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Pluricentric Languages and Non-Dominant Varieties Worldwide

Part I: Pluricentric Languages across Continents. Features and Usage

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Edited By Rudolf Muhr

This is the first of two thematically arranged volumes with papers that were presented at the "World Conference of Pluricentric Languages and their non-dominant Varieties" (WCPCL). It comprises papers about 20 PCLs and 14 NDVs around the world. The second volume encompasses a further 17 papers about the pluricentricity of Portuguese and Spanish. The conference was held at the University of Graz (Austria) on July 8th-11th 2015. The papers fall into five categories: (1) Theoretical aspects of pluricentricity and the description of variation; (2) Different types of pluricentricity in differing environments; (3) African pluricentric languages and non-dominant varieties; (4) The pluricentricity of Arabic and Asian languages; (5) The pluricentricity of European languages inside Europe (Austrian German, Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian, Hungarian, Belgium Dutch, French, Greek, Swedish, Russian).

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A History of the Arabic Language and the origin of non-dominant varieties of Arabic

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Abstract

To comprehend how Arabic became a pluricentric language, we need to navigate through its rich history. In this paper, I focus on three stages in the development of Arabic: Classical Arabic, Middle Arabic and Modern Arabic. I explain how the fate of Arabic was permanently sealed in the Classical period with the emergence of Islam and the subsequent Islamic conquests. At the peak of the Islamic empire, the codification of Arabic preserved it as a dominant written language. However, the indigenous languages that Arabic had displaced in new regions, gave way to non-dominant regional varieties. These varieties continued to diverge from the codified variety during the Middle period, giving rise to diglossia in Arabic. I conclude with a review of the modern period and the Arabic revival efforts, which marked the creation of Modern Standard Arabic while the colonially influenced non-dominant varieties drifted further still.

1.   Introduction

This paper serves as an introduction on the Arabic language. The specific aim of this paper is to answer the following closely related questions: How did Arabic become a pluricentric language? What is the origin of non-dominant varieties of Arabic? To answer these questions, I will be navigating through the rich history of Arabic, with a particular focus on the social, religious and political events, which have shaped the language.

2.   Overview

Arabic is a Semitic language; this refers to a group of languages which belong to the Afro-Asiatic family...

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