ELL: Re: indigenous

Joan Smith/Kocamahhul j.smith at LING.CANTERBURY.AC.NZ
Fri Jun 22 01:59:02 UTC 2001

kebo0002 wrote:
> Joan Smith/Kocamahhul wrote:
> > This is partly my reason for asking - the community I'm interested in
> > are Arabic speakers in Turkey. As far as I've been able to find out the
> > communities were originally Aramaic- and Greek-speaking (Greek in the
> > cities, Aramaic in the rural areas), but there have been Arabic-speakers
> > in the Area for approxiamately 1000 years, whereas the Turkish-speakers
> > are comparatively newcomers. Is this the Guarani problem again? Somehow
> > I think the tendency is to disregard Arabic as an 'indigenous' language
> > either because so many people speak it or because it is an 'oppressor'
> > language (even though in Turkey it isn't).
> >
> There is still an Arabic speaking minority in the region of Hatay ( south
> Turkey; near the Syrian border ). Most of them are Alevi´s ( a Shiite group
> of Islam ). These people are genuine Arabs. Other Arabic using minorities
> are Kurds and Assyrians. In some regions of the Assyrian settlement, Arabic
> has replaced Assyrian completely.
Arabic speakers can be found in the area around Adana and Mersin
(Cilicia) and also in the areas bordering Syria and Iraq. Hatay is the
area I'm particularly interested in.

The larger cities and towns in the Area were founded by Greek-Speakers
(hence Iskenderun/Alexandretta for example). According to Trimingham
(1979:47-8) prior to the Islamic expansion the cities were
Greek-speaking and the rural areas were the Aramaic-speaking (I presume
this is Cem's Assyrians). According to Courbage and Fargues (1997: 46)
by the time of the first crusade (1098) the Christians were Arabs
culturally and linguistically. At some time in between there was the
schism which resulted in Aramaic-speaking Christians moving to the area
they traditionally occupy (Mardin, in the predominantly Kurdish area).
This 'breakaway' Church is sometimes referred to as something like the
Antiochene Orthodox church, even though they aren't in Antioch.

> Arabic hasn´t a tradition of more than 1.000 years in this region.

I didn't mean Arabic in the whole of Turkey, just the areas where Arabic
is (still) spoken. In Hatay it has a history of at least a thousand
years as the language of the community. Werner Arnold's work (1998) has
shown that there are still traces of Aramaic in some of the dialects.

Only the
> south of present day Turkey was influenced by Arabic. Turkish appeared in
> the region in 1071.
> Arabic has a religious status in Turkey as most prayers pray in Arabic. I
> wouldn´t define Arabic as an indigenous language. I would define "an
> indigenous" language as a non-governmental language, which has very young
> literal tradition or only oral tradition.
But the point is that speakers of Arabic in Hatay are mostly not Sunni
(in addition  the Alevi, there are Christians and Jews), and do not
attend services in mosques as a result. In other words, the one place
where the use of Arabic is sanctioned is the one place (native) Arabic
speakers are unlikely to go.
> Regards,
> Cem Bozdag

Sana da selamlar

Arnold, Werner. Die arabischen Dialekte Antiochiens. Wiesbaden:
Harrasowitz Verlag, 1998.

Courbage, Youssef and Philippe Fargues. Christians and Jews under Islam.
London: I.B. Tauris, 1997.

Trimingham, J. Spencer. Christianity among the Arabs in Pre-Islamic
times. London: Longman, 1979.

Joan Smith/Kocamahhul
Department of Linguistics
University of Canterbury
Private Bag 4800
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