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General Methodology

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Chapter Summary

Due to the enormous importance of a homogenous corpus of documentary material, only original letters were used for the analyses in this thesis and they all come from the same source, the Cairo Genizah. Five corpora were set up, containing material from 11th-century Egypt, 11th-century Maghreb, from the 13th, 15th/16th and 18th/19th century. In order to detect dialectal differences in the language of the letters, the provenance of the letters is carefully examined. For the purposes of linguistic examination, all letters are analysed in full and every example for a given phenomenon extracted. The gathered examples are then evaluated as regards both their deviation from and their adherence to the rules of Classical Arabic, and were then compared to other substandard Arabic varieties, and to the other letter corpora.

Keywords: Egyptian material; linguistic examination; Maghrebian material; substandard Arabic varieties

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