The Arabic Language

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Edinburgh University Press, 1997 - 277 pages


This general introduction to the Arabic Language, now available in paperback, places special emphasis on the history and variation of the language. Concentrating on the difference between the two types of Arabic - the Classical standard language and the dialects - Kees Versteegh charts the history and development of the Arabic language from the earliest beginnings to modern times. The reader is offered a solid grounding in the structure of the language, its historical context and its use in various literary and non-literary genres, as well as an understanding of the role of Arabic as a cultural, religious and political world language. Intended as an introductory guide for students of Arabic, it will also be a useful tool for discussions both from a historical linguistic and from a socio-linguistic perspective.

Coverage includes all aspects of the history of Arabic, the Arabic linguistic tradition, Arabic dialects and Arabic as a world language. Links are made between linguistic history and cultural history, while the author emphasises the role of contacts between Arabic and other languages.

This important book will be an ideal text for all those wishing to acquire an understanding or develop their knowledge of the Arabic language.

Key Features

  • A general introduction to the Arabic language
  • Accessible and effective communication of information
  • Impeccably documented
  • Updated guide to further reading
  • User-friendly index

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - BLyda97112 - LibraryThing

This book is a "must have" for the Arabic linguist. Well-researched and provides a solid background on the history and development of the Arabic language. I picked this up in Monterey, California back in 1998 and have found it to be a valuable addition to my collection. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ts. - LibraryThing

This was an excellent, well researched book. It was full of history, which added context to the discussion of the dialects, and despite being a speaker, I found it full of new information. Personally ... Read full review


List of Figures and Maps 1 The Development of the Study of Arabic 1997 is 2 Arabic as a Semitic Language
The Earliest Stages of Arabic
Arabic in the PreIslamic Period

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About the author (1997)

Kees Versteegh (1947) is Professor of Arabic and Islam at the University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands. He graduated in Classical and Semitic languages and specializes in historical linguistics and the history of linguistics, focusing on processes of language change and language contact. His books include Pidginization and Creolization: The Case of Arabic(Amsterdam, 1984), The Arabic Linguistic Tradition(London, 1997) and Arabic Grammar and Qur'anic Exegesis in Early Islam(Leiden, 1993). He co-edited the Handbuch für die Geschichte der Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft(Berlin, 2000-2005) and the Arabic-Dutch/Dutch-Arabic Dictionary(Muiderberg, 2003), and was the editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics(Leiden, 2006-2009).

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