The Development of a Tradition: Continuity and Change

Publié dans Saison 2014-2015

Foundations of Arabic Linguistics

Third International Symposium


 The Arabic linguistic tradition is one of the great traditions in the history of linguistics, with the depth and richness of its reflection on language, the multiplicity of sciences of language to which it has given rise, and its longevity, starting with the seventh century, giving an uninterrupted tradition in the Arab world, till the nineteenth/twentieth century.

Until recently, the understanding of this tradition, especially the grammatical one, was, compared to the Greek and Indian grammatical traditions, relatively unknown in the Western world. However, over the past 40 years, this tradition has made large strides, and the principles of Arabic grammars have gained in intelligibility within a framework of general linguistic principles.

The first and second symposiums on the Foundations of Arabic Linguistics, held in Cambridge in 2010 (FAL1) and 2012 (FAL2), focused on Sibawayhi's Kitâb in their exploration of the founding principles of Arabic Grammar. As it is well known, Sibawayhi's Kitâb, an eighth century book, is the first Arabic grammar that reaches us, and is, undoubtedly, one of the greatest works in the history of linguistics, as well as the most authoritative book in the long history of Arabic Grammar. It establishes the founding principles of Arabic Grammar and has a profound influence upon later authors and sciences of language.

After Sibawayhi's time, considerable changes intervened in the linguistic situation. What was called kalām l-‘arab by the eighth century philologists (the language of the Arab bedouins) died as a native language. The data used by subsequent grammarians was, for the most part, that which had been given by Sibawayhi. But grammars subsequently changed. What precisely changed? How were the founding principles of grammar affected by these changes? Many answers have been given by the scholars. Determining what has remained unaltered and what has changed gives us a further understanding and a new perspective with which to appreciate cultural and historical impacts on Arabic Grammar and to scrutinize Sibawayhi's Kitâb founding principles themselves.

This third symposium on the Foundations of Arabic Linguistics will continue to explore Sibawayhi's Kitâb, but will also aim to extend the study to the entire grammatical tradition, and, eventually, to investigate the founding principles of Arabic linguistics in other Arabic sciences of language.




Thursday, October 23

Opening of the symposium by André Miquel, Sophie Vassilaki and Georgine Ayoub


A twelfth century league table of Arab grammarians by Michael Carter



Chair: Kees Versteegh


The grammatical and lexicographical traditions: Mutual foundations, divergent paths of development by Ramzi Baalbaki


Chair: Aryeh Levin



Chair: Jean Druel


Friday, October 24


What Is Meant by ḥāl Muqaddara? by Aryeh Levin


Chair: Ramzi Baalbaki

Session II

Chair: Michael Carter


Learning Arabic in the Islamic World by Kees Versteegh


Chair: Sobhi Boustani

General conclusions


Opening of the symposium by André Miquel, Sophie Vassilaki and Georgine Ayoub

KEYNOTE LECTURE - A twelfth century league table of Arab grammarians by Michael Carter

In his discussion of the meaning(s) and syntax of rubba “how many/how few”, the Andalusian grammarian Ibn al-Sīd al-Baṭalyawsī (d. 521/1127) declares his preference for the majority opinion, supported by a list of grammarians divided into “major and prominent Baṣrans” (kubarāʼ al-Baṣriyyīn wa-mašāhīruhum), “minor grammarians” (ṣiġār al-naḥwiyyīn) and “Kūfans” (undifferentiated Kūfiyyūn). Surprisingly he includes al-Zajjājī among the “minor grammarians”, even though his Jumal was one of the most widely read manuals in al-Andalus. This paper examines the grammarians in al-Baṭalyawsī’s list to see what light it throws on the history of Arabic grammatical theory in general and in al-Andalus in particular.


Tribal and Cultural Identity and its Linguistic Reflection in the First Arabic Grammar by Amal Marogy

Kitāb Sībawayhi stands out not only as the starting point, but also as the most reliable source on early grammatical activity. However, the Kitāb goes far beyond pure description of linguistic phenomena with painstaking detail; Sībawayhi’s descriptive method is interwoven with social and cultural realities, and all the attestations in his Kitāb are records of the speech of the Arabs within their social and cultural context. In this paper, the first Arabic grammar is advanced as an invaluable eyewitness account of the social, tribal, cultural and religious identity in the eighth century Iraq. Kitāb Sībawayhi is shown to be a work that drew on local and regional mores in various ways whilst also exhibiting its own separate and distinguished character. When some unresolved problems associated with pre-Sībawayhian grammatical activity are viewed through the lens of history of the civilizations of Mesopotamia and Persia, Kitāb Sībawayhi can legitimately be viewed as the linguistic expression of the tribal, the non-tribal, and the multicultural identity in the early ʿAbbasid period.


Speaker's knowledge in al-Sīrāfī (Sībawayhi commentary) and Ibn Sīnā by Manuela E.B. Giolfo and Wilfrid Hodges

Continuing our programme to compare the semantic ideas of al-Sīrāfī and Ibn Sīnā (Giolfo M, Hodges W (2013). Syntax and Meaning in Sīrāfī and Ibn Sīnā. ROMANO-ARABICA, vol. XIII, 2013, p. 97-116, ISSN: 1582-6953), we describe the discussion of indefiniteness in Ibn Sīnā’s treatment of quantifiers. The questions that he raises place him more with the linguists than the logicians, although his terminology is not standard in Arabic linguistics. We compare in detail with al-Sīrāfī’s discussion of the nakira.


Samā‘ and Intuition in Ibn Jinnī's al-Khaṣā’iṣ by Noel A. Rivera

Since the emergence of Islam, Arabic philologists have attempted to address the ambiguities of the Arabic language. In order to do so, these philologists sought to compile a linguistic corpus that would facilitate the description and standardization of the language. The speech of the Arabs (kalām al-ʿarab) was one of the main sources of this Arabic linguistic corpus. Therefore, philologists ostensibly spent long periods of time in the desert of the Arabian Peninsula recording the speech of their Arab informants. The assumption was that the Arabs possessed a native intuition that allowed them to utilize the language flawlessly without any formal training. However, what did Arabic philologists mean by ‘native intuition’? What does it entail? Who exactly possesses this faculty? Is it something acquirable by anyone? In my paper, I seek to answer these questions and attempt to locate the role of this intuition in the general framework of attestation (samāʿ) as grammatical proof. I focus on the figure Ibn Jinnī (d.1002) and his work Al-Khaṣāʾiṣ. The goal of this study is to contribute to a better understanding of the epistemology of classical Arabic philological tradition.


The grammatical and lexicographical traditions: Mutual foundations, divergent paths of development by Ramzi Baalbaki

The boundaries between naḥw (which includes ṣarf) and luġa are difficult to draw for the early stages of linguistic enquiry as of the second/eighth century. The affinity between the two disciplines, which sets them apart from other linguistically oriented domains, is not only dictated by the proximity of their subject matter, but also promoted by several factors which may be regarded as foundations common to both. Among these is that much of their material is derived from a common source, namely, the process of data collection that took place in the second half of the second/eighth century and the first few decades of the third/ninth. Furthermore, both the naḥwiyyūn and the luġawiyyūn were greatly interested in ġarīb (strange) and nādir (uncommon) material, mainly occurring in dialectal variants and poetry, particularly raǧaz. Ḫalīl’s profound influence on the founding principles of both disciplines as well as the impact of Sībawayhi’s Kitāb on the grammatical tradition are among the prime reasons for continuity in both traditions, despite certain features of development in subsequent grammatical and lexicographical works.

Thematic or mubawwab lexica share a considerable amount of material with grammatical works, as in the genres of al-muḏakkar wa-l-muʾannaṯ (masculine and feminine), al-maqṣūr wa-l-mamdūd (abbreviated and prolonged patterns), and al-abniya (patterns in general). Yet in these and several other genres the two disciplines followed divergent paths of development, resulting at times in a relationship of complementarity. The paper demonstrates how the authors of thematic lexica developed new perspectives in their study. Foremost among these are the genres devoted to the semantic dimension largely excluded by Sībawayhi and other grammarians, e.g. the study of mutarādif (synonyms), muštarak (homonyms), and aḍdād (words with two contradictory meanings). The genres of ġarīb al-Qurʾān and ġarīb al-Ḥadīṯ also complement the syntactic study of the grammarians by exploring the meanings of ġarīb words in the Qurʾān and Ḥadīṯ or of the meanings of commonly used words when they occur in a specific religious context. The two disciplines of naḥw and luġa are also shown to differ in the degree to which they admit Ḥadīṯ to their corpus and cite poetry šawāhid from the period following ʿuṣūr al-iḥtiǧāǧ, or epochs of reliable usage. On a broader scale, the paper concludes that unlike the Arabic grammatical theory — which has its own set of technical terms, notions and methods of analysis, and which inspects the methodological and epistemological issues it embraces — no discernible theory, either in the thematic lexica or the general lexica that exhaust the roots of the language, has been developed by the lexicographers.


Cristina Solimando and Giuliano Lancioni

Sībawayhi’s Kitāb clearly shows the seeds of a theory of valency: namely, chapters 10–17 classify verbs according to a series of patterns of agentivity, passivity, and so on. However, this approach is relatively neglected by later grammarians, who seem to prefer a more syntactic-bound view of government-related phenomena, in agreement with the general preference they give to ‘amal as a universal explicative factor. Our presentation will try to examine how the transition between these partially alternative views takes place in early grammarians through the seminal treatise by Ibn al-Sarrāj, Kitāb al-Uṣūl fī al-naḥw. In particular, relevant passages from such works as al-Farrāʾ’s Maʿānī al-Qurʾān, Mubarrad’s al-Muqtaḍab and the Kitāb al-Jumal (apocryphally) ascribed to al-Ḫalīl b. Aḥmad will be examined and discussed in order to ascertain how Sībawayhi’s model fades out and the ʿamal-centered approach — already well-represented in the Kitāb itself, but less important in discussion of valency, where verb classes in a semantic approach are prominent— gains momentum and becomes the standard explanation for argument-related phenomena.


The Verb in Arab Grammatical Treatises: Conformity and Contradictions by Zeinab Taha

In their approach to presenting the verb’s qualities and its possible role in transitivity, Arab grammarians named several features of the Arabic verb and specified the role it played in transitivity. Some of those features were shared by the majority of Arab grammarians, while other features were the source of disagreement and discontinuity. Starting with Sibawayhi, and ending with Ibn Jinni, the structural, morphological and pragmatic qualities of verbs had been treated with varied emphasis on the power of the verb to hold its noun complements in its valence, the effect it exercised on the noun complements and the pragmatic meaning it conveyed.

Conformity and contradictions are both noticed with respect to the definition of what a verb is, the type of technical terms describing the role of the verb, the amount of emphasis on meaning in syntactic arguments, and the realm of transitivity.

The paper addresses the chronological development and presentation of these issues in early Arab grammatical writings and entertains several questions related to the possible causes for those different presentations.



Early Pedagogical Grammars by Almog Kasher

In this paper several peculiar traits (specifically, terms and notions) will be discussed which occur in a number of early pedagogical grammatical treatises (tenth century at the latest). Its goal is twofold. First, it will be shown that not only are these traits incompatible with either the ‘Baṣran’ or the ‘Kūfan’ tenets, but also that some writers who made use of them were well aware of the discrepancy between these traits and the grammatical theories which these writers themselves adhered to; their use was sometimes explained as stemming from pedagogical considerations. Second, evidence will be furnished that at least some of the traits are probably not an innovation of these grammarians, but go back at least to the first half of the ninth century. It will be argued that these findings have methodological ramifications for the study of early pedagogical works.


On the emergence of Arabic dictionary making in the 2nd and 3rd centuries H: al-Ḫalīl, Ibn Durayd, al-Jawharī by Joseph Dichy

It has to be assumed that the first comprehensive dictionaries in the history of mankind have been elaborated by Medieval Arabic scholars between the 2nd/8th and the 6th/12th cent., despite forerunning glossaries found in ancient cultures, particularly in Sanskrit, Chinese or Greek and Latin. As opposed to a glossary, a comprehensive dictionary aims at covering the entire vocabulary of a language, and presenting it in a set of manuscripts (or volumes). In the 2nd/8th cent., though, lexical comprehensiveness had never been achieved anywhere, and could subsequently hardly be imagined. It would even be deemed delusive.

Haywood, who remains a fundamental reference for Arabic lexicography, wrote in the late 1950’s that, were a Bagdad or Basra scholar from Abbassid times be carried through space and time to the British Museum, and shown, say, the twelve in-quarto volumes of the 1933 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, he would not have been surprised, because similarly comprehensive lexicons already existed in manuscript in his own times. In a previous contribution, I have endeavoured to shown how al-Ḫalīl Ibn Aḥmad al-Farāhīdī (d. around 175/791) paved the way, by the end of his life, to the making of later comprehensive Arabic dictionaries through establishing a consistent framework for the composition of his dictionary, the Kitāb al-‘Ayn. The story of the writing of that first Arabic dictionary is somewhat numbed with mystery, although recent analyses have highlighted the relations between al-Ḫalīl and his obscure Ḫūrasānī disciple, al-Layṯ, who seems to have completed the dictionary after the death of the Baṣrī master .

The preface of the Kitāb al-‘Ayn presents the framework devised by al-Ḫalīl for the elaboration of a comprehensive list of words, on the basis of two fundamental inventories, that of ‘letter-segments’ (ḥurūf) and that of ‘constructs’ (binā’). The mathematical mind of al-Ḫalīl allowed him to elaborate a method according to which the units of the latter finite inventories allowed exhaustive coverage of virtual ‘constructs’, some elements of which are ‘effective’ or ‘in use” (musta‘mal), and others are ‘un-effective’ (muhmal); in that effective words necessarily correspond to a subset of the virtual ones2.

The present contribution focuses on the way in which two major followers elaborated, in the 4th/10th century, other major comprehensive dictionaries:

  • The Jamharat al-luġa, due to Ibn Durayd (d. 321/933), takes up the fundamentals of al-Ḫalīl’s method in covering the entire set of virtual ‘constructs’ , with a few differences that will be underlined. Ibn Durayd’s main original contribution lays in the way he accesses effective data, on the one hand, and tries to ‘define’ words through intuitive glosses on the other. He explicitly mentions, for instance, among others, Syrian usage (luġa šāmiyya).
  • Al-Ṣiḥāḥ (or al-Ṣaḥāḥ), due to Ismā’īl bn Ḥammād al-Jawharī (d. 398/1007), was elaborated by its author during the years when he had to flee to Arabia – for political reasons –, and live among the tribes he originated from. While Ibn Durayd drew lexical information from Arabic speakers living in Iraq (hence the observation according to which an expression or word could be of ‘Syrian usage’), al-Jawharī based his own information on in situ observation in Arabia – a point of comparison that requires further discussion. He also modified the order of the dictionary, which became based on the last letter of what we call a root. This point also needs to be considered in some detail: al-Jawharī is one of the first Arabic lexicographers, if not the first, who has introduced an easier ‘look up’ order (known among western Arabists as a ‘rime order’), as opposed to the heuristic order of al-Ḫalīl, Ibn Durayd or Ibn Fāris (d. 395/1005), which we’ll endeavour to explain.

Other later lexicographers could of course be mentioned and analysed. The present contribution focuses on some aspects of the emergence of Arabic lexicography, to which we owe such a great collection of rich and precise dictionaries.


1. John A. Haywood, Arabic Lexicography. Its History and its Place in the general History of Lexicography, Leiden, Brill, 1960

2. Dichy J., “Al-Ḫalīl’s Conjecture: how the First Comprehensive Dictionary in History was invented”, in Giolfo, Manuella (ed.), Arab and Arabic Linguistics: Traditional and New Theoretical Approaches, (Journal of Semitic Studies Supplement Series). Oxford University Press, Oxford 2013, p. 39-64

3. Gregor Schœler, Écrire et transmettre aux débuts de l’Islam, Paris, PUF, 2002.


KEYNOTE LECTURE - What Is Meant by ḥāl Muqaddara? by Aryeh Levin

This paper proposes to discuss the sense and the historical development of the term ḥāl muqaddara, which denotes one of the sub-categories of the syntactic phenomenon called al-ḥāl. Although this term originates in grammatical texts between the ninth and the twelfth centuries,it becomes a defining term only later, in works of the fourteenth century where it is briefly mentioned.

The concept of the early grammarians of the phenomenon of ḥāl muqaddara differs from that of the later ones.

Reckendorf and Wright accept the later grammarians’concept of this syntactic phenomenon.


Case and reference: mā lā yanṣarif in Sībawayhi’s Kitāb by Georgine Ayoub

The Kitāb of Sībawayhi devotes 31 chapters to treat the nouns that have only two terminations to indicate case, what is known for us as diptotism. Hardly a particular topic of grammar has been as systematic in the Kitāb and has been presented with as much detail. One need only compare with the erratic treatment of important theories as transitivity, ellipsis or tense.

Actually, the theory of mā lā yanṣarif deserves particular attention. It is at the heart of the grammar of Sībawayhi, as its principles are at the crossroads of important postulates and sub-theories of the Kitāb. Ultimately, this theory illustrates the unique way Sībawayhi, and after him, the Arabic grammatical tradition, link formal considerations – declension – with semantic and pragmatic theories, more precisely the declension of nouns with their reference. This presentation seeks precisely to examine this link. Some of the debates about this theory, before and after Sībawayhi, will be examined too.


Demonstratives in Sībawayhi’s Kitāb and later grammatical treatises by Arik Sadan

Many phonetic, morphological and syntactic features in Sībawayhi’s Kitāb have attracted researchers’ attention in the last centuries. One of the less treated issues is Sībawayhi’s use and views of the roles of demonstratives in the Arabic language he describes. Electronic editions of Sībawayhi’s Kitāb now enable us to trace and analyze every instance of demonstrative in this important treatise. Sībawayhi’s use of demonstratives in his Kitāb can be divided into three groups: (1) demonstratives in example sentences; (2) demonstratives as a morphological or syntactic subject that is discussed and explained; and (3) demonstratives used in other contexts, simply as words that are parts of sentences, just as other nouns, verbs, etc. In this paper, I would like to examine the first two groups, as follows:

(1) Interesting instances of demonstratives are in example sentences, which Sībawayhi adduces for various phenomena. Examining such example sentences and analyzing them may supply us with Sībawayhi’s perception of demonstratives and their syntactic and semantic roles in the language. For example, it is obvious that for Sībawayhi, demonstratives are good examples for non-verbal elements with the syntactic and semantic characteristics of verbs, as in the example hāḏā ʿAbdullāhi ḥaqqan “watch, here is ʿAbdallāh, truly” of the phenomenon later known by al-ḥāl al-muʾakkida, which is discussed in chapter 88 of the Kitāb.

(2) Sībawayhi’s treatment and analysis of demonstratives morphologically and syntactically can, of course, also shed light on his views on demonstratives’ functions in Arabic.

To conclude, this paper aims at examining Sībawayhi’s usages and treatment of demonstratives in his Kitāb, analyzing them and reaching conclusions as to his perception of demonstratives and their roles in the Arabic language. Next to examining Sībawayhi’s Kitāb, other principal later grammatical treatises will be consulted and compared to the Kitāb.



Blind spots in Raḍī al-Dīn al-Astarābāḏī's grammar of numerals by Jean Druel

Grammar of numerals is a complicated chapter in classical Arabic treatises because it lies at the junction of many grammatical rules. In his Kitāb, Sībawayh (d. 180/796?) analyses numerals as a category of substantives that resemble the adjectives that themselves resemble active participles, aiming at a deep consistency between all grammatical rules. In the Muqtaḍab, al-Mubarrad (d. 285/898) visibly prefers to collect as many peculiar cases as possible where numerals are involved, renouncing consistency at a wider scale. And in his Uṣūl, Ibn al-Sarrāǧ (d. 316/928) creates a specific grammatical category for numerals, systematising a trend initiated by al-Mubarrad and initialising a way of analysing grammar that seems to be predominent until present day in the grammar of numerals.

What has grammar of numerals become in later grammarians? Did they refine Ibn al-Sarrāǧ's systematic and exhaustive subdivisions? In this paper I intend to explore Raḍī al-Dīn al-Astarābāḏī's (d. 686/1287?) grammar of numerals in order to understand how he deals with this complicated chapter of Arabic grammar. Each theory has its blind spots, i.e., assumptions that make vision possible but that are not questioned per se. Can we infer Raḍī al-Dīn al-Astarābāḏī's blind spots in his grammar of numerals? Could he escape Ibn al-Sarrāǧ's blind spots?


Learning Arabic in the Islamic World by Kees Versteegh

In the transmission of Islamic knowledge in Africa, South Asia and South-east Asia, the language of religious instruction was often not Arabic. The role of Arabic was limited to the recitation of the Qurʾān and the ḥadīṯ; passive knowledge of Arabic was trained by collective reading of (often short) treatises in the classroom, which were memorized with the help of interlinear translations, e.g. in Swahili, in Persian, in Urdu, or in Malay.

This suggests that the role of Arabic grammar was indeed not very large. Yet, in most Islamic countries Arabic grammar was taught, so that students could at least attain an elementary knowledge of the language, and a few students could even progress towards independent reading of Arabic-written religious literature, such as Qurʾānic commentaries or even larger works, such as al-Ġazzālī's ʾIḥyāʾ.

For the instruction in Arabic grammar students needed textbooks. We do not know in detail what textbooks were available in which curriculum, and we do not know either whether there were large regional differences, for instance between the Islamic East and West, or whether there were major changes in the curriculum over time. There are, however, a few sources about madrasa training in various countries. In this paper I intend to find out what the canon for grammatical treatises was in the different parts of the Islamic world, and to go into the contents of the textbooks to see what grammatical ideas students actually learned from them. The main question remains of course, how one can learn a foreign language like Arabic by memorizing a grammatical treatise like the ʾAlfiyya, which presupposes a large amount of grammatical knowledge!

Bibliographical references

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Archaeology and Origin of the Term Taḫṣīṣ in Arabic Grammar by Manuel Sartori

I will look in my contribution on the technical term taḫṣīṣ. Never be a chapter or even a section, it is mentioned, when it is, only incidentally. This is the case both in Arabic and Arabist grammars, old as new. It is on the contrary oftenly used by Ibn al-Ḥāğib (d. 646/1249), who first drew my attention to this term. He did particularly in the comment he made of his own Kāfiya fī al-naḥw, commentary entitled al-ʾImlāʾ ʿalā al-Kāfiya.

But taḫṣīṣ is often ignored by the Arabist grammars. I begin then by defining the technical sense of the term crossing Arabist and Arab sources from the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.Then I lead the archeology of taḫṣīṣ to define to define precisely when, in the history of Arabic grammar, this term or one of its derivatives appears with its precise technical meaning. Finally, I assess how the term taḫṣīṣ can be an import made toward grammar from law sciences where this category seems to be treated independently while it is subject to absent developments in grammar. In doing so, like what Pierre Larcher did in Larcher in many artices (1990, 1991, 1992, 1994: not. 276-78, 1998 and 2007) around the concept of ʾinšāʾ by showing how it was a postclassical innovation from an external and peripheric discipline to grammar, I try to reconstruct the history of the category of taḫṣīṣ.


Semantics in Šarḥ al-Kāfiya by Raḍī al-Dīn al-’Astarābāḏī: the notion of waḍ‘ by Beata Sheyhatovitch

Raḍī al-Dīn al-’Astarabāḏī (d. 1289) was a highly perceptive and original grammarian, whose contribution to the medieval Arabic grammatical theory remains to be fully appreciated. In my paper I elucidate some of ’Astarabāḏī’s insights, by focusing on the term waḍ‘ (lit. ‘laying down/placing’), which is one of the central concepts in his semantic discussions. The term refers to the act of instituting a linguistic form for a certain concept/idea/function, and I choose to render it as ‘coinage’. This concept evolved in discussions on the origin of language, mostly by theologians and jurists.

A few appearances of the term waḍ‘ and its derivatives can be found in early grammarians’ writings; but they are sporadic and do not seem to express principles on which arguments can be built. In contrast, ’Astarabāḏī defines the term at an early stage of his Šarḥ al-Kāfiya, and uses it in almost every major discussion. He uses the idea of the function and/or meaning for which the linguistic element was coined, in order to explain its syntactic and morpho-phonological behavior. My paper presents various types of elements that are coined, in the view of ’Astarabāḏī: morpheme, single word, proper noun and syntactical construction, and discusses different phenomena that are explained by the concept of waḍ‘: word order, definiteness, case marks, transitiveness, etc. Following that, I present three modes of denotation discerned by ’Astarabāḏī. Denotation by the virtue of coining is one of them, while the other two are “by nature” (ṭab‘an) and “by the means of reason” (‘aqlan). Finally, I explore the intricate relationship between waḍ‘ and 'isti‘māl (‘usage’) as it was perceived by ’Astarabāḏī’.


How have the descriptions of taḥīr changed in connection with ’amr and nahy? by Haruko Sakaedani

The purpose of the paper is to go over changes in the descriptions of taḥdīr in Arabic linguistics.

Sībawaihi defined taḥīr in his Kitāb as ’īyā-[pronoun] + wa-[objective], and Ibn ‘Aqīl mentions ’iġrā’ when he refers to taḥīr in his ’Alfiyyah. Recently, ‘Abbās Ḥasan juxtaposed taḥīr with ’amr and nahy in an-Naḥw al-Wāfī. Some people say that these issues might be viewed from the perspective of khabar and ’inšā’. This paper is intended to serve as an investigation of the diachronic expansion of the meaning of Taḥīr in relationship to ’Amr, Nahy, and other similar concepts.


General conclusions by Georgine Ayoub


André MiquelAndré Miquel

André Miquel est né le 26 septembre 1929 à Mèze, après l`Ecole normale supérieure et l`agrégation de grammaire, il se perfectionne en arabe à Damas. Chargé de missions culturelles à l`étranger, il passera par les Affaires étrangères à Paris, puis enseignera à l`Ecole pratique des hautes études et à l`Université de Paris. Professeur (chaire de Langue et Littérature arabes classiques) au Collège de France, il en deviendra administrateur. Il a écrit de nombreux ouvrages, entre autres L`islam et la civilisation, D`Arabie et d`islam, La littérature arabe.

Sophie VassilakiSophie Vassilaki

Sophie Vassilaki is professor of Greek language & linguistics at the National Institute of Oriental Languages & Civilizations (INALCO), researcher at the laboratory SEDYL (Languages Structures and Dynamics), UMR 8202- CNRS, IRD 135 and head of the Doctoral School 265 « World Languages, Literatures and Societies» (INALCO). She graduated in Classical Studies from the National & Kapodistrian University of Athens and obtained her PhD degree in linguistics at the Paris VII-Diderot University (LLF research Laboratory), with a dissertation on Mediopassive morphology, reflexive and passive constructions in Modern Greek. She is co-director of the research project DOCULANG - Grammatization, Standard norms, Tool (Laboratory SEDYL) and co-director of the research project Mood alternation in embedded clauses, French & Balkan Languages (Strand 2, Experimental grammar from a crosslinguistic perspective), Laboratory of Excellence (Labex) programm Empirical Foundations of Linguistics. She is member of the editorial board of the Journal Faits de Langues. Research interests : Tense, Aspect, Modality, Dependency relations (Subordination), Language standardization and Language change (variant reduction), History of Greek language.

Georgine AyoubGeorgine Ayoub

Georgine Ayoub is professor of Arabic linguistics at the National Institute of Languages and Civilizations, Paris, and a researcher at CERMOM in the same university. Her fields of research include theoretical linguistics, history of Arabic language, Arabic linguistic thought, and ancient Arabic poetry. She holds MAs in Philosophy and in French Modern Literature, a DEA of History of Art, and two PhDs of General linguistics from the University of Paris VII (3e cycle and doctorat d'Etat). Her works include two books in Arabic linguistics La structure de la phrase verbale en Arabe standard and Prédicat, figures, Catégories : La question de la phrase nominale en Arabe littéraire. She is preparing a collective volume on Language and the Sacred. Her recent publications in the history of Arabic linguistic thought include a paper on the verbal system in Sībawayhi's Kitāb and another on the basic vocabulary by which Sībawayhi judges the acceptability of utterances.

Michael CarterMichael Carter

Michael Carter began his career as a teacher of Arabic at Sydney University from 1968 to 1985, then spent some time in the United States, first as a Visiting Professor at Duke University (1985-6), then at New York University (1986-96), finishing his career as Professor of Arabic at Oslo University (1996-2004). Since that time he has been an Hon. Professor in the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Sydney University. His special interest is the history of Arabic grammatical theory, and his works include a small monograph on Sibawayhi and (with Professors Badawi and Gully) a grammar of modern written Arabic, which is now being revised; he is about to prepare his 1968 Oxford doctoral thesis for publication.

Kees VersteeghKees Versteegh

Kees Versteegh (1947) was full professor of Arabic and Islam at the University of Nijmegen (The Netherlands) from 1989 till 2010, when he retired. He graduated in Classical and Semitic languages and obtained his Ph.D. degree at the University of Nijmegen with a dissertation on Greek elements in Arabic linguistic thinking (1977). He specializes in historical linguistics and the history of linguistics, focusing on processes of language change, language contact, and pidgin and creole languages. His books include Pidginization and creolization: The case of Arabic (Amsterdam, 1984), Arabic grammar and Qur'anic exegesis in early Islam (1993), The Arabic linguistic tradition (London, 1997), and The Arabic language (Edinburgh, 1997, revised ed. 2014). He co-edited the Handbuch für die Geschichte der Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft (Berlin, 2000-2005) and was the editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of Arabic language and linguistics (Leiden, 2006-2009).

Amal MarogyAmal Marogy

Amal Marogy is Affiliated Researcher in Neo-Aramaic Studies at the University of Cambridge and is Founder and Executive Director of Aradin Charitable Trust ( Until recently she taught Arabic at the University of Cambridge and was Director of Studies in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at King’s College. She launched and organised the first Foundations of Arabic Linguistic Conference (FAL1) in 2010, followed by FAL2 in 2012. She holds a PhD in Oriental Languages and Cultures from the University of Ghent and her publications include Kitāb Sībawayhi. Syntax and Pragmatics (2010) and The Foundations of Arabic Linguistics: Sībawayhi and Early Arabic Grammatical Theory (2012).

Manuela E.B. GiolfoManuela E.B. Giolfo

Dr. Manuela E.B. Giolfo is Researcher & lecturer in Arabic language & literature at the University of Genoa and Chercheur associé at IREMAM - Laboratoire du CNRS - Université de Provence. She was Lecturer in Arabic at the University of Exeter 2008 to 2013. Before 2008 she taught in Italy as Adjunct Professor at the Universities of Urbino, Bergamo, Turin and Enna. She holds an MA in philosophy from the University of Milan, and a PhD in Arabic linguistics from the Université de Provence.

Volume in progress:

  • Giolfo M, Hodges W. Syntactic meaning in Arabic: integrating Arab medieval linguistics and logic.

Volume in press:

  • Giolfo M (Ed.) Arab and Arabic Linguistics: Traditional and New Theoretical Approaches (Journal of Semitic Studies Supplement). OXFORD: Oxford University Press.

Recent publications:

  • Giolfo M, Hodges W (2013). “Syntax and Meaning in Sīrāfī and Ibn Sīnā”. ROMANO-ARABICA, vol. XIII, 2013, p. 97-116, ISSN: 1582-6953.
  • Giolfo M (2012). “Grammaticalization of the Arabic negative particle mā: mā faʿala vs lam yafʿal, and mā yafʿalu vs lā yafʿalu”. In: Grammaticalization in Semitic (Journal of Semitic Studies Supplement 29). vol. 29, p. 31-48, OXFORD: Oxford University Press, ISBN: 978-0-19-967987-4.
  • Giolfo M (2012). “yaqum vs qāma in the Conditional Context: A Relativistic Interpretation of the Frontier between the Prefixed and the Suffixed Conjugations of the Arabic language”. In: The Foundations of Arabic Linguistics: Sībawayhi and the Earliest Arabic Grammatical Theory. p. 135-160, LEIDEN BOSTON: Brill, ISBN: 9789004223592.

Wilfrid HodgesWilfrid Hodges

Wilfrid Hodges, British Academy Fellow. From 1967 to 2006 I taught at London University (with two visiting years at UCLA and University of Colorado at Boulder) and researched in mathematical logic and semantics. Since retirement I have been working mainly on Ibn Sina's logic. Books are in progress, including one joint with Manuela E. B. Giolfo comparing Ibn Sina and al-Sirafi.

Noel A. RiveraNoel A. Rivera

Noel Rivera is a researcher for the LIDIAC Project at Freiburg University. He is interested in the intersection between the Arabic Philological Tradition and Philosophy. At the moment, his working on Ibn Jinnī's Al-Khaṣā'iṣ and Mauritanian manuscripts on the difference between ḍād and ẓā'.

Ramzi BaalbakiRamzi Baalbaki

Ramzi Baalbaki, Ph.D. (1978), University of London, is the Margaret Weyerhaeuser Jewett Professor of Arabic at the American University of Beirut. He is also the Chair of the Academic Council of the Doha Arabic Historical Dictionary project. He has published extensively both in English and Arabic on the history of the Arabic grammatical and lexicographical traditions. Several of his articles were collected in a Variorum volume entitled Grammarians and Grammatical theory in the Medieval Arabic Tradition (2004), and a Festschrift was presented to him on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday, entitled In the Shadow of Arabic: the Centrality of Language to Arabic Culture (2011). Among his other publications are: al-Mawrid al-Akbar: A Modern English-Arabic Dictionary (with his father, Munir Baalbaki, 2005), The Legacy of the Kitāb: Sībawayhi’s Analytical Methods within the Context of the Arabic Grammatical Theory (2008), and The Arabic Lexicographical Tradition from the 2nd/8th to the 12th/18th Century (2014). He was also awarded the prestigious King Faisal International Prize (2010) for his contribution to the study of the Arabic Grammatical Tradition.

Aryeh LevinAryeh Levin

Aryeh Levin was born in Israel in 1937. He is Professor Emeritus of Arabic at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His main fields of research are: Arabic medieval grammatical thought and terminology, history of Arabic language,and modern Arabic dialects. He was the Head of the Department of Arabic Language and Literature, 1987– 1992, and the Head of the Institute of Asian and African Studies of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1992 – 1998. He wrote his Ph.D. thesis on The ≤Imåla in the Arabic Dialects (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem,1971). In 2010 he was awarded the most prestigious “Israel Prize in General Linguistics” for his achievements in the field of Arabic linguistics.

Giuliano LancioniGiuliano Lancioni

Giuliano Lancioni, PhD in Linguistics, is professor of Arabic language and literature at Roma Tre University. He is the scientific responsible of the curriculum in Islamic Civilization: history and philology of the PhD program in Civilizations of Asia and Africa, Sapienza University of Rome. His main fields of research interest are Arabic computational and corpus linguistics, the history of the Arabic linguistic thinking and information retrieval in Arabic classical texts. He has co-edited the volume The word in Arabic (Brill, 2011) and has co-organized the conferences Towards a Thesaurus Linguae Arabicae (Rome, 2011), Written Arabic And Writing Arabic (Jerusalem, 2012), Dār al-islām/dār al-ḥarb: territories, people, identities (Rome, 2012), New Research on Muḥammad and the Qurʾān: exegetical, historical and linguistic approaches (Rome, 2013).

Cristina SolimandoCristina Solimando

Cristina Solimando is assistant professor of Arabic Language and Literature at Roma Tre University. She graduated in Arabic Language at Pisai (Pontifical Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies) and in Linguistics at La Sapienza University. Her PhD thesis is focused on the theorization of linguistic ellipsis in Arab grammarians from 8th century up to 10th.

Since 2010 she has been studying Corpus Linguistics applied to informal Arabic, with particular attention to the Social Networks. She is also conducting a study on the methodologies of teaching Arabic as L2 to Italian learners.

She wrote a manual of Arabic Language (Imparare l’arabo conversando, 2011) and different publications on the tradition of Arabic Linguistics and on Informal Texts such as: Le origini della grammatical araba, 2008; The Ellipsis in the Arabic Linguistic Thinking from 8th to 10th century, 2010, Il duale in Ibn Jinnī, 2008, Educated Spoken Arabic in Blogs, 2013, Blog-based Corpus: some issues, 2012.

Zeinab TahaZeinab Taha

Zeinab A. Taha Ph.D, is an Associate Professor of Arabic language and linguistics at the American University in Cairo. She received her PHD from the Georgetown University in 1995. Her dissertation title was "Issues of Semantics and Syntax in Early Arab Grammatical Theory: From Sybawayhi to Ibn As-Sarraj". She has been working in the field of Teaching Arabic as A Foreign Language (TAFL) for more than 30 years. Has taught in highly reputable universities in the US and Europe in addition to the Arabic Language Institute at the American University in Cairo where she assumed the position of its director for 8 years. During these eight years, she also worked as the co-Director of the Center for Arabic Studies abroad (CASA). Her publications are in the areas of TAFL, sociolinguistics and early Arab syntactic theory. Her most recent publication is a book that came out in 2011 on the: Development of Early Arab Grammatical Thought. The book was published by Dar Al-Adab in Egypt.

Frère Jean DruelFrère Jean Druel

Jean N. Druel was born in France in 1971. After a Master degree in teaching Arabic as a foreign language (AUC, Cairo, 2006) he completed a PhD in the history of Arabic grammar under the supervision of Prof. Kees Versteegh (Radboud university, Nijmegen, 2012): Numerals in Arabic grammatical theory: An impossible quest for consistency?

He is currently a researcher in Arabic linguistics at IDEO (Dominican Institute for Oriental Studies, Cairo) and the coordinator of the 200 Project at IDEO, a three-year research project on the historical contextualisation of 200 authors of the classical Islamic heritage, funded by the European Union.

His main interest lies in the reception of Sībawayh's Kitāb in the Arabic grammatical tradition.

Almog KasherAlmog Kasher

Almog Kasher, PhD (approved 2007), is Lecturer in the Department of Arabic, Bar-Ilan University. His dissertation, "The ẓarf in Medieval Arabic Grammatical Tradition", was carried out under the supervision of Prof Yishai Peled (Tel-Aviv University) and Dr Shlomit Shraybom-Shivtiel (BarIlan University).

His main field of study is Medieval Arabic Grammatical Tradition, with emphasis on its early history and Sībawayhi's commentaries. He also has special interest in manuscripts, and during 2007-2009 he worked as a Research Assistant to Prof. Y. Tzvi Langermann, in the project "Arabic Writings in Hebrew Manuscripts".

Joseph DichyJoseph Dichy

Joseph DICHY, born 1951 in Beirut, is Professor of Arabic Linguistics at the Lyon 2-Lumière University and a member of the ICAR research Lab (CNRS/Lyon 2, ENS-Lyon). He occupies or has occupied a number of distinguished positions in Arabic studies in France.

  • Author of a reference thesis on the writing system of Arabic (Lyon 2, 1990), and of many works on Arabic descriptive linguistics (recently: ، ج. ديشي وسام عمّارعشرون ألف فعل وفعل - Beirut 2014) on computational linguistics, and on Medieval Arabic rhetoric and argumentation.
  • A recognized expert in the teaching of Arabic to speakers of other languages (TASOL), to which he contributed a number of theoretical papers and of teaching programmes and books (Recent publication: Ayyâm wa-Layaalin, أيام وليالٍ- European competence levels A1, A2, B1 and B2, Beirut 2013 and 2014, 3 vol. and 2 CDs for each level).
  • In Arabic computational linguistics: crucial contribution to the DIINAR lexical Arabic database. He presently heads the work on the LASMAR (Lexical Analytic and Semantic Multilingual Arabic-centred Resource, also involving French and English).

Arik SadanArik Sadan

Dr. Arik Sadan holds a BA in Linguistics and Arabic Language and Literature (2001) and an MA (2004) and PhD (2010) in Arabic Language and Literature, all from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He wrote both his MA and PhD theses under the supervision of Prof. Aryeh Levin, receiver of the Israel Prize for Linguistics (2010). Both theses deal with Arabic grammatical thought in general and the verbal system of Classical Arabic in particular. Having submitted his PhD thesis, Sadan traveled to Paris and Jena, Université Paris 7 and Friedrich-Schiller-Universität respectively, where he spent two years of post-doctoral research, under the supervision of Prof. Jean-Patrick Guillaume and Prof. Tilman Seidensticker. His post-doctoral research project in France and Germany focused on editing and analyzing an ancient treatise in the field of Arabic grammar which deals not only with grammar and syntax but also with Rhetoric and Logic, based on eleven different manuscripts. In 2012 Sadan published the scientific edition of this work with Harrassowitz Verlag (, as well as a revised English version of his PhD thesis with Brill ( Sadan’s research fields are Arabic grammatical thought, Arab grammarians, Classical, Modern and Colloquial Arabic linguistics, manuscripts in Arabic grammar and other fields. He teaches various courses in various academic institutions in these fields.

Jean-Patrick GuillaumeJean-Patrick Guillaume

Jean-Patrick Guillaume, a former Fellow of the French Institute for Arabic Studies in Damascus (IFEAD), is Professor of Arabic language and linguistics at Université Sorbonne nouvelle – Paris 3 and a member of the Laboratoire d’Histoire des théories linguistiques (UMR 7597) of the CNRS. He has published several studies on the history of the Arabic linguistic tradition, among which The Arabic Linguistic Tradition, with G. Bohas and D. E. Kouloughli (London, Routledge, 1990). His other fields of interest include the Arabic popular epics, notably Sīrat al-Ẓāhir Baybarṣ.

Sobhi BoustaniSobhi Boustani

Sobhi Boustani is a Professor of Modern Arabic Literature and the director of the Research Center for Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Studies (CERMOM) at the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations (INALCO) in Paris. Since May 2014, he has been the President of EURAMAL group (European Association for Modern Arabic Literature). He is also an elected member of the scientific committee of INALCO and an appointed member to the National Council of Universities (CNU). He studied at the Lebanese University and has defended two doctoral dissertations on modern Arabic poetry: the first, a doctorate, in 1978 at Paris University 4 (Sorbonne), and the second, Nouveau régime, in 1992 at the University of Strasbourg 2. He has taught modern Arabic literature at the Lebanese University, Lille University 3 (France), Paris University 4 (Sorbonne) and Paris University 3 (Nouvelle Sorbonne). His research is, on the whole, focused on the study in modern Arabic literature on the style and literary expression in its two forms: poetic and prosaic. He has published several books and articles on Arab poetry since the beginning of the 20th century and on the renewal of writing in Arabic fictional novels. He also helped to prepare the official state exams for admission to becoming a teacher of Arabic in the state school system.

Manuel SartoriManuel Sartori

Graduate of the Political Sciences Institute (PSI) of Aix-en-Provence (1997), holder of a Diploma of Advanced Studies (Master 2) in Comparative Political Science (1999) and a Master 2 in African, Arabic and Turkish Worlds (2004), Manuel Sartori is also Associate Professor of Arabic (2009) and holds a PhD in Arabic language and linguistics (2012). After several years in the Arab world, in Cairo and mainly in Damascus, he is now Professor and Head of teaching Arabic language and literature at the PSI of Aix-en-Provence. His research focuses primarily on Arabic grammar and linguistics, diachronic as synchronic, medieval as contemporary, but also on the history of Arabic grammar and language.

Beata SheyhatovitchBeata Sheyhatovitch

Beata Sheyhatovitch is a Ph.D. candidate at Tel Aviv University working in the field of Arabic grammatical theory. She holds B.A. in Arabic and Islamic Studies and in East Asian studies. In her M.A. thesis (under the supervision of Prof. Yishai Peled) she has explored the meaning of the term fāʾida in Arab grammarians' writings, while in her present research (with the same advisor) she concentrates on Šarḥ al-Kāfiya by Raḍī al-Dīn al-ʾAstarābād̠ī, with the aim of figuring out the distinctive traits of this work.

Haruko SakaedaniHaruko Sakaedani

Haruko Sakaedani received an M.A. in Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language from the American University in Cairo and a doctorate in Arabic linguistics from Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (TUFS). She is a part-time lecturer of Arabic at Keio University, Waseda University and Tokai University.