FT responses from native speakers of English who had no previous experience in FT production. In doing this, he uses the sentence Ferguson (1975) uses to elicit FT from his students, "I haven't seen the man you're talking about" The foreigner talk responses varied enormously. The following list is an example of the different responses of informants:
1. 2. 3. 4. I no see this man. Me no see man you talk about. No see man (head shaking). No seeum man you say.

Miihlhausler (1986: 101-102) concludes that, despite the inconsistency in FT elicitation, some general strategies can be noticed. Some of the universal strategies are: avoidance of embedded constructions; deletion of the auxiliary verb; and lack of tense on the verb. Other culture specific strategies involve replacement of certain lexical items with others, like look with see. Another example is the addition of -urn or 'him' to the verb, as in example 4 above. Miihlhausler (1986: 102) concludes that, although FT offers a model of the target language that is easier to learn than the standard variety, it does not provide an 'optimal model' for the second language learners because it is inconsistent and includes cultural specific as well as universal strategies. Other studies of FT produced different results. Ferguson (1975: 1-14) gives students sentences and asks them to transform them into an utterance an illiterate non-native learner of English could understand. Similar results were obtained by Miihlhausler ( 1986) when he repeats the experiment in Oxford. Again, Romaine reaches similar results when she elicits English FT from native and non-native



speakers of English at the University of Hawaii. The similarity of FT output is also attested by studies of German and Turkish FT by Hinnenkamp (1982 and 1983). German FT is elicited by recording encounters between Turkish individuals and German native speakers. Turkish FT is elicited by recording encounters between German tourists and Turkish citizens. Similar simplification strategies and features resulted. The loss of the copula in the two languages' FT registers is an example (Hinnenkamp 1983: 4). Other examples of strategies common to German and Turkish are the loss of inflection and a set word order. The strategies of simplification in Hinnenkamp (1982 and 1983) are in agreement with the findings of Ferguson (1975 and 1977) and Miihlhausler (1986: 101-102) as well as the results obtained by Miihlhausler (1984: 27-58) from German literary FT register. In the latter study, Miihlhausler finds that strategies of regularization, omission, and deletion are common in the literature in which native speakers of German encounter non-native speakers. Miihlhausler observes the occurrence of these strategies in literature dating back to the beginning of the nineteenth century. One of the earliest such works of art is Pagenstreiche (1810) by Kotzebue. These results contradict the high variability assumption presented above. The reservations expressed by Hinnenkamp concerning the inevitability of the emergence of a pidgin from FT input prompts caution in hypothesizing a causal relationship to the two. Yet, it is safe to assume that FT register leads to a pidgin if certain sociolinguistic conditions lead to a pidgin. Even if some pidginization processes occur, without the existence of the favourable non-linguistic conditions, a pidgin is unlikely to emerge. But whenever there is a pidgin, it most likely resulted from an FT register input, which was provided either deliberately or, not deliberately, to the non-native learners. As for Miihlhausler's assumption that in view of its high variability and inconsistency, an FT register cannot provide an 'optimal model' of second language acquisition, it is possible to say that variability is a matter of features of certain utterances, not of strategies. In dealing with features of a single utterance, less agreement is expected among different speakers than can be expected when considering strategies. This is proven by the stability and universality of strategies employed by different speakers, of different languages, in different times, and with the use of different media. In the case of Arabic, variation may have been an important factor, but the exact language variety simplified to the native speakers of each region is not yet known with any certainty.



The amount of inconsistency can be attributed to two factors. The first deals with the methods of the studies cited in Mi.ihlhausler. The Ferguson (1975) experiment, the experiment conducted by Mi.ihlhausler using the same sentence Ferguson used with Australian native speakers of English (1986: 101) and the experiment conducted by Romaine with native speakers of English in the University of Hawaii (1988: 77) are all elicitation studies, and not recordings of naturalistic conversation. There is a possibility that the same subjects would give different and more consistent FT registers in a natural conversation. As seen above, FT is a continuum running from the most drastic restructuring of the target language to a native-like output, and without being able to assess the level of the non-native interlocutor, native speakers always give inconsistent FT responses. Moreover, the affective aspects of natural conversations that result from differential socio-political conditions may affect the FT output given by native speakers. Mi.ihlhausler (1986: 105) confirms this when he states that in such differential situations most of the culture-specific, as well as some of the universal, strategies of FT are more applicable than in situations where the two speakers are on equal footing. In elicitation experiments, all of the para-linguistic information is missing. The second factor deals with the type of informants used for the elicitation studies. Mi.ihlhausler (1986) states that the informants he used for FT elicitation were inexperienced in such register use, and so were at least some of the informants for Ferguson (1975) and Romaine (1988: 77). A key factor in the stability and consistency of utterance is conventionalizing FT. If there is a tradition for using FT registers with foreigners in a certain speech community, after a while this register becomes conventionalized and is transmitted like any other register of the language (Sebba 1997: 91). In such cases, it rejects change and becomes normative. The case of Turkish FT, or tarzanca, cited in Hinnenkamp (1984: 153-166) is a good example of an FT that has deep roots in society, and thus is consistent. In such cases, it can become a good model for second language acquisition. Bearing the conventionalization hypothesis in mind, there is room for further speculation that the large group (three quarters) of subjects in Hinnenkamp's study of German FT, who do not use any FT in their conversations with nonnative speakers, may belong to a community where FT is not regularly used. The remaining quarter that use an inconsistent FT register may belong to a community without a conventionalized FT register. This motivates the conclusion that the theoretical reservations against



inconsistency and high variability in FT are irrelevant, and even if there is such variability in FT registers, the strategies are stable and universal. Features of FT are also likely to stabilize when and if the speech community conventionalizes this variation, thus producing an optimal model for second language acquisition. It is to be expected that the FT of a language is conventionalized before the possible establishment of a pidgin. Establishing the linguistic similarity between FT registers and pidginization can support this claim.

FT Registers and Processes of Pidginization

In the study of formal similarities of pidgins and FT registers, it is difficult to isolate a certain phase of pidginization and a degree of FT registers for the sake of comparison. As mentioned earlier, FT is a continuum on which a native speaker moves according to certain sociolinguistic and ecological conditions. By the same token, pidgin languages are to be dealt with as dynamically evolving and changing systems because, in addition to linguistic reasons, there are certain non-linguistic conditions that have a direct effect on the evolution and development of a pidgin. The treatment of pidginization and FT registers as such poses a difficulty for a formal comparison. It is proposed here to compare universal FT strategies of modifying the target language with features of pidgin languages that may have come about through the employment of such strategies. In doing so, special attention is given to the jargon stages of pidgins before they stabilize because this is the period in which FT features are most likely to be salient, and the pidginization has yet to go through a stage of structuring and restructuring. As explained above in section 4.3, modification comes about by means of three strategies: simplification, regularization and elaboration. Simplification is extremely salient in the early stages of pidgin formation; it always involves omission of grammatical aspects of lexical items. One good example presented by Harding (1983, cited in Mi.ihlhausler 1986: 136) in her study of the language used in conversations between Asian mothers and Health Visitors in the UK is the following:
Health Visitor: Mother: Health Visitor: Mother:




On the part of the health care specialist, the reader will notice the omission of the auxiliary verb in her interrogative utterances. In the main verb in the first question, the aspects of person and tense are also omitted. The resulting native speaker's utterances are extremely short (one or two words) and devoid of any grammatical complexity. The same phenomena can be noticed in the pidgin speech. Labov presents a clear example of such speech (Mi.ihlhausler 1986: 137). Max, a native speaker of the Philippine language Ilocano, narrates in Hawaiian Pidgin English the following:
... in the Filippine, this now ... you see, he die in three hours ... and then he come back a-live again ... Three hours die, after three hours, come back live, he talk-tell the story ...

The same omission of person and tense markers in the verbs of the utterance are observable here. Although word order and context signals carry out the function, the amount of informative signals per utterance is reduced drastically. Simplification comes also in the form of fixed word order, that is, interrogatives, declaratives, and conditional utterances have the same word order. The previous Harding (1983) conversation between the health care specialist and the Asian mother starts with a question: "husband work (?)", which is ordered: (NP+V). The same word order exists in the declarative utterance of Max in Labov (1971). Max says: "... he talk-tell the story". Dutton (1983: 90) gives an example from Samoan Plantation Pidgin English of conditional utterances: "no mani, no kam" (If I do not get money, I won't come). This reduction of syntactic rules and the absence of morphological categories led some scholars to ascribe to FT the attribute <ungrammatical>. One has to remember that this simplified FT suits the incipient pidgins in their formative times, because later in the stabilization and expansion processes pidgin languages develop their own syntax and morphology. Finally, a reduction of vocabulary is another aspect of simplification in both FT and pidginization. Dutton (1983: 94) asserts that for the two Hiri trading languages, a lexicon of about 300 entries exists and is sufficient for trading purposes. In some cases, extra words are added as the need arises, but they do not remain in the core lexicon. The core lexicon serves more functions through semantic expansion and the use of a lexical item in more than a syntactic function. In addition, context dependence plays a major function in expanding the functionality of the lexicon. In FT, because of its functionality, the lexicon used almost always remains limited and context dependent.



The second aspect of modification is regularization. In German FT output, the infinitive of the verb is constantly used with all pronouns, so instead of several verb conjugations, only one is used. A good example representing this strategy comes from Karl May's Der

... Ich glauben daran, zehr, zehr. Ieh wissen genau, dass wahr sein. Sie sein da oben begraben und spiel in der nacht violin in grab. Nein, es sein wahrheit. ('I believe it, very much. I know exactly that this is the truth.
She is buried up there and plays on her violin at night in her grave.')

All verbs in this passage, with the exception of spiel, meaning 'to play', are in the infinitive. Another aspect of regularization in pidginization is the use of one form for the plural. The plural marker in Tok Pisin offers a fine example. To form the plural, pela (from the English word 'fellow') is added at the end of the word. Thus, mi (T) becomes mipela ('we') in the plural. By the same token, in the Samoan Plantation Pidgin, the plural is formed by adding ol to the end of the word. In this case, the difference between 'man-men' and 'car-cars' in English does not exist in pidgins. 42

Throughout this chapter are many examples and explanations illustrating that second language acquisition in informal contexts uses different strategies than those used in the classroom. In addition, the outcome of this process is different. The difference is a function of the strategies of learning, the amount and type of input available, and the sociolinguistic conditions in which the process takes place. A key factor in informal second language acquisition process is input. This chapter also demonstrated that FT is a register likely to be used by native speakers in interacting with non-natives, and that this FT serves as an input for learning. Non-native speakers use this available input in learning the target language. By and by, many processes of learning (probably pidginization) take place in this context of non-organized and socially controlled second language acquisition. However, whether or not a stable simplified variety comes out of this process is contingent on non-linguistic ecological factors that are not pertinent here.


For more on the motphology of pidgin languages see Sebba (1997: 43-47).



The key factor in naturalistic second language learning, therefore, is the FT input, which is sometimes called "simplified input" I tried to confirm the relationship between FT and contact-induced language varieties by means of establishing the effect of FT strategies on the formal aspects of such varieties. All of these theoretical issues were and still are relevant to the development of Arabic. It is possible to say that since the first century of the Islamic period witnessed limited contact, lack of formal teaching and an emphatic need for communication, Arabic was learned informally. In such a context, Arabs provided non-native speakers with a modified variety of their language. Non-natives of Arabic used those varieties as a means to carry out functions with Arabs, and thus, may have entered a process of pidginization. Pidginized varieties of Arabic soon followed as non-natives tried to learn the language in unfavourable social conditions. I showed in the previous chapters, that sociolinguistic conditions in the first century of the Islamic era were conductive to the use of FT registers with non-Arabs. But socio-demographic conditions did not allow any pidginization process to continue and establish a form of contact language. The following chapter studies contemporary Arabic FT strategies and compare them with the features of the presentday Arabic based pidgins in Africa. Examining a similar contemporary case enables us to visualize the process that would have taken place in the Arab world fifteen centuries ago. This comparison will clarify the simplification strategies and modification techniques Arabic may undergo in FT situations. Despite the value of the data in the following chapter and its direct theoretical relevance to historical cases, it cannot be construed as examination of historical cases, with identical stimuli and results. Rather, it is simply a guide for the possibilities that Arabic may enjoy in such ecological circumstances.


FOREIGNER TALK IN ARABIC Input in circumstances such as those illustrated in chapter four took place by means of modifying the target language (i.e. tendencies of Foreigner Talk). Because Arabs, as the native speakers of the target language, were the majority group in the loci of early communication, they themselves were able to undertake the initiative of modifying their native language, especially when the majority of them were monolinguals. Although heavy restructuring and loaning from a foreign language have permanently affected the formation of varieties of Arabic elsewhere in East Africa and Asia, the type of input and the non-linguistic ecological conditions that facilitated it in the now-Arab world inhibited this process in the case of the dialects. It is unlikely, according to the conclusion of the previous chapter, that native speakers undertake a heavy restructuring of their language, even if the purpose is educational. If heavy restructuring is attempted by native speakers it takes place in highly marked situations. When restructuring occurs, however, the upgrading nature of FT does not allow a permanent mark on the output of the non-native speaker. Generally speaking, if FT should be grammatical, and if the conclusions concerning the socio-demographics of Arabicization have any historical truth, then it must be responsible for the differences between Classical Arabic (as the nearest variety to pre-Islamic Arabic) and the Modern Arabic dialects. These differences are less than the differences between Classical Arabic and Modern Standard Arabic on the one hand and the Arabic-based pidgins and creoles on the other, but are in many respects the result of internal processes, such as generalization and reduction. It is not an overstatement to say that FT might very well be responsible for the relative similarities between the modernized sedentary dialects of Arabic and the peninsular dialects in general, as respective representatives of their ancestors. Gulf Arabic dialects share with the sedentary ancestors of New Arabic some of their most particular features. The Sunni Kuwaiti dialect, for instance, shares with the sedentary dialects the use of a genitive exponent, l;lajj. In addition, many Gulf Arabic dialects share with Moroccan Arabic



the use of an analytical dual, which is formed by means of a plural noun followed by the number two (Holes 1990: 149). This form of the dual has exactly the same function as the standard Arabic dual suffix. In addition, Kuwaiti Arabic shares with the modern sedentary dialects a system of modal and aspectual prefixes, albeit less complex than the Syrian system, for example. Although the study of FT in Arabic is limited, the available data indicates that simplification is the purpose of native interlocutors (Tweissi 1990: 296-326). This is suggested by the fact that FT register is used only when non-native interlocutors indicate to the native speakers a difficulty in understanding. From Tweissi (1990), it is clearly noticeable that native speakers of Jordanian Arabic who took part in his study do not use an FT register as soon as they realize that they are talking to non-native speakers, but rather when these nonnative speakers signal that a difficulty in comprehension occurred. To cite but one example in Tweissi (1990: 313), the non-native speaker pretends that he has problems comprehending the word samak 'fish'. Here, the native speaker elaborates to facilitate the meaning of the word as follows:

'afwan ++ is-samak 'Sorry' 'fish' 'Sorry, what is fish?' is-samak illi binla'f


bnistrf fazij

'The fish' 'which we find' 'in the sea' 'we buy it fresh' 'We buy the fish that we find in the sea fresh.'

The rest of this chapter will introduce the tendencies of simplification and modification used by native speakers of modern Arabic dialects with non-native speakers. It will also introduce some of the strategies of simplification and modification. The purpose of the strategies listed is to clarify how modification and simplification work on the different levels of linguistic analysis. To attain this goal, data from Tweissi (1990: 296-320) from urban Jordanian Arabic, as well as data I collected from native-speakers of Egyptian Arabic will be discussed. What follows is a comparison of sedentary Modern Arabic dialects to other varieties of Arabic in order to show that the difference between the two varieties of Arabic is the result of the tendencies of Arabic FT. The reader should expect tendencies of modification and simplification to have existed in the FT situation in the first century of the Islamic era as part of a universal phenomenon. One should not imag-



ine, however, that the strategies discussed in this chapter were the only ones used fourteen centuries ago. Other strategies could have been used then as well. The strategies listed here are limited to the data we collected; different data could reveal additional strategies. If they were indeed the same strategies we should not expect them to have manifested themselves in the same linguistic results as given here. The linguistic input that was subjected to modification and simplification then is, presumably, different from the linguistic items subjected to the same tendencies in the modern dialects of Arabic. Due to the lack of linguistic or textual evidence as to the FT tendencies in historical times in Classical Arabic books, the similarity of strategies introduced here to ones used by the Arabs in the past cannot be confirmed. But the fact that these simplification strategies are a universal phenomenon supports the assumption that they existed in the historical case of Arabic. What this chapter hopes to achieve simply is to present FT modification and simplification strategies in Arabic. This introduction, I hope, will show the effect of ecological factors on the linguistic output of native speakers, intake of non-native interlocutors and learners, and the final outcome of the learning process such as drawn in the previous chapters. This chapter demonstrates what must have happened in the historical case of learning Arabic in the conquered territories, without claiming that the linguistic features introduced here were similar to the features learnt in the historical case. 6.1



Before introducing strategies of modification in FT, the context of data collection, and a profile of the native speakers from whom data were collected must be presented. 6.1.1

Data Collection

Three different sources of FT data are used in this chapter: elicited and natural data, self-reports and data from films. As far as the first type of data is concerned, Tweissi (1990) collected material in a semistructured manner, where non-native speakers invoke FT data by signalling to the native speakers their inability to comprehend a certain utterance. I collected another type of data, which is totally natural, and which is recorded without breaks or triggers of the lack of comprehension.



Tweissi (1990: 296-320) recorded sixty telephone calls, comprising two hours and seven minutes of recorded conversation. Half of the calls are between native speakers of Jordanian Arabic, and the other half are between non-native speakers of Arabic and native speakers. Subjects, who are all inhabitants of Amman, were randomly selected, and informed that non-native speakers are conducting a survey of food habits in Jordan (Tweissi 1990: 301). In Tweissi's study, nonnative speakers elicited modifications from the subjects by verbally indicating that they do not understand native speakers' utterances. By doing so, it is ascertained that native speakers produce the modifications expected. Also included in the collection are two hours of tape-recorded data of natural conversation between native speakers of Egyptian Arabic and a foreigner of European background. The recorded conversation was not controlled in any manner. Contrary to Tweissi's (1990) questionnaire method, I used a simple flowing recording, where both native speaker and non-native speaker were left free to discuss whatever subject they like. The non-native speaker, who has an advanced level in Egyptian Arabic, carried a hidden tape recorder, which he switched on during a naturally occurring conversation with any native speaker of Egyptian Arabic. The data collection spanned over two weeks, in the fall of the year 2000, in a cafe in the popular Cairo neighbourhood of Abdin. Differentiating from Tweissi's method of data collection (1990: 296-320) is necessary to avoid any possible effects of the method and subjects on the obtained data. It also ascertains whether the difficulty of comprehension triggers modification or simplification, or whether modification or simplification is always triggered by the mere fact that one of the interlocutors is not a native speaker of Arabic. The goal of this methodology is to also neutralize any effect that the collection method may have on the type of data by means of non-controlled recording. In addition, the subjects in my study are different from the subjects of Tweissi ( 1990). Whereas the subjects of his study are middle class educated Jordanians, my subjects are mostly workers, small business owners and craftsmen of no higher education. Non-native speakers in Tweissi ( 1990) are intermediate students of Arabic who convey to the native speakers incomprehension during the phone conversations. My non-native speaker is of an advanced level, who does not try to convey misunderstanding to the native interlocutors. Second, in addition to the data collected by Tweissi (1990) and myself, I collected the experiences of non-Arabs who speak Arabic



and have lived for some time in the Arab world. In these self-reports, volunteers, who are mostly British and American citizens and native speakers of English, give details about the contexts in which they heard Arabic FT during the early stages of their learning Egyptian Arabic. These self-reports were obtained through an advertised request posted on the Arabic-L electronic mail-list. In discussing the FT strategies, I resorted to reports in order to increase the scope of data and to diversify the conversational contexts from which data is obtained. I gave results from the above three data sources. I also indicated the source of data whenever it is used. Third, in order to determine if the speakers of Modern Arabic dialects were conscious of the modifications to which they submit their language, and to see the perceived points of difficulty, I attempted to collect literary examples of FT from contemporary Egyptian films. After discussing the results of the collected data, a comparison of the results to the tendencies and strategies deduced from literary FT follows, although it should be noticed that cinematic FT tends to be stereotypical. 6.1.2

FT Strategies

Native speakers of Arabic use several strategies to achieve the modification and simplification targets they use FT register for. Two main areas of strategies are observed in the collected data: explanation of lexical items and graduated process of modification towards structural saliency. The second strategy is reflected in all levels of linguistic analysis. To better frame the following analysis, it is best to start with structural modification, as it is directly relevant to the purpose here and easier to compare with the pre-Islamic Arabic data. On the phonetic level, Tweissi (1990: 305) discovers that FT is characterized by a slower speech rate than native speaker to native speaker talk. In FT, an average of 3.06 syllables per second is found, as opposed to 5.27 syllables per second in the case of native speaker talk. Along the same lines, more primary stress on words is noticeable in the case of FT than native speaker talk, and 2.31 stressed words per T -unit in FT as opposed to 1.35 words in native speaker talk per T -unit are found. As expected, more pauses and less phonetic and phonological processing are found in FT than in native speaker talk (Tweissi 1990: 305). Slower speech rates are certainly helpful for the learner or non-native interlocutor in a conversation, as it allows for more processing time.



In addition to this step, data collected with my informant shows that in words containing more than one morpheme, an anaptyctic vowel is added to separate the morphemes. This phenomenon is especially clear in the case of verbs. In the following example the native speaker of Egyptian Arabic asks the non-native speaker:
bi-ti-'raf ti-fbux? (habt-2sg)-can (2sg)-cook 'Can you cook?'

The same native speaker directs a comment to another native speaker in the same situation in which he expressed his surprise that the nonnative speaker learns Arabic and cooks at the same time. He says:
b-yi-t-'allim 'arabl (prog- 3sg)-learn Arabic 'He learns Arabic and cooks.' wi-b-yu-tbux and-(prog- 3sg)-cook

The word bi-ti-fbux ('you cook') contains three morphemes. The first, bi-, is a habitual continuous mood prefix in Egyptian Arabic. The second, t-, is the second person masculine singular present tense conjugation. The third morpheme is the verb stem fbux. The added -i- functions as a morpheme boundary to clarify where a meaningful morpheme ends and where another starts. In another occasion, the native speaker expresses his admiration for the Italian football league. In his utterance, the added -i- seems to perform the same separating function:
bi-ni-hibb the league 'We like the Italian league.' id-dawrl 'il-'Uall the Italian

Vowel insertion functions as a highlighting tool for the smallest meaningful units of the language to be comprehended. In addition to vowel insertion between syllables, a pause is sometimes inserted between syllables as a barrier. This phenomenon is especially remarkable in verbs followed by suffix pronouns. A pause is inserted between the stem of the verb and the suffix pronoun as in the following example where the native speaker is talking about a group of foreigners taking a boat on the Nile:
rikibu-++-ha Rode-they it They rode it



Following is another example for the same phenomenon. In the same context, the same native speaker was speaking about seeing the same group of foreigners waving to the people on the bank of the river from their boat:

saw-we-them PRE-they-wave We saw them waving

In addition to slow speech rates and vowel insertion, native speakers resort to clarification. My data shows that, in order to clarify syllables and their boundaries, phonological processes are suspended. Two phenomena are noticed in this respect. First, there is a tendency to lengthen final vowels. In Egyptian Arabic, long vowels are shortened at the end of a word. As the word bi-yi-awru in the previous example shows, the final vowel is kept long. Another example from a different conversation with a different native speaker the topic was the Italian league shows the same phenomenon:
bi-yi-l'abu kora PRE-they-play football They play beautiful football gamfla beautiful

Secondly, assimilation processes are suspended. A very clear case of this phenomenon is the lack of assimilation in the definite article al-. Before the so called sun letters, the definite article is assimilated to the following sound. In the data collected, this does not seem to be the case. In the following example the native speaker informs the nonnative guest that tea is on him:
'alayya The tea on me Tea is on me

'ana I

Before the , the definite article should be assimilated in Egyptian Arabic, but it seems that the process is not active in the FT register used in this conversation by that particular native speaker. According to my data, however, this phenomenon is not universal in all the FT output recorded. The unassimilated definite article is not the standard FT form. In some cases, the native speaker uses an assimilated definite article without an apparent reason for the variation. All these measures of clarifying the pronunciation form, as the data suggests, are a sequence initiating one another because a slower speech



rate leads to more primary stress and to more pauses. It is important to notice that saliency at the level of phonology is produced by means of a lente rather than an allegro pronunciation of the language. Interestingly, such measures do not appear in the reports of the foreigners who volunteer their experiences with the phenomenon. Neither do they appear in the data I collected from the Egyptian films. It is also interesting that, in films, some drastic phonological changes are made that can neither be attested in the collected data, nor in the selfreports. The constant change in the place of articulation of the Arabic phoneme/})./ to the upper back palate does not occur in my data and in the data collected by Tweissi. In the FT data collected from the films, every/})./, as in J:zarami ('thief'), has gone into /x/, as in xarami. The collected data also fails to confirm another phenomenon in the film FT, which has to do with the place and manner of articulation. FT in the films!'! replaces with a glottal stop!'!; for example, the proper noun 'imad is constantly converted to 'imad. It is noticeable that the phonetic modifications undertaken by the native speakers of Arabic in the data reported above, help non-native speakers identify major constituents and word boundaries, and give them more processing time. This is the same purpose of phonetic modifications in other languages (Hatch 1983a: 66; 1983b: 158). The attested modifications in my data and in that ofTweissi (1990) are mere supra-segmental changes, but not phonemic or allophonic changes in the features of the phoneme system of Arabic. The modifications that represent a real alternation in the phonemic features of Arabic consonants are not attested in our data, although they constantly occur in the FT data of films. The phonological modifications witnessed in the film data does not appear in the collected data simply because it does not serve a strategy of structural saliency. They do not identify or clarify morphemes or boundaries. At the morpho-syntactic level, Tweissi (1990: 311) found that native speakers in his study use slightly longer multi-clause and single-clause T -units than the ones they use with other native speaker interlocutors. The average of words per multi-clause T -units is 8.66 to 8.47 words. In single clause T -units, the average number of words was 4.72 to 4.59 words per unit. At the level of word order, no significant difference is noticed between inter-native-speaker talk and FT. There are, however, a significantly smaller number of main clauses per T -units in FT than in inter-native-speaker talk (Tweissi 1990: 314). This means that FT utterances are structurally simpler than



inter-native-speaker talk. This last phenomenon is witnessed in all the sample data upon which this chapter is based. From this perspective, utterances are simple, short sentences. The beginning of each VS clause or sentence is a redundant nominal or pronominal head. Following is an example from my collected data. The native speaker is telling the foreign interlocutor about his late night adventure trying to get into his own home while trying to wake everybody at home up:

opened and I opened and entered


'ana I



The first person singular pronoun is added in this example before the already conjugated verb. My data also shows that when the pronominal head is not projected in the beginning of the clause, the same clause is repeated with a full noun as the head. Following is an example from the same previous conversation:
fa-kasart kubbaya 'ala 'il-bufeh 'ana kasart kubbaya

Then broke glass on the cabinet I Then I broke a glass on the cabinet



Very few relative sentences are attested in this data. Whenever relativization occurs, it remains confined to the subject position. There is also less structural complexity at the level of the individual sentence constituents. In the data collected from Egyptian Arabic, there is a consistent use of redundant independent pronouns after nouns and prepositions that are already modified by a suffix pronoun. The same phenomenon is also attested by Tweissi (1990: 313). Following are some of the examples from my data:
'ana ha-'allimak I (fut-lsg)-teach-(2sglobj) 'I will teach you Arabic.' 'inta suft-u 'inta 'arabi

you Arabic


you saw-him 'Did you see him?'


The previous example shows the same type of redundancy affecting the verb, where, in inter-native speech, the conjugated verb does not need a preceding independent pronoun. In the FT data collected from my informant, all conjugated verbs are preceded by an independent pronoun. Consider the following example:



'*na bi-ni-hibb id-dawri we lsg)-like 'We like the Italian league.'

'il- 'rtalr the-league

the- Italian

This tendency is frequently observed in Tweissi (1990: 313), my data and that of FT in films. In fact, redundancy seems to be an international FT aspect (see Ellis 1996 and Gass 1997). 1 Another strategy of structural saliency is the use of fewer morphemes in one word. This strategy is achieved by isolating morphemes. One of the manifestations of this strategy is the preference of the genitive exponent over the synthetic noun construction. In the following example, the native speaker is talking about the Dutch football league when he asks the non-native speaker about the name of a certain player. He asks:
mfn il-la' 'rb bita' who the-player of 'Who is the football player?'

ik-kora? the-football

The reports mention several cases of using the genitive exponent, such as in the following example where a landlord, who is a native speaker of Egyptian Arabic, discusses handing in the apartment keys with the non-native tenant:
ti-ddf li-l-bawwab bita' you-give the-key to-the-doorman of 'Give the key to the doorman of the building.' il-'imara the-building

The same strategy of isolating morpheme manifests itself in the use of the negative marker ma-. Instead of using ma-verb-s, native speakers in the data I collected used mis+verb. In the same situation of the previous example, the native speaker speaks about a previous tenant who did not tip the door man. He says:
dafa' Not paid He never tipped

ba'l tip



There is one relevant phenomenon that occurs in the film FT data but does not appear anywhere else in the sample of data. It is the use of

Interestingly, non-native speakers who volunteer their experiences do not mention this tendency.



independent pronouns after nouns, prepositions, and particles rather than a pronominal suffix. Hence, the following utterances:
mirat wife 'Your wife' 'inta you bitii' of hiyya she 'inta you ma'a with hiyya she 'inta you

the-husband 'Your husband'
huwwa saf saw he 'He saw her' suft ana saw I 'I saw you with her'

Another strategy on the part of the native speaker to use salient structure is avoidance. Native speakers avoid the use of certain morphosyntactic elements and structures. One case of such avoidance is refraining from employing derived verb stems. In one incident, the native speaker asks the non-native speaker why he does not suntan despite spending so much time under outdoors in Cairo. He initially directs the question using the Form 11 verb tismarr ('you tan'). Quickly, however, he rephrases his question using a clause instead of the verb. The interaction runs as follows:
ya'ni? 'ummal ma-smarrit-5 then not- tan-(2sgm)-(not) Q 'You have not gotten a tan, then?' ha? What? ma-ba'it-s leh 2sg.m)-(not) not-becamewhy 'Why have not you become tanned ?'2

'asmar? tanned

A group of examples appear in the data and they make me assume they are a direct outcome of the same avoidance strategy of certain verb forms. Following are two of these examples:

2 This particular example is interesting. While it avoids the form II verb, it neglects to avoid the ma-s negative of the past tense verb. But because I collected only one example on this phenomenon, It is hard to draw a conclusion.






Did you not enquire? 'amalt sura saxsiyya

personal Made- I picture I made a personal photo

In these two examples, 'amalt sura and talabt tifham can be replaced with itsawwart and istafhimt respectively. It is, however, uncertain that these examples are a product of avoidance. They could also be a product of another structural saliency strategy mentioned before, namely the use of one morpheme or word per function. Another aspect of the Egyptian Arabic syntax that is absent from my data is the use of relative pronouns. The relative pronoun 'illi is not used at all in my data. Based on my data, however, it is not clear whether the absence of the relative pronoun and relative clause is a deliberate avoidance on the part of native speakers of Arabic who assume the difficulty and syntactic and lexical elaboration of such a structure, or merely a coincidence. This uncertainty stems from its absence in Tweissi's study and the limits of my own data. If the absence of the relative pronoun is caused by deliberate avoidance, then the purpose is clear. However, if native speakers do not consider the relative clause structure to be difficult, the absence of the relative pronoun from my data must be explained. A reasonable assumption would be that because in contexts where native speakers address non-native interlocutors, they prefer the use of new head nouns and more independent pronouns before a verb, as introduced earlier, and the relative pronoun is rendered automatically redundant. Relativization requires embedding, referent pronouns and an implied subject for the verb. Another element absent from my native speaker FT data is the dual marker -en. The expression of the number two in my data is consistently made possible by the use of the word for the number 'itnen 'two' followed by the noun in the plural. In the same context of discussing football, the native speaker talks about two players from Egypt in the German league by saying:



la' 'rba

min masr
from Egypt

There (are) two players (pl) 'There are two Egyptian players.'



Again, it is unclear if a deliberate avoidance was behind the preference in use of this structure and not the noun followed by the dual ending. Tweissi's data does not refer to the issue at all either. However, selfreports from the Arabic-L emaillist add credence to the belief that it was intentional on the part of the native speakers. In self reports, the noun following the numeral 'itnen appears sometimes in the singular and some other times in the plural. Following are two examples:
'itnen kitab

Two book Two books

'itnen kilab

Two Two dogs


One more and certainly very interesting strategy of clarification is the strategy of category reduction. One interesting phenomenon reported by volunteers, but not witnessed in my data or that of Tweissi (1990), is the reduction of the category of verb conjugations in the imperfective. Volunteer reports claim that the present tense second and third person prefixes on the stem of the verb are deleted in the speech of native speakers of Arabic in conversation with them. The second person t- and third person yi- prefixes are deleted. Native speakers would then use forms such as 'inta 'israb ('you (m) drink'), 'intt 'israbt ('you (f) drink') and huwwa 'israb ('he drinks'). Although my data does not attest to this phenomenon, its mention several times by various reporters adds to its credibility. This phenomenon is also present in the film data. Self-reports and data from the films show another category reduction for the gender marking on verbs and nouns as well. Some selfreports mention the use of the masculine second and third person imperfective verbs as used for both genders, 'inta tiktib and 'intt tiktib for both second person masculine and feminine respectively. 3 In nouns, self reports suggest that adjectives after nouns received genderneutral treatment. Self-reports indicate a uniform masculine treatment regardless of the gender of the preceding noun or pronoun. A notable example is 'intt kuwayyis kittr ('you are really good'). Film data reports the opposite. The adjectives were always in the feminine, regardless of
3 Notice that the verbs here have the t- prefix in the imperfective. This is in contradiction with other film data verb examples where the t- was missing in the imperfective.



the gender of the previous noun. This point is problematic, though, for two reasons: first, this phenomenon renders ungrammatical utterances. The previous chapter shows that although ungrammatical FT exists, it is highly marked. Secondly, collected natural data did not show any example that would go with such a category reduction as deleting gender on verbs and nouns. One more aspect of category reduction appears in self-reports, but not in the collected data. There is a constant reference to a single and non-changing treatment of nouns after numerals. All reports list numbers of examples where a certain numeral is followed by a noun in the singular. Comparing all these examples shows that in the case of the numerals above ten, like in other Arabic dialects, the numeral is followed by a singular noun. Unlike the dialects, however, in the case of the numerals from three to ten, the modifying noun is also in the singular.4 This phenomenon appears also in film data. One good example is:
sa'a xamsa Five hour-S Five hours

The extreme restructuring in the FT of film is interesting to us here, since this data is artificial and consciously manufactured. The interesting fact in this respect is that film production teams, native speakers of Arabic themselves, are conscious of the fact that native speakers modify their speech when talking to non-native speakers, and as shown later, use the same strategies. Contrary to the conclusions of the majority of the FT research studies, native speakers of Arabic may indeed restructure if non-native speakers have noticeably low comprehension and production abilities. The collected data and the reports do agree with conscious film data on certain modifications, although collected data does not reflect a heavy restructuring on any level of the linguistic analysis. There is no gender category reduction, for instance, in the collected data. Native speakers of both Jordanian Arabic and Cairene Egyptian Arabic agree on the points in which they feel they have to modify their language, especially at the level of phonetics. It is to be noticed that the modifications at the phonetic level and mor-

Although reports refer to the phenomenon, they do not provide examples.



pho-syntactic level are real simplifications to the language by clarifying structures and sounds. The above-mentioned structural modifications go hand in hand with a tendency towards lexical modifications. In my own data, as well as in Tweissi's (1990: 308) data, lexical modifications include the use of foreign lexical items. This phenomenon does not, however, concern the reader here, since such lexical use is a universal phenomenon. What is most pertinent to our purpose are the modifications of the Arabic words themselves. Tweissi (1990: 310) notices that his native speakers use what he calls 'lower type-token' ratios, meaning the use of already repeated words that the non-native speakers have heard before in the conversation. With this, there is an absence of the use of synonyms and antonyms in explaining the words that non-native speakers show they do not comprehend. Instead, foreign words are used to solve the problem. It is tempting to assume, based on the 'lower type-token' ratios in talking to non-native speakers, that this phenomenon affects the level of elaboration of the utterance. If native speakers find it difficult for the nonnative interlocutors to comprehend aspects of lexical elaboration (such as synonyms, antonyms, and the use of more independent pronouns and relative clause and adjectives) and use foreign words to solve a problem, utterances must be short and lexical items repetitive.


The features listed above reflect a desire on the part of the native speakers to render their output comprehensible to the non-native interlocutor. These strategies are grouped into targets that may guide analysis of discrepancies between Modern Arabic dialects and pre-Islamic Arabic. After showing the targets, a comparison of the modern dialects to other varieties of Arabic follows in order to show that the differences are the result of applying the above strategies in the Arabic FT registers. On the phonetic level, FT in the collected data tends to make the sounds more salient by means of applying primary stress to them. Sound combinations (words) are also made clear by adding anaptyctic vowels to separate between morphemes. Word boundaries are also marked by the pauses. In the natural data, no articulatory modifications are recorded. Native speakers also do not resort to any alteration of the phonological features of sounds. Such modifications and alterations are only represented in the fictional data, as in the case of /41 changing to /x/.



One of the main strategies at the morpho-syntactic level is making syntactic relations salient by reducing the number of functions a single word assumes and expressing syntactic functions by separate words. Hence, the longer multi and single T -units mentioned in Tweissi (1990: 311). This strategy is manifested in the use of analytical structures such as the periphrastic dual, genitive exponents, the use of an auxiliary verb plus an adjective instead of the factitive causative verb, and the use of redundant independent pronouns with nouns modified by a suffix pronoun and conjugated verbs. Another strategy in the data is the avoidance of structures that are presumably difficult in favour of other, presumably more transparent, structures. This can be seen in the absence of derived verbs, duals and relative clauses from my data. In general, saliency seems to be carried out by means of using more analytical structures. In addition, assuming that self-reports are representative or at least indicative, then there is another strategy towards generalization of certain aspects of verb conjugations and agreement patterns. This is evident in the generalization of the third person singular to the second and third masculine and feminine persons. In Arabic FT, there is a tendency to restructure native speakers' utterances with lower level non-native interlocutors. Although ungrammatical FT is designated as rare and marked input in most of the research body on modified input, it seems to be present and functional in Arabic. Both self-reports and literary FT report a reduced set of verb conjugations, and in literary FT independent pronouns are used instead of suffix pronouns. It is not wise to surmise that the literary data is mere artificial imagination on the part of an author because self-reports do agree on the matter of reduced verb conjugations. It seems that, in my collected data, native speakers do not need to resort to such a restructuring since the non-native speaker is advanced in Egyptian Arabic. In the case of self-reports, however, non-native speakers who shared with us their experience were in the early phases of learning Arabic when the recorded incidents were exchanged. Given the sufficient background above, the implications of these modifications and strategies on presumed processes of informal second language learning are easily understood. At the phonological level, all modifications attested aim at making the sounds more acoustically salient and subject to less cognitive processing (in terms of number of sounds to be processed at a time and phonetic processes). At the morpho-syntactic level, there is the same tendency of including in one



utterance only a few structures to be processed; this is achieved by including less lexical heads in the utterance. In addition, there is a tendency to express a single syntactic and lexical element in a word. There is, at the morpho-syntactic level, also a tendency similar to the acoustic saliency of the sounds. The relationship of possession, which is expressed in Modern Standard Arabic by means of the construct state in which the first noun lacks the article and the second noun is marked by a genitive case marking, is expressed by means of a lexical genitive exponent. In combination with the context and awareness of the two interlocutors of the subject under discussion, the input becomes easier to comprehend (for the immediate purpose of the interactions at hand) and learnable. Since a heavy restructuring of the linguistic elements is not witnessed in the data (where non-native speakers are of intermediate or advanced levels), it is highly likely that inter-native speaker talk becomes, at a certain time, another source of upgraded comprehensible input for the non-native speaker (probably after a certain phase of ungrammatical input is provided during early stages of learning). If this is the case, FT can help to serve as an initial function of anchoring the non-native speaker to a level of input reception where the target language input is not modified. It is also possible that if the function of FT in the case of Arabic of the first century of the Islamic era was to bring non-Arabs to a stage where Arabic became a feasible and comprehensible input, the learning process of a foreign minority will never lead to a stable learner variety that is far removed from the input base. The reason for this rather strong assumption is that native speakers can adjust their output to the level of the non-native interlocutors. As illustrated in chapter four, however, native speakers of Arabic were numerous, and the graded level of input can, in theory, rise with the level of non-native speakers. In short, internal input abilities and demographic factors cooperate to not only create a variety of the target language, but also approximate it to the level of the target language native speakers.

If the socio-demographic conditions of the early Arab conquests were conducive to the use of FT, and if the FT targets and their strategies in the case of modern Arabic are similar to those used in the early



days of the conquests, dialects must not be very far removed from the pre-Islamic Arabic, as represented by Qur'anic Arabic and the features of pre-Islamic dialects that are found scattered in treatises of old Arab grammarians. Indeed, this is the case. Spoken dialects of Arabic share with the written varieties the majority of the basic morphological and syntactic structures of the noun, such as the definite article al-, the 'i4afa construct, the obligatory agreement between adjectives and nouns, relative clause structure (Brustad 2000: 14) and some aspects of sentence typology (Brustad 2000: 315-361 and 368). It is unnecessary to go into the similarities between the dialects and the written forms of Arabic any deeper. It is enough to say here that there are as many similarities as there are differences. Differences in many cases are differences in degree. The differences in nominal and verbal syntax, for instance, are due in some cases to a process of category reduction in the modern dialects. As far as nouns are concerned, there is no plural feminine in the majority of the sedentary Arabic dialects, and not all the semantic categories of nouns can receive a dual suffix. The category of pronouns in the dialects lost the dual and plural feminine elements. As far as the verbs are concerned, there is a reduction of the category of conjugations, and there are no feminine plurals or dual verb conjugations. There is, in addition, a large amount of morphological levelling. In the weak verbs, for example, the final waw verbs and the reduplicated verbs have disappeared. Modern Arabic dialects, however, also exhibit profound differences compared with the written varieties of Arabic. Written Arabic uses a case system and freer word order than the dialects. It has an internal passive, and it lacks the complex aspectual prefix markers characteristic of the Modern Arabic dialects. These dialects, on the other hand, have an analytic genitive structure, which the written Arabic lacks. In the dialects, there is no gender polarity in the numerals. The dialects use asyndetic structures that are unknown in the written Arabic. Those differences may be a result of the modifications in the input applied by the native speakers, but they may also be original in the input providing pre-Islamic dialects that were modified in the early days of the conquests. The conclusions of the previous chapter concerning universal FT processes and simplifications is that FT modification remains, in most of the cases, within the confinements of the accepted rules of the input-providing language source. The conclusion from Arabic FT in this chapter demonstrates the same tendency, leading to the assump-



tion that such major and profound differences between written Arabic and the dialects were original to the varieties that developed into the Modern Arabic dialects and Classical Arabic after the conquests. Some other differences between the dialects and the Classical model, especially in the verbal morphology, could have evolved from native speakers' modifications of their own input, if the strategies listed here are of any generalizabili ty. The Arab conquests did not only produce the modern dialects of Arabic as known from Morocco to Khuzestan. In addition to these, it produced two types of varieties that are not dialects of Arabic: Arabicbased pidgin and creole varieties of Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Malta and Cyprus. Each of these two types of Arabic-based languages developed in a distinctive way and have become unintelligible to the speakers of Arabic, not to mention each other. East African pidgin and creole languages developed as they did because socio-demographic circumstances that led to their evolution were different from the circumstances that led to the development of the Modern Arabic dialects. Circumstances in both cases generated different types oflearnable Arabic linguistic input. Moreover, the same non-linguistic circumstances prevented any adstratal or substrata! influence on the ancestors of the modern dialects of Arabic, while allowing the same influence in the case of the other Arabic mixed languages. The next section will introduce a brief description of some of the differences between these language varieties and the Modern Arabic dialects. This will include a brief sketch of the socio-demographic circumstances that assumedly led to the separate evolution of these languages. 6.2.1
Structural Distinction

Three structural aspects distinguish Arabic-based pidgin/creoles and mixed languages from the dialects of Arabic and Classical Arabic: degree of simplification relative to the source language; restructuring and transparency of the source of influence (Owens 2001: 353); and borrowing. As far as simplification is concerned, the relative simplification of the Arabic-based pidgins and creoles in East Africa is hardly a case for speculation. The discussion here is limited to a few aspects of phonology and morphology in the Arabic-based pidgins and creoles as an example for the reduction of structural complexity. The discussion of



the Ki-Nubi variety of Arabic is also abbreviated because it is the wellstudied among all the Arabic-based pidgins and creoles to date. 5 On the phonological level, the Ki-Nubi phonemic inventory lost emphatic sounds and uses their non-emphatic counterparts instead. Along with the loss of the emphatic phonemes, the pharyngeal fricatives 1'1 and !QJ6 were also lost. In addition, velar fricatives /x/ and IS/ were replaced by the velar stop /k/ (Heine 1982: 18).7 Pharyngeal fricatives and the velar fricatives are present in the modern dialects of Arabic, where they enjoy a phonemic status. Although it is superfluous to give details of these sounds in Arabic dialects, a few minimal pairs suffice to illustrate this:
Ha ram


'to send'

'to spend the night'

'to hide'

'to stamp'


'difficult circumstances'

On the morphological level, examples from verbal morphology are easily produced. Typical root inflections of Arabic ceased to be productive in Ki-Nubi. Furthermore, affixation to the stem of the verb is reduced heavily (Heine 1982: 19). In Ki-Nubi, there is no distinction in the stem of the verb between imperfect and perfect. In addition, the imperative form of the verb is the bare stem plus kum (Owens 1996: 149). Verbs are not inflected morphologically except for passive, infinitive and gerundive. These represent innovations distinct from different varieties of Arabic. Tense, mood and aspect are marked by markers or auxiliaries or left unmarked all together (Wellens 2003: 105). Arabic-based pidgins and creoles also generally lack most of the aspects of obligatory marking on the verb functional in the rest of the

See Heine (1982) and Wellens (2003). Wellens (2003: 36) includes a table of the Nubi phonemes in which a form of !IJ! is present Due to transliteration problems, distinguishing if that particular phoneme which she writes as "h" has the same qualities as !IJ! of the Arabic dialects is not possible. 7 For an extensive overview of phonemic and phonetic aspects ofN ubi, see (Wellens 2003).



Arabic dialects. Ki-Nubi, for instance, marks the verb for voice and tense/aspect (Owens 2001: 354-355). Arabic dialects and Afghanistan Mixed Arabic, on the other hand, obligatorily mark the verb for tense, aspect, gender, number, person, mood and voice (Owens 2001: 354). These aspects of simplification distinguish Ki-Nubi in particular and all the Arabic-based pidgin and creole varieties from the modern dialects of Arabic. Afghani Arabic shares with the modern dialects a distinction between a suffixing perfect stem and a prefixing imperfect stem. In addition, the central Asian variety of Arabic shares with the modern dialects the obligatory tense, aspect, person, gender, number and voice of the verb. In comparison to Ki-Nubi, the Afghanistan Arabic is more conservative in some aspects of verbal morphology than even most of the modern dialects of Arabic. For instance, it retains a gender distinction in the third person plural (Ingham 1994: 114 and Kiefer 2000: 185). The dialects of Arabic, assuming that they underwent a FT modification and simplification process, do not exhibit such drastic features as the pidgin or creole varieties. No Arabic dialect lost the pharyngeal sounds and the distinction between emphatic and non-emphatic sounds. On the morphological level, all the dialects of Arabic distinguish between an imperfect stem and a perfect stem. Verb stems, in addition, accept suffixes, prefixes or a combination of both. Unlike the pidgin and creole varieties of Arabic, dialects developed a very complex aspectual system expressed by means of prefixes to the stem, such as bi- in Egyptian and Syrian Arabic (see Brustad 2000). As far as Bactrian Arabic is concerned, although the reduction of the number of broken plural patterns in favour of sound plurals (see Kiefer 2000: 185) can be considered a simplification of a sort, broken plural is by no means restricted to a few exceptional cases. Nowhere in my data or in Tweissi's data (1990) are there such drastic simplifications as a phonemic loss or severe reduction in the verb conjugation system. Simplification in non-fictional data seems to aim only at making sounds more obvious than they are, and rendering the syntactic relations more salient. Restructuring is another distinctive element for the dialects. Modern dialects of Arabic do not exhibit any restructuring in comparison to the Sprachinsel varieties based on Arabic. This illustration is limited here to the Bactrian variety of Afghanistan Arabic, as it represents a good example of the Central-Asian Arabic-based contact languages. On the level of the sentence structure, the Bactrian Arabic variety exhibits a striking difference from the Arabic dialects in word order.



The dominant type of word order is SOV. While SVO and VSO are both acceptable in the Modern Arabic dialects, the SOV type is not found in any variety of Arabic outside Central Asia (Kiefer 2000: 186). Another related example of restructuring in the Central Asian varieties of Arabic is the marking of the pronominal direct object. Pronominal direct objects are attached to a pre-verbal complement ele (Kiefer 2000: 186). A striking example of restructuring which separates Central Asian Arabic varieties from the modern dialects of Arabic is postpositions. In a phrase such as Jaras jimi' ('with the horse'), the postposition jimi' 'with' follows the head noun (Ingham 1994: 109). SOV is not an acceptable word order in the normal speech of any dialect of Arabic; direct objects in all the dialects of Arabic are suffixed to the verb, thus making SVO word order. All the dialects of Arabic are preposition varieties. These innovations are real features characteristic of the region in which Afghan Arabic developed. The SOV word order is shared by Persian Tajik and Uzbek (Kiefer 2000: 186). Postpositions and the particle ele are also clear results of borrowing from Persian. These are the aspects of adstratal influence that set the otherwise conservative varieties apart from the Arabic dialects. 6.2.2

Ecological Causes

The reason why pidgin/Creole Arabic varieties did not develop a structure similar to that of the Modern Arabic dialects, and the reason why the Central Asian varieties restructured in a way different from the original Arabic syntactic features is the difference in sociodemographic structure of the environment around speakers of Arabic between the territories of the dialects and the territories where the other two types came to being. Looking at the socio-demographic circumstances in which the pidgin and creole varieties existed, they are exactly the opposite of the circumstances in which the Arabic dialects existed. The settlements in Southern Sudan, which were established around the year 1854 where Ki-Nubi, Juba Arabic and Turku began, were established in areas dense with native populations. The Arabs were not the exclusive ethnic or linguistic group living in the settlements, and they were not even a majority in the settlements. The manner of Arab settlement was not in any way similar to the manner of early Arab settlements in Egypt and Syria, for instance. Arabs in the Southern Sudan did not establish exclusively urbanized settlements continuously provided with fresh Arab migrants.



According to Owens' calculations (1996: 138-139), the inhabitants of the Bahr el-Ghazal region in the 1870's numbered approximately 250,000. Of this number, 9,000 to 140,000 were speakers of Arabic. It is not known how many of this small number were native speakers. Although it is difficult to estimate with any precision the ratio of Arabs to non-Arabs in the core group that took the original Arabicbased pidgin from the Southern Sudan to the southwest, the percentage in the case of Turku must have been similar to that of Ki-Nubi and Juba Arabic (Owens 1993: 182).8 If this was the situation in the early 1970's, the percentage of Arabs after 1878 must have been less than before. Owens (1996: 139) provides two reasons for this assumption: the Egyptian government attempted to prohibit northerners from going to the south, and the internal growth of the camp members by birth and native recruitment. Unlike the case of the Arabic dialects, in Southern Sudan the settlements were not populated by a majority of Arabs and a peripheral layer of natives. Both groups co-existed and lived together. The inhabitants of the camps numbered approximately 60,000, according to Owens' calculations (1996: 139), approximately 25% of which were speakers of Arabic. The Arab element of the camps was not isolated from the native population. Each Arab collected a number of slaves and domestic aid of native southern stock. As far as the Arabic language in Central Asia is concerned, the same socio-demographic situation prevented the language from spreading as it did in the areas of the modern Arabic dialects. As early as the year 643 A.D., Arabs started to establish in Central Asia small settlements of Arab contingents in the middle of large numbers of homogeneous groups. For centuries afterwards, Arabs and Arab army units settled in the region (Kiefer 2000: 181) without establishing garrison towns on the same model as in Egypt, Iraq or Syria. In addition, no constant influx of Arab migrants to the region was witnessed after the initial period of conquest in Persia and Central Asia. Under socio-political pressure, the Arabs in Persia and Central Asia suffered as a minority group. After the initial period of conquest, many groups lost their initial ethnic identity. The heavy linguistic borrowing that colours the Arabic varieties of the region may be one result of that pressure.

8 For a general summery, see Owens (1990). For East African Arabic-based pidgins see Kaye and Tosco (1993).

CONCLUSION This book introduces the assumption that the difference between preIslamic Arabic and New Arabic vernaculars in the urban areas of the conquered territories in the early two centuries after the conquests was a function of a process of informal second language acquisition. In this process, native speakers modified their linguistic output to communicate with non-natives. Modified input was internalized and later became the variety of Arabic used in the urban centers of the Arab world. The goal is not to explain the development of Bedouin dialects in the Arabian Peninsula after the emergence of Islam, nor to present a general theory for the emergence of Arabic dialects in total, as they show in the modern linguistic situation complex. The type of modified input used in the process of acquisition was Foreigner Talk. In FT, native speakers do not necessarily restructure their language while modifying it. The data I collected and the data in Tweissi ( 1990) confirm this in the case of Arabic. If this is the case, then the input that non-native speakers received was not much different from the Arabs' original pre-Islamic varieties. In chapter two, I discussed two points. First, the pre-Islamic linguistic situation was characterized by variability that gives a sense of spoken dialects existing side by side with the variety of the Qur'an and pre-Islamic poetry. Second, the dialects were in a state of development on the eve of the Arab conquests. Some of the developments are similar to the developments characteristic of the "New Arabic" vernaculars. The decay of the case system is one such development. The type of Arabic used in pre-Islamic poetry and the Qur'an was not the native language of the pre-Islamic Arabs, although it was more similar to the dialects of Eastern Arabia than the Western and Yemeni dialects. Chapter three establishes that the language of poetry and the Holy Book developed into Classical Arabic. Few people knew this variety, as was the case in pre-Islamic times. Few people even tried to approximate the model for scribal, scholarly or even clerical purposes. Because the variety was not a native language, and because users did not acquire a formal education, a group of texts appeared that is collectively known as Middle Arabic. Although Middle Arabic texts were aimed to be in Classical Arabic, they contained deviations from the



norms, vernacular elements and special communal features, such as the use of a foreign writing system. It is easily deduced from the Middle Arabic texts that the Classical model was not native to any of the speakers of Arabic after the conquests. I also infer that it was accessible to very few speakers of Arabic, and even to this small group, the accessibility of the Classical model was scant. Due to the limits of the function of the Classical Arabic language in pre-Islamic times and in post-conquest Arabic-speaking countries, diglossia was a phenomenon limited only to those few who were acquainted with the classical model. At the end of chapter three, I proposed that the spread of Arabic as a vernacular must be seen as a case of second language acquisition. Naturally, it was an informal case of acquisition. An informal case of acquisition is a scenario that leads to different acquisition strategies and outcomes. One possible outcome of this process is a case of pidginization, a possibility rejected here for several reasons. 1 I suggested that, in order to realize the exact path the informal process of acquiring Arabic took, the socio-demographic contexts in which Arabic was presented, selected, and learned must be identified. In chapter four, I introduced the socio-demographic contexts into which Arabs came to the early garrison towns. I found that three points are particularly interesting in the Arabicization of the conquered territories: the establishment of garrison towns; the patterns of migration from Arabia; the manner of communication between Arabs and nonArabs. These socio-demographic ecological conditions were conducive to the choice of Arabic as a language of communication between Arabs and non-Arabs because it was the language of the dominant socio-linguistic group. Circumstances were also favorable to the modification of the Arabs' language to accommodate non-Arabs. In chapter five, I illustrated that FT is the only natural strategy to provide linguistic input in an informal acquisition situation. The structural characteristics of such a native-speaker register are structural saliency, elaboration, generalization, and a flexible degree of grammaticality. Bearing these characteristics in mind, and also bearing in mind that Arabs were a majority group, the learnable input was, in one way or another, similar to pre-Islamic vernaculars, albeit modified to

1 See the reasons in chapter three above. For a summary of the different points of view against the pidginization theory, see (Versteegh 2004: 343-359).



a certain extent. Thus, the beginning of New Arabic vernaculars was not very different from the vernaculars of the Arabs in the early years of the conquests. Target language learners further modify the input they receive. It is an established fact in the field of second language acquisition that interlanguage rules in the heads of learners are not the same as native speakers' input. It is beyond the scope of this study to elaborate on interlanguage processes in the informal acquisition of Arabic. I, therefore, only allude to this process in chapter five. The differences, if any, between pre-Islamic Arabic and New Arabic urban vernaculars were in part due to the modification strategies of FT. I suggested in chapter six that the strategies of modern Arabic FT are similar to those that caused the shift to New Arabic urban vernaculars. In modern FT, there is a tendency towards more analytic structures by structural salience, generalization, and omission. Socio-demographic conditions are an essential, if not sole, aspect in any process of informal acquisition of languages on such a large scale, such as the spread of Arabic in the conquered territories after the Arab conquests. As established in chapters four and five, the sociodemographics of a certain context dictate the type of learnable input, its volume, its frequency, and the manner of learning the language. In this context, I would like to add two points. The model drawn in chapters four and five is functionally limited to Egypt, and probably also to the early garrison towns in Iraq and Syria. The model is inapplicable to the case of the spread of Arabic in non-sedentary areas in the conquered territories, the Bedouin areas, on linguistic islands and in sub-Saharan Africa. For each region, a socio-demographic model must be drawn, and from that model, a process of acquisition must be inferred, with special attention given to input. The development of Arabic cannot be understood without the application of historical linguistics to the aspects of the language. The circumstances of communication and contact between Arabs and non-Arabs must be understood in detail in order for the best methodological application. It is only through such a process that the historical comparative method can be accurately applied, and yield correct and generalizable results about the history of Arabic, and indeed other languages with similar historical development.


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Al-Balaguri 145, 163, 167, 170, 251 Al-Jal).iz 79, 88, 100, 110, 162, 168, 170, 251 Al-Kindi 174, 251 Al-Maqrizi 174, 251 Al-Marzubaniy 75, 251 Al-Ya'qubiy 168, 251 Al-Zubaydiy 251 At-Tabari 160, 161, 251 Ibn 'Abd Rabbihi al-'Andalusi 251

Ibn 'Adul-Hakam 160, 161, 167, 251 Ibn Abbas 34, 38, 251 Ibn An-Nadim 45, 251 Ibn Paris 34, 59, 251 Ibn Manzur 36, 251 Ibn Qutayba 88, 140, 170, 251 Ibn Xayyat 164, 251 Sibawayhi 8, 11, 33, 34, 36, 39, 42, 87, 251 Ta'lab 251


Al-'Ali 163, 251 Al-Gindi 36, 40, 41, 42, 44, 47, 48, 55, 251 Al-Munajjid 38, 251 Al-Musawi 167, 251 Al-Sayyad 162, 163, 167, 169, 251 Al-Sharkawi 9, 11, 23, 74, 160, 251 Allardt 171, 251 Andersen 27, 212, 251, 252, 255, 258 Anis 54, 55, 252 Anttila 28, 252 Arthur 196, 197, 200, 252 Bagnal 147, 148, 149, 150, 151, 152, 153, 154, 155, 156, 157, 252 Bar-Asher 105, 256 Bardovi-Harling 252 Bateson 83, 252 Bayley 194, 252 Behnstedt 133, 252 Bernards 36, 252 Bickerton 176, 252 Bishai 119, 120, 121,252 Blachere 64, 252 Blanc 26, 106, 188, 252 Blau 13, 68, 69, 71, 74, 91, 94, 95, 96, 98, 99, 100, 102, 103, 105, 111, 113, 125, 252 Bloch 113, 253 Bloomfield 214, 253 Bowman 147, 150, 155, 253 Brock 58, 181, 253, 255

Brustad 112, 113, 116, 131, 136, 240, 243,253 Burt 176, 254 Campbell 52, 253 Carron 253 Chaudron 204, 253, 259 Chejne 58, 253 Chenoweth 206, 254 Christiansen 18, 253 Chun 199, 206, 253, 255, 256, 257, 259 Clements 203, 253 Clyne 198, 253 Cohen 111, 113, 115, 253 Corder 203, 215, 226, 253, 258 Corriente 11, 69, 70, 71, 72, 76, 77, 253 Cowan 111, 112, 253 Crowley 51, 254 Crutcher 260 D'Anglejan 183, 195, 257 Day 180, 207, 208, 253, 254 Dayf 47, 82, 254 Debose 198, 202, 203, 254 Diem 11, 73, 76, 120, 131, 133, 254 Dittmar 185, 186, 253, 257 Dlxon 27, 254 Donner 159, 160, 161, 163, 167, 254 Doughty 180, 192, 194, 254, 259 Dulay 176, 254 Dummer 254 Dutton 220, 254



Eisenstein 201, 254, 255 Ellis 2, 176, 177, 182, 183, 184, 185, 187, 188, 189, 191, 193, 195, 198, 199, 201, 205, 206, 232, 254 Fathman 183, 184, 254 Ferguson 106, 107, 108, 109, Ill, 112, 113, 131, 132, 203, 198, 200, 202, 215, 216, 217, 218, 254 Flscher 13, 14, 132, 254 Fleisch 58, 59, 64, 65, 67, 68, 69, 83, 255 Fliigel 38, 255 Freed 192, 255 Flick 13, 58, 65, 66, 67, 69, 74, 88, 123, 124, 125, 255, 259, 260, 261 Gaies 192, 197, 255 Galtier 119, 120, 255 Gaskill 208,210,255 Gass 141, 172, 180, 184, 185, 187, 192, 193, 194, 197, 199, 200, 204, 205, 214, 232, 255, 257, 259, 260 Geyer 50, 60, 62, 64, 253 Gough 199, 255 Grlffiths 201, 255 Hakansson 202, 205, 255 Harrls 153, 155, 157, 255 Hatch 193, 199, 203, 230, 255 Heath 105, 256 Heine 129, 242, 256 Hend 201,202,203,256 Herzog 28, 261 Hesseling 213, 256 Hinds 166, 256 Hinnenkamp 215, 216, 217, 256 Holes I, 131, 134, 135, 145, 168, 224, 256 Hopkins 90,92,93,97,98,252,256 Hulstijn 204, 256 Hussleman 256 Ingham 243,244,256 Issdorides 256 Jacobi 256 Jarvis 19, 117, 256 ]ones 20, 256 Kachru 256 Kaegi 170, 256 Kahana 172, 256 Kahle 61, 62, 63, 64, 256 Kaimio 152, 256

Kaufmann 19, 145, 211, 212, 260 Kaye 106, 111, 244, 256 Kennedy 160, 161, 162, 164, 165, 166, 167,257 Kiefer 243, 244, 245, 257 Kiparsky 20, 257 Kirby 18, 253 Klengen 197,205,257 Klein 2, 177, 178, 179, 181, 185, 186, 257 Krashen 141, 175, 191, 192, 193, 255, 257 Kubiak 163, 257 Labov 19,27, 28,220,257,261 Lakshmanan 200,255 Lapidus 168, 170, 257 Larsen-Freeman 141, 185, 199, 252, 255,257 Lefort 158, 257 Levin 33, 34, 36,39,257 Lightbown 257 Littmann 119, 257 Long 141, 180, 186, 192, 194, 199, 201, 204, 206, 253, 257 Lord 82,257 Lukaszewicz 147, 257 Luppescu 206, 253, 254 Lynch 199, 257 MacCoull 153, 257 Macdonald 12, 13, 258 Marshall 28, 258 Mazrui 27, 258 McMahon 18,22,27,28,258 Meisel 185, 199, 203, 258 Meskoob 258 Miller 113, 258 Moag 212, 258 Monroe 82, 83, 84, 258 Murwene 17,25,26,27,258 Miihl.hausler 203, 212, 213, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 258 Munzel 120, 258 Nagel 158, 258 Naro 211, 212, 258 Nassar 34, 35, 258 Newton 112, 258 Noldeke 13, 61, 62, 66, 69, 74, 258

O'Leary 120, 258

Owens 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 30, 66, 104, 171, 172, 241, 242, 243, 245, 256, 257, 259



Palva 118, 120, 254, 259 Parker 204, 259 Parry 77,78,259 Pavlenko 19, 117, 256 Petracek 259 Pica 180, 192, 259 Praetorius 118, 119, 259 Rabin 9, 34, 36, 38, 40, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 49, 60, 61, 63, 64, 65, 74, 259 Rathbone 148, 150, 259 Ritt 5, 17, 27, 259 Roeder 148, 259 Romaine 203, 213, 215, 216, 218, 256, 259 Rosenthal 65, 259 Rousseu 259 Rowlandson 149, 150, 259 Rubenson 153, 158, 172, 259 Ryding 9,13,260 Salabi 162, 260 Schegloff 208, 210, 260 Schinke-Liano 260 Schmidt 185, 194, 260 Scholnick 260 Schuchardt 213, 260 Schumann 185, 260 Sebba 212, 218, 221, 256, 260 Selinker 141,172,185,255,260 Shahid 54, 260 Shapira 199, 255 Simeone 260 Singh 20,256 Smith 197, 260 Sobhy 212,260 Spitaler 65, 260

Spitta-Bey 260 Swain 192, 209, 210, 253, 260 Talmoudi 111, 260 Taylor 187, 259, 260 Thomason 19, 145, 211, 213, 259, 260 Todd 212,256,260 Tosco 245, 256 Tweissi 203, 224, 225, 226, 227, 230, 231, 232, 234, 235, 237, 238, 243, 247, 260 'Umar 167, 168, 169, 170, 260

Varonis 180, 197, 205, 255, 260 Versteegh 2, 4, 7, 8, 13, 14, 30, 32, 33, 36, 37, 58, 82, 90, 91, 95, 99, 100, 102, 105, 117, 121, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 132, 133, 140, 145, 248, 251, 254, 258, 260 Violet 100, 261 Voilers 30, 58, 59, 60, 64, 61, 62, 63, 66,255,261 Watt 81,261 Wehr 65,261 Weinreich 27, 261 W ellens 242, 261 Welmers 20, 261 Widdowson 189, 261 Wipszycka 153, 154, 261 Young Youtie 37,68, 164,180,192,259 153, 154, 155, 261

Zwettler 15, 50, 60, 62, 64, 66, 67, 68, 75, 76, 77, 78, 85, 260


Adstrate 2, 93, 99, 117, 241, 244 Arabicization 1, 57, 145, 147, 169, 172, 223, Bedouin Dialects 15, 35, 40, 57, 58, 62, 64, 66, 74, 94, 102, 110, 123, 133, 134, 247 Borrowing 4, 6, 43, 107, 112, 131, 135, 241, 244, 245 Case Ending 8, 11, 45, 48, 49, 50, 54, 56, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 76, 77, 101,102,118,152

Classical Arabic 8, 10, 13, 14, 15, 18, 23, 30, 31, 45, 46, 49, 51, 52, 56, 60, 61, 62, 64, 66, 69, 73, 74, 78, 79, 81, 85, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 107, 108, 109, 117, 119, 120, 121, 125, 126, 127, 129, 131, 132, 133, 136, 142, 143, 223,226,241,247,248 Colloquial 35,58,65,95,125 Contact 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 15, 20, 25, 46, 67, 69, 73, 74, 87, 99, 105, 110, 111, 112, 113, 115, 117, 123, 125, 126, 128, 136, 137, 139, 140, 143, 160, 186, 211, 212, 222, 243, 249



Convergence 114, 115, 133 Creole 4, 5, 7, 18, 129, 131, 134, 135, 203, 212, 213, 214, 223, 241, 242, 243, 244 Deviation 30, 35, 41, 44, 37, 88, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 100, 122, 247 Dialects 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 18, 24, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 47, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 62, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 73, 74, 76, 78, 81, 85, 86, 87, 88, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 120, 122, 123, 125, 126, 127, 128, 141, 129, 130, 131, 132, 133, 134, 135, 137, 139, 14\211, 223, 224, 225, 236, 237, 240, 241, 243, 242,244,245,247 Diffusion 85, 102, 105, 106, 112, 114, 115, 131, 138 Diglossia 32, 89, 126, 248 Divergence 122 Drift 26,102, 103,104, 107, 111,121, 131 Ecology 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 31, 55, 56, 89, 146 Evolution 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 29, 72, 113,219,241 Foreigner Talk 90, 175, 190, 191, 194, 197, 199, 200, 203, 216, 223, 227, 229, 237,247 Formulaic 12, 78, 82, 84, 85 Hypercorrections Hypo corrections 92 92, 103

Lingua franca 4, 5, 87, 123, 126, 128, 136, 139, 140, 185, 189 Middle Arabic 65, 70, 71, 72, 74, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 134, 13\ 140, 141, 146, 247, 248 Modern Written Arabic 11, 18, 100, 240,241 New Arabic 15, 70, 71, 88, 89, 90, 91, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 109, 111, 114, 115, 122, 124, 126, 131, 132, 133, 140, 141, 142, 143, 147, 223, 247,249 Old Arabic 109 9, 11, 12, 13, 31, 72, 91,

Pidgin 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 18, 125, 126, 128, 129, 130, 131, 134, 135, 136, 139, 140, 188, 190, 211, 212, 213, 214, 216, 221, 215, 217, 219, 220, 222, 223, 241, 242, 243,244,245,248 Pre-Islamic Arabic 2, 14, 15, 23, 104, 113, 115, 131, 142, 145,223,227,237, 240,249 Proto-Arabic 9, 11 Pseudo corrections 68, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 98, 99, 103, 125 Restructuring 3, 4, 6, 18, 29, 135, 136, 140, 141, 143, 213, 218, 219, 223, 236, 238,239,241,243,244 Simplification 2, 3, 6, 130, 136, 143, 182, 200, 201, 202, 203, 204, 237, 211, 213,215,217,219,224,225,226,237, 240, 241, 243 Standardization 14, 32, 75, 79 Substrate 2, 18, 99, 103 Variations 31, 100, 109 Vernaculars 7, 30, 31, 62, 65, 69, 70, 74, 76, 77, 78, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 92, 94, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 105, 106, 115, 124, 125, 126, 127, 129, 130, 132, 133, 136, 140, 142, 146, 207, 248, 249

Innovation 6, 11, 18, 21, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 73, 77, 89, 104, 106, 111, 115, 118, 131, 133, 138, 143, 206,242,244 Interlanguage 89, 90, 91, 997, 8, 139, 142, 173, 181, 185, 186, 187, 189, 190, 19\211,21\249 Koine 57, 59, 64, 102, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 115, 116, 121, 127, 131, 137 Kunstsprache 76, 77, 98