A history of the Arabic language and the origin of non-dominant varieties of Arabic - British Library Research Repository
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A history of the Arabic language and the origin of non-dominant varieties of Arabic



To comprehend how Arabic became a pluricentric language, we need to navigate through its rich history. In this paper, I focus on three stages in the development of Arabic: Classical Arabic, Middle Arabic and Modern Arabic. I explain how the fate of Arabic was permanently sealed in the Classical period with the emergence of Islam and the subsequent Islamic conquests. At the peak of the Islamic empire, the codification of Arabic preserved it as a dominant written language. However, the indigenous languages that Arabic had displaced in new regions, gave way to non-dominant regional varieties. These varieties continued to diverge from the codified variety during the Middle period, giving rise to diglossia in Arabic. I conclude with a review of the modern period and the Arabic revival efforts, which marked the creation of Modern Standard Arabic while the colonially influenced non-dominant varieties drifted further still.


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  • Resource type

    Book chapter

  • Institution
    • British Library

  • Organisational unit
    • British Library Qatar Foundation Partnership

  • Series name
    • Österreichisches Deutsch - Sprache der Gegenwart

  • Book title
    • Pluricentric Languages Across Continents: Features and Usage

  • Editor
    • Muhr, Rudolf
    • Fonyuy, Kelen Ernesta
      • ISNI
    • Ibrahim, Zeinab
      • ISNI
    • Miller, Corey
  • Publisher
    • Peter Lang

  • Place of publication
    • Frankfurt am Main, Germany

    • New York, NY, USA

  • ISBN
    • 978-3-631-69433-6

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