Esther-Miriam Wagner: ‘Challenges of Multiglossia: the emergence of substandard Judaeo-Arabic registers’
Duration: 17 mins 2 secs
About this item
|Description:||A talk on Arabic language history and Judaeo-Arabic sociolinguistics.|
|Collection:||Scribes as Agents of Language Change|
|Publisher:||University of Cambridge|
|Keywords:||Judaeo-Arabic; sociolinguistics; registers; written language; spoken language;|
|Abstract:||The dichotomy between written and spoken Arabic, which arose out of historical circumstances during the Islamic conquests, is one of the most striking features of Arabic. It results in a multitude of literary and spoken registers. This dichotomy can also be found within the Jewish sociolect of Arabic, Judaeo-Arabic, which is the name given to a variety of Arabic speech forms used by Jews that differ from the language employed by their Muslim and Christian neighbours.
Written Late Judaeo-Arabic differs markedly from Classical Arabic, the prescribed standard written variety. In particular epistolary Late Judaeo-Arabic exhibits a large number of vernacular forms, that are typically only used in spoken registers and ordinarily never enter the realm of written Arabic. Not only vernacular forms occur; there are also a large number of literary elements, often used hypercorrectly when judged by the rules of Classical Arabic, which have become standardised. The employment of this peculiar mix of vernacular and literary elements creates a special register used exclusively in letters. The deliberate use of distinctly literary forms marks the register as literary, while the use of colloquial forms give it the authenticity and intimacy necessary for the language employed in letters.