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Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East

Introduction to Arabic Dialects

Course Code:
155901396
Unit value:
1
Year of study:
Year 2 or Year 3
Taught in:
Full Year

Prerequisites

Completion of Arabic 1/completion of Arabic 200 at 2:1 level miniumum.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

At the end of a course, a student should be able to demonstrate:

  • basic communicative skills in colloquial Egyptian and Levantine Arabic
  • an understanding of
    1. the place of Arabic dialects vis-à-vis Standard Arabic in contemporary Arabic society
    2. the (debates surrounding the) diachronic relationship between Classical Arabic and the contemporary dialects
    3. the principal ways in which the dialects differ among themselves (and collectively in comparison to Standard Arabic) at the level of syntax, morphology, phonology and lexicon

The primary objectives of the course are: to give students a basic understanding of the linguistics of the Arabic dialects, and of the theory and practice of Arabic dialectology; to give them a solid foundation for future in-depth study of Egyptian and/or Levantine Arabic; and to give them the tools to enable them to independently acquire communicative competence in other Arabic dialects they might encounter in the course of their studies and beyond.

Workload

A total of 22 weeks teaching with 4 hours classroom contact per week.

Scope and syllabus

Each week students will have a one-hour lecture on the Arabic dialects from a theoretical point of view, a one-hour listening comprehension class, and two hours of language tuition by a native speaker in Egyptian and Levantine Arabic.

Theory. The theoretical component of the course will cover the following topics: Diglossia and the sociolinguistics of Standard and dialectal Arabic; the historical evolution of the dialects; synchronic classification of the dialects; innovations in the dialects with respect to Classical Arabic at the levels of phonology, morphology, syntax and lexicon.

Practice. Each week students will have the opportunity develop the communicative skills associated with a particular everyday scenario, such as reserving a hotel room, buying a train ticket etc. As far as possible, the medium of instruction will be the relevant Arabic dialect. Lexical and grammatical structures introduced in the lectures will be put into practice in these tutorials.

Method of assessment

An essay of 1,500 - 2,500 words to be submitted on day 5, week 1, term 2 (20%); an essay of 1,500 - 2,500 words to be submitted on day 1, week 1, term 3 (20%); an oral examination of 20 minutes to be delivered at the beginning of term 2 (15%); an oral examination of 20 minutes to be delivered at the beginning of term 3 (15%); 2 listening comprehension exams, to be carried out in class in the final week of Term 1 and Term 2, respectively (20% of total mark - 10% each); a one-hour in class grammar test to be sat in week 1, term 3 (10%).

Suggested reading

Key texts

  • Abboud-Haggar, Soha. 2006. ‘Dialects: Genesis’. In Kees Versteegh (ed.), Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics, vol. I, 613–622. Leiden: Brill.
  • Al-Tonsi, Abbas, Laila Al-Sawi and Suzanne Massoud. 2010. Kalaam Gamiil:
    An Intensive Course in Egyptian Colloquial Arabic. Vol. 1. Cairo: The
    American University in Cairo Press.
  • Chouairi, Rajaa. 2010. Shou Fi Ma Fi: Intermediate Levantine Arabic.  New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
  • Holes, Clive. 2004. Modern Arabic: Structures, Functions and Varieties. Revised edition.  Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.
  • Isleem, Nasser. 2010. Colloquial Palestinian Arabic: An Introduction to the Spoken Dialect.  Norwell, MA: Alucen Learning.
  • Kaye, Alan S., and Rosenhouse, Judith. 1997. ‘Arabic dialects and Maltese’. In Robert Hetzron (ed.), The Semitic Languages, 263–311. London: Routledge.
  • Louis, Samia, and Soliman, Iman A. 2007. Kallimni 'Arabi: An Intermediate Course in Spoken Egyptian Arabic.  Cairo: American University in Cairo Press.
  • Louis, Samia. 2008. Kallimni 'Arabi Aktar: An Upper Intermediate Course in Spoken Egyptian Arabic.  Cairo: American University in Cairo Press.
  • Owens, Jonathan. 2006. A Linguistic History of Arabic.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Palva, Heikki. 2006. ‘Dialects: Classification’. In Kees Versteegh (ed.), Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics, vol. I, 604–613. Leiden: Brill.
  • Rabin, Chaim. 1955. ‘The beginnings of Classical Arabic’. Studia Islamica 4: 19–37.
  • Versteegh, Kees. 1997. The Arabic Language.  Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Watson, Janet C. E. 2002. The Phonology and Morphology of Arabic.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Wightwick, Jane, and Gaafar, Mahmoud. 2005. Colloquial Arabic of Egypt: The Complete Course for Beginners.  London: Routledge.
  • Woidich, Manfred. 2004. Kullu Tamām: An Introduction to Egyptian Colloquial Arabic.  Cairo: American University in Cairo Press.