Berber and Arabic in Siwa (Egypt)
A Study in Linguistic Contact
Author: Lameen Souag. Series edited by: Harry Stroomer.
Series: Berber Studies Volume 372013
Text language(s): English
Format: 170 x 240 mm
This book examines loanwords and intra-Berber relationships of Siwi, the easternmost Berber language, with regard to the influence of migration on the language. The complex contact history of Siwi is shown to have involved at least three distinct varieties of Arabic at different periods. The Arabic component of Siwi includes loanwords and calques with no surviving counterpart in modern regional dialects, indicating a significant time depth and casting light on the history of spoken Arabic as well as of Berber.
The effects of contact upon the grammar are analysed in detail, following and expanding upon the author's doctoral thesis. These effects comprise the morphology in terms of the application of Arabic non-concatenative templatic morphology to Berber adjectival roots and nouns, the use of calquing, the simplification of the complex verbal morphology characteristic of Berber as well as the borrowing of entire paradigms of numeral+measure phrases from Arabic, described here in detail for the first time. This provides a lexically based entry path for syntactic rules. The usual Berber focus-marking constructions are entirely replaced by Arabic forms, affecting both morphology and syntax. As a necessary prerequisite for the description of contact, this work at the same time examines inherited forms in comparative Berber perspective.
Siwi itself is inadequately documented; this book, based on in situ fieldwork, describes Siwi grammar in greater detail than any previous publication. While Siwi continues to be spoken by all community members, its circumstances are not propitious for long-term survival; its documentation is thus a matter of some urgency. This book accordingly includes not just fieldwork-based grammatical and historical analysis and illustrative sentences, but also a selection of Siwi texts spanning multiple genres and produced by speakers of different ages. These include retellings of Islamic stories and accounts of a popular religious festival specific to Siwa, along with popular religious poetry; as such, it casts light on Islam in the Siwan context as well as on Berber culture.
During the last years, one doctoral thesis on the tonology of Siwi Berber and a collection and analysis of Siwi Berber texts have been published by us, as well as an ethnographic study of craftsmanship and architecture in Siwa:
- Acoustically Based Phonemics of Siwi (Berber)
- Berber Texts from Siwa (Egypt)
- Berberstudien & A Sketch of Siwi Berber (Egypt)
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