Lecture series: Robust features of Arabic diglossia

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Sun Apr 22 11:14:48 UTC 2007

The Leverhulme Lectures

Our new Leverhulme visiting professor Abdelkader Fassi Fehri will deliver
five lectures in May-June 2007 at 4pm on the following dates (room TBC):
April 24, May 3, May 29, June 19 and July 3.

Professor Fassi Fehri is one of the best known scholars on Arabic
linguistics, and we are extremely pleased to have him with us in the
coming two years, thanks to a Visiting Professorship from the Leverhulme

Robust features of the Arabic diglossia

One of the major concerns of Arabic linguistics has always been and still
is the appropriate characterization of the origin as well as the present
nature of the Arabic linguistic duality found in all Arab countries
between two varieties: (a) a standard/classical language, and (b) a spoken
colloquial language. Aspects of this diglossia have been dealt with in
various studies on inter-Arabic language variation, historical change,
language contact, language acquisition, language policy or politics,
education, etc. But most of the findings up until now have been basically
informal, and lacking a principled integration within formal theories and
descriptions of parametrization and change.

Our lectures will (a) present results of current inter-Arabic approaches
(including the disputed internal/external causes of change and genealogy),
and (b) identify robust features involved in syntactic/semantic and
morpho/lexical variation and change. Themes to be addressed are the
following: (i) synthetic/analytic Genitive change in noun phrases (and
(in)Definiteness loss/realization); (ii) synthetic/analytic Aspect, Modal,
and Tense variation; (iii) clausal Agreement patterns (strict, deflected,
equivocal) and their origin; (iv) morphological Causatives, intensives,
transitives, and passives (and vowel loss implications); (v) Modification

We feel confident that the formal characterization of major features of
the Arabic dialectology is of significant interest not only for synchronic
and diachronic typology and theory, but also provides important clues for
decision making in language planning and language education. More details,
including a specific abstract as well as a short list of references for
each lecture will be provided in due course.


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