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Arabic and the Case against Linearity in Historical Linguistics

Title data

Owens, Jonathan:
Arabic and the Case against Linearity in Historical Linguistics.
Oxford : Oxford University Press , 2023
ISBN 9780192867513


Official URL: Volltext

Abstract in another language

Interpretations of Arabic language history have been dominated by a linear conception beginning with its early transition from Semitic pre-history to pre-Islamic Arabic and then to the Classical language. Thereafter comes, “neo-Arabic,” in the history of western scholarship usually relegated to the status of dialectology. Expanding on A linguistic history of Arabic (OUP 2006/9), this book advocates a multiple pathways approach. Arabic has multifarious evidential sources: relations to other Semitic languages, epigraphic and papyrological traditions, a linguistically original classical Arabic linguistic tradition, a widely dispersed array of contemporary spoken varieties representing necessary components for reconstructing Arabic language history itself. These diverse sources meld to characterize a holistic but not necessarily linear Arabic language history. From a general linguistic perspective, Arabic in its wide geographical and chronological expanse provides fertile ground for a critical invocation of new perspectives and methodologies in historical linguistics: sociolinguistics, typology and grammaticalization theory, corpus linguistics, and attendant statistical treatment. This is demonstrated via more than 20 individual case studies covering over 1,500 years of documented and reconstructed history. An historical object more complex than traditional accounts emerges. Embedding the study in a wider comparative account, a comparison of the historical morphology of three languages documented over roughly the same period of interval time ca. ad 500–ad 2022, Icelandic, English, and Arabic is undertaken. Arabic contrasts with the linearity of English; it shares aspects of alinearity with Icelandic, but also contains within it elements of multilinearity spread across many individual historical speech communities.

Further data

Item Type: Book / Monograph
Institutions of the University: Faculties > Faculty of Languages and Literature > Junior Professor Arabic Studies > Junior Professor Arabic Studies - Juniorprof. Dr. Valentina Serreli
Result of work at the UBT: Yes
DDC Subjects: 400 Language > 410 Linguistics
400 Language > 490 Other languages
Date Deposited: 16 Feb 2024 06:33
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2024 06:33