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Arabia and Areal Hybridity

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image of Journal of Language Contact

The present contribution proposes the existence of two ‘micro linguistic areas’ in Arabia in which features from Arabic and other Semitic languages diffused multilaterally. Some of the output varieties pose a significant challenge to phylogeny as they exhibit conflicting isoglosses connecting them equally with different lineages of Semitic. We introduce to the term ‘areal hybridity’ to explain the genetic position of languages emerging from contact situations such as these. We argue that several older varieties, such as the dialect of Ṭayyiʾ and the medieval Ḥimyaritic language described by the Arab grammarians, as well some modern varieties of southwest Arabia, such as Rāziḥī and Riǧāl Almaʿ, fall into this category.

Affiliations: 1: Leiden University Centre for Linguistics/Leiden University Institute for Area Studies


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