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Co-authored with Manfred Woidich. This sound corresponds to "! Other rural areas show one of the other allophones indicated above. For contact situations see Behnstedt and Woidich I This position is upheld by Hary in an article which aptly adduces all the arguments in favour of this opinion.

Popular Narrative Ballads of Modern Egypt

We thank R. For the South-Arabic provenance of certain Egyptian features see Corriente For the Southern part of Yemen see map 2 Behnstedt This does not rule out that the norm can be applied to smaller regions with a predominantly sedentary population of farmers such as the Egyptian Delta. Schaade f. Another argument for the existence of "! There are two layers of Arabic loans with "!

With thanks to Peter Behnstedt for clarifying to us the rather complex situation, any errors are our own. Again, we have to see this latter development as triggered by the hearer or learner, who did not identify the closure as the primary articulation gesture but the off-glide, so the closure became negligible to him.

Judeo-Arabic Texts It is not necessary here to go into the intricate details of the study of colloquial Arabic transcribed in Hebrew letters. This has been done exemplarily by Blanc , Hary and others16, and we are far from questioning their findings. But there is a principal question which has to be raised from the very beginning concerning the inter- pretation they give to these findings. To put it directly, how far does Jewish Arabic as spoken at certain times in Cairo and Lower Egypt tell us anything about the Arabic spoken by the Muslim majority in Cairo at the same time?

Following this line of reasoning, we come to a different scenario than the one suggested by Blanc and Hary This is where another question comes in: How reliable are the notations of these travellers as evidence for the linguistic situation? Generally speaking, evidence from these sources faces several problems: Firstly, the notations used by these travellers are far from being conclusive and their interpretation remains doubt- ful.

We thank Enam al Wer for clarifying this point to us. Since later a substantial part of the Cairo Jews were of Andalusian or North African origin, we can safely assume that the original pronunciation at least of this migrated part was an affricate or a sibilant as it was in their homelands.

In the Central and North-Western parts of the oasis, a variation between [gj] and [g] can be noted, see Behnstedt and Woidich , Woidich Secondly, and more importantly, in most cases we do not know from whom these travellers got their linguistic information, who told them the place names for example, who where their teachers or companions, and where they came from.


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In particular, in a big city like Cairo, all varieties of Egyptian Arabic may be heard today, and more so in the earlier times, as Cairo has always been a melting pot which attracted people from all over the country to make a living there. In most cases we do not know who the travellers met and who informed them.

Thirdly, some of these early trav- ellers, and in particular the members of the Danish expedition,21 had studied Arabic already in Europe, i. When talking to an Egyptian in the manner they were taught, i. In view of this background, it seems not very surprising that ir- regularities and contradictory notations occur in their accounts, and 21 The so-called Niebuhr expedition — , as Carsten Niebuhr was the only one to survive.

Cairo was the first Arabic speaking place the expedition reached and it would be very astonishing if the Arabic of the members of the expedition were not influenced by the earlier experience with this language they made during their preparations for the expedi- tion. During their stay in Cairo they had Arabic lessons from a Maronite teacher from Aleppo.

Judging from his remarks on the Arabic alphabet, Alpin must have studied Arabic as well during his stay in Egypt see Alpin Interpreting this heterogeneity as reflecting faithfully the linguistic situation seems a rather bold statement, and any argumentation based on this type of information has to be scrutinized very carefully. So, only two pages later on p. If it is not a simple printing error, this can only be interpreted as intermediate writing between orthography and phonetics.

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Niebuhr knew that this word had to be written with a letter "! The reason is, as Niebuhr tells us p. At the same time as Alpin, in the German pilgrim Salomon Schweigger visited the Holy Land and wrote a book in German on his travels from Constantinople, to Jerusalem and Egypt, which was printed in Nuremberg in So he had to go on to Palestine directly by sea. Apparently, this was enough time to make interesting annotations, not only linguistic ones, which must rely on direct observation.

He passed through Egypt, where he spent about four months. After having completed his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he continued to Constantinople, then to Venice again, then to Santiago in Spain, returning, finally, to his hometown after an absence of nearly three years. His Arabic list has been examined by Stumme and Grotzfeld , and both rightly come to the conclusion that these words reflect a Syro-Palestine urban dialect. But we have to look farther than the word list. Wiesbaden: But from the other evidence provided by Alpin and Schweigger we may safely assume that the same variation as stated by Blanc and Hary for the 17th and 18th centuries, already existed in the 16th century, thus prolonging its existence with years.

The variation must have other reasons. Davies XXXV, in the introduction to his new edition of this important source for Egyptian Arabic in the 17th century, quotes a verse p. H the letter "! The person about whom this is said, is a peasant.

The equalisation of this sound with the letter "! The circumstance that this fact is used here for description and comparison means that the pronunciation [g] for "! This means that [g] is attested as closely connected with the letter "!


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  • Yet another hint for [g] as a usual pronunciation comes from the second important source for the 17th century, i. M: 9N1U:! More likely seems to us is the reverse interpretation, i. Apparently, they took from different dialects. We can only hope that in the future more documents will come to light which would give us more insight into the social and the linguistic history of Egypt, in order to test the thesis presented in this article even further. Alpin, Prosper.

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