Palestinian Arabic

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Palestinian Arabic
Native toPalestine, Israel
Native speakers
(no estimate available)
No standard Arabic alphabet and Roman transcriptions both used
Language codes
ISO 639-3
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.
 
Jump to: navigation, search
Palestinian Arabic
Native toPalestine, Israel
Native speakers
(no estimate available)
No standard Arabic alphabet and Roman transcriptions both used
Language codes
ISO 639-3
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Palestinian Arabic is a Levantine Arabic dialect subgroup spoken by the Palestinians in Palestine, by Arab citizens of Israel (mostly Palestinians) and in most Palestinian populations around the world.

Palestinian Arabic is a typical Semitic language, which exhibits vocabulary strata that include words from ancient and modern Middle Eastern (Canaanite, Aramaic, Turkish, Israeli Hebrew) and European (Greek, Latin, French, English) languages.

Differences compared to other Levantine Arabic dialects[edit]

The dialects spoken by the Arabs of the Levant - the Eastern shore of the Mediterranean - or Levantine Arabic, form a rather homogeneous group. Until relatively recently, the Arabic spoken in the Ottoman Sanjak of Syria was considered as a single Syrian dialect, as for example presented by F. E. Crow in 1901.[1]

The Palestinian Arabic dialects are varieties of Levantine Arabic because they display the following characteristic Levantine features.

The noticeable differences between Palestinian Arabic and the Northern forms of Levantine Arabic, such as Western Syrian Arabic and Lebanese Arabic, are stronger in non-urban dialects. The main differences between Palestinian and northern Levantine Arabic are as follows:

There are also typical Palestinian words, who are real shibboleths in the Levant.

Social and geographic dialect structuration[edit]

As is very common in Arabic-speaking countries, the dialect spoken by a person depends on both the region he/she comes from, and the social group he/she belongs to.

The Palestinian urban dialects ('madani') resemble closely northern Levantine Arabic dialects, that is, the colloquial variants of western Syria and Lebanon.[2] This fact, that makes the urban dialects of the Levant remarkably homogeneous, is probably due to the trading network among cities in the Ottoman Levant, or to an older Arabic dialect layer closer to the qeltu dialects still spoken in northern Iraq/Syria and Southern Turkey. Urban dialects are characterised by the [ʔ] (hamza) pronunciation of ق 'qaf', the simplification of interdentals as dentals plosives, i.e. ث as [t], ذ as [d] and both ض and ظ as [dˤ]. Note however that in borrowings from Modern Standard Arabic, these interdental consonnants are realised as dental sibilants, i.e. ث as [s], ذ as [z] and both ض and ظ as [zˤ]. The Druzes have a dialect that may be classified with the Urban ones, with the difference that they keep the uvular pronunciation of ق 'qaf' as [q]. The urban dialects also ignore the difference between masculine and feminine in the plural pronouns انتو ['ɪntu] is both 'you' (masc. plur.) and 'you' (fem. plur.), and ['hʊmme] is both 'they' (masc.) and 'they' (fem.)

The rural varieties of this Palestinian ('fallahi') are of three different types. All three retain the interdental consonants. They keep the distinction between masculine and feminine plural pronouns, e.g. انتو ['ɪntu] is 'you' (masc.) while انتن ['ɪntɪn] is 'you' (fem.), and همه ['hʊmme] is 'they' (masc.) while هنه ['hɪnne] is 'they' (fem.). The three rural groups are the following.

The Palestinian Beduins use two different dialects ('badawi') in Galilee and in the Negev. Contrary to the urban and rural Arab populations of Palestine, who are the descendents of the ancient Hebrew-speaking Canaanite population who adopted Aramaic, then some Greek, and finally Arabic as a daily language, the Palestinian Beduins are probably more recent comers. The Negev desert Beduins use a dialect closely related to those spoken in the Hijaz, and in the Sinai. They are probably the oldest Arab speaking population of the region, being present there before Roman time in the region as attested by the Nabatean civilisation at time when the sedentary populations used to speak Aramaic. On the contrary, the Beduins of Galilee speak a dialect related to those of the Syrian Desert and Najd, which indicates their arrival could have been relatively recent. The Negev Beduin have a specific vocabulary, they maintain the interdental consonnants, they do not use the ش-[-ʃ] negative suffix, they always realise ك /k/ as [k] and ق /q/ as [g], and distinguish plural masculine from plural feminine pronouns, but with different forms as the rural speakers.

Current evolutions

On the urban dialects side, the current trend is to have urban dialects getting closer to their rural neighbours, thus introducing some variability among cities in the Levant. For instance, Jerusalem used to say as Damascus ['nɪħna] ("we") and ['hʊnne] ("they") at the beginning of the 20th century, and this has moved to the more rural ['ɪħna] and ['hʊmme] nowadays.[3] This trend was probably initiated by the partition of the Levant of several states in the course of the 20th century.

The Rural description given above is moving nowadays with two opposite trends. On the one hand, urbanisation gives a strong influence power to urban dialects. As a result, villagers may adopt them at least in part, and Beduin maintain a two-dialect practice. On the other hand, the individualisation that comes with urbanisation make people feel more free to choose the way they speak than before, and in the same way as some will use typical Egyptian features as [le:] for [le:ʃ], others may use typical rural features such as the rural realisation [kˤ] of ق as a pride reaction against the stigmatisation of this pronunciation.

Specific aspects of the vocabulary[edit]

As Palestinian Arabic is spoken in the heartland of the Semitic languages, it has kept many typical semitic words. For this reason, it is relatively easy to guess how Modern Standard Arabic words map onto Palestinian Arabic Words. The list (Swadesh list) of basic word of Palestinian Arabic available on the Wiktionary (see external links below) may be used for this. However, some words are not transparent mappings from MSA, and deserve a description. This is due either to meaning changes in Arabic along the centuries - while MSA keeps the Classical Arabic meanings - or to the adoption of non-Arabic words (see below). Note that this section focuses on Urban Palestinian unless otherwise specified.

Prepositional pseudo verbs

The words used in Palestinian to express the basic verbs 'to want', 'to have', 'there is/are' are called prepositional pseudo verbs because they share all the features of verbs but are constructed with a prepostion and a suffix pronoun.

PersonTo wantTo have
Iبدي['bɪdd-i]عندي ['ʕɪnd-i]
You (sing. masc.)بدك['bɪdd-ak]عندك ['ʕɪnd-ak]
You (sing. fem.)بدك['bɪdd-ɪk]عندك ['ʕɪnd-ɪk]
Heبده['bɪdd-o]عنده ['ʕɪnd-o]
Sheبدها['bɪdd-ha]عندها ['ʕɪnd-ha]
Weبدنا['bɪdd-na]عندنا ['ʕɪnd-na]
You (plur.)بدكم['bɪdd-kʊm]عندكم ['ʕɪnd-kʊm]
Theyبدهم['bɪdd-hʊm]عندهم ['ʕɪnd-hʊm]

In the perfect, they are preceded by كان [ka:n], e.g. we wanted is كان بدنا [ka:n 'bɪddna].

Relative clause

As in most forms of colloquial Arabic, the relative clause markers of Classical Arabic (الذي، التي، اللذان، اللتان، الذين and اللاتي) have been simplified to a single form إللي ['ʔɪlli].

Interrogatives pronouns

The main Palestinian interrogative pronouns (with their Modern Standard Arabic counterparts) are the following ones.

MeaningPalestinian ArabicMSA
Why?ليش [le:ʃ]لماذا [lima:ða:]
What?ايش [ʔe:ʃ] or شو [ʃu]ماذا [ma:ða:]
How?كيف [ki:f]كيف [kaɪfa]
When?إيمتى [ʔe:mta]متى [mata:]
Where?وين [we:n]اين [ʔaɪna]
Who?مين [mi:n]من [man]

Note that it is tempting to consider the long [i:] in مين [mi:n] 'who?' as an influence of ancient Canaanite/Hebrew מי [mi:] on Classical Arabic من [man], but it could be as well an analogy with the long vowels of the other interrogatives.

Marking Indirect Object

In Classical Arabic, the indirect object was marked with the particle /li-/ ('for', 'to'). For instance 'I said to him' was قلت له ['qultu 'lihi] and 'I wrote to her' was كتبت لها [ka'tabtu li'ha:]. In Palestinian Arabic, the Indirect Object marker is still based on the consonant /l/, but with more complex rules, and two different vocal patterns. The basic form before pronouns is a clitic [ɪll-], that always bears the stress, and to which person pronouns are suffixed. The basic form before nouns is [la]. For instance

Borrowings

Palestinians have borrowed words from the many languages they have been in contact with throughout history. For example,

Palestinians in the Palestinian territories sometimes refer to their brethren in Israel as "the b'seder Arabs" because of their adoption of the Hebrew word בְּסֵדֶר [beseder] for 'O.K.', (while Arabic is ماشي[ma:ʃi]). However words like ramzor רַמְזוֹר 'traffic light' and maḥsom מַחְסוֹם 'roadblock' have become a part of the general Palestinian vernacular.

The 2009 film Ajami is mostly spoken in Palestinian-Hebrew Arabic.

Note that the Ashkhenazi Israeli often consider that such borrowings are "Arabicised" in their pronunciation by the Palestinians, to reflect the South Levantine Arabic phonology. This is however probably wrong, since the Palestinian pronounce those Hebrew words in what is probably the closest pronunciation to their own ancestors' Ancient Hebrew. As a matter of fact, the Mizrahi Jews who have not been exposed to non-semitic languages (as the Sfaradim have been in Spain or the Ashkhenazim have been in central Europe) pronounce Hebrew the same way as the Palestinian do.[4]

Hints at a history of Palestinian Arabic[edit]

The variations between dialects probably reflect the different historical steps of arabisation of Palestine.

Until the 7th century, the area used to speak predominantly Aramaic (as witnessed, for example, in the Jewish Aramaic and Christian Aramaic literature), as well as Greek (probably in upper or trader social classes) and some remaining traces of Hebrew. At that time, Arabic speaking people living in the Negev desert or in the Jordan desert beyond Zarqa, Amman or Karak had no significant influence - on the contrary they tended to adopt Aramaic as a written language as shown in Nabatean texts of Petra or Palmyrenian documents of Tadmor.

The arabisation of the population occurred most probably in several waves. After the Arabs took control of the area, so as to maintain their regular activity, the upper classes had quickly to get fluency in the language of the new masters who most probably were only few. The prevalence of Northern Levantine features in the urban dialects until the early 20th century, as well as in the dialect of Samaritans in Nablus (with systematic imala of /a:/) tends to show that a first layer of arabisation of urban upper classes could have led to what is now urban levantine. Then, the main phenomenon could have been the slow countryside shift of Aramaic-speaking villages to Arabic under the influence of arabicised elites, leading to the emergence of the rural Palestinian dialects[citation needed]. This scenario is consistent with several facts.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Crow, F.E., Arabic manual: a colloquia handbook in the Syrian dialect, for the use of visitors to Syria and Palestine, containing a simplified grammar, a comprehensive English and Arabic vocabulary and dialogues, Luzac & co, London, 1901
  2. ^ Ammon, Ulrich (2006). Sociolinguistics/Soziolinguistik 3: An International Handbook of the Science. p. 1922. 
  3. ^ U. Seeger, Mediterranean Language Review 10 (1998), pp. 89-145.
  4. ^ Stern, Yoav. "The 'b'seder' Arabs". Ha'aretz. Retrieved 13 December 2011. 

Recommended readings[edit]

External links[edit]