Structuralist Studies in Arabic Linguistics. Charles A. Ferguson’s Papers, 1954-1994 9004108122, 9789004108127

This collection of Charles Ferguson's papers on Arabic linguistics includes a biographical sketch (with excerpts fr

158 15 28MB

English Pages 289 Year 1997

Report DMCA / Copyright


Polecaj historie

Structuralist Studies in Arabic Linguistics. Charles A. Ferguson’s Papers, 1954-1994
 9004108122, 9789004108127

Table of contents :
Title Page......Page 4
Copyright Page......Page 5
Table of Contents......Page 6
Acknowledgments......Page 8
Abbreviations......Page 12
Introduction......Page 14
Section I: Diachronica......Page 40
1. Review of Growth and Structure of the Egyptian Arabic Dialect, by H. Birkeland (1954)......Page 50
2. Review of Stress Patterns in Arabic, by H. Birkeland (1956)......Page 59
3. The Arabic koine (1959)......Page 63
4. Standardization as a form of language spread (1987)......Page 82
5. Grammatical agreement in Classical Arabic and the modern dialects (1989)......Page 94
Section II: Phonology: Synchronic Systems......Page 106
6. Review of Manuel élémentaire d'arabe orientale (parler de Damas), by Cantineau and Helbaoui (1954)......Page 112
7. The emphatic l in Arabic (1956)......Page 120
8. Two problems in Arabic phonology (1957)......Page 128
9. The /g/ in Syrian Arabic (1969)......Page 146
Section III: Register and Genre......Page 154
10. Review of A Dictionary of Non-Classical Vocables in the Spoken Arabic of Lebanon, by A. Freyha (1950)......Page 162
11. Critical bibliography of spoken Arabic proverb literature, with John M. Echols (1952)......Page 164
12. Review of Modern Lebanese Proverbs, Collected at Râs al-Matn, Lebanon, by A. Freyha (1954)......Page 188
13. Review of Die klassisch-arabischen Sprichwörterversammlungen insbesondere die des Abū ᒼUbaid, by R. Selheim (1955)......Page 191
14. Arabic baby talk (1956)......Page 192
15. Iraqi children's rhymes (1960)......Page 201
16. Root-echo responses in Syrian Arabic politeness formulas (1967)......Page 211
17. The blessing of the Lord be upon you (1977)......Page 219
18. God-wishes in Syrian Arabic (1983)......Page 225
Section IV: General......Page 242
19. Review of L'arabe classique: esquisse d'une structure linguistique, by H. Fleisch (1958)......Page 254
20. Myths about Arabic (1959)......Page 263
21. Review of Cultural Expression in Arab Society Today (Langages arabes du présent), by J. Berque (1979)......Page 270
22. "Come forth with a surah like it": Arabic as a measure of Arab society (1990)......Page 274
Index......Page 286

Citation preview




Charles A. Ferguson




This book is printed on acid-free paper.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Ferguson, Charles, Albert, 1921Structuralist studies in Arabic linguistics: Charles A. Ferguson's papers, 1954-1994 / [compiled] by B. Kirk Belnap and Niloofar Haeri. p. cm. - (Studies in Semitic languages and linguistics, ISSN 0081-8461; v.24) Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 9004105115 (cloth : a1k. paper) 1. Arabic language. 2. Sociolinguistics. I. Belnap, B. Kirk. 11. Haeri, Niloofar. Ill. Title. IV. Series PJ6073.F47 1997 492.7-dc21 97-9136 CIP

Die Deutscbe Bibliothek-CIP-Einheitsaufnahlne F erguson, Charles A. Structuralist studies in Arabic linguistics: Charles A. Ferguson's papers, 19541994 / by R. Kirk Belnap and Niloofar Haeri. - Leiden ; New York ; Koln Brill, 1997 (Studies in Semitic languages and linguistics ; 24) ISBN 90-04-10511-5 NE: Belnap, R. Kirk [Hsrg.J; GT

ISSN 0081-8461 ISBN 90 04 10511 5

© Copyright 1997 by Koninklijke Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands

All rights reserved. No part qf this publication mqy be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval V'stem, or transmitted in a1!)' form or by a1!)' 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 Brill provided that the appropriate fies are paid directl;y to The Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Suite 910 Danvers MA 01923, USA. Fees are suqject to change. PRINTED IN THE NETHERLANDS

CONTENTS Acknowledgments ........................................................... .............


Abbreviations....................................... ..........................................


Introduction ................................................................................ . Section I: Diachronica ................................................................ 1. Review of Growth and Structure if the Egyptian Arabic Dialect, by H. Birkeland (1954) .................................... 2. Review of Stress Patterns in Arabic, by H. Birkeland (1956) ............................................................................. 3. The Arabic koine (1959) .............................................. 4. Standardization as a form of language spread (1987) ............................................................................. 5. Grammatical agreement in Classical Arabic and the modern dialects (1989) .................................................

27 37 46 50 69 81

Section 11: Phonology: Synchronic Systems ............................. 93 6. Review of Manuel elimentaire d'arabe orientale (parler de Damas), by Cantineau and Helbaoui (1954) .............. 99 7. The emphatic I in Arabic (1956) ................................ 107 8. Two problems in Arabic phonology (1957) ............... 115 9. The Igl in Syrian Arabic (1969) ............................... 133 Section Ill: Register and Genre ....... ............ .................. ........... 10. Review of A Dictionary if Non-Classical Vocables in the Spoken Arabic if Lebanon, by A. Freyha (1950) ............. 11. Critical bibliography of spoken Arabic proverb literature, with John M. Echols (1952) ....................... 12. Review of Modem Lebanese Proverbs, Collected at Rds al-Matn, Lebanon, by A. Freyha (1954) ........................ 13. Review of Die klassisch-arabischen Sprichwiirterversammlungen insbesondere die des Abii cUbaid, by R. Selheim (1955) ................................................... 14. Arabic baby talk (1956) ............................................... 15. Iraqi children's rhymes (1960) ..................................... 16. Root-echo responses in Syrian Arabic politeness formulas (1967) .............................................................

141 149 151 175 178 179 188 198



17. The blessing of the Lord be upon you (1977) 206 18. God-wishes in Syrian Arabic (1983) ........................... 212 Section IV: General .................................................................... 19. Review of L'arabe classique: esquisse d'une structure linguistique, by H. F1eisch (1958) .................................. 20. Myths about Arabic (1959) .......................................... 21. Review of Cultural Expression in Arab Society Today (Langages arabes du present), by J. Berque (1979) .......... 22. "Come forth with a surah like it": Arabic as a measure of Arab society (1990) .... ....... .... ....................




241 250 257 261

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS In the course of compiling this volume we have accumulated a significant debt to a large number of people. Whenever we told other linguists that we were working on this volume we were immediately greeted with expressions of encouragement, inquiries about Fergie, and often anecdotes full of fond memories of him. We would like to thank in particular Arne Ambros, Alan Kaye, Jeri Parker, and Dilworth Parkinson for their comments on drafts of various sections. The College of Humanities of Brigham Young University, through Dean Randall Jones, provided generous financial and other support every step of the way. This volume owes a great deal to a number of scholars who happily took time out of their busy schedules to answer questions we posed in e-mail queries, faxes, telephone calls, and conversations at conferences or in the halls outside our offices. Bearing full responsibility for the volume, we gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Louis Boumans, Ruth Brend, Dominique Caubet, Martine Cuvalay, Jan Jaap de Ruiter, Mushira Eid, Joshua Fishman, David Hart, Robert Hoberman, Thorn Huebner, Bruce Ingham, E.E. Knudsen, Konrad Koemer, William Labov, James Lyon, Emest McCarus, Margaret Nydell, Robert Ratcliffe, John Robertson, Karin Ryding, Keith Walters, Manfred Woidich, and Kees Versteegh. We would like to acknowledge here our gratitude to our teachers John Fought and Dell Hymes who instilled in us an appreciation for the "Bloomfieldians." Doubtless, we have accidentally overlooked some benefactors and apologize for that. We also gratefully acknowledge the tireless efforts of our assistants: Delisa Bushman, Stephanie Hunter, Quinn Mecham, and Heatherlyn Snyder. In the process of transcribing and double-checking the interviews each came to know and admire Fergie. Along with us, they feel fortunate to have helped bring this volume to press. We express our appreciation to the editors of this series, Peri Bearman and Trudy Kamperveen-especially for their patience while we attempted to coordinate our work between Cairo and Provo, Utah. We thankJohn Sharp for facilitating our communication. Most of all, we would like to thank Fergie for his friendship and Shirley Brice Heath for her total support. We hope through our efforts others will come to know and appreciate Fergie and his work.



Grateful acknowledgment is made to the following for permission to reprint the articles in this volume: 1. "Review of Freyha: A Dictionary of Non-Classical Vocables in the Spoken Arabic of Lebanon" originally appeared in Journal qf the American Oriental Sociery 70: 121, 1950. Reproduced by permission of the American Oriental Society. 2. "Critical bibliography of spoken Arabic proverb literature" (with John M. Echols) originally appeared in Journal qf American Folklore 65(225):67-84, 1952. Reproduced by permission of the American Folklore Society. Not for further reproduction. 3. "Review of Modern Lebanese Proverbs, Collected at Ras alMatn, Lebanon by A. Freyha" originally appeared in Journal qf American Folklore 67(264):223-5, 1954. Reproduced by permission of the American Folklore Society. 4. "Review of Birkeland: Growth and Structure of the Egyptian Arabic Dialect" originally appeared in Language 30(4):558-64, 1954. Reproduced by permission of the Linguistic Society of America. 5. "Review of Cantineau and Helbaoui: Manuel eiementaire d'arabe orientale (parler de Damas)" originally appeared in Language 30(4):564--70, 1954. Reproduced by permission of the Linguistic Society of America. 6. "Review of Die klassisch-arabischen Sprichworterversammlungen insbesondere die des Abu cUbaid, by R. Sellheim" originally appeared in Haroard Journal qf Asiatic Studies 18(3 & 4):4556, 1955. Reproduced by permission of the Harvard-Yenching Institute. 7. "Review of Stress Patterns in Arabic, by H. Birkeland" originally appeared in Language 32(2):384--87, 1956. Reproduced by permission of the Linguistic Society of America. 8. "Arabic baby talk" originally appeared in For Roman Jakobson, edited by Morris Halle, Horace G. Lunt, Hugh McLean and Cornelis H. Van Schooneveld, 121-28. The Hague: Mouton, 1956. Reproduced by permission of Mouton de Gruyter. 9. "The emphatic l in Arabic" originally appeared in Language 32(3):446-52, 1956. Reproduced by permission of the Linguistic Society of America. 10. "Two problems in Arabic phonology" originally appeared in Word 13(3):460-78, 1957. Reproduced by permission of the International Linguistics Association. 11. "Review of L'arabe classique: Esquisse d'une structure linguis-


12. 13.

14. 15.




19. 20.



tique, by H. F1eisch" originally appeared in Language 34(2):31421, 1958. Reproduced by permission of the Linguistic Society of America. "The Arabic koine" originally appeared in Language 35(4):61630, 1959. Reproduced by permission of the Linguistic Society of America. "Myths about Arabic" originally appeared in Languages and linguistic Monograph Series, Georgetown Universiry, edited by Richard S. Harrell, 75-82, 1959. Reproduced by permission of Georgetown University Press. "Iraqi children's rhymes" originally appeared in Journal if the American Oriental Sociery 80:335-40, 1960. Reproduced by permission of the American Oriental Society. "Root-echo responses in Syrian Arabic politeness formulas" originally appeared in linguistic Studies in Memory if Richard Slade Harrell, edited by Don G. Stuart, 37-45. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press. 1967. Reproduced by permission of Georgetown University Press. "The I gl in Syrian Arabic: Filling a gap in a phonological pattern" originally appeared in Linguistic Studies Presented to Andre Martinet on the Occasion if his Sixtieth Birthdqy, Part Ill, NonIndo-European linguistics (= Word 25(1-3)), edited by Alphonse Juilland, 114-119. New York: International Linguistics Association. 1969. Reproduced by permission of the International Linguistics Association. "The blessing of the Lord be upon you" originally appeared in linguistic Studies Qffered to Joseph Greenberg, vol. 1, edited by A. Juilland, 21-26. Saratoga, Calif.: Anma Libri. 1977. Reproduced by permission of Anma Libri. "Review of Cultural Expression in Arab Society Today (Langages arabes du present), by J. Berque" originally appeared in Middle East Journal 33:217-19, 1979. Reproduced by permission of The Middle East Institute. "God-wishes in Syrian Arabic" originally appeared in Mediterranean Language Review 1:65-83, 1983. Reproduced by permission of Harrassowitz Verlag. "Standardization as a form of language spread" originally appeared in Georgetown Universiry Round Table on Languages and linguistics 1987:119-132, 1987. Reproduced by permission of Georgetown University Press. "Grammatical agreement in Classical Arabic and the modem dialects: A response to Versteegh's pidginization hypothesis"



originally appeared in Al-'Arabryya 22(1-2):5-17, 1989. Reproduced by permission of the American Association of Teachers of Arabic. 22. '''Come forth with a surah like it': Arabic as a measure of Arab society" originally appeared in Perspectives on Arabic Linguistics I, edited by Mushira Eid, 39-51. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 1990. Reproduced by permission of John Benjarnins.




Annales de l'Institut d'Etudes Orientales, Faculte des Lettres, Universite d'Alger, Alger Bulletin de la Societe de Linguistique de Paris International Journal of American Linguistics Journal Asiatique, Paris Journal of American Folklore, Philadelphia. Journal of American Oriental Society, New Haven, Connecticut Language Mitteilungen des Seminars fur orientalische Sprachen, Berlin. Transactions of the Philological Society, Oxford-London Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlandischen Gesellschaff

INTRODUCTION Our paths have crossed that of Charles Albert Ferguson at different times and places. The two of us met him for the first time on separate occasions while we were graduate students in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania (where years earlier Ferguson had also studied linguistics). Our first meetings with him at various institutions and conferences resulted in independent friendships that were sustained for the most part by long telephone conversations about matters Arabic. But often, we also had lengthy discussions about Muslim and Christian saints, women's autobiographies, recent novels, and fieldwork discoveries. These conversations were exciting for us not only because of their content, but quite importandy and even surprisingly because he talked with us and treated us as colleagues and equals. When it came to writing our dissertations, we lacked the guidance and insights of a linguist familiar with Arabic. In 1986 and in 1989, Ferguson accepted to serve as a member of our dissertation committees. We both count his acceptance as one of the very "lucky events" of our lives. Mter the completion of our dissertations, our exchanges with "Fergie" continued until he told us about an idea that had come out of a discussion with Kees Versteegh, to reprint several of Fergie's articles on Arabic with prefaces and updates. Fergie asked us whether we would be willing to undertake the editing of such a volume, and we accepted. In May 1994 we set out for Palo Alto to carry out a series of interviews with him that would give more context to the topics of this volume, as well as to his varied interests in Arabic. Our first interview took place in Fergie's hospital room, one day after he had been brought there for an emergency medical problem. "Context"that is, the hospital, health problems, worries, timing--never seemed to be more irrelevant as Fergie answered every question energetically, with ample presence of mind, and at length. Indeed, the context nearly faded as we became involved in discussions of American structuralism, the Prague School, the nasty treatment of Jakobson at the hands of some of his American contemporaries, and the fickleness of Moroccan phonology. In a few days, Fergie was out of the hospital and our day-long interviews with him continued in the sunny garden of his house. In all this, the guidance and care of his wife, Shirely Brice Heath was



invaluable. She knew far better than we ever could when the interviews were giving energy to Fergie and when they were tiring him. We tended to be more conservative and hesitant than she was. Her suggestions concerning the content of some of the questions also helped us greatly. The interviews were concluded in a few days and later continued by telephone. In what follows we undertake the difficult task of discussing the contributions of Charles Ferguson to Arabic linguistics, and their biographical origins. The task is difficult inasmuch as brevity is a virtue in an introduction. We follow this maxim with regard to our own writing, but not where we reproduce Ferguson's own words in response to some of the topics discussed in the course of the interviews.


No American has had a more profound impact on Arabic linguistics than Charles Ferguson. Although he may be best known in this domain for his controversial article on diglossia (Ferguson 1959a, 1991), his contributions to the field go far beyond. He has written on questions as varied as diachronic phonology, the origins of the sedentary dialects, their synchronic phonology, politeness formulas, baby talk, language attitudes, teaching materials, rhymes, proverbs, as well as many reviews and published bibliographies. In all these works, he set a standard both with regard to accuracy of observation and carefulness of analysis. He also exemplified a high standard of scholarship, in terms of the variety of sources he consulted, at least five different languages. In this way, he was able to propagate a multilingual, transcontinental dialogue evident in the reviews resulting often in response to only one brief article on Arabic, for example: the sharp responses to "The Arabic koine" (Ferguson 1959b; see Section 1.), the FergusonCantineau-Smeaton exchange (See Section 2.), and the deluge of interest since the publication of "Diglossia" (Ferguson 1959a). Yet exclusive focus on Ferguson's Arabic-related scholarship and activities would be an injustice to a scholar who has spent so much of his career attempting to understand language matters in their broader context. To understand his work, one must know more about the beginnings of his interest in language, which started at an early age. While he has loved to read since boyhood, no explanation for his interest in the written word is immediately apparent from his home life: My family (father, mother, mother's parents) were not great readers, but they tended to tolerate my reading, considering it at worst a pecu-



liar way to waste time and at best a possible avenue to advanced education and professional status. None of them, for various reasons, had ever graduated from high school. (Ferguson 1995: lO) But circumstances at home did arouse his curiosity in spoken language variation. He recalls listening to his grandmother converse with neighbors in German. To find out "how the German language worked," he bought a German phrase book (Ferguson 1995: 11). But soon he discovered that his grandmother's German was not the German described in the book. He attributes the beginnings of his awareness of language variation to this experience. Already in his early teenage years he felt a " ... fascination with all foreign languages as well as with some of the phenomena of English" (Ferguson 1995: 10). At the same time, other circumstances fostered Ferguson's interest in the bond between language and religion. l He attended the Lutheran church in his neighborhood and-being the reader he was-devoured even the preface of the hymnal, from which he learned about the translation of the Lutheran liturgy from Latin to other languages. His closest friends during these years also broadened his linguistic acquaintances. He became familiar with a Jewish friend's Hebrew books and a Catholic friend's aids for understanding the Latin mass. 2 Another friend from "an agnostic family with a Swedish step-father ... offered a bit of counterpoint" to the religious discussion; he later joined Ferguson in studying German and Russian at an institute in Philadelphia (Ferguson 1995:11). In school, he enjoyed studying Latin and recalls that My teacher in Ancient History ... was Wilda Shope, who was then a graduate student in Classics at the University of Pennsylvania. She felt that teaching Latin and ancient history in a high school was a kind of summum bonum, and she told me stories about a Professor Roland Kent, author of books on the sounds and forms of Latin and Greek, and a grammar of Old Persian, and at that time Secretary of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA). (Ferguson 1995:12) Ferguson acquired quite an education in linguistics, even before graduating from high school in 1939. From a downtown Philadelphia public library he found " ... a surprising number of books on language, such as Henry Sweet's little Primer qf Phonetics and History qf Language, phonetics books by Wilhelm Vietor and Paul Passy (especially the I For a convenient bibliography of Ferguson's publications on language and religion, see Huebner (l996:23-24). Fishman, Tabouret-Keller, et al. (l986, li:577-90) contains an extensive bibliography of Ferguson's publications from 1945-l985. Huebner (l996:325-28) provides a bibliography of his publications through 1994. 2 Two older sisters of the pastor of his church encouraged him to read the Latin Vulgate New Testament, which he did.



latter's Petite phonetique comparee) and lots of other treasures" (Ferguson 1995: 12). He even attended the LSA meetings held in Philadelphia in December of 1938. During these formative years Ferguson had his first brush with a language variety native to the Arabian Peninsula: One person exerted a particular attraction for me. He was a young Methodist minister in Upper Darby whom I came to know because he exchanged pulpits with a Methodist minister in England. I learned of their exchange from a local newspaper and visited the local church one Sunday when the English preacher was there and then sometime later when the American was back home. He was James Pritchard, then a graduate student in Oriental Studies at Penn, and he lived right across the street from our junior high school. I visited him often and undoubtedly made a nuisance of myself, but he was at that time studying ancient South Arabian inscriptions and we had fascinating discussions about details of the South Arabian alphabet. Much later he became a professor at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester and author of a widely used book on ancient texts of biblical times [(Pritchard 1969)]. Here was a real scholar in action, not primarily a linguist of course, but very familiar with linguistic concepts. (Ferguson 1995:12) Ferguson's father, a railroad employee, died when he was twelve. Ferguson would not have been able to pursue university studies had he not won a four-year scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania. He noted: Of Penn I will say little except that it was perfect for me at the time, even though there was no department of linguistics and no "major" in linguistics, either undergraduate or graduate. I had an excellent set of instructors and courses from my freshman year through the Ph.D., with an undergraduate major in Philosophy (thesis on an axiom set for linguistics as a science) and a graduate major in Oriental Studies (master's thesis on Moroccan Arabic verbs, doctoral thesis on the phonology and morphology of Bengali). Penn had a wide range of course offerings and few constraints on the student's selection of courses. I wallowed in the academic diversity, choosing in my freshman year courses in psychology, English history, French language, elementary logic, Nicomachean ethics, history of the English language, and elementary Swedish among others. My undergraduate language study included courses in Latin, French, German, Greek, Modern Hebrew, and Old English. (Ferguson 1995: 13) Penn's Department of Oriental Studies " ... had a stellar group of scholars (including refugees from Nazism and Fascism such as Ranke and Levi della Vida): E. A[nton] Speiser, H[ermann] Ranke, G[eorge] Levi della Vida, W. Norman Brown, [Franz Rosenthal, for a time,] and of course Zellig Harris, who was my primary adviser throughout" (Ferguson 1995:13-14). Ferguson also profited a great deal from contact with Henry Hoenigswald, who came to Penn while Ferguson



was there, and from his close association with Rulon Wells, who came to Penn as a "post-doe" to study linguistics with Harris and roomed with the Fergusons. Ferguson took advantage of the opportunity to study with world-class Semitists but there was no one at Penn with expertise in modern Arabic dialects, which became of particular interest to him after he began work on Moroccan Arabic. As a result, Ferguson "read and re-read" some of the works of European scholars such as Gotthelf Bergstrasser and Georg Kampffineyer, teachers he discovered in Penn's library. He observed: In my notes I wrote down the people I thought had influenced me. That wasn't all that difficult, because there are only a handful of them. One is Bergstrasser. I think he was a genius, he was a simply maIVelous man. And the works of his that have influenced me most are about three or four in number--his Einfiihrung in die semitischen Sprachen [(Bergstrasser 1928)].... I think the way he managed to do sort of structural sketches of the various Classical languages shows such good judgment. I don't know anyone else who is equal to that at all. I mean there are people like Brockelmann and so forth who attempted to do that in a way, but I think he was still superior. He had brains, and knowledge about Arabic and so forth~not only Arabic, but all the Semitic languages .... I'm ... impressed by Bergstrasser's little study of Damascus Arabic [(Bergstrasser 1968 [1924])]. ... It's superb, you know, in the first place he had to discover phonemic contrast for himself, functional meaning of sound differences. That is a shame, he shouldn't have had to rediscover that, it should have been around in a little book that he read, you know. But he had to do it all over. The important thing is that he did it. And then his description of the short "a" allophonic variation is unmatched I think in Arabic dialect literature. So then, what else did I enjoy about Bergstrasser? First the Eirifiihrung, then the Damascus study ... , well, now what else? He also wrote a wonderful atlas. You probably know Sprachatlas von ~ und Piilastina ... [(Bergstrasser 1915)]. That was incredibly good. He did what everybody should do all the time, that is, he went through all the literature he could find~and he was a demon bibliographer~and found every reference to some village dialect or something like that, and then he put that on his map. And sometimes people made mistakes, and he copied the mistakes, so he makes mistakes that way. But as far as I can tell, he never made a mistake based on his own obseIVation, it was always sensible positions that he made. And that particular piece of work was just admirable in every respect; it was better than most dialect geography that was going on at the time because he'd figured out this business of phonemic contrast and he knew the history of Semitic languages, and he had already, I'm sure, quite a few hypotheses about the history of Arabic dialects and so on-which maybe he didn't make explicit, but ... anyway ... those three things influenced me, there's no question about that. I read them and re-read them and was much impressed by Mr. Bergstrasser.



I was in a good library, the University of Pennsylvania, considering that they didn't try to be an Arabic specialist library. They had a long tradition of "Orientalism" and so they had a very good collection of work on Arabic dialects, and I was lucky. If I had been in some other university library I wouldn't have discovered any of these people maybe-or discovered some of the wrong people. Who else influenced me? One was a man named Kampffmeyer. Kampffineyer wrote several things that really just fascinated me .... He did a book of conversations in Moroccan Arabic ... [(Kampffineyer 1912)]. These German philologists were just unbelievable, I don't know where they got the time to do all the things they did. They'd go through hundreds of volumes of this or that, you know, and jot down notes on it and so forth. Nobody has time to do that stuff nowadays. Now, of course, we have better equipment to do it, but we still don't do it. Kampffineyer, for example, did a very good series of studies on where the initial "b" comes from in imperfect verbs, which, you know, you find in Egyptian and Syrian and various other places [(Kampffineyer 1900)]. There are a lot of theories as to where it comes from, but Kampffineyer, I think, did the most thorough investigation of that. (interview, 5/11/94)


Ferguson read the works of orientalists such as Carl Brockelmann, Louis Brunot, Johann Flick, Philipe Man;ais and William Marc;ais, but he was particularly drawn to work of a more structuralist nature. He was undoubtedly influenced by the zeal of his mentor, Zellig Harris. Harris, in spite of his appointment as professor of Semitic languages, could hardly be persuaded to offer courses in Phoenicianhis recently published Development if the Canaanite Dialects notwithstanding (Harris 1939); he had totally given himself over to his interest in developing scientific methods for describing modem spoken languages. When asked how much influence Harris had on him, Ferguson responded: Well, I figured out later that he had something [an influence] I hadn't realized, that is, that his monograph on the Canaanite dialects [(Harris 1941)], in which he numbered and dealt with 65 specific linguistic developments] influenced my sort of wanting to number these things and see which ones come first and second and so forth. That was much more American style diachronics whereas Bergstrasser was a traditional German Semitist. So, I think Harris was less important than he easily could have been. It's hard to explain what Harris is like if you never knew him. He's a wonderful teacher in his way because he always assumes you are his equal. And that's very great when you're a young graduate student ... and he says what do you think about this, you know, and that's the way everything worked always. And he was perfectly honest, he wasn't trying to be nice to people, that just



was his style. So that's one thing that I really liked about him. But he was-how can I describe him-from my taste looking back at him from later, he cared too much about theory--I don't mean like Chomsky-he didn't care about the facts of the language as much as I feel he should have. For example, ... he would come up with little problems that he would share with you and he'd fill the board full of formulas and so forth, and then someone would point out, "Oh, but it isn't really that way, you know, it works this way," and he would say, "Oh, let's pretend it works the other way." But he'd be more interested in the nature of the problem than he was at finding out how Cherokee worked, and that was perfectly typical of Harris. Not that he wasn't very good when he worked on facts and so forth, but that really wasn't his interest. (interview 5/11194) And then you know that unfortunate business that happened ... , Harris [(1942, 1944)] wrote an article on Moroccan Arabic and it was a terrible article. And in what position is the student ... who recognizes it is all full of mistakes? I can't write an article back [m response to Cantineau] saying "I'm sorry, my teacher's a dumbbell, he got everything wrong." I still had great respect for Harris and I could have sat down with him and worked over it and explained what my objections were, but he didn't think that was necessary, and I didn't think that was appropriate at the time. (interview 5/12/94)


Although he never had the opportunity to meet Edward Sapir, Ferguson admired him greatly. Ferguson doubtless learned a great deal about Sapir from Harris, who had been a good friend of Sapir, in addition to being Sapir's disciple. Harris once observed that Ferguson reminded him of Sapir. Ferguson recalls that Harris thought highly of him; in his characteristic way, Ferguson adds, "too highly" (telephone interview 3/9/96). Ferguson related: One of the few people I really sympathized with was Sapir. That's interesting because Sapir is praised by all kinds of linguists. That is, you have somebody like Jakobson and George Trager who more or less hated each other--I mean linguistically speaking-and they both had great admiration for Sapir. I also had great admiration for Sapir, and I can explain why I had the admiration. It didn't flow exactly from his theoretical position, although somewhat it did. It didn't even have to do with the fact that he was also interested in certain applied questions, so that was no doubt a minor factor. But what I liked about Sapir, and still like, is that he was interested in every aspect of human language behavior. He felt it all deserved to be explained somehow, and it all deserved to have theory backing it up, whatever that was .... He was interested in all kinds of linguistic behavior and he felt that deserved theoretical attention. He was more in a social science framework as he would have thought of himself as a social scientist-which Chomsky never would have, of course. In fact he would fight being



named a social scientist, he would feel that was a wrong position to take. But what I liked about Sapir so much was not only his universal interest and his social science identification, which I, too, have had as I was raised as a sort of anthropologist slash whatever, and I had great sympathy with even quite extreme positivist positions-which nowadays I would be a little more unhappy with, I guess. But when you were to ask Sapir, how did he know such and such, he would give you evidence from some out of the way fact. He was talking to somebody about some issue in his grammar or something like that, and the fellow let slip some incredible, obvious mistake. He looked at the mistake and figured out what that revealed about the real facts and so on. He just loved getting information that way, and I've always liked that, too. I've always liked to have some little piece of information which gives you a clue to what some theoretical foundation might be for prediction or things like that. I'm not at all ashamed of wanting to predict in language. Many social scientists were too unarrogant about prediction. That is, they didn't want to claim too much prediction. (interview 5/l2/94) The importance of this type of data to F erguson was such that he devoted his never published 1971 LSA presidential address "Language as behavior" to the discussion of questions he felt linguistics should be able to answer, including accounting for "tip-of-the-tongue phenomena" and why males tend to stutter more than females.


While at Penn, Ferguson attended a lecture by RomanJakobson and became fascinated by his work on child language development. He began commuting once a week to New York to attend Jakobson's course on phonetics and phonology at Columbia University. Later he enjoyed further association with him at Harvard. Ferguson felt thatJakobson's ideas on child language needed to be combined with on-going work in psychology. He was eventually able to pursue this as part of the Child Phonology Project he helped found at Stanford University (See Ferguson, Menn, et al. 1992.). Ferguson observed: When I was a graduate student at Penn, I did two things. I read a book by Jakobson called Kindersprache [(Jakobson 1941)], which I thought was wonderful in its way, not that I agreed with everything in it, but I thought it was wonderful. Also Jakobson came and talked to us, ... he was electrifying ... , very inspiring.... But something else happened at the same time. I was taking a course in the Psychology Department at Penn called "The Psychology of Speech" and I was fascinated. . . . I wrote a little paper ... in which I said, "For heaven's sake psychologists should read linguists, and maybe even also linguists should read



psychologists"-you don't want to go too far-but anyway I said they should be familiar with each other's works and so forth. And I ended up by saying, "Some day I'm going to study the acquisition of phonology in a Jakobson kind of spirit because he makes such great claims, that surely it's worth testing them to see if they hold water or not." Now as it so happens, the first time I actually did that was in 1967 .... It was the course that got me started on child language and I taught a child language course that same summer, '67, at the University of Michigan. . .. It was a good course, the course at Michigan, much better than the one I gave at Stanford but it shows how I was getting infected by a more Prague School approach. And having discovered Trubetzkoy and having discovered Jakobson, then I naturally began to read them and find out what they were up to and so on. And Karcevskiy and all the other characters that were Prague School people-Havranek, Mathesius, the whole group. And the more I read them, the more I thought they really have something. I liked the fact that they were socio- in orientation, much more than the American linguists were at the time, that is, they cared about such things as whether the language is standardized or not, or what the functions of language were and so on. I thought, "Gee, that's great stuff, why don't Americans pay more attention to that." So that was part of it.... But what impressed me about Jakobson in the child language stuff is that he applied his linguistic theories to the question of language acquisition, and not only applied them, he made extraordinary claims about things that were always true and never true and so on, which I've never really gotten comfortable with, because most of the things that we tested later--I mean I spent after all about from '67 until '90something testing Jakobson's claims and his claims in my view would have done much better if he had phrased them in probabilistic terms instead of saying "all" .... But if you read through the book, it's still full ... almost every page has "always" or "never" kind of statements.... There is, in fact, some connection between linguistic theory, whatever kind you have, and language acquisition. . . . Twice in the history of linguistic theorizing people have said that the critical thing in understanding how human language works is to figure out how language is acquired, how litde kids learn the ambient language. Back in the 19th century when everybody was concerned with neo-grammarians and ... sound change and so forth, those people--most of them-felt that sound change is to be explained by what happens when the children are trying to learn the language and they don't get it quite right, and they make systematic mistakes, therefore that's what justifies our whole notion of theoretical linguistics and so forth. The second time was when Chomsky said ... what linguists really ought to do is to be able to characterize this kind of innate disposition that kids have, that they can acquire languages. And I think that both those are important observations to make. I think the first one is wronger than the second one. I have greater respect for Chomsky's point of view, but I've always been fascinated by the fact that these two schools of thought, both of which put a great emphasis on child language development, did no study of child language development. You'd think



exactly the opposite would be true, of all the people studying child language development it would be those two groups of people-they never did. And Chomsky even discouraged it. He thought, you know, it's so hard to write a grammar of an ordinary language anyway, it's so much more difficult then to try to write it for a child's grammar, and of course that makes some sense, but nevertheless it's wrong-headed in the sense he's trying to discourage patient, empirical study of acquisition of language which I would think someone in his position would want to encourage. And even his own wife did it [(Chomsky 1969)], I mean, so it's not as though-he couldn't stop everybody, but he tried. An example of one of the ironies of academic intellectualism, that you can make some vast claim and then ignore it in your own work or something like that. It's really quite remarkable .... During the war I went over every week to hear Jakobson lecture at Columbia University and he was marvelous, just marvelous, even when he said the most idiotic things, and sometimes I did quarrel with him occasionally, which he still remembered years later. I thought, "Who would remember some young upstart disagreeing?" I remember disagreeing with him on some details of Polish juncture phenomena. And I don't know whether you know Jakobson's skill at doing-how should I say it?-he's very good at summarizing a whole conference, and summarizing it in such a way that everybody on the program gets mentioned somehow as someone who did something great. . .. He's unbelievably good at doing that. But also, if he's thanking people for a Festschrift which in his case happens fairly often, the speech will also somehow mention everybody's contribution to the Festschrift in some kind of praising way. He's very good at that. But one of them, where he was doing one of the Festschrifts that I was involved with, when he came to my turn, you might say, he mentioned that he remembered how I used to argue with him back at Columbia. So obviously sometJ:1ing was left of that feeling that I didn't exactly follow the great man's VIews .... But I was really impressed by him. One example, I think a good example, was the fact that I went through a whole year and at the end of the first semester we had finished, so to speak, phonetics it la J akobson and then at the beginning of the second semester he was going to talk about phonology.... But there were a number of new students in the class, so what was he going to do with new students? And he, without any notes or anything else, he just gave off the top of his head a summary of the whole first semester. It was tremendous. He's so good at that, he just brings out of the depths of his subconscious just the right phrase to say this or that, just the right clever metaphor and so forth. If I only had tape-recorded that. ... It would be a good thing to have now, because he was so wonderful. Anyway I was really impressed by Jakobson, in spite of the fact that most of my friends did not like him at all ... what I would say, really obnoxious, I thought, their attitude towardJakobson. I don't know how well you know about those people, but these are people who are bright and presumably liberal and ... people like Trager, and Cowan, and Bloch, you know ... Hockett, the whole crowd. They all felt that Jakobson was just a typical example of one of those European know-it-alls. They for



a while had a dollar club in which people contributed a dollar for his transportation back to Europe, ... xenophobia in the worst American tradition .... It was anti-foreign, anti-European scholarly world .... All right, I'll give you an example [of what they disliked aboutJakobson that was] typical of those European scholars. At the beginning of that second semester the question arose at the beginning of the course, ''What language shall we give the course in?" That's always a question with Jakobson. You've probably heard the story, perfectly true, that he speaks nine languages-all with phonemes of Russian. And it's very true, and he admits it himself ... or admitted it in those days. But the question came up ... and I was, of course, nervous. I knew he gave courses in French at the New School and obviously the Kindersprache was written in German and obviously Russian was a possibility and I couldn't haVe really handled any other, although French or German I could have handled but Russian, I could not have survived it. So I didn't dare raise my voice. Who am I? Some low graduate student from Philadelphia, you know. But I just kept hoping some reasonable language would come out like English, but anyway, the worst problem was that for part of the discussion they were giving serious consideration to Polish as the language. I thought, "That's not fair-Russian I'll take my chances with, I can get a dictionary and keep working on it all the time, but I'm not going to try to learn Polish." But the people who were there took that as a serious possibility, and I thought that's just the way that whole European crowd is, they assume people will know classical languages, they assume they'll know the important literary languages of Europe and so on. Also, they didn't have, what may be mistaken, but nevertheless is a strange American worship of the native speaker. The native speaker can do no wrong, you know. And they never feared to give a speech in some language in which they were not a native speaker, whereas Americans are very nervous about that, probably unnecessarily nervous, but nevertheless they are nervous, and I shared that kind of nervousness. But Jakobson had no such nervousness. So that gives an example of this learned scholar, this savant, or the Gelehrte or whatever you call it in the European tradition. You know all those languages and you know all the relevant literary canons and the people who are the authors who were involved and all that and you take that for granted-that's the way proper scholars are and ordinary people don't know things like that. There's some justification to that, but I sympathize a lot with the American view of also you hear how ordinary people talk, and scholars aren't so infallible and so forth as they might be .... [In the end] they chose English, so it worked out all right. But there was something deeply anti-European about it and I think many Americans had this feeling of contempt for the European scholarly tradition. And I must say that that's one of the good things in my life. I never sympathized at all with that. I just couldn't understand how people could take that feeling towards--you could disagree with him, he was easy to disagree with, there were a lot of things he said that were idiotic and so forth, but not to respect him was just inconceivable. And yet he had that problem. He had a terrible time coming to America, because in Europe, wherever he went people practically



worshipped him, he was the great Jakobson, who, with Trubetzkoy, was one of the founders of the Prague School and so on. But in America, you know, he was just another guy off the street and nobody had any great respect for him, and that is hard, I'm sure, to take. I mean if I had been in that position I don't know what I would have done, but I wouldn't have been very happy. And he had to put up with that. And then later when he got a job at Harvard, the same thing was repeated again in spite of the fact that he was respected by those people at Harvard who hired him, obviously. Most people were still pretty suspicious of this weirdo Jakobson who was coming in and so on. That xenophobic, anti-Europe an-scholarly feeling, anti-intellectualism you might say, that's a deep current in America, that was still there. I just couldn't stand it.... I must say that Zellig Harris didn't show any sign of that explicitly, but most of the people who were involved in the sort of mainstream American linguistics at the time did. (interview 5/11/94)

Ferguson's wanning up to the ideas of the Prague School took some time but he continued to grow in his appreciation for them. In 1956 he published "Arabic baby talk" in a Festschrift for Jakobson (Ferguson 1956). The following year he wrote a review of Martinet's La description phonologique (Ferguson 1957), of which he noted: It's not a fair review in the sense that I accused him of not doing something that he did do in the book and that's not really fair. I just made a mistake. But anyway, I read that very carefully and I tried to understand his perspective and so on and I thought it was great. I was already at that time leaning more toward a Prague School approach versus the American approach and I found that Martinet's comments on American linguistics were usually more sensible than the American linguists' comments in the first place. . .. They made more sense to me. Now one problem here is that I was "ruined," so to speak, by Zellig Harris because he thought that Prague's people were no good at all. They were all psychological and he didn't want to do things by what people feel is the right phoneme or something. He wanted to do it by what comes before what else, distribution. Distributionism, you might call it. And so he wrote a review ... of Trubetzkoy's Grundz:,iige [(1939)] and it's a terrible review [(Harris 1941)]. He says what a dope this guy is, he invents all these psychological monsters that you don't need and so forth. And so I thought, "Gee, if Zellig feels this way he must be pretty bad, I won't bother reading that stuff" So it wasn't until years later that I read Trubetzkoy and I thought, "Oh, what a wonderful way of talking about phonology." (interview 5/11/94)


World War 11 found the U.S. military ill-prepared to deal with many of the languages which had suddenly become strategically important.



The Intensive Language Program (ILP) of the American Council of Learned Societies drafted the services of many American linguists and their students in a flurry of efforts to analyze such languages, prepare teaching materials, and staff intensive language programs. With an ILP fellowship, Ferguson found himself faced with the task of describing Moroccan Arabic. He was chosen to work on Moroccan because he was the junior member of Harris's three graduate students who received ILP fellowships and Harris had already worked on Moroccan. Had he worked on Fante or Hausa instead, the assignments given to the other two students, he may never have found his way to Arabic. He began traveling regularly to New York City to work with a Moroccan couple and eventually spent the summer of 1942 there working with them: My work with the Moroccans began my long association with Arabic studies. It also gave me the opportunity to prepare instructional materials based on the typical ILP views. I must note here that this first venture into fieldwork enabled me to make a great variety of mistakes in dealing with native speakers ("informants") to discover the structure of their language. The wife was completely illiterate in any language and completely secure in her knowledge of her brand of spoken Arabic; the husband was very slightly literate in French and English and quite literate in Arabic in the sense that he had memorized the Koran and could "read" appropriate passages of it from memory at funerals and other ceremonial occasions. (Ferguson 1995:15) It [the language] was differently given for the husband and wife. For the wife it was just plain given and in a way that was wonderful because she was 100% sure how she said everything she wanted to say. But for the man, he'd been wrecked by having had some Qur'anic memorization, and there was no way you could find out from him how you said anything.... [The wife] really was totally illiterate, which, from my point of view was much better because we didn't get into quarrels about how you spell things ... (interview 5112/94) Regarding this "fieldwork" experience, he noted, "I did learn a lot about the structure and use of human languages in general and Arabic in particular, much of it matters that could not easily be learned from textbooks of linguistics" (Ferguson 1995:15). Of Moroccan he observed: Moroccan Arabic phonology was one of the weirdest kinds I've ever come across, not just for Arabic, but for any old language. It is justI don't know how to cope with it-I just don't. I still don't .... Kampffineyer [(1912)] gave me a feeling for what was going on as far as you can get a feeling for Moroccan Arabic. . .. I never lost the fascination that came from Moroccan Arabic .... The basis of Moroccan phonology, or a basis, is that there are schwas that come and go, and you're never quite sure where they are and so



forth, or if you think you are it turns out you're wrong the next day.3 But among other things, if the schwa is rounded or not, that is, many varieties of Moroccan Arabic have a contrast between a rounded schwa and unrounded schwa-others don't, they just have one kind of schwa. That's one of the problems with Moroccan Arabic, a lot of regional variation. But anyway, if you have a rounded schwa before a doubled consonant, particularly "k" and some other consonants, for instance, "m"-that lip-rounding carries on past the consonant. And so, let us say, saalcin means "inhabitant" and sukkaan is the plural and something like suJcwaan a word with a "w" -offglide with a "k," that's there because--pardon my crude language-because there's really a rounded schwa in front of it. And I couldn't help realizing at some point there was no way you could say there is a contrast between, for example, "m" "w" "a" and rounded schwa "m" "m" "a." There's no wayyeah, how are you going to transcribe that. Because morphophonemically they are quite different. They have different kinds of alternants, they come from different-nowadays people would say different underlying forms and so on. So there's no question that in some sense, some of them are really close. "m" "w" "a" and others approach really this funny rounded schwa and the doubled-anyway, it took me a while to figure that out and then to feel kind of that that's important because the way American linguists did things in those days, you couldn't have a situation like that, either it's one thing or it's the other, it can't be either one. And I was quite convinced it was either one and it was wrong to try to decide it was one or the other. That's a good example of what you'll find in Moroccan Arabic phonology, all over the place, it's just a nightmare of conflicting judgments you want to make about where things belong and so on. Have you ever read anything by ... Jeffrey Heath? Well, he recognizes all that [(Heath 1987)]. I don't think there's a single weirdness in Moroccan phonology that I had noticed before that he didn't come across later and describe with loving detail and so forth. So, it just reassured me that really you can't make head or tail of that phonology. It is neat, there are all kinds of things there but they are at cross purposes and so on. I would think, if I were going to devote my life, which I'm not going to, to some particular Arabic phonology, it would probably be some variety of Moroccan. (interview 5/11/94)

As part of a linguist/native-speaker team, Ferguson helped military personnelleam Moroccan Arabic, Japanese, and Bengali. He assisted in teaching Finnish to volunteers bound for relief work after the RussoFinnish war. At Penn he taught German and some Moroccan Arabic. His intense period of experimentation with applying linguistics to solve practical language problems doubtless figured in his careerlong interest in bridging the gap between theoretical and applied linguistics. He recalls that "From my first observation of the process of second language acquisition, I was convinced that it offered a unique 3 Three recent works on Moroccan phonology include Heath (1987), Shoul (1995), and Shoul (in press)-the latter specifically addresses the distribution of schwas.



and valuable window on linguistic structure, a conVIctIon that was explored in a series of publications of mine culminating in Huebner and Ferguson 1991" (Ferguson 1995: 16). In 1947 Ferguson accepted a position at the newly-created Foreign Service Institute (FSI) of the U.S. Department of State. He worked there under Henry Lee "Haxie" Smith, co-author of the highly influential An Outline qf English Structure (Trager and Smith 1957). The principal author, George Trager, lived near Ferguson and gave him a ride to and from work every day, during which time they naturally talked a good deal about linguistics. Ferguson observed that Trager had a profound effect on him, even if F erguson did not follow him in such matters as his extreme distaste for the Prague School (telephone interview 4/30/96). It is worth noting of his work at the State Department that Ferguson had no misgivings about accepting a nonacademic position: My academic friends were displeased by this apparent betrayal of academic loyalties, but it was a wonderful opportunity for me and I never regretted the decision .... For the next twenty years I was constantly operating with a professional tension between solving practical language problems and doing academic linguistics. (Ferguson 1995:16-17) Given Ferguson's previous experience with Arabic, the lot fell to him to establish an Arabic field school. He spent most of 1947 and 1948 setting up a trial run in Beirut. He later returned to Beirut and from 1953 to 1955 ran the Arabic language school. While there he was recruited to teach Arabic at Harvard's newly-established Middle East Center. He agreed, on condition that he also be affiliated with the linguistics program. During his four-and-a-half years at Harvard, he associated with and was influenced by Sir Hamilton Gibb, Dell Hymes, Roger Brown, and Jack Carroll, in addition to Roman Jakobson. He shared an office for a year with the Israeli Arabistllinguist Haim Blanc and was deeply impressed by him: Now Haim Blanc, really, he's not God, but he doesn't make mistakes very easily ... , he tells you in great detail that this must have happened before that and must have happened before that and so on. And his line of reasoning always seems valid to me. It seems hard to disagree with it, but that doesn't mean that people are rushing out to get on his bandwagon, because they aren't doing that. Anyway, he was nasty from the point of view-I think-of many Israeli scholars because he was an "Arab lover," something like the term "nigger lover" was used in this country. You had that same kind of attitude, how-can-Arabs-be-any-good attitude. That was one of his great virtues, not that he loved Arabs. You can love Arabs or hate them, but I watched him ... , he was then doing the work for his Communal Dialects in Baghdad [(Blanc 1964)] ... and so he was having all kinds of Iraqi informants coming in, all different social classes and



sexes and ages and so forth. And he would patiently try to find out how they pronounced some obscure little verb form or something like that. He never lost patience at all. He got along with all of them. Now people don't do that, you know. Either you get angry with the person once in awhile or the other person gets angry with you or you misfire, whatever it is. But I just saw him working with all these people from Iraq, watched him. It was not that he was an Iraqi lover, nor a Baghdad lover, nor a nomad lover, nor a northern sedentary lover, he just wanted to find out the facts, and he did it in ways that respected other people's beliefs or self-dignity. He was just wonderful. (interview 5/l2/94)

While at Harvard Ferguson became a member of a Ford Foundation committee charged with looking into the language problems of developing countries, including issues connected with the teaching of English as a second language. The Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) in Washington, D.C. grew out of the committee's recommendations. Ferguson left Harvard in 1959 to become its founding director. Once again, he was delighted to find himself in the circumstance of solving "practical language problems." He was soon at the head of an organization with a million-dollar annual budget and a staff of nearly a hundred. One of CAL's many contributions was to focus attention on the oft slighted less-commonly-taught languages, which included Arabic. In fact, Arabic fared quite well. At Ferguson's invitation Moshe Perlman translated Yushmanov's The Structure if the Arabic Language (1961), which CAL published. 4 CAL also published Ferguson's textbooks, one for learning modem written Arabic (Ferguson and Ani 1960) and Damascus Arabic (Ferguson, Ani, et al. 1961). Other Arabic-related publications included a collection of papers surveying Arabic dialects (Sobelman 1962), Bateson's Arabic Language Handbook (1967), a selected bibliography of Arabic linguistics (Prochazka 1967), and a general bibliography of teaching materials for "neglected languages" (Blass, Johnson, et al. 1969). William Labov's ground-breaking dissertation, The Social Stratification if English in New York City (1966), was among other important CAL publications of the time. Throughout his tenure at CAL, Ferguson continued to both publish and teach. During this time, he taught the first sociolinguistics courses at Georgetown University. He also thoroughly enjoyed his Arabic-related contacts there, both professionally and personally. Richard Harrell, whom Ferguson knew at Harvard, was on the 4 Although his Russian is limited, Ferguson has maintained an active interest in the work of linguists writing in Russian. At the 1984 Middle East Studies Association Conference, he presented a sketch of the contributions of N.V. Yushmanov as part of a panel entided "Nineteenth Century Contributions to the Study of Arabic Linguistics." Throughout his career Ferguson has worked to make American linguists aware of the contributions of linguists from other traditions, including language reformers of the past (Ferguson 1987:129-130 [78-79]).



Georgetown faculty until his untimely death in 1964. He, too, tried his hand at Moroccan Arabic phonology (Harrell 1962). Ferguson recalls that he and Harrell "were in constant telephone communication" (telephone interview 4/8/96) and that Harrell " ... would call in the middle of the night-typical-2:00 or 3:00 a.m., and he'd say, 'You know, thus and such contrasts' and I would say, 'Oh yes?' I didn't have quite the same enthusiasm as he did, but nevertheless" (interview 5/11/94). Ferguson was also much impressed with Majed Sacid, a Palestinian graduate student at Georgetown who later held a position at Princeton for a period before he, too, died prematurely. With Sacid he prepared materials to help individuals familiar with one Arabic dialect make the transition to other major dialects (Ferguson and Sacid, mimeograph 1958). Ferguson's close association with Georgetown University predates his tenure at CAL. While at the State Department Ferguson had also taught courses in linguistics and Middle Eastern studies at Georgetown. In 1950 he attended the first session of the Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics (GURT) and was a regular contributor over the years (Ferguson 1959c, 1963b, 1970, 1987, 1993). The fact that Georgetown awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1991 and that the published proceedings of GURT 1995 (Alatis 1995) were dedicated to Ferguson is indicative of his contributions to the university and to GURT. While he was at CAL, the Georgetown Arabic Research Program, chaired by Harrell, was pursuing a publication series which sought to provide practical descriptions of various types of Arabic, and Ferguson was actively involved. In the forward to his grammar of Syrian Arabic, Cowell noted the "particularly valuable unpublished source of material ... lent me by Charles A. Ferguson, who, with the assistance of Moukhtar Ani and other speakers from Damascus, worked out some years ago a very thorough and accurate collation of Damascus Arabic verb forms" (Cowell 1964:viii). Ferguson had earlier worked with Ani at the State Department and thought highly of him, both as an insightful teacher and person of integrity. He was instrumental in finding a position for Ani at Georgetown when he lost his FSI position during the McCarthy era due to rumors circulated by jealous coworkers. At Georgetown Ferguson and Ani taught Arabic together. This continued "hands-on" experience prompted Ferguson to address in print problems encountered in teaching diglossic languages (Ferguson 1963b), as well as other concerns related to learning languages such as Arabic, including the role of language study in area studies (Ferguson 1964). For a more general audience Ferguson sought through CAL to make insights from linguistic theory available to language teachers (Ferguson 1963a; Ferguson and Stewart



1963; Ferguson 1966). He also served as general editor of a series which provided detailed contrastive analyses for foreign language students and teachers (see, for example, Stockwell, Bowen, et al. 1965.). Ferguson served the cause of Arabic study in the U.S. even further. He played a pivotal role in the formation of the American Association of Teachers of Arabic (AATA). With the sponsorship of the Social Science Research Counsel, he had chaired a 1958 conference of twenty Arabic teachers charged with making " ... specific recommendations on research, textbook evaluation, and the preparation of readers of Arabic" (McCarus 1987:18). A follow-up conference in 1962 led to the formation of AATA in 1963. He served as the second president of the association in 1967; the first was George Makdisi, who credits Ferguson with getting him involved in the field. Similarly, Ferguson was a key figure in the development of summer institutes and study abroad programs for Middle Eastern languages. Until the latter part of the 1960's the study of Arabic at U.S. universities meant, with few exceptions, studying Classical Arabic by way of the grammar-translation method in order to read medieval texts. Ernest McCarus, whom Ferguson recruited for a tour of duty at the FSI field school in Beirut, recalls that, in addition to "putting Arabic on the map" through such articles as "Diglossia," Ferguson also did a great deal to improve the teaching of Arabic, in terms of both methodology and materials development (telephone interview 5/3/96). Softening the prejudice against modem Arabic, in all its manifestations, was an up-hill battle. Ferguson was outspoken in challenging the academic status quo in Middle Eastern studies and linguistics; he recalls that Joshua Whatmough, an Indo-Europeanist and chair of linguistics at Harvard, referred to him as "presumptuous." Ferguson's already well-established reputation helped to lend legitimacy to the serious study of modem written Arabic, as well as Arabic dialects. He remembers: ... when I was teaching at Harvard ... I was involved in projects about what kind of books are needed for Middle Eastern Studies and so on-I think very reasonable questions and, naturally, I think my own responses were very reasonable. But anyway there came up the question about how about having a dictionary of Modern Written Arabic such that it would have in it the words that are used in modern sources and an English translation which was more or less accurate for these. I thought, "What a sensible idea. I'm all in favor of that instead of the usual dictionaries," which ... had gone back to pre-Islamic poetry or whatever and you couldn't tell whether the given word was still in use or not, and if in use, whether it meant those things and so on. And it seemed to me that it was hard to be opposed to that... [but] an Arabic specialist there ... , an orientalist ... , to my amazement, he came



out and he said he was totally against having a dictionary like that. I thought, "What in the world justification could there be for being totally against a dictionary like that?" Well, his argument was very simple: Great scholars like Margolis and other Arabists and so forth had gotten along without a dictionary like that always in the past, and you learned a lot by trying to find words in dictionaries. Therefore, you didn't want a dictionary that made everything easy for the student. What is the expression they use? "No gain without pain," or something like that. But I was flabbergasted, I didn't believe any rational person would hold such a view. It was not at all an unusual view and it was accepted by several other people present. So I sort of retreated into my corner-what can I do? This is a revelation to me that that was a point of view which existed and which could be taken seriously. That wasn't the only reason people were in favor of it. That is, that other people had done without it or that you would have to look up words and work hard at it and so on. I guess people have views like, "Why do you want to read this lousy newspaper business? Why don't you want to read great classics of the language?" There are all kinds of arguments against it. It just still seemed to me that there was not much good argument against it. But I found out that there were many arguments.




Mter seven years at CAL, Ferguson was ready for a change. January 1967 found him on another coast and with a new mission. At Stanford University, Ferguson became the architect of one of the country's premier linguistics departments. Better yet, he found himself free to explore his interests in sociolinguistics and in the language development of children. He played a key role in the development of the new sub-field of sociolinguistics: He was the first Chair of the Committee on Sociolinguistics of the Social Sciences Research Counsel and served on the executive board of Language in Society's editorial board from its founding in 1972 until 1992. His many papers in sociolinguistics, which saw an increase during this period, have been widely reprinted. "Diglossia" (Ferguson 1959a) alone has been reprinted numerous times (including translations in five European languages) and has been instrumental in spawning approximately 3000 articles, theses, and monographs in and on many different languages (See Huebner 1996:17-19). According to Femandez's index, 287 deal with Arabic (Femandez 1993). On his work in sociolinguistics, Ferguson observes: My interest in the role of language in soCiety was actually of long standing. I had always viewed language as primarily a social phenomenon, and with the new Chomskyan emphasis on language as a matter of individual cognitive competence, I felt that one of the principal



problems of linguistics was how to understand the relation between individual competence and socially shared competence, what I have since come to call the problem of conventionalization. My own contributions to sociolinguistic research had been quite varied: concern with different types of language situations and their possible outcomes over time, the processes of language standardization, language planning and public policy, in particular language problems of so-called "developing countries," and register variation, i.e. variation in linguistic structure correlating with different occasions of use. (Ferguson 1995:19-20)

At Stanford Ferguson also pursued other more theoretical interests. With Joseph Greenberg, he initiated the Language Universals Project (Greenberg, Ferguson, et al. 1978), aiming, among other things, "to reinvigorate a more empiricist approach to the construction of linguistic theory, as a kind of counterpoise to the productive, but increasingly narrow, rationalist approach of the dominant generative model" (Ferguson 1995:20). An attempt to shift the "Chomskyan emphasis" can be seen in "Principles and parameters in language and society" in which Ferguson states that "some scholars who have thorough familiarity with GB [Government and Binding] should work together with some social scientists who have a great interest in language and society to produce some kind of overall model whose insights will well repay their joint efforts" (Ferguson 1993:284). Ferguson's attention over the years to things Arabic has not been constant. At Stanford he still managed to serve as the associate editor for the volume of Current Trends in Linguistics devoted to Southwest Asia and North Mrica (Sebeok, Ferguson, et al. 1970). This is in marked contrast with the Harvard years (1955-59), the period of his most intense activity in Arabic linguistics. In 1959 alone he published four book reviews and five articles focused solely or largely on Arabic. Notwithstanding some relatively long dry spells in terms of publications on Arabic, its various dialects, aspects of their structure, and the dynamics of Arabic speech communities have figured prominently in his teaching and in his scholarship. For example, the first of his articles on politeness formulas dealt with Syrian Arabic (Ferguson 1967). In a more general treatment (1976), he contrasted a number of Arabic examples with those from other languages and sketched out lines of inquiry exploring parallels between ritual human and animal behavior, variation in such formulas, diachronic and language contact aspects, and questions regarding acquisition. In the paper on Syrian Arabic, he had pointed out the fact that root-echo responses show "dependencies" that go beyond the sentence, and therefore this was a "concrete piece of evidence for the need to abandon the sentence as the maximum unit of grammatical analysis" (Ferguson 1967:44 [205]). How he continued to draw insights from such politeness formulas



can be seen in the introduction to the proceedings of a conference on agreement (Ferguson and Barlow 1988; see also Section III of this volume.). Ferguson commented that his work has benefited gready from his intimate acquaintance with the typologically different languages, Bengali (SOV) and Classical Arabic (VSO) (personal communication). For additional discussion of Arabic's contribution to Ferguson's thinking on conventionalization and other issues, see Huebner (1996:10-12). In his sociolinguistics courses Ferguson observes that he has often used the following Arabic example that he gleaned from Cantineau's grammar of Palmyra Arabic (Cantineau 1934): Cantineau ... was like Bergstrasser in that he did whatever was around. He was working in the Palmyra area on the kind of Aramaic in the inscriptions there. Aramaic was one of his real fields of interest. I guess what he said to himself was-like Bergstrasser, "Well, since I'm here why don't I write a grammar of Palmyra Arabic?" So that's what he did, and it was very good. At least that's my judgment, it was a very good grammar. And I've often quoted it-although not quoted it for the things that he'd want it quoted for. He'd want it quoted for what kind of vowel pattern is similar in the imperfect of verbs and stuff like that, in the traditional sort of Semitics kind of framework. But I was impressed by the fact that he pointed out that there was the traditional Palmyra Arabic which had been surrounded for several centuries by nomads and so forth. And it showed no trace, no real trace of Nomadic Arabic .... I often quote in classes that he pointed out that although there's a very definite variety called Palmyra Arabic, and he described that, it's still true that there were different population groups in Palmyra that didn't talk that way. One obvious one is all those people who were oriented toward Damascus or toward school or toward a merchant class and they all had this kind of citified Arabic. And then there were all those people that really admired the local Bedouin troops ... , the motorized camel corps. They were very much admired by the young men of the village .... I'd say, "If you come to Palmyra ... and have a brief conversation, if you could somehow listen to the word for 'coffee,' you'd know from the beginning whether the people were good, loyal Palmyra speakers or whether they were oriented toward Damascus and those 'effeminate,' pro-school kind of people, or whether they were tough, pro-Bedouin types .... " He made the point, which had never occurred to me in quite that way before, that it's quite incredible to have a small town, 6,000 people, surrounded by Bedouin for several hundred years, and they are still talking the same way, they aren't swamped by Bedouin styles or by citified styles, they are still going their own way. Since usually you don't think of that as being true, this was a very good piece of counterevidence. . .. All that is not made a great fuss about by Cantineau, Cantineau just described Palmyra Arabic. But that was what I was fascinated by, the fact that the one variety continued for so long and



that different social groups would reveal their attitudinal, you know, orientation and so forth by a handful of characteristics. And I thought he was really quite precise .... That's why I used that as an example in classes often, not to talk about Palmyra or even to talk about Cantineau, but to talk about general, sort of sociolinguistic issues. I think it's a great case. (interview 5/11/94) Ferguson formally retired in 1988. An indication of his colleagues' affection and esteem-not to mention a testimony to his breadth of interest and circle of influence-is the two-volume Festschrift published that year (Fishman, Tabouret-Keller, C1yne, Krishnamurti, and Abdulaziz 1986). Ferguson is fond of mentioning that "the five co-editors of the Festschrift were from five different continents and four different religious traditions" (Ferguson 1995:21). Among the 82 contributors were: Ariel Bloch, Dwight Bolinger, Courtney Cazden, Bemard Comrie, Milton Cowan, David Crystal, Wolfgang DressIer, Susan Ervin-Tripp, Joshua Fishman, Jacek Fisiak, Victoria Fromkin, Joseph Greenberg, John Gumperz, Einar Haugen, Bemd Heine, Dell Hymes, William Labov, Peter Ladefoged, Wallace Lambert, Winfred Lehmann, Andre Martinet, William Moulton, Eugene Nida, Edgar Polome, Chaim Rabin, Joan Rubin, Muriel Saville-Troike, Carol Myers Scotton, Roger Shuy, Dan Slobin, Elizabeth Traugott, Peter Trudgill, and Richard Tucker. As he neared retirement, Ferguson resolved to once again take an active role in Arabic linguistics. He was a member of the committee that initiated the founding of the Arabic Linguistics Society in 1986. He was also a keynote speaker at its first symposium, held at the University of Utah in 1987 (Ferguson 1990), and he served as its president in 1991. He revisited the history of the modem Arabic dialects in Ferguson (1989), a consideration of the facts of agreement variation and Versteegh's pidginization hypothesis (Versteegh 1984). The importance of the field to Ferguson is particularly evident in the final paragraph of his biographical essay where he graciously acknowledged its role in his professional life: Not only have I had moderate success in my chosen field, even though I probably cannot be reckoned in the contemporary American mainstream of formal syntactic research, but I have had the good fortune to see a great improvement in the scholarship of those areas of linguistics of greatest interest to me: Arabic syntax (cf. the volumes of proceedings of the annual Arabic Linguistic Symposium), child phonology (cf. Ferguson, Menn, and Stoel-Gammon 1992), and sociolinguistics (cf. Hudson 1982, Fasold 1984.). I have also been fortunate to be "in on the ground floor" of a surprising number of new institutions and organizations in linguistics and related fields .... Whether by long-term commitment or by lucky events, or some of both, I can with gratitude say in the words of the psalmist "The lines for me have fallen in pleasant places" (Psalms 16:6). (Ferguson 1995:23)




Alatis,James E. 1995. Dedication of Round Table Proceedings to Charles A Ferguson. Georgetoum University Round Table on Languages and linguistics J995, ed. by James E. Alatis, Carolyn A Straehle, Brent Gallenberger and Maggie Ronkin, 6-7. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press. Bateson, Mary Catherine. 1967. Arabic Language Handbook. Washington, D.C.: Center for Applied Linguistics. Bergstriisser, Gotthelf. 1915. Sprachatlas von Syrien und Piilastina. Leipzig. - - . 1928. EirifUhrung in die semitischen Sprachen. Miinchen [Introduction to the Semitic Languages, translated by Peter T. Daniels. Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns 1983.]. - - . 1968 [1924]. Zum Arabischen Dialelrt von Damaskus. Teil I [ Erschienene}: PlwnetikProsatexte. Hildesheim: 01ms [Reprint of 1924 Hannover edition]. Blanc, Haim. 1964. Communal Dialects in Baghdad. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Blass, Birgit A, Dora E. Johnson, et al. 1969. A provisional survey if materials for the study if neglected languages. Washington: Center for Applied Linguistics. Cantineau, Jean. 1934. Le dialecte arabe de Palmyre (1· Grammaire; /1· Vocabulaire et textes). Damascus: Institut Francais de Damas. Chomsky, Carol. 1969. The Acquisition if Syntax in Children from 5 to 10. Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T. Press. Cowell, Mark W. 1964. A Reference Grammar if Syrian Arabic (based on the diillect if Damascus). Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press. Fasold, Ralph. 1984. The Sociolinguistics if Society. Oxford, England & New York: Basil Blackwell. Ferguson, Charles A 1956. Arabic baby talk. For Roman ]akobson, ed. by Morris Halle, Horace G. Lunt, Hugh McLean and Cornelis H. Van Schooneveld, 12128. The Hague: Mouton. - - . 1957. Review of La description plwnologique, by A Martinet. Word 13(2):335-45. - - . 1959a. Diglossia. Word 15:325-40 [Reprinted in Sociolinguistic perspectives: Papers on Language in Society, J959-J994/Charles A. Ferguson, ed. by Thorn Huebner. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1996:25-39.]. - - . 1959b. The Arabic koine. Language 35:616-630. - - . 1959c. Myths about Arabic. Languages and linguistic Monograph Series, Georgetoum University, ed. by Richard S. Harrell, 75-82 [Also published in Readings in the Sociology if Language, ed. by Joshua A Fishman, 1968:375-381. The Hague: Mouton.]. - - . 1963a. Linguistic theory and language learning. Georgetoum University Monograph Series on Languages and linguistics 16:115-24. - - . 1963b. Problems of teaching languages with diglossia. Georgetoum University Monograph Series on Languages and linguistics 15: 165-77 [Reprinted in Language Structure and Language Use: Essays by Charles A. Ferguson, ed. by Anwar S. Dil. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. 1971:71-86.]. - - . 1964. Language study and the Middle East. The Annals if the American AcaderT!Y if Political and SOcWl Science 356:76-85. - - . 1966. Sociolinguistics for teachers of English to speakers of other languages. Selected Coriference Papers if the AssocWtion if Teachers if English as a Second Language, ed. by Robert B. Kaplan, 35-41. Los Angeles, CA: University of Southern California Press. - - . 1967. Root-echo responses in Syrian Arabic politeness formulas. linguistic Studies in Memory if Richard Slade Harrell, ed. by Don G. Stuart, 37-45. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press. - - . 1970. The role of Arabic in Ethiopia: A sociolinguistic perspective. Georgetoum University Monograph Series on Languages and linguistics 23:355-68 [Reprinted in: Sociolinguistics: Selected Readings, ed. by J.B. Pride & Janet Holmes. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Books. 1972:112-24 and Sociolinguistic Perspectives: Papers on Language in Society, J959-J994/Charles A. Ferguson, ed. by Thorn Huebner. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1996:48-58.].



1976. The structure and use of politeness formulas. Language in Sociery 5:137151 [Reprinted in Conversational Routine, ed. F. Coulmas. The Hague: Mouton, 1981. pp. 21-35 and Sociolinguistic perspectioes: Papers on Language in Sociery, 195919941Charles A. Ferguson, ed. by Thorn Huebner. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1996:133-147.]. - - . 1987. Standardization as a form oflanguage spread. Georgetown Unwersiry Round Table on Languages and Linguistics 1987:119-132. - - . 1989. Grammatical agreement in Classical Arabic and the modern dialects: A response to Versteegh's pidginization hypothesis. AI-'ArabiY.Ja 22(1-2):5-17. - - . 1990. "Come forth with a surah like it": Arabic as a measure of Arab society. Perspectioes on Arabic Linguistics I, ed. by Mushira Eid, 39-51. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. - - . 1991. Epilogue: Diglossia revisited. Southwest Journal qf Linguistics 10(1):214234. - - . 1993. Principles and parameters in language and society. Georgetown Unwersiry Round Table on Languages and Linguistics 1993, ed. by James E. Alatis, 275-85. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press. - - . 1995. Long-term commitment and lucky events. Georgetown Unwersiry Round Table on Languages and Linguistics 1995, ed. by James E. Alatis, Carolyn A Straehle, Brent Gallenberger and Maggie Ronkin, 10-24 [Also to appear in First Person Singular Ill, ed. by Konrad Koerner, Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.]. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press. - - and Majid Sa'id. 1958 (mimeographed). Lexical variants in Arabic dialects. - - and Moukhtar Ani. 1960. Lessons in Contemporary Arabic. ussons 1-8. Washington, D.C: Center for Applied Linguistics. - - , Moukhtar Ani, et al. 1961. DaTTUlScus Arabic. Washington, D.C: Center for Applied Linguistics. - - and William A Stewart. 1963. Linguistic reading lists for teachers qf modern languages. Washington, D.C.: Center for Applied Linguistics. - - and Michael Barlow. 1988. Introduction. Agreement in Natural Language: Approaches, Theories, Descriptions, ed. by M. Barlow and C.A. Ferguson, 1-22. Stanford: Stanford University Center for the Study of Language and Information. - - , Lise Menn, et al. (eds.). 1992. Phonological Development: Models, &search, Implications. Timunium, Maryland: York Press. Fernandez, Mauro. 1993. Diglossia: A ComprehensWe Bibliography, 1960-1990, and Supplements. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Fishman,Joshua A, Andree Tabouret-Keller, et al. (eds.). 1986. The Fergusonian Impact: In Honor qf Charles A. Ferguson on the Occasion qf his 65th Birthday (2 vols.). Berlin; New York; Amsterdam: Mouton de Gruyter. Greenberg, Joseph H., Charles A Ferguson, et al. (eds.). 1978. Unwersals qf Human Language (4 vols.). Stanford: Stanford University Press. Harrell, Richard S. 1962. Consonant, vowel, and syllable in Moroccan Arabic. Proceedings qf the Fourth International Congress qf Phonetic Sciences, ed. by Antti Sovijarvi and Pentti Aalo, 644-47 [Reprinted in &adings in Arabic Linguistics, ed. by Salman H. Al-Ani. Bloomington: Indiana University Linguistics Club. 1978:241-46.]. The Hague: Mouton. Harris, Zellig S. 1939. Development qf the Canaanite Dialects: An Investigation in Linguistic History. New Haven, Conn.: American Oriental Society. - - . 1941. Review of Grundziige tier Phonologie, by N.S. Trubetzkoy. Language 17 :345349 [Reprinted in Phonological Theory: Evolution and Current Practice, ed. by Valerie B. Makkai. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1972:301-304.]. - - . 1942. The phonemes of Moroccan Arabic. Journal qf the American Oriental Sociery 62:309-18. - - . 1944. Simultaneous components in phonology. Language 4:181-205. Heath, Jeffrey. 1987. Ablaut and Ambiguiry: Phonology qf a Moroccan Arabic Dialect. New York: State University of New York Press. Huebner, Thorn (ed.). 1996. Sociolinguistic Perspectioes: Papers on Language in Sociery, 195919941Charles A. Ferguson. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press.



- - and Charles A. Ferguson (eds.). 1991. Cross-Currents between linguistic Theories and Second Language Acquisition Research. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Hudson, Richard A. 1980. Sociolinguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Jakobson, Roman. 1941. Kmdersprache, Aphasie und allgemeine Lautgesetze. Uppsala [Child Language, Aphasia, and Phonological Universals. The Hague & Paris: Mouton, 1968.]. Kampffineyer, Georg. 1900. Die arabische Verbalpartikel b (m). Mitteilungen des Seminars for orientalische Sprachen. Berlin. 3:48-10 1 [Also in Beitrage zur Dio1ectologie des Arabischen, 2. Marburg, 1900.]. - - . 1912. Marokkanisch-Arabische Gespriiche im Dialekt Don Casablanca. Mit Vergleichung des Dialekts Don Tanger. Berlin: Georg Reimer. Labov, William. 1966. The Social Stratification if English in New York City. Washington, D.C.: Center for Applied Linguistics. McCarus, Ernest N. 1987. The study of Arabic in the United States: A history of its development. Al-'Arabryya 20(1-2):13-27. Pritchard, James B. (ed.). 1969. Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (3d ed., with supplement). Princeton, NJ.: Princeton University Press. Prochazka, Theodore, Jr. 1967. Selected Bibliography if Arabic linguistics, 1960-1967. Washington, D.C.: ERIC Clearinghouse for Linguistics, Center for Applied Linguistics. Sebeok, Thomas A., Charles A. Ferguson, et al. (eds.). 1970. Current Trends in linguistics, VI: linguistics in Southwest Asia and North Aftica. The Hague: Mouton. Shoul, Mostafa. 1995. Etude phonologique et acoustique de l'arabe du Maroc Oriental. Universite de Laval, Quebec. - - . In press. Syllable structure, stress and schwa in Moroccan Arabic. Perspectives on Arabic linguistics XI ed. by Mushira Eid, Niloofar Haeri, and Elabbas Benmamoun. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Sobelman, Harvey (ed.). 1962. Arabic Dialect Studies: A Selected Bibliography. Washington, D.C.: Center for Applied Linguistics. Stockwell, Robert P., J. Donald Bowen, et al. 1965. The Grammatical Structures if English and Spanish. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Trager, George L. and Henry Lee Smith Jr. 1957. An Outline if English Structure. Washington, D.C.: American Council of Learned Societies. Versteegh, Kees. 1984. Pidginization and Creolization: The Case if Arabic. Amsterdam: John Bertiamins. Yushmanov, N.V. 1961. The Structure if the Arabic Language (Translated from the Russian by Moshe Perlmann). Washington, D.C.: Center for Applied Linguistics.


DIACHRONICA If we want to understand the standardization process, as an important type of language spread and hence of language change in general, the most obvious research strategy is to study the process in operation.... Ferguson, 1987 In his autobiographical sketch Ferguson listed thze four papers he most enjoyed writing (Ferguson, 1995a:22-23). "The Arabic koine" (Ferguson 1959b) is the first mentioned. l Ferguson observed that " ... all four have something to do with diachronic change, which is not typical of my linguistic research" (p. 23). Spanning 35 years, the papers in this section are evidence of Ferguson's abiding interest in the historical development of the modem Arabic dialects. One source of this intense interest, of course, would have been members of the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania. When Ferguson arrived at Penn, Zellig Harris had just published a monograph tracing the historical development of the Northwest Semitic ("Canaanite") languages of the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean and inland Syria and Palestine from 1500 to 200 B.C.E. in terms of 65 separate phonetic or analogical changes (Harris 1939). Contact with Roland G. Kent, an Indo-Europeanist, and Henry Hoenigswald, who joined the faculty at Penn while Ferguson was a student there, further fueled his historical interests. His year of Classical Arabic with Della Vida at Penn and his "field work" with the Moroccan couple in New York City laid the groundwork so that it was only natural that he would later take up the issue of the development of the Arabic dialects, as well as the topic of diglossia (Ferguson 1959a). Ferguson first addressed the history of the Arabic dialects in earnest with his review of Growth and Structure qf the Egyptian Arabic Dialect (Birkeland 1952). The topic would continue to draw his attention for decades. Birkeland (1952) is an application of structuralist principles

I The other three papers are "Words and sounds in early language acquisition" (Ferguson and FarwelI 1973), "Verbs of being in Bengali, with a note on Amharic" (Ferguson 1972), and "Variation and drift: Loss of agreement in Germanic" (Ferguson 1995b).



to aspects of the diachronic phonology of Cairene. In an overview of the history of the Arabic dialects and in reference to the pre-Islamic poetic koine, Birkeland mentioned once, almost in passing, that "possibly a later stage of the koine forms the common starting-point of the dialects" (p. 7). Ferguson comes back to this idea a number of times in his review. In his review of Stress Patterns in Arabic (Birkeland 1954), Ferguson again stressed the importance of the koine as the basis for much of what the modern dialects share in common and expressed his regret that Birkeland " ... did not concern himself with reconstructing in greater detail the stress situation in the koine, especially in view of his great interest in this koine" (Ferguson 1956:386 [48]).2 Since Birkeland mentioned the koine only briefly in both of these monographs, we may surmise that the "great interest" was not so much Birkeland's as Ferguson's. Ferguson noted that writing the review of Birkeland (1952) was the stimulus for expressing his ideas in print about the origins of the modern Arabic dialects (1959b:6l6, fn. 3 [50]). Like diglossia, Ferguson adopted the term koine which had " ... been used before in approximately this sense for the history of the Arabic language ... ," however, with his koine article Ferguson attempted for the first time " ... to establish the thesis by a full linguistic argument" (p. 616, fn. 3 [50]). The post-war years witnessed an intense period of renewed scholarly debate on issues connected with the history of Arabic. Of particular import were tWo book-length works, Flick's 'Arabirya (1950) and Rabin's Ancient West-Arabian (1951). Flick claimed that the Islamic conquests resulted in a "common Bedouin language," which became the base for both Classical Arabic and the modern sedentary dialects. (For an overview of Flick's and others' ideas on the origins of the modern sedentary dialects, see Miller 1986. See also Zwetder 1978:132-143.) Ferguson argued that "most modern dialects, especially those outside Arabia" descend from a koine that developed largely as a result of the language contact situation arising due to the mixing of speakers of various dialects during the expansion of Islam (p. 617 [51]). Ferguson based his argument on the fact that many modern dialects share a number of features which they do not share with Classical Arabic. He discussed fourteen shared linguistic features which he felt could not reasonably be attributed to drift. The koine paper provoked immediate negative response. David Cohen, a French Arabist, lead the charge; Joshua Blau, an Israeli 2 In discussing this on the telephone one day Ferguson commented wryly, ''We should have hired Haim Blanc to do it," that is, reconstruct the details of stress in the koine (p.c., 717/95).



scholar of Christian and Jewish historical varieties of Arabic, followed suit. Cohen (1962) argued that the modem sedentary dialects developed from dialects quite similar to each other which spread outside the Arabian Peninsula both before and after the advent of Islam. He claimed that much of what the sedentary dialects have in common is the result of innovations which spread in wave-like fashion from various centers of linguistic prestige. Expanding on his own initial brief response, essentially footnotes (Blau 1965: 12-17), Blau took up the issue of the history of the dialects and critiqued each of Ferguson's fourteen points of evidence, though again not in detail, arguing that drift and contact between the dialects accounts for the similarities (Blau 1977:21-25). There is considerable agreement, in fact, between Ferguson and his detractors. All agree that the language contact situation which accompanied the spread of Islam is the most important factor in the development of the modem sedentary dialects. The point of departure seems to be the weighting of factors which contributed to the changes. In the koine paper Ferguson acknowledges the likely contributions of drift or parallel development, as well as dialect contact. Both Blau (1977) and Cohen (1962) acknowledge the possibility that a koine developed in the military camps. However, while Ferguson maintained that the unlikely homogeneity of the sedentary dialects in features which the dialects do not share with Old Arabic are best explained by their descent from a common variety, Blau argued that positing a common koine as the basis of the modem sedentary dialects is unnecessary, noting that general drift should not be underestimated given the close parallel between developments in New Arabic and those which occurred much earlier in Hebrew and Aramaic (1977:19). Ferguson had hoped that his paper would inspire others to evaluate his theory by carefully examining each of his fourteen points. Ferguson's hopes in this regard have not been realized. Most responses to his thesis fall into the category of superficial comments in which bits of data counter to his theory are cited. Some are careful studies of a single feature but only one addresses the fourteen points as a constellation of structures likely to show some exceptions (Kaye 1976). Bloch (1967) was the first study to take up the challenge of seriously examining one of Ferguson's fourteen features, the so-called "taltalah," the use of lil instead of lal in inflectional prefixes. Blanc (1970) was perhaps the most thorough study of a single feature to date, Ferguson's discussion of the partial loss of the dual and agreement with dual heads. Kaye's (1976) treatment of some synchronic and diachronic aspects of Sudanese and Chadian Arabic examines



these varieties in light of the koine hypothesis. Kaye reviewed Blanc's and Cohen's critiques and suggested modifications for some of Ferguson's fourteen points based on his own findings; nevertheless, he expressed clear support for the koine hypothesis (1976:163, 189). More recently, Kaye (1986) examined Ferguson's twelfth point, the use of the dialectal form Jaaj "to see" instead of Classical Arabic ra'aa. Kaye's study is an informative survey of mostly published data that present a rather complex picture. 3 Kaye observed: We agree with jastrow's conclusion (1983:206-7): " ... we now see much more clearly than we did 20 years ago that the contemporary panorama of Arabic dialects is not a predominandy static endproduct of developments that occurred in the first Islamic centuries, but rather of a permanent process which has persisted until today and has gained momentum in the last decades." (Kaye 1986:220)

Nevertheless, Kaye noted elsewhere that " ... Ferguson's (1959b) distinction of classical Arabic and the koine is still, in my opinion, a useful one ... " (1985:222). Though Ferguson's koine theory has rarely, if ever, been accepted without significant modification, his ideas have nevertheless played an important roll as a catalyst. Subsequent studies have used the koine theory as a central point of reference. For example, Miller (1986) evaluated four theories of the history of the modem sedentary dialects; although she dismissed Ferguson's koine theory as having been disproved by Blau and Cohen, she did use his koine features to organize her tabular presentation of the others' arguments (1986:69-71). Many would agree that the koine theory has figured significantly in encouraging the description and study of a wide variety of modem Arabic dialects. More than any other study, Versteegh (1984) built on Ferguson's koine theory. This is one of the few studies to concur with Ferguson's central argument: while much of what the dialects share with each other, but not with Classical Arabic or most Bedouin varieties, can reasonably be attributed to independent development or borrowing, there are certain striking shared features which require additional explanation. For Versteegh, the explanation is not a single source (the koine), rather a common process, that of pidginization/creolization. Versteegh, like Ferguson, places the changes which gave rise to the modem sedentary Arabic dialects much earlier in history than most scholars today. Ferguson, however, believes that Versteegh has gone too far in his claims, as is evident in Ferguson (1989). Ferguson readily acknowledges that some of his fourteen features could be the 3

Kaye (1985:221-25) includes a good deal of additional material on faajlra'aa.



result of drift, or subsequent borrowing. For him, the most powerful argument, and the one that is rarely addressed, is the fact that some of the features could have developed by themselves but the cooccurrence of these fourteen features is not likely to be due to coincidence. For this reason he feels that the koine idea has not been given a fair hearing. To date no single theory on the origins of the modern sedentary dialects has garnered broad support. Over the years since the publication of the koine article various ideas bearing on the history of the dialects have been proposed in the literature. These have been largely inspired by insights from general research on language contact, significantly increased knowledge of the variety and characteristics of Arabic dialects due to the availability of descriptions of a much larger number of dialects, and research on historical varieties of Arabic, such as Middle Arabic texts, best exemplified by the work of Blau (1988). Differences abound on particulars. Ferguson himself pointed out significant weaknesses in some of Versteegh's arguments (Ferguson 1989). Most scholars would probably subscribe to a weak version of the koine hypothesis, that a koine or koines developed and were instrumental in the formation of the dialects, but few support the strong version Ferguson proposed-though not because it is particularly farfetched. Bloch perhaps best summarized the reluctance of many: "Although Ferguson's paper contains quite a number of highly valuable observations the argumentation is not conclusive because the idea of the existence of an Arabic koine was shown to be unprovable" (1967:22-23). Time will tell whether it is in fact unprovable but for the foreseeable future teasing out the contribution of the relevant factors (drift, leveling, borrowing, independent developments ... ) without knowing a good deal more about the

varieties involved and their history seems unlikely. Ferguson's own writing on another topic may bear on the matter: " ... the accidents of history often fail to provide the kind of documentation needed to reconstruct the path of spread at the requisite level of detail," but he nevertheless stresses that careful study can arrive at "some useful generalizations." (Ferguson 1987:120 [70]). Most scholars today seem to have adopted a rather conservative position: The development of the dialects was not abrupt, nor was it the result of a single process. It took time, but there probably was some koineization involved. Proving these things is difficult. Fischer and Jastrow summarized what appears to be a building consensus: One will hardly go wrong if one imagines that the development of New Arabic was connected with dialect mixing in the camps of the conquerors, the influence of the languages and dialects of the conquered,



and the formation of regional vernaculars. Later population displacements and constant leveling tendencies through cross-regional contacts between the cities, likewise tendencies toward peculiar developments among the most isolated rural populations, may have been equally important developmental factors. (Fischer and Jastrow 1980: 18, RKB's translation) Ferguson (1987) further developed lines of reasoning begun in the koine paper, and in the diglossia paper. While his suggestions for studying the process of standardization are for general application, much of the discussion focuses on the Arab world. Three "standardizing tendencies," koineization, variety shifting, and classicization, are discussed. Ferguson applauded recent sociolinguistic studies of Arabic speech communities but gently chided scholars for failing to better situate the range of variation they studied within the broader context of the full range of Arabic varieties. He called for careful descriptions of actual language use and change in progress, as exemplified in the work ofWilliam Labov (1966, 1972, 1982), in order to understand developments of the past and the mechanisms and motivations for linguistic change. Ferguson made a similar point the following year when he noted the lack of careful quantitative studies of Arabic agreement variation (1989:11 [87]; see also Section IV.). Belnap (1991) is essentially a response to that challenge, examining agreement variation in a variety of Old Arabic texts and in modern Cairene Arabic. Belnap and Gee (1994) further discusses implications of patterns of Old and New Arabic agreement variation for the history of Arabic. A number of studies of modern-day "koineization, variety shifting, and classicization" of varieties of Arabic can be found in recent literature before and after Ferguson (1987). For example, Palva (1982) examined specific cases of koineization or dialect leveling and its implications. Ferguson (1987) was, at least in part, a reaction to recent work such as that of Mitchell and his students on "Educated Spoken Arabic" (ESA) (Mitchell1986). Mitchell (1978:256), EI-Hassan (1978:52), and Meiseles (1980: 134-35) have all expressed the opinion that "variationism" was not equal to the task of describing ESA. Ferguson, on the other hand, is clearly dissatisfied with published attempts at describing ESA (For his views and for further discussion of ESA and intermediate varieties see the introduction to Section IV.). Although Ferguson would not normally be considered a "variationist," he repeatedly used the term in a positive light and specifically underscored the need to "collect detailed data in the variationist tradition" in order to understand changes taking place in Arabic today (1987:130 [79]). Such context is helpful for understanding Ferguson (1987); however, understanding it only in these terms would be a mistake. This paper should also be seen as the attempt of a



veteran scholar of language contact to respond to swelling general interest in the topic and point out opportunities for fruitful inquiry. As in the 1950's, Ferguson still feels that Arabic has a great deal to contribute to general linguistics. The fact that volume 99 of the International Journal qf the Sociology qf Language is devoted to koines and koineization, and includes an article on Arabic (Versteegh 1993), is evidence of this. As in the case of the early Islamic koine or the present opportunity to study the standardization process in progress, so in one case after another we find Ferguson sketching out the broad lines of inquiry into a new subject and generally leaving the working out of details to others. One might argue that this is what Ferguson does best. 4 Not that he does not do detailed work well-"Syrian Arabic Studies" (Ferguson 1955) being an example of such meticulous workrather, he has a gift for observing and drawing parallels, of seeing the big picture. Naturally, this means that sometimes he has been wrong, which he is quick to admit. Even in such cases, however, he has been instrumental in asking the questions that lead to discovery.


Belnap, R. Kirk. 1991. Grammatical Agreement Variation in Cairent Arabic. Ph.D. dissertation. University of Pennsylvania. - - and John Gee. 1994. Classical Arabic in contact: The transition to near categorical agreement patterns. Perspectives on Arabic linguistics VI: Papers from the Sixth Symposium on Arabic linguistics ed. by Mushira Eid, Vincente Cantarino and Keith Walters, 121-149. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Birkeland, Harris. 1952. Growth and Structure qf the Egyptian Arabic Dialect. Oslo: Jacob Dybwad. - - . 1954. Stress Patterns in Arabic. Oslo: Jacob Dybwad. Blanc, Haim. 1970. Dual and pseudo-dual in the Arabic dialects. Language 46:42-57. Blau, Joshua. 1965. The Emergence and linguistic Background qf Judeo-Arabic: A Study qf the Origins qf Middle Arabic. Leiden: Brill (Reprinted in 1981. Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute.). - - . 1977. The Beginnings qf the Arabic Diglossia: A Study qf the Origins qf Neoarabic. Malibu, California: Undena Publications. - - . 1988. Studies in Middle Arabic and its Judaeo-Arabic VarieD'. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, Hebrew University. Bloch, Ariel A. 1967. The vowels of the imperfect preformatives in the old dialects of Arabia. Zeitschrifi der Deutschen Morgenliindischen Gesellschafi 117:22-29. Cohen, David. 1962. Koine, langues communes et dialectes arabes. Arabica 9:11944 [Reprinted in 1970 in Etudes de linguistique semitique et arabe ed. by David Cohen, 105-25. The Hague: Mouton.]. 4 In the introduction to the first collection of Ferguson's writings, Dil noted that "Ferguson seems to take special delight in trying his hand at problems that do not lend themselves to an easy definition; he is content to pinpoint some of the complexities, and then suggest how they might be handled" (Dil 1971 :xiii).



Dil, Anwar S. (ed.). 1971. Lo.nguoge Structure and Lo.nguoge Use: Essays l!)I Charles A. Ferguson. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. El-Hassan, Shahir A. 1978. Variation in the demonstrative system in Educated Spoken Arabic. Archivum Linguisticum 9:32-57. Ferguson, Charles A. 1955. Syrian Arabic studies. The Middle East Journal 9(2):187194 [Reprinted with revisions in Arabic Dialect Studies; A Selected Bibliograph:J, ed. by Harvey Sobelman. Washington, D.C.: Center for Applied Linguistics. 1962: 1-17.]. - - . 1956. Review of Stress Patterns in Arabic, by H. Birkeland. Language 32(2): 384-87. - - . 1959a. Diglossia. Word 15:325-340. - - . 1959b. The Arabic koine. Lo.nguoge 35:616-630. - - . 1972. Verbs of "being" in Bengali, with a note on Amharic. The Verb "be" and its .$ynorryms: Philosophical and Grammatical Studies, vol. 5 ed. by John W.M. Verhaar, 74-114. Dordrecht, Holland: D. Reidel. - - . 1987. Standardization as a form oflanguage spread. Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics 1987, 1l~132. - - . 1989. Grammatical agreement in Classical Arabic and the modem dialects: A response to Versteegh's pidginization hypothesis. Al-'ArabiY.Ya 22(1-2):5-17. - - . 1995a. Long-term commitment and lucky events. Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics 1995, ed. by James E. Alatis, Carolyn A. Straehle, Brent Gallenberger and Maggie Ronkin, 10-24. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press [Also to appear in First Person Singular Ill, ed. by Konrad Koemer, Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.]. - - . 1995b. Variation and drift: Loss of agreement in Germanic. Towards a Social Science of Lo.nguoge: Papers in Honor of William Labov, Vol. 1 Variation and Change in Language and Society ed. by Gregory Guy, John Baugh, Deborah Schiffrin and Crawford Feagin, 173-198. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins [Reprinted in Sociolinguistic Perspectives: Papers on Lo.nguoge in Society, 1959-19941 Charles A. Ferguson, ed. by Thorn Huebner. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1996:24160.]. - - and Carol B. Farwell. 1973. Words and sounds in early language acquisition: The development of initial consonantism in the acquisition of the first fifty words. Papers and Reports on Child Language Development 6; 1-60. Fischer, Wolfdietrich and Otto Jastrow. 1980. Handbuch der arabischen Dialekte. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. Flick, Johann. 1950. 'Arabi!Jia: Untersuchungen zur Arabischen Sprach- und Stilgeschichte. Berlin: Akademie. Harris, Zellig S. 1939. Development of the Canaanite Dialects: An Investigation in Linguistic History. New Haven: American Oriental Society. Jastrow, Otto. 1983. Review of FJ. Cadora, Interdialectal Lexical Compatibility in Arabic: An Ana!Ytical Study of the Lexical Relationships among the Mqior .$yro-Lebanese Varieties (1979). Journal of Semitic Studies 28(1):204-07. Kaye, Alan S. 1976. Chadian and Sudanese Arabic in the Light of Comparative Arabic Dialectology. The Hague & New Jersey: Mouton. - - . 1985. On the importance of pidgins and creoles for historical linguistics. Diachronica 2(2):201-230. - - . 1986. The verb "see" in Arabic dialects. The Fergusonian Impact: In Honor of Charles A. Ferguson on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday, 1· From Phonology to Society ed. by Joshua Fishman et al., 211-21. Berlin, New York, Amsterdam: Mouton de Gruyter. Labov, William. 1966. The Social Stratification of English in New York City. Washington, D.C.: Center for Applied Linguistics. - - . 1972. Sociolinguistic Patterns. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. - - . 1982. Building on Empirical Foundations. Perspectives on Historical Linguistics ed. by Yakov Malkiel & Winfred Lehmann, 17-92. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Meiseles, Gustav. 1980. Educated Spoken Arabic and the Arabic Language continuum. Archivum Linguisticum 11: 118-43.



Miller, Ann M. 1986. The origin of the Modem Arabic Sedentary Dialects: An evaluation of several theories. AI-'ArabiJ!ya 19(1-2):47-74. Mitchell, Terry F. 1978. Educated Spoken Arabic in Egypt and the Levant, with special reference to participle and tense. Journal qf Linguistics 14:227-259. - - . 1986. What is educated spoken Arabic? International Journal qf the Sociology qf Language 61:7-32. Palva, Heikki. 1982. Patterns of koineization in modem Colloquial Arabic. Acta Orientalia 43: 13-32. Rabin, Chaim. 1951. Ancient West-Arabian. London: Tay1or's Foreign Press. Versteegh, Kees. 1984. Pidginization and Creoli;:.ation: 7he Case qf Arabic. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. - - . 1993. Leveling in the Sudan: From Arabic creole to Arabic dialect. International Journal qf the Sociology qf Language 99:65-79. Zwetder, Michael. 1978. the Oral Tradition qf Classical Arabic Poetry: Its Character and Implications. Co1umbus: Ohio State University Press.

1. Growth and structure of the Egyptian Arabic dialect. By HARRIS BIRKELAND. (Avhandlinger utgitt av Det Norske Videnskaps-Akademi i Oslo: 11. Hist.-filos. Klasse, 1952, No. 2.) pp. 57. Oslo: Jacob Dybwad, 1952. Reviewed by CHARLES A. FERGUSON

Foreign Seroice Institute



This slender monograph is of interest for two reasons: as a byproduct of its main theme it offers the first explicitly phonemic analysis in print of the Egyptian Arabic dialect; and it represents the first serious attempt to apply modern structuralist techniques to diachronic analysis of the Arabic language and its various dialects. These two subjects will be dealt with separately below. The author, who is among the very few scholars working with structural methods in the field of Semitic linguistics, 1 came to study Egyptian Arabic in following up his interest in the pausal forms of earlier Arabic, and this interest shows itself throughout the book. For this reason the title is somewhat misleading: the data studied are primarily features of the phonology connected with pausal forms and word-final phenomena. He also touches on some other features of the phonology, but makes no attempt to consider "growth and structure" in morphology, syntax, or lexicon. The Egyptian vowel system presented in Chapter 4 may be summarized as follows. There are five long vowels ii e l 0 ii and three short vowels a i u. Since long vowels are always stressed and short vowels are usually unstressed, there is some question as to the phonemic relevance of BOTII quantity and stress. In stressed nonfinal open syllables, however, both long and short vowels may occur. Birkeland therefore suggests a transcription in which stress is always marked, length is never marked, and shortness is marked only in the critical position. The analysis is clear and accurate, and the transcription is practical. The same analysis was reached independently at the Foreign Service Institute; but in our transcription we have marked length

I His previous works include Akzent und Vokalismus im Althebriiischen (Oslo, 1900); Altarabiscke Pausalformen (Oslo, 1940); The Syriac phonematic vowel systems, Festschrifl til ala! Broch (Oslo, 1947). He is now engaged in further study of the historical development of modem Arabic dialects.



throughout, instead of both stress and (in one position) shortness. Birkeland recognizes this possibility (38-9), but chooses his system because he feels that stress is the primary factor and length secondary. This viewpoint has much to commend it; Birkeland is probably right in assuming that a system based on stress is in the process of replacing the earlier one based on quantity. In any case, it is certainly a pleasure to see the lack of contrast between e and t and between ;; and u in Egyptian Arabic at last noted in print along with the general shortening of unstressed vowels, a distinct improvement on the transcription used by Gairdner and Elder.2 In several instances Birkeland is overcautious. He finds few if any minimal pairs for certain contrasts, such as nonfinal stressed a : ii (39), e : 1, [j: U (48), and concludes that although they are in each case separate phonemes, the oppositions are very litde utilized. While it is true that these oppositions are less fully utilized in Egyptian Arabic than in other dialects, there are still many minimal pairs. The following may serve as examples. (I mark length, not stress and shortness. ) a : ii

e: Z o : il

sawa "together" nada "dew"

'If "bread"

feT "birds" tob "garment" '01 "talk (noun)"

siiwa "he arranged" niida "he called"

'zf "live!"

fZT "fly!" tilb "repent!" 'ill "say!"

The analysis of the "phonematic diphthongs" (Chapter 5) is also clear and accurate. Earlier Arabic ay and aw have become e and [j respectively, and all instances of the phonemically distinct 19' and aw in modem Egyptian Arabic are either analogical new formations or loanwords from Classical Arabic or other languages. The author does not give a full treatment of the consonant pho2 The phonetic transcription devised by W.H.T. Gairdner with the aid of Daniel Jones and other English linguists is employed in Gairdner's The plwnetics if Arabic (London, 1925) and Egyptian colloquial Arabic (London, 1926), and in E.E. Elder's Egyptian colloquial Arabic reader (London, 1927). Though far superior to previous transcriptions of the dialect, it suffers from several glaring inaccuracies; one of these is the constant differentiation between short e and i and between short 0 and u, in spite of the fact that these distinctions are neither phonetically nor phonemically present in the dialect described. Thus, 'efna "our bread" and 'ifna "we lived", however they may differ morphologically, are identical in pronunciation. Somewhat better is the transcription used in the revised preliminary edition of the manual prepared for Shell Company employees by T.F. Mitchell, Egyptian colloquial Arabic (mimeographed; Cairo, ?1954). Even this transcription, though it satisfactorily indicates vowel shortenings, helping vowels, and elisions, still differentiates short e 0 from i u, and fails to mark the velarized phonemes r {! T[l, or even the t which is indicated in Gairdner's system.



nemes, offering as excuses the adequacy of Gairdner's phonetic description and his own inadequacy in the field of the latest "functional, acoustic view-points". It is unfortunate that he did not examine at least the problem of velarization. Since Gairdner shows the "modified" allophones of a and ii next to certain instances of r b m and not next to others, his data would probably have been sufficient for Birkeland to discover the contrasts r : 1, b : (J, m : TJ'l of Egyptian Arabic; and a discussion of the history of these oppositions would have been very interesting. In his analysis of the development of the Egyptian dialect the author sets forth two important assumptions, which are worth repeating here. The first (7) concerns the relationship of Classical Arabic and the dialects: (a) modem dialects are descended from Classical Arabic, the cArabfya, which was a koine of the Arabic tribes, somewhat artificial, but no more so than any literary language; (b) the development was not always direct, and there are cases where special dialects seem to be the source of particular features; and (c) possibly a later stage of the koine constitutes the starting-point of the dialects. This is an excellent, conservative statement of the working hypothesis which must be used in this kind of study until convincing counter-evidence is offered. Second (10), the forms of Egyptian Arabic are almost invariably derived from the PAUSAL forms of earlier Arabic, the only exceptions being the construct form of the feminine ending and a few relic forms. It is important to have this stated explicitly. It is clearly true, and certainly holds for many, if not all, Arabic dialects. Thus, instead of discussing the dropping of final short vowels as a phonetic change between earlier and modem Arabic, it is better to regard this phenomenon as a generalization of the pausal forms. The proof of this is that in cases where more or less than one short vowel is dropped in final position the resultant form invariably corresponds to the pausal form of Classical Arabic. As a corollary to this the author points out that those final short vowels which have been preserved were "protected" by a pausal -h in earlier Arabic. The reviewer agrees with this, and assumes that others interested in Arabic studies have also reached this conclusion; but it is good to see it stated unequivocally in print. The basic theme of the study is that the development of Egyptian Arabic is characterized by a succession of at least five well-defined stages, each of which presents a coherent structure. The stages are discussed in every chapter and are summarized briefly in the Conclusion (56-7). Structural linguists will all agree with the aim of describing the history of a language in terms of stages and structural



shifts, and the reasoning which the author uses in setting up his stages is generally sound. Since the whole series of reconstructed structures and shifts is of some general interest for linguists and Arabists, it will be recapitulated here. Birkeland describes each stage in terms of permitted final phoneme sequences and the kind of stress that was present, and gives the structural shifts which characterize each stage. His scheme is summarized in the accompanying table. STAGE



Cl. Ar.


none, phonetic or phonemic

-V, -V, -C, -CC; pausal -V, -C, -CC -V, -C, -CC

I 11





-V, -C, -CC



-C, -CC

same automatic word stress probable same strong stress

stressed becoming dominant over quantity


pausal forms generalized -Yh,




(fern. -h only)


-Vh > -V

(I) appearance of strong stress

(2) -YCiCV-, -VCuCV- > -VC CV(3) CiCV-, CuCV- > C(.!/)CV(4) unstressed -y- > -V(5) -VCC- > -VCC-Yh> -Y

The order of events outlined by the author seems correct, and the stages listed are probably also accurate; but two points which are probably well understood by the author are not made clear. In the first place, the various stages are not of the same importance structurally. From the point of view of phonological structure, Stages I through III are essentially the same. As soon as there was no longer any length contrast in final position it became meaningless to label final vowels in Arabic long or short; the shortening of final vowels was not a phonemic change. From Stage I through Stage IV the dialect had two sets of vowels medially (ii l U and a f u) and only one set finally (a i u). The latter were reflexes of earlier Arabic long a f u. It was only with the dropping of final -h after long vowels in Stage V that they became identified with short vowels. Phonetically, however, as Birkeland points out, they were probably shortened before



the dropping of -h after short vowels; otherwise the new short vowels might have contrasted with them instead of merging with them. The basic phonological structure, however, did not change during Birkeland's first three stages. On the other hand, Stage IV could be broken down into substages. All modern Arabic dialects known to me shared the changes listed for Birkeland's first three stages PLUS the changes I have listed as (1), (2) and (3) under Stage IV. Change (4) has taken place in some other dialects, but nowhere in more complete fashion than in Egyptian. Change (5) must form a separate stage at least from the first three, since it presumably took place independently in Egyptian Arabic. The location in time of the appearance of the whole series of regular morpho-phonemic alternations so characteristic of Egyptian Arabic would be of considerable importance. The dropping of final -h after long vowels (Stage V) has happened in many dialects, but apparently as a parallel development, not as a change shared In common. In the second place, investigation of permitted finals, stress, and several internal phonetic changes is not enough to characterize fully the phonological structure of the language. The development of other features should also be studied and the results correlated with these in order to have a more complete picture. Investigation of the relative chronology of features like the following could throw considerable light on the development of Arabic dialects in general and Egyptian Arabic in particular (some are treated by the author but none are placed chronologically): disappearance of a final glottal stop after short vowels (as in qara' "he read" > qara); disappearance of'V in the initial sequences 'iCC and 'uCC; appearance of stress on the second vowel in the sequence CVCCVCV; the change 1 d. ~ > t d 4; and the change g > g. But following up all these details would have compelled the author to expand his study very considerably, and would undoubtedly have postponed the appearance of this monograph. Instead of asking for more, we should certainly express our gratitude for what there is. Birkeland sees the problems, understands the methods of attacking them, and gives a very useful presentation of results. Having expressed fundamental agreement with the author's aims, methods, and results, however, I must draw attention to various details of his analysis which are questionable, usually because a given phenomenon is assumed to be purely Egyptian when it is in fact widespread in Arabic dialects. To attribute the coalescence of 1 and d. with t and d to the Coptic substratum (54) is clearly not justified. This change occurred also in



areas where Coptic was not spoken, and even in areas where the language previously spoken was Aramaic, which probably had the spirants as separate phonemes. This change is in fact characteristic of sedentary Arabic in many parts of the Arab world. Likewise, the assumption that the distribution of g and g in Egyptian Arabic is based on the Sa'fdi and Bohairic dialects of Coptic, although more plausible, certainly requires documentation. The author's conclusion (26) that the -s of Egyptian negation was introduced in the 14th century, which is then a terminus post quem for his Stage Ill, is surely not as certain as he claims; many points would have to be demonstrated before it could be accepted. First one would have to show that the modem dialects of Egypt and the Sudan are descended from a relatively homogeneous pre-14thcentury prototype isolated from other dialects. The author assumes this to be the case, but fails to examine the mass of evidence against it. Second, one would have to take into account the date of the appearance of -s in other dialects. At least two possibilities would have to be explored: (1) that the -swas present before the 14th century (cf. its presence in Moroccan Arabic) and was lost in the Sudan, or (2) that the -s was introduced more recently and spread to various areas including Lower Egypt (cf. the spreading of -s in South Lebanon). The appearance of the preceding long vowel could be based on analogy with the treatment of other suffixes or could be borrowed with -s from another dialect. Birkeland's date may be correct, but it is by no means proved, and cannot be used as a device for determining the absolute chronology of his Stages. The coalescence of prepositions with the preceding verb, which is listed as a feature of Stage III (25), is actually limited to one morpheme, 1- "to, for", which functions as a verbal suffix in many dialects. The suffixal use of 1- should probably be attributed to an earlier stage in the development of Arabic, possibly to the late koine which Birkeland suggests as the starting-point for the development of the modem dialects, although Egyptian Arabic differs from other dialects in having the -1- also AFTER pronoun endings (e.g. 'i'milhiili "do it for me"). The long vowels, or vowel plus semivowel, of riigil, huwwa, hiyya, yfgi are attributed to a process of lengthening under stress assumed in the development of the Egyptian dialect. This seems unlikely in view of the fact that all of these words occur in similar form in dialects which have had quite different developments in length and stress. The pronouns huwwa and hiyya should probably be reconstructed in this form for the late koine; riigil is one of the new formations which have almost everywhere replaced the unusual Classical pat-



tern ragu4· yigi may possibly3 come from a dialect when the root was either gy or ygy. The lack in Egyptian Arabic of the final -a which might have been expected to develop from the Classical accusative indefinite pause form in -ii, is explained by saying that it "has its root in a linguistic system where -an in pause had the same fate as -un and -in" (13); but this fails to place the point in its larger frame. As in the dropping of the final vowels, this is not a question of phonetic change but of analogical extension. Whenever the pausal forms of a noun in Classical Arabic differentiated more than one case, or whenever a noun had separate pausal forms for definite and indefinite, the form which represented the largest number of categories has invariably been generalized. Typical examples are summarized in the accompanying table; the middle column is the koine assumed to be the basis of most modern dialects. CL.




indef. indef. indef. indef. defin.

kalb kalba gal galiya gaa kiitibun kiitibfn kalban kalbayn



} } }





gali 4





This process is sufficient to account for the lack of -a in the accusative; there is no need to have recourse to a special dialectal feature in early Arabic. As a matter of fact, the dialectal feature alluded to may have been a reflection of the very process explained here. Further evidence to support this hypothesis is found in the few words where the accusative -ii, has survived as -a. These are noun forms which have persisted as polite formulas or adverbs, where the accusative form became separated semantically from the other forms of the noun. One such example, baqqa, is discussed by Birkeland in a somewhat perplexed way (15); further examples in various dialects 3 For this possibility see J. Cantineau, us paTlers aTabes du Hiiran 245-6 (Paris, 1946). 4 Two exceptions are known to the reviewer, where the N G indefinite form of a noun of this type has been the basis of the modern development: Eastern Arabic ciil "fine, excellent" (but cf. ciili "high") and Western Arabic wiid "river" (but cf. Eastern Arabic wiidi). The former is mentioned by Birkeland (16). A third possible exception is the uninflected form mils "going to" used in Tunisian Arabic, but this may be a modern shortening of the full forms which are also in use in the dialect.



are mar~aba "hello" and 'ahla wsahla "welcome" (Lebanese), and dzma "always" (Moroccan). The forms with -an are not relic forms as Birkeland suggests, but are clearly loanwords from the Classical languages: the relics are the words in -a. The account offered of the origin of the second- and third-person pronominal suffixes (12, 19) is not completely clear. Classical Arabic -ka, -ki "you, your", masculine and feminine respectively, are represented in Egyptian Arabic, as in many other dialects, by -ak, -ik. The author naturally rejects the explanation of simple metathesis which is sometimes given, but his statement that the masculine comes from the Classical accusative and the feminine from the genitive is misleading. The present vowel of the suffix occupies the position of the case ending in earlier Arabic, but in back of this development, as well as that of the masculine third-person singular ending -u, is probably the assimilation of the preceding vowel before the final vowel was dropped. In other words, pausal forms with the present vowels must have developed, then the pausal forms were generalized, and finally -h was dropped, giving the modem forms. This process is hinted at by the author (19), but could have been more clearly explained. It is summarized in the following table, where parentheses indicate final short vowels dropped with the generalization of pausal forms: CLASSICAL


N baytuka, G baytilca, A baytaka N baytuki, G baytiki, A bf91taki N baytuhu, G baytihi, A bf91tahu

NGA *baytaic(a) NGA *bf91tik(i) NGA *bf91tuh(u)


bltaic betik bltu

The dynamics of this development are then similar to those described above for the amalgamation of case endings. The origin of special altemants -k, -ki, -(h) of these pronominal suffixes after stems ending in a vowel is also not made completely clear by the author. The -k is a direct reflex of Classical -k(a). The modem -ka of which Birkeland speaks is not used in Egyptian Arabic proper, but is found in some varieties of Sudan Arabic and is irrelevant to the discussion. The -ki is probably either from *kZ, representing a feature of Arabic dialects differing from Classical,5 or an analogical formation based on the masculine, feminine, plural suffixes (zero, -i, -u) found in the imperative, the imperfect, and as a later development in the perfect (Egyptian Arabic -t, -ti, -tu). In this connection it must be noted that the second-person pronominal suffixes 5 For an extended discussion of the *-Ai" possibility see J. Cantineau, Vne alternance quantitative dans les pronoms suffixes semitiques, BSL 38. 148-64 (1937).



after vowels in Egyptian Arabic are now usually -k, -ki, -ku (cf. Cl. Ar. -ka, -ki, -kum). Birkeland is to be congratulated on applying structural linguistic methods to the analysis of Arabic dialects; his further work in this field should prove extremely valuable. In the reviewer's mind there is no question that the path toward fuller understanding of Old Arabic dialects and the development of the Arabic language is to be found by an intensive attack on the modem dialects and the rigorous application of current linguistic techniques. The study under review demonstrates unusual knowledge of facts and methods; but a more intimate knowledge of a wider range of dialects would have provided a corrective to some of the main hypotheses, and investigation of additional aspects of the structure of the language would have rounded out the work. It is to be hoped that Birkeland will continue his work in this field and provide us with more and larger studies as stimulating as this one.

2. Stress patterns in Arabic. By HAruus BIRKELAND. (Avhandlinger utgitt av Det Norske Videnskaps-Akademi i Oslo: 11. Hist.-filos. Klasse, No. 3.) P. 45. Oslo: Jacob Dybwad, 1954. Reviewed by CHARLES A. FERGUSON Harvard University The central thesis of this study is that Classical Arabic had no word stress at all, either phonologically significant or automatic as a function of the syllabic structure of the word; that a pattern of fixed stress developed in Eastern non-Arabian Arabic (Syria-Iraq-Egypt) and spread to many other dialects; and finally that this pattern was applied to Classical Arabic so that the present systems of stress used in reading Classical Arabic are later and derivative, not original. As a corollary to this thesis the author maintains that the phenomena in Western Arabic usually attributed to a shift of stress actually preserve an earlier state of affairs, and that the present system of stress in these dialects is in effect identical with the pattern originating in Syria-Iraq-Egypt and has been introduced from that area. This is a reversal of the traditional hypothesis. For the first point of Birkeland's thesis, that there was no fixed stress in Classical, the arguments are fairly convincing. He presents them in a running, almost conversational style, and it may be worthwhile to collect and summarize them here. (1) Arab grammarians do not mention any phenomena which could be interpreted as stress (13). (2) In other Semitic languages many elisions and reductions of vowels took place in connection with the development of systems of stress. Classical Arabic was remarkably conservative in this respect, preserving the Proto-Semitic vowel system until far into the Christian era. The modem dialects, however, show elisions and reductions similar to those of the other Semitic languages. Therefore it is likely that a system of stress (connected with or "causing" these changes) developed between Classical Arabic and the modem dialects (36-8). (3) In certain modem dialects (e.g. Horan, Palmyra, Jewish Central Yemenite) stress is vague and unstable. These dialects may represent the earlier stage before the present stress system came into force (16, 17). (4) Classical Arabic words ending in -cyc (pausal form) are con-



tinued in modem dialects with stress on the final syllable -C'llC. But Classical Arabic words of this kind where the final consonant is a glottal stop (-cy') have no final glottal stop in modem dialects and are stressed on the preceding syllable (-cv). If the stress had already been on the final syllable in Classical Arabic, the loss of a final glottal stop would probably have left the stress on the final long vowel. Therefore the glottal stop must have been dropped before the system of stress developed (9-12). Argument (1) is of considerable importance in view of the detailed attention paid to the sounds of the language by the grammarians; even now there is no unambiguous word for stress in Arabic. Birkeland could have also pointed out explicitly what may be implied on pages 12 and 13, that Classical Arabic poetry is based exclusively on quantitative meters, with stress apparently having no relevance. Arguments (2) and (3) are nice supporting arguments but cannot be regarded as offering anything like solid proof. Argument (4) is highly ingenious and deserving of careful consideration. While it does not demonstrate beyond doubt the lack of stress in Classical Arabic, it does show that at least in the koine which underlies most of the non-Arabian dialects (and probably in many peninsular dialects as well), words which in Classical Arabic had final long vowel plus glottal stop were treated like Classical words with final long vowel and not like Classical words with final long vowel plus consonant. While the sequence of events described by Birkeland is highly probable, other possibilities are not excluded. For example, the dialect or blend of dialects which became standardized as Classical Arabic may show an innovation in this feature (-cy'), whereas the koine and modem dialects continue earlier forms in -cv. It is worth noting that in other Semitic languages there seem to be no noun forms corresponding to Arabic filalii', fa'lii', etc. l In addition to the arguments given by the author, other evidence could be examined bearing on Classical Arabic stress, notably the treatment of loanwords to and from other languages in which stress is phonemic. On the whole, the author's case for the lack of sharply defined stress in Classical Arabic seems sufficiently strong to be accepted until contrary evidence comes to light. The author's corollary about Western Arabic stress is less convincing. It seems to the reviewer at least equally likely that Western Arabic inherited the variable stress pattern which can be reconstructed tentatively for the koine. Then the tendency to stress the second syllable 1 As Birkeland suggests (35), the coalescence of final -I and -uww may be connected with this problem in some way.


and of -ii and



of dissyllabic words became established in Western Arabic, followed by the dropping of the first vowel in such words when the first syllable was open (koine *katab > *ktlt3b > WAr. kttlb). This sequence, with some analogical formations, seems sufficient to explain most of the elisions and reductions of Western Arabic. The fact that in many cases the stress in Western Arabic now falls on a syllable which would be appropriate by the stress rules of Eastern dialects (though not on the same etymological syllable as in the cognates because of the elisions) is hardly sufficient evidence to prove the spread of the stress system from the East. It could quite plausibly be an internal development within Western Arabic. It is somewhat surprising that the author did not concern himself with reconstructing in greater detail the stress situation in the koine, especially in view of his great interest in this koine. 2 In the reviewer's opinion at least the following tentative conclusions about word stress can be drawn even on the slight evidence now available. In the koine: (A) Generally, the principal stress was on the long syllable nearest the end of the word, otherwise on the first syllable of the word. (Long = containing a long vowel or a short vowel followed by two consonants.) (B) Running counter to this there were two minor tendencies: (I) Stress tended to be on the syllable before a pronoun ending: *fiijitak "she saw you", *'afkitrak "I thank you", *katdbu(h) "he wrote it", beside *fd.ftak, *'aJkurak, *katabu(h). (2) Stress tended in certain instances to be on the short syllable following the long syllable nearest the end of the word (*madrdsa "school" beside *mtidrasa, *yiftigil "he works" beside *yiftigil). (C) Finally, in some areas, or among certain groups of speakersand we must assume that the koine was not completely homogeneous-there was a tendency for the stress to be on the second syllable of dissyllabic words (*katdb "he wrote" beside *katab). The main trend (A) is the basis of most of the stress system in Syrian, Iraqi, and Egyptian. The prepronominal stress (B 1) occurs very often as a variant in Iraqi Arabic and sporadically in Syrian Arabic and elsewhere. The stress after the long syllable (B2) became generalized in Egyptian, occurs in certain cases in Syrian Arabic, and may be reflected in features of the Syrian pronunciation of Classical Arabic (e.g. madrdsatun "a school" beside pausal mtidrasah). The final stress (C) is chiefly a characteristic of certain Bedouin dialects but apparently became generalized in the variety of the koine which developed into the modem Western Arabic dialects. 2


Birkeland, Growth and structure qf Egyptian Arabic (Oslo, 1952).



The whole matter of stress in Arabic, and in the Semitic languages as a whole, needs further investigation. In spite of the large literature on Arabic dialects, especially on Syrian and Moroccan, there is no satisfactory structural description of the stress system of any variety of Arabic. It must also be noted that any consideration of Arabic word stress which does not take phrasal stress patterns into account is bound to be incomplete and misleading. Birkeland's study is a stimulating attempt to understand some of the historical problems involved, and as such will prove valuable; but probably the most fruitful approach at present would be the careful analysis of stress phenomena in various modern Arabic dialects and in various traditional pronunciations of Classical Arabic followed by reconstruction of earlier conditions.

3. THE ARABIC KOINE CHARLES A. FERGUSON Center for Applied Linguistics

o. It has usually been assumed l that the modem Arabic dialects are on the whole lineal descendants of Classical Arabic or of a variety very similar to this. 2 Stated differently, this assumption holds that apart from borrowings and innovations the linguistic substance of the modem dialects is a direct continuation of an earlier stage of Arabic substantially identical with the Classical Arabic of the grammarians, with only a few isolated instances in which one or more of the modem dialects seem to preserve archaisms antedating the codification of the Classical language. Until clear contradictory evidence is produced, this assumption will have to stand as the most reasonable working hypothesis. The purpose of the present study is to offer one important refinement to this hypothesis, namely that most modem Arabic dialects descend from the earlier language through a form of Arabic, called here the koine, 3 which was not identical with any of the earlier dialects and which differed in many significant respects I Three linguists read a draft of this study: Haim Blanc, Jacqueline Wei, and Joseph Van Campen. All made helpful suggestions about the substance and the presentation, many of which I followed. The responsibility for all facts and opinions, however, remains mine. 2 Cf. C. Brockelmann, Semitische Sprachwissenschajt 41-4 (Berlin-Leipzig, 1916); C. Bergstrasser, Einfiihrung in du semitischen Sprachen 156 (Munich, 1928); D.L. O'Leary, Comparative grammar qf the Semitic languages 16-20 (London, 1923); and J.H. Kramers, De semutische Talen 47-8 (Leiden, 1949). 3 This thesis is not new: the term "koine" has been used before in approximately this sense for the history of the Arabic language; cf. AIEO 14.7 (1956), Enc. qf Islo:m 2 1. 574 Col. 1, line 19 if. (Leiden, 1957). This essay is, however, the first attempt known to me to establish the thesis by a full linguistic argument. Two diachronic studies of Arabic have appeared recently which attempt to sketch the phonological developments from the koine to a modern dialect, in one case that of Cairo, in the other Jerusalem: H. Birkeland, Growth and structure qf the Egyptian Arabic dialect (Oslo, 1952), and I. Garbell, Remarks on the historical phonology of an Eastern Mediterranean Arabic dialect, Word 14. 303-45 (1958). My views on Birkeland's study were expressed in a review in 19. 30. 558-64 (1954); the writing of that review was the stimulus for putting the present article on paper. The Garbell study appeared after the article was completed, but footnote references to it have been added. Both studies are structuralist in approach and both present valuable material, the Garbell study being especially rich in historical and dialectal detail. In my view both studies err on the side of placing specific phonological changes at too recent a period and in too localized an area. Many of the changes they attribute separately and at a late date to Egyptian and Eastern Mediterranean Arabic are




from Classical Arabic but was used side by side with the Classical language during early centuries of the Muslim era. It is well known that there were great dialect differences in Arabia in pre-Islamic times, and it is widely accepted4 that the Classicallanguage, the 'Arabiyyah of the grammarians, was based on a standard poetic language not necessarily identical with anyone dialect, but in oral use by poets and orators of many dialects and known to us fairly directly from the remnants of pre-Islamic poetry and from the Qur)an. Mter the 'Arabiyyah became accepted throughout the world of Islam and was explicitly codified in the works of the grammarians, it remained essentially unchanged in phonology and morphology until the present time, when it is still accepted as the norm both for written and for formal spoken Arabic. 5 During the centuries, however, spoken Arabic, even at the time of Mul)ammad quite different from the 'Arabiyyah in many parts of Arabia, diverged increasingly from this standard. It is a priori quite likely that some dialect differences in Arabic today continue the early dialect differences mentioned above, but on the whole there is little evidence of such continuation on any large scale. It is the thesis of this article (1) that a relatively homogeneous koine, not based on the dialect of a single center, developed as a conversational form of Arabic and was spread over most of the Islamic world in the first centuries of the Muslim era, (2) that this koine existed side by side with the 'Arabiyyah although it was rarely used for written purposes, and (3) that most modem dialects, especially those outside Arabia, are continuations of this koine, so that their differences are chiefly borrowings or innovations which took likely to have occurred much earlier, often in the formation of the koine itsel£ Further investigation is clearly required to determine the relative merits of these views. 4 C. Rabin, The beginnings of Classical Arabic, Studia Islamica 4. 19-38 (1955); id., Enc. qf Islam2 1. 564--7; R. Blachere, Histoire de la litterature arabe 66-82 (Paris, 1952). Certain specific explanations of the origin of the 'Arabiyyah (e.g. the Meccan or Qurayshi dialect) can be rejected; others (e.g. from the dominant dialect of the Kinda confederacy, the dialect of I:Ifra) can be neither accepted nor rejected until more evidence is available. Unfortunately, the term "koine" (or "poetic koine") has also been used to refer to the pre-Islamic standard which was the basis of the 'Arabiyyah. Rabin, Beginnings, has pointed out the inappropriateness of this term for a language apparendy used litde if at all for ordinary conversation. If the term "koine" becomes generally accepted in this meaning, the Arabic koine which is the subject of the present article will have to be called Koine 11 or something of the sort to differentiate them. Cr. Enc. qf Islam2 1. 574, where both uses of koine occur in the same paragraph. 5 For statements of the present relationship between Classical Arabic and the dialects, see AF. Sultanov, National language and script reform in the countries of the Arab East, Akademiku VA. Gordlevslromu ... 252-74 (Moscow, 1953) [in Russian]; A Chejne, The role of Arabic in present-day Arab Society, The Islamic literature 10. 4:15-54 (April, 1958); C.A. Ferguson, Diglossia, Word 15. 325-40 (1959).



place subsequent to the spread of the koine. The situation is thus partly analogous to the frequently cited case of Greek, 6 in which the modem dialects are not direct descendants of the early dialects but derive from the koine, and the present dialect differences are generally innovations which took place subsequent to the spread of the koine. The major differences between the two cases are the persistence of Classical Arabic virtually unchanged through the entire time span of this series of developments, and the fact that the Greek koine was based to a large extent on the spoken Greek of a single center. It seems highly probable that the beginnings of the koine already existed before the great expansion of Arabic with the spread of Islam, but it also seems probable that the full development of the koine coincided with this expansion, which brought about mingling of the original dialects, caused large numbers of speakers of other languages to adopt Arabic, and required intercommunication throughout the whole world of Islam. Also, it seems highly probable that the koine developed chiefly in the cities and in the armies and that its spread coincided roughly with the spread of urban Arabo-Islamic culture. In some cases small pockets of spoken Arabic doubtless remained relatively unaffected by the koine, and in certain instances even fairly large-sized migrations (e.g. Bani Hilal in North Mrica) established in certain areas varieties of Arabic quite distinct from the main mass of koine-based Arabic dialects. Generally, modem beduin dialects are not descended directly from the koine, and some sedentary dialects have been "beduinized" by the incorporation of certain elements. But all these constitute only a small fraction of the total Arabic speech community: it is the dialects of the overwhelming majority-chiefly the sedentary populations outside the Peninsulawhich are under discussion in this study. It must be noted that no attempt is made here to date the formation of the koine with any precision or to locate its boundaries at any period; the validity of the study does not depend on any historical verification of the TIME or PLACE at which the koine existed, much though historical documentation of the FACT of the koine's existence is welcome as a confirmation of the thesis. The basic argument is very simple. The modem dialects agree with one another as against Classical Arabic in a striking number of features. If these features can plausibly be interpreted as a natural development or "drift" which continues early trends (e.g. loss of glottal stop, reduction of inflectional categories, increase of symmetry in the grammar) the agreement among the dialects as against Classical 6

Cf. A. Meillet, A perfu d'une histoire de la langue grecque 259-64 (Paris, 1913).




proves nothing, because it is perfectly possible that parallel changes of this sort could have taken place independently in the various dialects. But if some of these features are complicated, systemically isolated items difficult· to account for by drift, and if there is a sizable number of such features, then the agreement among the dialects as against Classical shows that these dialects come from a common, non-Classical source. Once again it must be noted that no assumption is made here that all the features developed or became widespread at the same TIME (several may have appeared very early, before the full development of the koine) , but the FACT of their existence is sufficient for the argument. It may even be true that a few of the features of the koine continued an original state while the corresponding forms of Classical were the innovations. Fourteen features in which modem dialects agree as against the 'Arabiyyah will be described here. Each "feature" is in fact a constellation of minimum linguistic elements which, taken together, seem likely to have functioned as a unit in the historical development of Arabic. Most of the features are morphological, but three lexical features and one phonological feature are included. The features selected for description are those which seem most convincing to me. Many other features could be adduced as possible supporting evidence which are not as fully satisfYing for the basic argument as the ones chosen. On the other hand, once the thesis is accepted, we may proceed with somewhat more confidence to a reconstruction of the koine, making judicious use of features of agreement which were not the basis of the original argument. Subsequent studies will do this, offering a fairly full outline of the sounds and forms of the koine so far as they can be inferred from the modem dialects or other evidence. The assumption is made here that the koine came into existence through a complex process of mutual borrowing and leveling among various dialects and not as a result of diffusion from a single source. The reason for making this assumption is that the history of the Arabic-speaking world shows no evidence of long-continued linguistic predominance of a single center of prestige and communication. Great respect has always been accorded to beduin Arabic as opposed to the language of settled populations; since the 2nd century of the Muslim era some lip-service has been paid to the superiority of the Meccan or the Qurayshi dialect; and a great deal of discussion has always taken place about which spoken variety is the "best" kind of Arabic, i.e. nearest to the Classical. But there is no evidence of conscious or unconscious normative influence on the whole spoken language from a single center over a long period of time. In this



respect the modem Arab world remains unchanged. No variety of spoken Arabic is accepted as the norm or standard for the whole speech community, although of course important centers of prestige and communication may exert a considerable linguistic influence over a certain region (e.g. Cairo Arabic in Egypt). 1. Before listing the features themselves it may be useful to give some indications of the nature of the drift of Arabic. It is assumed here that a language or group of related languages (i.e. continuations of a single language) often shows a "drift" or general direction of development consisting of a number of specific trends more or less integrated into a total pattern. Arabic is a good example of this: certain trends continue or recur throughout the history of the Arabic language. Several of these trends are found also in other Semitic languages and may be regarded as a part of the drift of the Semitic family as a whole; others are more particularly Arabic. The phonological drift of Arabic includes the following trends: loss of glottal stop, loss of final -h, increase in number and symmetry of "emphatic" consonants, qy > e and aw > 0, loss of unstressed short i and u (or phonemes derived from them) in open syllables, shortening of unstressed long vowels, and vowel assimilation (e.g. CaCiC > CiCiC). Some of these phonological trends have had morphological consequences; thus, loss of final glottal stop leads to merger of finalhamzah and final-weak verbs. Some of the more specialized phonological developments of particular dialects have had even more far-reaching morphological Consequences; thus, merger of /a/ and /i/ in Maghribi leads to disappearance of the active/passive distinction in participles of derivative verbs. An important trend on the border of phonology and morphology has been the development of a difference between pause forms and context forms of words and then the generalization of pause forms to all positions. 7 Pause forms are generally but not always shorter than the corresponding context forms, which in earlier Arabic often have final inflectional material lacking in the pause forms. Morphological trends include development of suffix altemants conditioned by the consonantal or vocalic nature of the preceding phoneme, reduction in the number of inflectional categories, and re-forming of nontriconsonantal roots into the triconsonantal norm. All these trends appeared very early in the history of Arabic and are still in force today; they have worked at varying speeds and with 7 This trend is treated at some length in Birkeland, Growth and structure, as well as in his earlier Altarabische Pausalformen (Oslo, 1940). er. also Ig. 30. 560, 563 (1954).




great variation in detail at different times and places. But they tend to continue or to recur, and they are generally irreversible. Accordingly, features of dialect agreement as against Classical which seem to fit in with or exemplify these trends will not be used here as direct evidence for the existence of the koine. 2. The first two features to be described here are rather general in nature, i.e. they cut across major word classes. One is the special pattern of loss of the dual, the other is the unexpected presence of short i vowels in certain affixes in which Classical Arabic has short a.

I. Loss OF THE DUAL. Gradual loss of dual forms is a familiar story in the history of Indo-European and Semitic languages, while good examples of the formation of a new dual are hard to find in the history of these languages. Also, the reduction of inflectional categories is part of the drift of Arabic. Accordingly, the absence of dual forms in the dialects in contrast with their presence in the cArabiyyah is not in itself an argument for our thesis. One might expect that all dialects would show fewer dual forms than Classical, with regional variation in the degree of retention and in the exact details. This is the case, however, only in the dual of nouns, which is regular and may be formed from almost any singular noun in Classical Arabic but shows considerable variation in the dialects. Thus, Moroccan has special dual forms only for nouns of measure and a few others-and even these are probably Classicisms-while Syrian has a regular and highly productive dual of nouns. But there are two striking elements of agreement in the details of the loss of the dual in the dialects. One is that the dual forms of adjectives, pronouns, and verbs have disappeared everywhere without a trace. 8 If this were a natural development or a part of the drift of the language one would expect the same kind of differences as those found in the dual of nouns, with dialects varying in the amount of retention and with some dialects preserving some instances and other dialects preserving others. Such an argument from silence, however, is not completely convincing. The other element is the nature of the concord with the dual. In Classical Arabic a verb, pronoun, B It seems quite likely that the dual forms of verbs and pronouns as well as the dual agreement of adjectives are analogical extensions in "Ur-arabisch" from the dual form of the noun, which was presumably present in Proto-Sernitic. But these additional duals were apparendy well established, although with regional variations in detail, in the dialects of Arabia at the time of Mul}.ammad, and were lost again in the development of the modem dialects.



or adjective which refers to a preceding dual noun is also dual. On the other hand, in Classical Arabic as well as in the dialects a verb, pronoun, or adjective which refers to a preceding plural noun is either plural or feminine singular, the plural generally being used if the noun refers to human beings, the feminine singular if it refers to animals or objects. Accordingly, with the gradual disappearance of the dual forms one would expect that the same kind of concord would be found with dual nouns as with plural nouns. But this is not the case: the dual noun wherever it occurs in the dialects requires plural, not feminine singular agreement, whether it refers to persons or to things. Thus Classical 9 bqytiini kab'irani "two large houses" and bl!Jlutun kab'iratun (f sg) "large houses" contrasts with Syrian bitin kbar (pI) "two large houses" and byut kb'ire (f sg) "large houses". These two details in the development of the dual category in the dialects seem a good piece of evidence for a common non-Classical origin: complete loss of the dual in the adjective, the pronoun, and the verb; obligatory PLURAL concord with dual nouns. 11. TALTALAH. A number of inflectional affixes which contain lal in Classical Arabic have in modem dialects the reflexes of lil (including zero) instead of those of lal whenever the dialect in question has retained the a-i contrast. The use of lil for lal in some of these affixes (the prefixes of the imperfect) was noted as dialectal even by the grammarians, who gave to this phenomenon, regarded as a defect, the name taltatah.1O If the modem dialects to a considerable extent continued the earlier dialects one would expect either that some dialects should have reflexes of I a I and others those of li/, or that there should be variation in this respect in single dialects. Instead, all dialects outside Arabia seem to have the reflexes of lil instead of those of lal in the following affixes:

9 The examples in this article are kept to the minimum necessary to illustrate the points, and the same words are used repeatedly to illustrate different points in order that the non-Arabist may be able to follow the argument without the burden of too many unfamiliar items to deal with. The usual order of citation will be: Classical form, gloss, colloquial form, with the two Arabic forms in commensurate phonemic notations. Unless otherwise specified, the colloquial items are in a slighdy normalized Syrian (= Garbell's Eastern Mediterranean Arabic); they are usually Jerusalem Arabic, but where this is aberrant in the Syrian area a more typical form is supplied. Although a procedure of this kind has obvious pitfalls, it is hoped that no change has been made which affects the argument. Other procedures were rejected because the points to be made would have been obscured in a mass of irrelevant details. 10 Ct Rabin, Ancient West Arabian 61~3, map 60 (London, 1951).




subject prefixes of the imperfect: lOa ta- in taftaHu "you open", tiftaH ya- in yf!fiaHu "he opens", yiftaH ta- in taftaHu "she opens", tiftaH na- in nf!fiaHu "we open", nfftaH intransitivizing prefix ta-: taCallama "he learned", tCallam yataCallamu "he learns", yitCallam context form of the feminine suffix -at-: guifatuka "your room", guiftak guifatuhum "their room", guifithum connective prefix wa- "and": walbintu "and the girl", wilbint alternant -al- of the definite article prefix after min "from": 11 mina lbayti "from the house", mnilblt prefixed 'a- of the "plurals of paucity": 'alsunun "tongues", 'ilsun 'argifotun "loaves", 'iri.fe preformative 'a- of the second-person pronouns: 'anta ''you (m sg)", 'inte It could be suggested that this lil for lal is either a general phonetic change or a morphologically conditioned change of some kind affecting all affixes. In either case the dialect agreement would not then be an argument for the assumption of a koine. But initial Caremains in the vast majority of instances apart from presumed vowel assimilations of the type CaCi > CiCi (examples: kataba "he wrote", katab; katabtu "I wrote", katabt; fahima "he understood", fihim; fahimutu "I understood",jhimt). Also, there are some affixes with lal in Classical which have the expected lal reflexes in the dialects. For example, the first-person subject prefix of the imperfect 'a- has generally remained, except where it has been replaced by the analogical n- of Maghribi. 12 Also, the ma- and mi- prefixes of Classical place, time, and instrument nouns have survived in the dialects, and in fact even with an increase in the proportion of ma- to mi-. Also, the prefix li- ~ la- "to, for" of Classical has la- or even /ii- allomorphs in various dialects. 3. The verb system of the modem dialects generally continues the earlier system as represented by Classical Arabic, with most of the Cf. Garbell, Remarks 312. Cf. Rabin, Ancient West Arabian 71-3, map 72; Garbell, Remarks 334. 12 In some parts of the Syrian dialect area (e.g. Damascus, most of Lebanon) the 'a- prefix has followed the analogy of the other prefixes of the imperfect; but this is clearly a subsequent development, since the 'a- remains in Iraq, Egypt, and much of the Syrian area, having even spread to Form 11 and III verbs where the prefix was 'u- in Classical. Cf. Melanges Massignon 1. 312-3 (Damascus, 1956). lOa




changes exemplifying the trends of generalizing pause forms and reducing inflectional categories. Even some of the differences between Classical Arabic and the dialects which seem at first sight to be striking agreements for my thesis turn out on closer inspection to be natural consequences of these two trends. As an example I may cite the agreement which the dialects show in having a long stem vowel in the imperative of middle-weak verbs (cf. Classical qum, sir, xaj, colloquial qilm, sfr, xiif). However, the loss of the indicative/subjunctive/jussive contrasts in the imperfect and the generalization of the most frequent pause form of the stem would call for exactly this development. Even such widespread phenomena as the disappearance of the passive and of Form-IV verbs could be attributed in large part to phonological trends (vowel assimilation, loss of glottal stop). But there are at least three differences which cannot be accounted for in this way: the loss of final-wiiw verbs, the re-formation of geminate verbs, and the development of a verb suffix -/- "to, for". Ill. Loss OF FINAL-wiiw VERBS. Classical Arabic has five kinds of primary verbs with a "weak" final root-consonant (e.g. ramii, gazii, sa'ii, baqiya, saruwa). Of these the first two types are by far the most common, followed in frequency by the fourth; the third is relatively rare and the fifth so rare as to be negligible. That the fifth type (saruwa) should vanish is not surprising, but that the second type (gazii) should disappear in the dialects is a significant feature of dialect agreement as against Classical. The only apparent vestiges are either obvious Classicisms such as the politeness formula 'arjilk "please" [= "I beg you"] or marginal phenomena such as the Tunisian baby word iHbu "he goes on all fours". Otherwise, the verbs of the second type have merged completely with those of the first type (ramii). Examples: ramii "he threw", rama ramaytu "I threw", ramn yarmf "he throws", yirmi gazii "he raided", gaza gazawtu "I raided", gazet (expected *gazot) yagzil "he raids", yigzi (expected *y~zu)

IV. RE-FORMATION OF GEMINATE VERBS. In all varieties of Arabic the verbs of which the second and third root-consonants are identical ("geminate roots") have certain forms which differ from those of verbs with "sound" roots. Classical Arabic showed some fluctuation in the imperfect (and imperative) of these geminate verbs, and it is of some general interest to note which of the alternative forms survived in the dialects, but this does not really advance the argument here. Also, in the dialects the active participle in verbs of this type is CiiCiC,




contrasting with the CaCC of the Classical language, but this can be regarded as a natural development since (a) all other primary verb types have CaCiC in Classical and (b) the syllable type CYC is extremely rare in Classical Arabic, occurring chiefly in these very participles. One difference, however, between Classical Arabic and the dialects in the inflection of these verbs is highly significant: in Classical the normal first and second person forms of the perfect are exactly analogous to those of sound verbs (e.g. Halaltu "I untied": katabtu "I wrote"; masistu "I touched": 'amiltu "I worked"); in the dialects the corresponding forms are similar to final-weak forms (e.g. Hallet "I untied", masset "I touched"; cf. katabt, ramet) and are in fact identical with the first- and second-person perfect forms of final-weak verbs of Form 11, i.e. with doubled second root-consonant: Hallet "I untied": xallet "I let" (cf. the third-person forms Hall vlH I I, xalla vlx I ylw). This formation is mentioned by the grammarians as one of various dialect formations but is regarded as non-standard in Classical Arabic. It is the only formation in the modem nonArabian dialects, which seem to have no vestiges of the standard Classical forms.


THE VERB SUFFIX -1- "TO, FOR". In Classical Arabic there is a relational prefix li- "to, for" (with pronoun endings li "to me", !aka "to you (m sg)", lahu "to him", etc.) as well as an independent preposition 'ilii "to, toward" (with pronoun endings 'ilayya "to me", 'ilqyka "to you", etc.). In the modem dialects these two items have been combined and re-formed in a variety of ways. One feature on which the modem dialects agree, however, is that the reflex of li- with pronoun ending is added directly to verbs as a suffix -1-. There are differences of detail; for example, Syrian dialects show shortening of any long vowel in the final syllable of the verb to which the -1- is attached and have special "heavier" altemants of the suffix such as -ill-, -all- after certain verb forms; Iraqi has shortening in the case of only one verb, gal "say"; Egyptian may add to the same verb at the same time both -1- with pronoun ending and another pronoun ending as direct object. But all agree in having the -1- suffix as an integral part of the verb phonologically and morphologically.13 There seems to be no trace of this in Classical Arabic, where the li- ~ la-

13 The suffixal nature of the -l- is shown incontrovertibly by the position of word stress, the lengthening of short vowel before -l-, and the existence of allomorphs of -l- conditioned by the preceding morpheme. Cr. t/,tirabu "they hit", !jarahUkum "they hit you (pI)", !jarabUlak "they hit for you".



plus pronoun ending is an independent word, in no way attached to the verb and often separated from it by several intervening words. 14 4. The morphology and syntax of the cardinal numbers are fairly complicated in Classical Arabic and, on the whole, considerably simpler in the dialects. So far as this simplicity in the dialects is part of the general loss of inflections it can be disregarded for our present purpose, since such change is part of the drift of Arabic. But two points are relevant to my thesis: (a) certain features of the syntax of the numbers 3-10, and (b) the form of the numbers 11-19, in particular the presence of an unexpected emphatic It!. VI. CARDINAL NUMBERS 3-10. In Classical Arabic the numbers 3-10 occur in two forms-a form with the feminine ending -oh ~ -atwhich is used with MASCULINE nouns, and an apparently masculine form without the feminine ending which is used with FEMININE nouns. Examples: bqytun (m) "house" xamsatu buyfttin "five houses"

kam bqytan "how many houses?" xamsatun "five"

guifatun (f) "room" xamsu gurqfin "five rooms"

kam gu'1atan "how many rooms?" xamsun "five"

It is hardly surprising that this strange feature of the Semitic number system should tend to disappear, since it has no support elsewhere in the grammatical structure--it is much more surprising that it exists in the first place; but the exact nature of the disappearance is of interest. In the modem dialects the long form (the form with the feminine ending) is used when there is no following noun at all,15 and the shorter, apparently masculine form is used before any noun, regardless of the gender. Examples: bet (m) "house"

"five houses" gurfo (f) "room" xams gurrif "five rooms" xams byftt

kam bet "how many houses?" xamse "five" kam gurfo "how many rooms?" xamse "five"

Since this is only one of the various possible ways of eliminating the gender polarity of 3-10, the fact that all dialects agree in this point 14 An early example of this construction is cited in G. Graf, Der Sprachgebrauch tier iiltesten christlich-arabischen Literatur 11 (Leipzig, 1905). 15 The long fonn is used before a noun under two special conditions: (a) in ordering or listing items, where the following noun may be collective, singular, or plural depending on circumstance (e.g. xamse 'ahwe "five coffees" in ordering at a restaurant, cf. xams 'ahiiwi "five cafes"); and (b) with ethnic collectives having no proper plural (e.g. xamse badu "five beduins").




is significant in itself. Even more significant, however, is the nature of the one vestige of the use of the long form with following nouns which has survived in the modem dialects, with regional variation in the extent of the retention. In many modem dialects there is a handful of high-frequency masculine nouns with plurals beginning with a glottal stop (Arabic hamzah) which replace the hamzah with a t- when one of the numbers 3-lO precedes. TIlls t-, while unmistakably pronounced as a part of the noun plural, is clearly a vestige of the feminine ending of the preceding number. There is some variation from dialect to dialect in the number of instances of this construction. Two nouns, yam "day" (xams t!Yyiim "five days") and 'alf "thousand" (xams taw! "5000") are apparently found in this construction in all dialects which preserve the feature at all (many Maghribi dialects have lost even this vestige), while the number of other nouns rarely exceeds fifteen in any given dialect. Example:

yawmun "day", yam 'qyyiimun "days", 'ryyiim l6 xamsatu 'qyyiimin "five days", xams tiJ!yiim It is interesting to note that all the instances of this t- involve reflexes of plural patterns referred to in Classical Arabic as "plurals of paucity" Uumil' al-qillah). The Classical patterns are 'aCCuC, 'aCCiCah, 'aCCiiC.17 The grammarians assert l8 that when a given noun has several plurals in use of which one has one of these patterns, this plural is preferred when a small number of items (3-10) is referred to. Such an assertion has a ring of artificiality about it, and in fact it does not seem to be supported by extant texts; yet if the thesis of this study is correct, the statement was not just a meaningless creation of the grammarians but probably reflected a special construction of the spoken language ancestral to the construction described above. In any case, the notion of "paucity" is misleading, since the association was probably with the actual cardinal numbers 3-10, and the so-called "plurals of paucity" may just as well occur with, say, lO3-1lO or 503-5lO.

16 The Classicism 'l9'yam is also in colloquial use without preceding number. It is sometimes difficult to elicit isolated plural forms without preceding numbers for nouns used in this construction. Informants sometimes give a Classicism with 'a-, or a totally different plural (e.g. fhUra), or even a form with t- (e.g. ti.fhur). 17 The pattern CiCCah, commonly included among the plurals of paucity, does not fit this discussion. 18 cr. M.S. Howell, A grammar qf the Classical Arabic language I. 885-8 (Allahabad, 1894); M. Gaudefroy-Demombynes and R. Blachere, Grammaire de l'arabe classique 178-82 (Paris, 1937); H. Heisch, L'arabe classique 33 (Beirut, 1956).



VII. It I IN 1HE NUMBERS 13-19. In Classical Arabic the cardinal numbers 11-19 consist of two parts, a form of the number "10" and a digit part corresponding to 1-9. The noun which follows is in the accusative singular, and the "ten" part of the number always agrees in gender with the following noun (i.e. the long form of "10", with the feminine ending, goes with feminine nouns), as do the digit parts "1" and "2"; the digit parts "3"-"9", like the independent numbers "3"-" 10", disagree in gender (i.e. the long form with feminine ending goes with masculine nouns). The numbers "11 "-" 19" themselves remain invariable in case inflection (always accusative without indefinite -n). xamsata 'afara boytan "fifteen houses" xamsa 'afrata gurfatan "fifteen rooms"

In the dialects, forms originally associated with a following masculine noun have been generalized, becoming (if they did not already have that status in Classical Arabic) compound words of a kind rare in Arabic, usually with double stress, completely invariable internally, and showing no trace of gender (dis)-agreement externally. All this could be attributed to drift, even though other ways of simplifying the system could be imagined. The unexpected feature here is the presence of "emphasis" (velarization, tafxim) in the numbers "13""19"; in some dialects it has spread to "12" or even to "12" and "11". The focal point of the emphasis is the -t-, which is apparently the continuation of the -t- of the feminine ending in the digit half of the Classical number. These numbers differ in certain formal details from dialect to dialect: some dialects have lost the ;C I of the "10", others not; some dialects have the final -r of the " 10" only when followed by a noun, others have it always; and so on. But all agree in having an emphatic It I in these numbers, a phenomenon for which no convincing explanation has ever been found. It is sometimes asserted that the emphasis in some way reflects the loss of the I Cl of the "10", and there may very well be some connection between the I CI and the emphasis; but there are two stumbling blocks: I Cl does not cause emphasis elsewhere in the language, and the emphatic IV appears even in dialects which have not lost the ;Cl. xamsta'f "fifteen" xa~ta'far bet "fifteen houses" xa~ta'far gurft "fifteen rooms"

5. The adjectives of the modem dialects reflect quite closely those of Classical Arabic in form and function, with only the kind of simplification and reduction of categories found elsewhere in the grammar: case endings are gone, the dual is gone, the varieties of feminine




endings are fewer. But in three features the dialects agree on a nonClassical form which is sufficiently unmotivated to serve as evidence for my thesis: the loss of the feminine form of the comparative, traces of a filal plural, and the change of the nisbah suffix -ryy to -f.

VIII. Loss

OF THE FEMININE COMPARATIVE. The Classical Arabic comparative 'aCCaCu (e.g. 'akbaru "larger, largest") has a special feminine form associated with it, CuCCa (kubra). The modern dialects have a comparative form derivable from a presumed koine form *'aCCaC just as might be expected (e.g. Syrian 'akbar, Moroccan kb,,! with regular loss of initial harnzah). No modern dialect, however, seems to show any trace of the feminine except for set phrases clearly borrowed from the Classical. Since the feminine of the comparative was already of limited use in Classical Arabic and was a special formation, its loss might seem to be a natural instance of drift. But the feminine of ordinal numbers was similarly limited in use in Classical Arabic and is preserved in the dialects, and the feminine of "color" words of pattern 'aCCaC, which was also a special formation, is also preserved. The following ten examples illustrate these points.

,akbaru baytin

'albaytu~ l'akbaru

,akbaru iuifatin ,alguifatu ~ lkubrii xiimisu baytin 'albaytu~ lxiimisu xiimisu guifatin ,alguifatu ~ lxiimisatu ,albaytu ~ l'aHmaru Jalgur:fotu~ IHamrii'u

} } } }

"the largest house" "the largest room" "the fifth house" "the fifth room" "the red house" "the red room"

{ { { {

'akbar bet lbet l'akbar 'akbar gU1fi 19uife l'akbar xiimis bet lbet lxiimis xiimis iuife 19uife lxiimse lbet l'aHmar 19urfo lHamra

IX. ADJECTIVE PLURAL FU(AL. In Classical Arabic, adjectives of the pattern CaCfC (facfl) normally have a plural CiCaC (fi'al). In adjectives of this kind the modern dialects generally have a singular CCfC, sometimes CaCfC, and a plural CCaC. 19 But there is one unexpected complication. Generally it is impossible to tell, apart from the evidence of Classical, whether the lost vowel of a modern dialect form in which a short vowel has been dropped was originally lil, lul, or 19 For the singular some dialects keep the -a- throughout; some lose it completely. In areas where there is partial retention the -a- appears in adjectives of which Cl or C z is a guttural (x g H Ch') or in Classicisms of various periods. The loss of -a- is probably to be accounted for by vowel assimilation and loss of unstressed li I in open syllable (CaCfC > *CiCfC > CCfC). Cf. H. Blanc, Studies in North Palestinian Arabic 32 (Jerusalem, 1953); I. Garbell, Remarks 321. The plural seems perfecdy regular CiCaC > CCaC.



la/, but sometimes there are clues in the modem form itself. If the dialect in question has a contrast r-r, then I r I often appears near a lost I i I, and I rI near a lost I u I or I a I. Again, in some dialects, notably Egyptian, phrase-initial CVCYC retains the short vowel. And in some dialects, such as Moroccan, the loss of lul often leaves labialized consonants. 20 It is noteworthy, then, that all dialects which can show one or two of these clues, give evidence for a lost lul in these adjective plurals, with modem forms such as khar, kuhar, kbiir. 21 Accordingly, we are probably justified in positing a plural *CuCiiC in the koine, a striking feature of difference from Classical Arabic, which shows no trace of a filiil plural. NISBAH SUFFIX -ryy > *-f. In Classical Arabic pause forms there is contrast between final -ryy and final of, e.g. 'arabryy "Arabic", ~abryy "boy": 'alqiirj,f "the judge", bayt'i "my house" 'uktubf "write (f sg)!" A very common instance of final -ryy is the suffix added to a noun to form a relative adjective (Arabic nisbah). The dialects vary in their treatment of final vowel and semivowel contrasts, but all agree on having the nisbah suffix identical with the reflex of final of. 22 This is especially surprising for two reasons. First, the functional load of this contrast is fairly heavy. There are several suffixes and several regular stem forms ending in -f as opposed to the nisbah -ryy, and minimal or near-minimal pairs are fairly numerous (e.g. miilryy "financial":


20 The analysis of this labialization is uncertain. Some linguists recognize the labialized consonants as separate phonemes, others posit a rounded shwa vowel phonemic ally present but apparent only in the "allophones" of these consonants. In either case the labialization is distinctive. 21 In this particular example, used here to keep the illustrative material as limited as possible, these apparent reflexes of /u / could have developed simply because of the presence of the labial /b /, but other adjectives of the same pattern without labial consonants also show these reflexes (e.g. q~ar, 'urarl, gudiid). A striking piece of evidence for this *.filal plural is supplied by Haim Blanc: dialects with second and third degree 'imiilah (e.g. Aleppo, Mosul, Jewish Baghdad) regularly have e or f in words derived from CiCaC but have a in these adjective plurals. Examples: kleb, Idfb "dogs"· lsen lsfn "tongue"· jmel jrnU "camels" but sman k8iir mliiH 22 The pause' forms of Clas~cal Arabic show a three-way' final 'con~t in each of the high vowel/semivowel ranges viz. -Cuww : -Ca: -Cw and -CiYy : -Cf : -Cy. In many modern dialects still another possibility is added, the reflexes of the Classical -Cah and -Cfh. In the u/w range the dialects vary gready, some even having a full four-way contrast, such as those variants of Syrian Arabic which differentiate the final sequences of 'adl1ww "enemy", Hiliw "sweet", kdtabu "they wrote", katabd "they wrote it". But this is rare; usually only a two- or at most three-way contrast obtains, with one reflex for both -Ca and -Cw and, in dialects which have lost final oh, one for both -Cuww and -Cah. Dialects show similar variation in the degree of retention of final contrasts in the i/y range, but even where a final -iYy : -f contrast has been preserved, the nisbah ending has always merged with the reflex of of, sometimes pulling along with it a few other nouns in -iYy.




miill "my property"). Second, there is strong support for the contrast from the feminine forms of the adjectives: the feminine of a nisbah in Classical Arabic ends in -iyyah, while that of an adjective with stem-final -f ends in -iyah, a contrast continued in the modern dialects and reinforced by shift of stress. Several examples will clarifY this: 'a()6anz "the second (m)", ttiini 'a()6aniyah "the second (f)", ttiinye 'alcarabiyy "the Arabic (m)", ZCarabi 'alcarabiyyah "the Arabic (f)", ICarabiyye blilz "my mind", blili taJctubf "[that] you (f sg) write", tikitbi

6. Recognizing definite differences between the lexical stock of Classical Arabic and that of the dialects is much more difficult than recognizing differences in morphology, since the grammatical system of the cArabiyyah is fairly well codified while the limits of its lexicon have never been established. As in any literary language in use over such a large span of space and time, Classical Arabic has coined new words, has absorbed and "Classicized" words from the spoken dialects, and has shown great variation in the relative frequency of use of words at different periods and places. In spite of these and other difficulties it is possible to note several lexical differences which are sufficiently clear to be significant for the argument here. A striking feature of lexical difference between Classical Arabic and the dialects is the disappearance in the dialects of a group of high-frequency words such as mii "what", 'ayrjan "also", laysa "it is not"; a number of particles such as 'inna, 'an, 'anna "that"; qad, sawfo tense markers; and several prefixes such as ka- "like". The disappearance of the particles is connected with the loss of modal distinction in the verb, and their functions are carried out by other syntactic means. But words like mii and 'ayrjan have various equivalents in the dialects, and no .satisfactory explanation has been offered for this replacement. If there were also instances of retention of the Classical forms in certain dialects this would constitute evidence against the thesis, but in fact the disappearance is universal, and the varied replacements must be accepted as instances in which the koine was not fully homogeneous. 23 Three items of lexical agreement will be treated here: "bring", "see", and the relative. 23 Certain preliminary reconstructions can of course be made for the various items but they do not lead very far. For example, it seems likely (a) that mii ''what'' was very early replaced by ·'qyfi - ·'qys « 'qyyu sqy'in), which led to the modem dialect forms such as Syr. 'ef and Moroccan lif, and (b) that side by side with this ·'qyfi 'qyfin certain areas an extended form ·'qyfinhu « 'qyyu sqy'in huwa) was used, which

66 XI. THE


Classical Arabic had two verbs "to come"

'ata and ja'a; both of these could be used with bi- "with" in a sense equivalent to English "bring". The verb 'alii has disappeared from non-Arabian dialects, a reflex of ja'a being in the dialects the usual word for "come". The exact formation of this word "to come" varies from one dialect to another, since with the loss of final hamzah this verb has too little substance to fit any normal pattern of Arabic verbs. The modern reflex of ja'a is not used with bi- to mean "bring". The regular word for "bring" in the dialects is a new verb jab (imperfect yj'ib), which clearly has arisen from a fusion, at some early date, of ja'a and bi-. This verb behaves like a middle-weak verb (vij y b) with full regularity of form and no evidence of any morphemic boundary remaining between the original ja'a part and the original bi- part. In the Classical language there is no trace of the fused verb. That such a fusion could take place at some point in the development of Arabic is perfectly conceivable, but this is the only clearcut case of such fusion in the language, and the exact pattern common to the dialects is striking: loss of 'alii, retention (and varied re-formation) ofja'a, no use of reflexes of ja'a and bi- to mean "bring"; fused verb jab "bring". To explain the persistence of this pattern throughout the Arab world one would have to assume that this unparalleled fusion was made at many times and places and always outlived the other forms. The common origin of the dialects is a much simpler explanation. XII. THE VERB "TO SEE". By far the commonest verb "to see" in Classical Arabic is ra'a (imperfect yara); this is the ordinary word in all written and oral use of the Classical language today. On the other hand, as the ordinary word "to see" the dialects have faj (imperfect yfuj). The verb ra'a appears in the dialects only in derivative forms (e.g. Moroccan wflrra "show") or in marginal words such as the Maghribi rani "I am", rak "you are", etc. [= "see me !", "see you!", etc.].24 The verb faj occurs in Classical Arabic, but not with the meaning "see". It might be argued that with the loss of final hamzah the verb ra'a would lack substance to fit the Arabic verb system, but this seems not to have preventedja'a from continuing in the dialects, and parallel formations to those of ja'a could have been expected. resulted in forms like Iraqi finu and Syrian su. But this still leaves unanswered such questions as the reason for the loss of ma, the origin of Egyptian 'eh, and many points of detail. Reconstructions of other items present similar problems. 24 et W. Fischer, Die demonstratWen Bildungen dcr neuarabischen Dialekte 186-93 (The Hague, 1958).




XIII. THE RELATIVE *'illi. The relative "pronoun" of Classical Arabic, 'allalJii with its feminine, dual, and plural forms, has disappeared in the modem dialects. The forms of 'allalJii in Classical Arabic are isolated, having no support elsewhere in the grammatical structure, and there was already great dialectal variation in Arabia in the forms of the relative. 25 Accordingly, it is not surprising that the Classical form should have vanished, but it is significant that throughout the non-Arabian dialects the only forms found are those which may be derived from a presumed *'illi, invariable for gender and number, occasionally reduced to 1- or expanded to halli or yalli. 26 7. The phonologies of the dialects continue to a remarkable extent the phonology of earlier Arabic as represented by the 'ArabiyyahY Several consonant phonemes show varying phonetic shapes in the dialects, notably those represented by the letters fim and qiij, and a few additional consonants have appeared in various dialects, either filling "gaps" in the structure or, as a result of mass influx of loanwords, extending the basic structure. The long vowels have been relatively stable, and the so-called diphthongs qy and aw have generally been monophthongized. Only the short-vowel phonemes have been highly unstable; they have been lost and combined, and new phonemes have arisen, all in a bewildering variety of ways. Only one purely phonological feature seems to give clear evidence for the thesis of the koine. XIV. THE MERGER OF tf,iid and ~ii'. The sound system of the 'Arabiyyah as described by the early grammarians included two "emphatic" interdental phonemes, those represented by the letters ~ii' and rjiid. The former was presumably velarized, voiced, interdental (spirant), of the kind heard in dialects such as Iraqi today. The other apparently had all the distinctive features of the ~ii' and in addition was lateral or lateralized and probably a stop or affricate. Whatever the phonetic details, the two were separate phonemes. Minimal pairs have been listed by Cantineau and others, and there are consistent correspondences with other Semitic languages. In no non-Arabian dialect today are there phonemically independent reflexes of these two phonemes. In dialects which preserve the interdental spirants ct Rabin, Ancient West Arabian 39, 89-90, 154-5, 203-5, map 204. The agreement of the dialects on this point has been noted before. Ct I. Anis, Ff al-lahajiit al-carabiyyah 2 218 (Cairo, 1952). 27 For a description of the phonology of the 'Arabiyyah ct J. Cantineau, Esquisse d'une phonologie de l'arabe classique, BSL 43 (1946). The phonology of the koine as assumed in the present study is roughly equivalent to Garbell's Stage 2, Remarks § 2, 301-12, but with a number of differences of detail. 25




10 0, the reflex 191 of the interdental emphatics is phonetically the sound described above for (Ja'. In dialects which have lost the interdentals (0 0 > t d), the reflex IQI of the' interdental emphatics is a velarized voiced stop, now the voiced countetpart of the reflex It! of Classical ta'. This clearly suggests that (Ja' and {lad had merged in the koine and that the interdentals were lost subsequently in various dialects. 28

28 Cf. Flick, 'Arabiyah 89; Garbell, Remarks 308. Dialects which have lost the interdentals may have instances of /'(./ in Classicisms or in re-borrowing of Arabic items from Turkish, but not as the regular reflex of the earlier /l'}/. Cf. Garbell, Remarks 317-8.



1. "Language spread" is a useful and stimulating concept that seems to orient and unifY many lines of sociolinguistic research, and in this paper it will be used to organize some thoughts about the process of language standardization and the kinds of research most likely to lead to better understanding of that process. Probably like other papers at this Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and linguistics, this paper will start from Cooper's definition. By "language spread" is meant "an increase over time in the proportion of a communicative network that adopts a given language or language variety for a given communicative function" (Cooper 1982:6). By "language standardization" is meant "the process of one variety of a language becoming widely accepted throughout the speech community as a supradialectal norm-the 'best' form of the language--rated above regional and social dialects, although these may be felt to be appropriate in some domains" (Ferguson 1966:31). It seems clear from these two definitions that standardization must be a type of language spread, characterizable in terms of the variables included in the respective definitions. Presumably, one could analyze particular historical instances of standardization in terms of the speech communities and communication networks involved, the languages and language varieties at issue, and the communication functions fulfilled by the spreading variety and by the varieties being supplemented or replaced. Presumably, one could then proceed to generalize across large numbers of instances, in the spirit of typologically based language universals research, and thus progress to a general model or set of alternative models valid in general for language standardization. Indeed, this is the approach suggested in Ferguson 1966, proposed more explicitly and with greater elaboration in Malkiel 1984, and essentially adopted in such comparative collections as Guxman 1960 and Scaglione 1984. Certainly, I am not going to reject this approach, since it offers a promising direction of research that can bring deeper understanding of the social factors at work in standardization as well as in the converse process of disintegration or dialect differentiation. We can



be reasonably sure that if we choose the most diverse instances (to get an idea of the limits) and try for representative instances of hypothesized typological categories, we will find some useful generalizations, even if the accidents of history often fail to provide the kind of documentation needed to reconstruct the path of spread at the requisite level of detail. The approach proposed in this paper, however, is that of empirical research, of the variationist sort, in language situations of standardization in progress. Just as the variationist perspective has been fruitful in the study of language change in general, it is likely to provide new insights for students of standardization and language planning. 1.1 First, let us note that the spread of a favored variety in standardization is always a more complex process than the definitions suggest, and at least three tendencies are apparent. One tendency is "koineization" or the reduction of dialect differences, both by dialect leveling, i.e. the avoidance of salient markers of particular dialects, and by simplification, i.e. the reduction in inventory and regularization in alternations that in other contexts is an aspect of pidginization. One well-documented component of koineization is the avoidance of "stigmatized" forms, i.e. forms that for one reason or another have come to be regarded as "bad" or "wrong", marking disfavored social groups or occasions of use. A second tendency is "variety shifting", in which specific linguistic features came to be viewed as marking identity with particular social groups ("dialect shifting") and particular communicative functions or occasions of use ("register shifting"), and individuals adopt such features as part of their "acts of identity" in producing utterances (LePage and Tabouret-Keller 1985). When this variety shifting is tending toward the spread of a supradialectal norm it is, of course, standardization par excellence; if it is tending toward fragmented norms it is dialect diversification. A third tendency is "classicization", or the adoption of features considered to belong to an earlier prestige norm. This spreading may be from spoken forms identified by the hearer as belonging to the targeted norm, or directly from written texts representing that norm, or from the speaker's own innovations attempting construction of the presumed norm. In the context of the so-called "creole cycle," this form of spread is the decreolization phase. All these tendencies may appear simultaneously-sometimes even in the use of the same form by the same person-but they deserve analytic autonomy because of their different social dynamics and




different sociolinguistic outcomes. The intensity of their operation and the degree of group consciousness of these tendencies can be interpreted in terms of the overall processes of "focus", by which institutionalization of prestige norms takes place, and "diffusion", by which such norms are dissolved (for this terminology, cf. LePage and Tabouret-Keller 1985: 187). 1.2 In a speech community or set of linguistically related speech communities that remain(s) in place over long periods of time, it is possible to have a succession of periods of focus with standardization and periods of diffusion with dialect differentiation. It is also possible, of course, to have a period of focus which results in dialect differentiation and separate standardizations, if the focus is in terms of smaller communities rather than the overall community. The paradigm case of the former type of successive periods of standardization and differentiation is the Egyptian example of the "standardization cycle", as recently reviewed and interpreted in Greenberg (1986). His characterization of this four-thousand-year cycle is worth citing in full: An originally basically unified language develops regional dialects which if unimpeded will diverge in the course of time into mutually unintelligible languages. However because of social and political factors one of the dialects, in modified form, becomes the basis of a new common language, a koine which tends to supersede the original dialects. In a community with writing the common language acquired the additional prestige which accrues to literary use. In the course of time the spoken koine develops local dialects so that ultimately, if linguistic unity is to be preserved, a new common language must develop on the basis of a dominant dialect of the old koine (Greenberg 1986:273).

The paradigm case of the second type, that of successive periods of standardization resulting in separate local standardizations, is the example of Latin and the Romance languages, as generally recognized in the standard handbooks and introductions to Romance linguistics. For example, Elcock 1960 notes the stylistic differences between "urban" and "rustic" Latin passing into the "learned" and "popular vernacular" Latin of the Middle Ages and then "From the pattern of unrecorded Romance as it must have been in the ninth century, certain local speeches, widely separated in the limited geographical concepts of the time, were to assume the role of standard languages" (Elcock 1960:334). The accounts of such historical instances are helpful as summations of countless individual events over considerable periods of time, and in this respect are like the neogrammarian "sound laws" which



summate complex verbal behaviors over time but do not elucidate the interactional mechanism that lead to the regularities. We are fortunate in having a growing number of detailed studies of standardization in progress in one of the world's largest speech communities-the Arabic-speaking "nation" al-' ummah al-'arabiyyah, which includes a score of sovereign nations from Morocco to the Persian Gulf. This "super" speech community has long been regarded as a typical example of the language situation of diglossia in which there are two functionally distinct norms, a superposed H variety, the Modem Standard Arabic (MSA), and a mother-tongue L variety, Colloquial Arabic, which exists in a series of local vernaculars (Ferguson 1959a, Altoma 1969, Diem 1974). Almost everywhere in the Arab world, however, communicative tensions that arise in the diglossia situation are resolved by the use of "relatively uncodified, unstable, intermediate forms of the language" (Ferguson 1959a). Some observers identifY a number of intermediate levels ranging from the MSA or a more traditional Classical Arabic to a "plain colloquial", "vernacular", or "colloquial of the illiterate" (e.g. Blanc 1960, Badawi 1973, Meiseles 1980). Other observers (e.g. El-Hassan 1978, Mitchell 1980, Mahmoud 1984) posit a single intermediate variety, Educated Spoken Arabic (ESA) which is, in Mitchell's words, "created" and maintained by the constant interplay of written and vernacular Arabic" (Mitchell 1986: 13), and has within it a range of variation [± formal], and if [- formal] th-cn either careful or casual (Mitchell 1986:17). The rapid changes now taking place in Arabic are the focus of study by an impressive number of sociolinguistically oriented researchers (cf. Daher 1986 for a review of some of this literature; note especially Jernudd and Ibrahim 1986a, 1986b), and we are in the favorable position of being able to follow aspects of the three standardizing tendencies in operation. In Ferguson (1959a) the tentative prognosis for Arabic was slow development over two centuries toward several standard languages, more or less like the model of Latin and the Romance languages. In Ibrahim and Jernudd (1986) the confident prognosis is for "the emergence of a new, international koine . . . compatible with emerging national or subregional dialects of what will remain one Arabic", more or less like the standardization cycle of the Ancient Egyptian language. In view of the inexact terms of the two prognoses and the present state of our knowledge, it is not clear in what ways the two prognoses differ, let alone which one of the two might be valid. Much more important at this stage than defending alternative prognoses is careful analysis of the language behavior of Arabic users,




not only with the more general sociolinguistic goals of understanding the functioning of language in its social context and understanding the sources, paths, and outcomes of language change, but also with the more specific sociolinguistic goal of understanding the particular process of language spread called standardization. 2.0 The remainder of this paper will be devoted to examining examples of the three standardizing tendencies I have identified here. Before proceeding, however, it is worth noting that linguists who are focusing on one part of the range of variation typically pay so little attention to other parts of the range that a full picture of the variation and directions of change never appears. Thus analysts of change in MSA (e.g. Blau 1981) generally leave out of consideration not only the dialects but even the "various mixtures of Modern Standard Arabic with the local dialect" (B1au 1981 :247). Analysts of the vernacular (e.g. Holes 1983) consider the "crosscutting influences of the locally prestigious dialect... and of the supradialectal variety of Arabic (MSA)" (Holes 1983:437-38), but do not attempt to describe unmistakably "educated" spoken Arabic or oral or written MSA itself. Analysts of Educated Spoken Arabic (e.g. Mitchell 1986) leave out of consideration both the "spoken prose" end of the range of variation and the "speech of the uneducated and of the illiterate" (Mitchell 1986: 14) at the other end. Sociolinguists studying language change must be grateful for the detailed studies of Arabic now at last appearing, but models of change of the attempted generality, for example, of Milroy and Milroy (1985) cannot be adequately formulated or tested in the Arabic-speaking world until both a fuller range of variation is investigated in at least some region and the verbal interaction of social networks of language users is recorded and analyzed in much more detail. 2.1 Koineization. Leveling in the sense of avoidance of disfavored alternatives is harder to document than the adoption of preferred alternatives, which is treated here under variety shifting. Nevertheless, observers have noted that speakers of Arabic tend to avoid particular lexical, phonological, and grammatical characteristics that they feel would identifY them as speaking a too local or too uneducated Arabic or that they fear will be misunderstood or regarded as comic by their listeners. Thus Blanc (1960) notes that Iraqi speakers conversing with Arabs from other areas avoid using timman for "rice" or 'aku "there is, there are"; that Aleppo speakers avoid their strong local 'imiilah (in many words they have i for a). Similarly, Moroccans conversing with Eastern Arabs may avoid but "fish", k&:J1 "black",



s~iil "how much", and other salient localisms. Those Syrian and Lebanese speakers who have long vowels in the masculine singular imperative may avoid this form in talking with other Arabs. Such examples are easy to multiply in this anecdotal way, but careful investigation of the avoidance phenomenon is badly needed. Equally interesting are the cases where a severely local form is avoided, as in Blanc's observation that the Syrians persisted in using "there is, there are" in inter-Arab conversation even though it is non-MSA whereas-as pointed out-Iraqis seem to avoid 'aku (and Moroccans kiiin). Perhaps the Syrians are secure in knowing that Egyptians also use Such hierarchies of preference are not at all well understood, and we can hope that some of them will be explained in detail as· research continues. The other aspect of koineization, simplification, is somewhat easier to specifY, even if actual processes of spread are not clear. Many authors have listed simplifYing changes in varieties of Arabic. For example, Ferguson (1959:619-20) identified a set of specific simplifYing trends as a "drift" or general direction of change in Arabic, and excluded them from the argumentation for the formation of the koine that was hypothesized in that article as the source of most modem dialects. A recent study of the Arabic of northeast Arabia and the river valleys of Iraq and Khuzestan (Ingham 1982) devotes a whole chapter to "reductional changes". Versteegh (1984), which takes a more extreme view than Ferguson (1959b) by positing a pidgin as the source of most modem dialects, lists numerous examples of simplifYing processes. The following are typical examples of simplification in Arabic that appear in various lists.

Phonology: , Mergers: j merges with y; d merges with d; i, u merge to ;). Shortenings: unstressed long vowels shortened; long vowels in closed, nonfinal syllables shortened. Cluster elimination: "helping vowels" inserted in word-final twoconsonant clusters. Morphology and syntax: Inflectional reduction: dual lost in verbs, adjectives, pronouns; fern. pI. forms lost in verbs and pronouns. Pattern reduction: trend to "strict" agreement between subject and verb, eliminating difference between pre- and postverbal patterns. Pattern regularization: stem and affix alternation (indicative, subjunctive, jussive, imperative; m. f. sg. pI.) of "hollow" verbs unified.

Insofar as such simplifications appear in various localities or social strata and spread throughout the Arabic-speaking world, they are




part of the koineizing tendency of a pan-Arab language standardization process. Insofar as they are more locally accepted and differentiated from one another, they represent the development of regional standardization processes (e.g. jly merger in the Gulf region, partial mergers of masculine and feminine second person singular pronoun forms and verb forms in Lebanon and Morocco). 2.2 Variety shifting. The adoption of preferred variants is the essence of standardization, as indeed it is the essence of all language change. The problem is to discover in each language situation why certain variants are preferred by certain users under certain conditions and how such lines of preference move through the speech community and result in shared irreversible systemic change. Sociolinguists also want to discover the linguistic and social constraints that operate in general in these processes of change, i.e. to discover the principles that explain possible outcomes of different language situations. The process of standardization, as a special case of language spread, which is in turn a type of language change, is a process of convergence whereby differently favored variants in different sectors of the community or on different occasions of use come to coincide. In the Arab world a number of recent studies of such convergence agree in showing that the dominant lines of convergence are toward regional standards, namely, prestigious urban educated speech patterns of various communicative centers, rather than toward a single unified prestige norm for the Arab world as a whole. The simplest illustration is the frequently discussed phonological variable (q). The almost universally accepted norm of MSA pronunciation is a voiceless uvular stop [q], but in many parts of the Arab world a regional prestige norm has a voiced velar stop [g] or a glottal stop [']. Local reflexes of Old Arabic / q / include not only these three sound types but also velar and postvelar (nonuvular) stops and several affricates. Wherever careful, detailed variation studies have been undertaken, the local pronunciation is being displaced by the relevant regional standard [g] or ['], and this holds true even where the original local reflex is [q]. Thus in Bahrain the low prestige rural Shiites who have traditionally said [q] are clearly shifting to [g], which is the pronunciation of the urban educated Sunnis (Holes 1986). In Amman, which is in the process of becoming the center of a new regional standard, a variety of local reflexes, including [q], are yielding to ['], the reflex of urban Palestinian and Syrian Arabic, a major component of the newly evolving Amman urban dialect (Abdel:Jawad 1986). This example of the reflexes of Old Arabic / q / moving toward



regional standard prestige nonns rather than the pan-Arab MSA nonn (cf. Ibrahim 1986), is not a new phenomenon, having been noted for decades. It was reported in passing, for example, in Cantineau's descriptive grammar of the Palmyra dialect (Cantineau 1934). The Colloquial reflex of Iq I in that isolated local dialect was [q] and this was clearly the dominant pronunciation among the 6,000 inhabitants of the town. Cantineau noticed, however, that two other pronunciations were in use: the [g] of the surrounding beduin and those young Palmyrene men who admired the skills and bravery of the beduin and the motorized camel corps in the area; and the ['] of Damascus, the national capital, used by a handful of urban outsiders in Palmyra and by some Palmyrenes who identified with school, government, and "middle class" values on the national scene. Cantineau did not provide much infonnation on actual language use of individuals and social groups, so that it is now not clear whether these aberrant pronunciations were transitory phenomena limited to particular words or particular occasions of use, or whether they represented the beginning stages of a set of changes spreading through the community. The important point here is that the MSA/Classical I q I was yielding to local prestige nonns at that time and place as it is now doing in large areas of the Arab world. Other phonological, morphological, and syntactic examples of variety shifting toward regional standards can be cited. Although careful studies of these phenomena are not yet plentiful, a large proportion of the language change in progress in the Arab world seems to fall in this category. It must be noted, however, that the Iql example is somewhat misleading in its apparent simplicity. The factors of age, sex, agreement with MSA, and several kinds of evaluative judgments (e.g. "old-fashioned", "tough, daring") all interact in complex ways, along with lexical variables such as the marking of particular words as foreign, local, fonnal, and the like (Holes 1983 presents a revealing account of a set of Bahraini phonological variables undergoing shifts of this sort). 2.3 Classicization. The adoption of variants from a superposed, formal, traditional nonn at the expense of local dialectal variants is often an important ingredient in the process of standardization, and, in the case of Arabic, dialectal convergence with MSA or Classical is a well-attested phenomenon. This classicizing tendency is most obvious in lexicon, either in borrowing words into Colloquial or in classicizing dialectal words by restructuring them phonologically andl or morphologically. Thus liiimi'al "university" in Syrian Arabic is recognizable as a classicism by syllable structure and vowel quality (a




corresponding original Colloquial form would be lZamca/; IjamiCal "university" in Bahrain Arabic is recognized as a classicism by having invariant Ij I instead of the j - y, which is the local Colloquial counterpart of Classical/MSA Ij I. The range of stylistic variation utilized in the pronunciation of individual words is very great, and the factors affecting the choice of variants are complex. A simple example is the word for Egypt or Cairo in many dialect areas, where the pronunciation lmi~(i)rl is understood as MSA. The usual pattern seems to be to vary the pronunciation depending on the educational level of one's interlocutor, the formality of the occasion, etc. Some speakers may have only I ma~(i)r I in their verbal repertoire, but no one seems to select only the MSA variant exclusively. The frequency of use of the two pronunciations also varies by degree of education and social status of the speakers, reminiscent of the phonological variables explored by Labov. The situation differs, however, in that this is not a general a - i alternation but is limited to the particular word, and the MSA variant is part of a codified norm found in various sources of authority, including dictionaries, whereas the other variant is not given such overt recognition. Mitchell (1986) offers a number of more complex examples of this kind of stylistic variation in phonology, morphology, and lexical suppletion. Classicization is convergent in principle when there is a single codified classical norm. This is largely the case in Arabic, since the superposed MSA is much more homogeneous throughout the Arab world than the local dialects and there are no overall classical norms competing with it; fluctuation within MSA is to all intents and purposes part of the variation discussed in this paper. In the Arabic situation, however, and in many other situations of standardization, the classicizing tendency is much more lexical and formulaic in implementation and much more stylistically variable on a formal-informal or literary-colloquial dimension than the interdialectal koineizing and variety shifting. 3. The frame of reference suggested in this paper and the examples cited may in the long run turn out to be inaccurate, inappropriate, or wrongheaded (although the author sincerely hopes otherwise), but they will have served the intent of the paper if they point up the value of the study of standardization in progress as opposed to historical cases of standardization. The framework seems more or less applicable to earlier instances, and in some cases crucial features of convergence seem to have been adequately identified and significant trends of koineizing, variety shifting, and classicization have been



described. Also, in some cases alternative possible outcomes have been the subject of infonned and insightful speculation. But in no case do we have data of the richness of present-day variationist studies of language change, and thus in no case can we really see the process of standardization from the perspectives of universal constraints and the transition, embedding, evaluation, and actuation problems (Weinreich, Labov, and Herzog 1968). This year, 1987, is being celebrated in many countries as the bicentennial of the birth of Vuk Stefanovic Karazic, the great Serbian "language refonner", and the case of Serbian standardization is one that has been discussed in countless books and articles over the years. In comparing it with Arabic, one notices immediately the diglossic situation with which it began-the H variety of so-called "SlavoSerbian" and the L variety consisting essentially of local South Slavic dialects ancestral to modem Serbo-Croatian. Some people at the time favored the development of the H variety as the standard, some favored a so-called "middle style", and some, including Vuk, favored the spoken language of the people. Eventually, the last is what won out. Nowadays one rarely considers what might have happened if the process of standardization had resulted in a common South Slavic standard which included all the varieties ancestral to modem Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian, Slovenian, and Macedonian. On the other hand, discussion continues about the viability of the bimodal standard of Serbian and Croatian. The parallel with Arabic is far from complete, but at least we may note that South Slavic as a whole, like the Arabic "nation" as a whole, had no obvious economic, cultural, and political center that could serve as the source of a new, unifYing standard. The one element in the Serbian picture that has not been mentioned in the case of Arabic standardization is the existence of conscious language planners or "refonners", such as Vuk, whose persistent advocacy and successive publication of folk poetry, grammar, dictionary, and New Testament translation had an important influence on the whole standardization process. Any full-scale study of Arabic standardization would have to include investigation of such deliberate attempts to influence the outcome, and we are fortunate to have already a few scattered studies of this kind (e.g. Benabdi 1986), but these studies do not include data on the effects of the planning. Unfortunately, variationist sociolinguists interested in language change generally ignore this issue, although it seems reasonable to assume that any "theory of language change [including language standardization] is incomplete if it does not allow for the possible influence of language planning" (Ferguson 1983).




The discussion of the present paper is intended to lead to a single programmatic conclusion. If we want to understand the standardization process, as an important type of language spread and hence of language change in general, the most obvious research strategy is to study the process in operation, and the most obvious way to do so is to collect detailed data in the variationist tradition as a kind of baseline and add subsequent comparable data at regular intervals in the future. Standardization in Arabic is one such situation to study.


Altoma, SJ. 1969. The problems of diglossia in Arabic: A comparative study of Classical and Iraqi Arabic. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Badawi, E.M. 1973. Mustawayat al-'arabiyyah al-mu'~irah fi mi~r. Cairo: Dar alMa'arif. [Benabdi, Linda C. 1986. Lexical expansion in the Maghrib: The functionallinguistic corpus. International Journal qf the Sociology qf Language 61:65-78.] Blanc, H. 1960. Style variation in spoken Arabic: A sample of interdialectal educated conversation. In: Contributions to Arabic linguistics. Edited by C.A. Ferguson. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Blau, J. 1965. The emergence and linguistic background of Judaeo-Arabic: A study in the origins of Middle Arabic. London: Oxford University Press. - - . 1977. The beginnings of the Arabic diglossia. A story of the origins of Neoarabic. Afioasiatic Linguistics 4: 175-202. - - . 1981. The renaissance of Modem Hebrew and Modem Standard Arabic. Parallels and differences in the revival df two Semitic languages. Berkeley: University of California Press. Cantineau, J. 1934. Le dialecte arabe de Palmyre. Vo!. 1, Grammaire. Beirut: Memoires de l'Institut Fran~ais de Damas. Cohen, D. 1962. Koine, langue commune et dialectes arabes. Arabica 9: 119-44. Cooper, R.L., ed. 1982. Language spread. Studies in diffusion and social change. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Daher, N. 1986. Arabic sociolinguistics: State of the art. Paper presented at the meeting of the Middle Eastern Studies Association. To appear in: Al-'Arabiyyah [20: 125-60 (1987)]. Diem, W. 1974. Hochsprache und Dialekt im Arabischen. Wiesbaden. Elcock, W.D. 1960. The Romance languages. London: Faber and Faber. El-Hassan, S.A. 1978. Educated spoken Arabic in Egypt and the Levant: A critical review of diglossia and related concepts. Archivum Linguisticum 8:151-87. Ferguson, C.A. 1959a. Diglossia. Word 15:325-40. - - . 1959b. The Arabic koine. Language 35:616-30. - - . 1968. Language development. In: Language problems of developing nations. Edited by J.A. Fishman, C.A. Ferguson, andJ. Das Gupta. New York: John Wiley and Sons. - - . 1983. Language planning and language change. In: Progress in language planning. Edited by J. Cobarrubias and J.A. Fishman. Berlin: Mouton. Fishman, J.A., et al. 1985. The rise and fall of the ethnic revival. Berlin: Mouton. Greenberg, J.H. 1986. Were there Egyptian koines? In: The Fergusonian impact. Vo!. 1. Edited by J.A. Fishman et al. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Guxman, M.M., ed. 1960. Voprosy formirovanija i razvitija nacional'nyx jazykov. Moscow. Holes, C.D. 1983. Patterns of communal language variation in Bahrain. lAnguage in Sociery 12:433-57.



Ingham, B. 1982. North east Arabian dialects. London and Boston: Kegan Paul International. Jernudd, B.H., and M.H. Thrahim, eds. 1986a. Aspects of Arabic sociolinguistics. (= International Journal if'the Sociology if'limguage 61). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. - - . 1986b. Issues in Arabic sociolinguistics. (= Anthropological Linguistics 28.1). Bloomington: Department of Anthropology, Indiana University. LePage, R.L., and A Tabouret-Keller. 1985. Acts of identity. Creole-based approaches to language and ethnicity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Mahmoud, Y. 1984. Middle Arabic: A variable functional medium. In: Ecology in language. Edited by W. Enninger and L. Haynes. Essen. Malkie!, Y. 1984. A linguist's view of the standardization of a dialect. In: Scaglione, ed. (1984). Meise!es, G. 1980. Educated spoken Arabic and the Arabic language continuum. Archwum Linguisticum 11 :89-106. Miller, AM. 1986. The origin of the modem Arabic sedentary dialects: An evaluation of several theories. At- a; f, il > 3). This is true not only of the forms listed by Cantineau but also of forms like zab'lna, where he denies it (46), and of many others (e.g. passive participles) which are not mentioned at all. It is a very general phenomenon. The alternants -3ll- and -all- of the suffix itself are not described at all, though -3ll is frequent in the language and the occurrence of both is very precisely determined by the forms of the verb to which they are suffixed. I noted only one instance in the text: madtbllo in a version on 108; this particular form is usually maddallo in Damascus. Verbs of wCC roots (29, 98) also have an imperfect of the type Y3CaC which is quite common in Damascus though rare in sedentary Syrian Arabic as a whole. Finally, ntala Oisted in the vocabulary, 65) is another example of the form which, it is said (83), "n'est atteste que pour lta'a". The complicated forms of the cardinal numbers from 3 to 10 are on the whole well presented under the rubrics of first, second, and third forms (62, 63). There is, however, a fourth set of forms used before miYye "hundred", and by some speakers also before wa', the plural of w'iYye "200 grams". One example of this set appears unexplained in the text (tlat miYye, 75). Also, 'ida'f "eleven" is more common in Damascus than the form Ma'S, which is the only one given (67). The ordinals are listed correctly (87) except for "first". Here the form 'awwal is listed as both masculine and feminine, but this is wrong. All ordinals, in addition to participating in the construction Cantineau



explains, may also PRECEDE the noun, in which case the masculine fonn of the ordinal is used regardless of the gender of the noun. When the word for "first" comes AFTER a feminine noun, it is either the Classical 'ula, or a new fonnation like 'awwalaniyye. The minor corrections listed here exclude mere misprints and careless slips. All items listed are of frequent occurrence; the page references give only the first or chief occurrence. For YfJlli (22) read yalli (relative); for no/ma (34) read nfJ~na "we"; for ra~ (91) read r~ (verbal prefix, "going to"). The corrected fonns are widely current throughout the area, not peculiar to Damascus. Beside ra~, however, the variants r~a and laJJ(a) are common in Damascus itself. For 'm fa !!ah (45) read nJa!!a "God willing", and for l-~amd fJlliih (ibid.) read l/:tarrublla "praise be to God". These expressions are now single words in Syrian Arabic, with stress on the penultimate syllable. Damascus differs from most of the area in having long a in the first word, which is usually nJa!!a elsewhere. Occasionally longer fonns of these and similar expressions occur as Classicisms. For 'md (17) read 'and "chez"; for 'alayyi (45) read 'aliyyi "on me"; for hiidol'ik (59) read hmdank, hatbnk "those". Cantineau's fonns are more typical of the area as a whole, and may be heard occasionally in Damascus; but the corrections are more typical of the city. One inaccuracy in syntax should be mentioned. The two phrases kiin byfJktob and kiin YfJktob (90) are not equivalent in meaning. The fonner, with b-, means "he would have written", and usually appears after an if-clause, less often independendy; the latter means "he used to write" or the like.




Haroard University 1. The existence of an "emphatic" or velarized ! in Classical Arabic and the modem dialects has often been noted and the sound has been carefully described. 1 Descriptions which have been made from a structural point of view have generally regarded this emphatic ! as an allophone of the usual I, not an independent phoneme, both in the Classical language and in the dialects. 2 The purpose of this note is to make clear why the emphatic ! must be regarded as an independent phoneme in Classical Arabic and in most if not all the modem dialects. The positions of occurrences of ! have been stated before, most clearly by Petnicek; they may be listed again here. The emphatic ! occurs in three kinds of situations, of which at least the first two hold for Classical Arabic and all three seem to hold for all modem dialects: (A) in certain forms of the word for God, (B) in the neighborhood of other emphatic consonants, and (C) in other unpredictable items, sometimes loanwords, sometimes inherited Arabic vocabulary.


2. If in a given variety of Arabic the only occurrences of should be of type A, i.e. in the word for God, then either the ! must be regarded as a separate phoneme or the word for God must be treated as outside the phonological system of the language, like an unassimilated foreign word, a vocal gesture, or the like. It cannot be argued that the [n in such cases is a stylistic variant of the regular I phoneme, 3 since in certain altemants of the word for God the MUST be used. A subphonemic stylistic variant is an allophone not


1 For a description of the sound and full references to previous literature see K. Petracek, Zur Artikulation des sogenannten emphatischen I im Arabischen, Archiv orientlilni 20. 509-23 (1952). 2 For example J. Cantineau, Esquisse d'une phono1ogie de l'arabe classique, BSL 43. 93-140 (1946), esp. 113; id., lis, par/m arabes du Haran 106-11 (1946); id., Analyse phono1ogique du parler arabe d'el-Hamma de Gabes, BSL 47. 64-105 (1951), esp. 70; H. e1-Hajj€:, Le parter arabe de Tripoli 14, 15 (Paris, 1954); K. Petracek, op. cit. (fn. 1). For the other view see W.H.T. Gairdner, The phonetics qf Arabic 17-9 (London, 1925); Z.S. Harris, The phonemes of Moroccan Arabic, JAOS 62. 309-18 (1942), esp. 313; H. Blanc, Studies in North Palestinian Arabic 62, 63 (Jerusalem, 1952). 3 As suggested by Petracek 510.



phonologically conditioned but regarded as in "free" (i.e. extralinguistically determined) alternation with another variant in the same position. The use of one stylistic variant instead of another may correlate with age, sex, occupation, class, personality type, role of speaker, esthetic purposes, or the like. In some cases one variant is used exclusively by some speakers and another by others; in other cases it is a matter of statistics, one variant being used with greater frequency by some speakers than by others. In no case can a given sound be called a stylistic variant of a certain phoneme on the grounds that it is used only or chiefly in one particular morpheme or allomorph if it is in fact used there always by all speakers. This understanding of stylistic variant seems to be agreed on by structuralists of various schools of thought. 4 Even if no minimal pair ever turned up, one could not admit to the phonology of a language a statement like (1) below, which would be necessary to describe the distribution of! in Classical Arabic: (1) The phoneme /l I has the allophone DJ in the sequence I -llaahl when this is not preceded by /i I and when it means "God".

As a matter of fact, however, in every variety of Arabic that the author has ever investigated, actual minimal pairs can be found involving the word for God and another word of similar phonological shape but different meaning. For example, in Classical Arabic, wallaahu "and God" wailaahu "he appointed him"

constitute a perfect pair. There are several nearly perfect pairs, such as wa!laahi "by God" wallaahii "and the one who amuses".

Examples of contrast from modem dialects are just as clear. It is often possible to find minimal contrasts with the word for God in its ordinary citation form without looking for special combinations. For example, some varieties of Moroccan Arabic have !la "God" lla "no"

-as fine a pair as could be required. Much of Syrian Arabic has 'a!la "God" 'alia "he told her" 4 cr. N.S. Troubetzkoy, Principes de phonologie 48-9 (transl. J. Cantineau; Paris, 1949); H.L. Smith Jr., An outline of metalinguistic analysis, Monograph series on linguistics and language teaching 2.61 (Washington, 1952).




which is minimal but not as satisfying esthetically, since the second word in slow speech may be 'allha. But in most dialects, including Syrian, pairs like walla "by God" walla "he appointed (e.g. as guardian)"

exist and should be convincing. It may seem somewhat unusual that a phoneme should be of such extremely rare occurrence in the total lexicon of the language and yet appear in one particular morpheme which is of very frequent occurrence. But this phenomenon differs only in degree from the status of English /