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Classical and colloquial arabic archaisms

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Chapter Summary

This chapter argues that modern spoken Arabic dialects sometimes retain very archaic Semitic features. It discusses the importance of the aleph in the Hebrew word for 'no, not', pointing out that Classical Arabic, although usually very conservative in matters of phonology, is sometimes innovative. The chapter discusses two significant innovations. First, many contemporary spoken Arabic dialects preserve the Proto-Semitic imperfect vowel preformative */i/ rather than */a/ = Classical Arabic /a/. Second, the Classical Arabic voiced alveo-palatal affricate (jim) is clearly secondary deriving from Proto-Semitic */g/. A notable feature of verbal morphology is the vowel harmony in preformatives of the imperfect forms, which is common in many Sinai dialects, dialects discussed here the first p. c. singular is included in this rule. The chapter suggests that certain Classical Arabic forms are indeed secondary, as e.g., /la/ 'no'.

Keywords: Classical Arabic; colloquial Arabic archaisms; Proto-Semitic imperfect vowel; verbal morphology; vowel harmony



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