Arabic and the vernaculars, part 3

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For Arabic diglossia references, see the works of Mohamed Maamouri, e.g., here, here, here, here, here, here, and here (pdf).

Also consult the various Arabic datasets of the LDC (Linguistic Data Consortium), both MSA and colloquial.
An important point to make is that the regional Arabic "colloquials" have been developing in separate directions nearly as long as the regional Romance varieties have. So Moroccan Arabic is roughly as different from Gulf Arabic as (say) French is from Portuguese….

You can get a list of LDC Arabic datasets by searching the catalog page.

But here's a replication of the results:

More TK.


Selected readings

[Thanks to Mark Liberman]


  1. Peter B. Golden said,

    March 9, 2022 @ 9:13 am

    A useful overview is: Kees Versteegh, "The Arrabic Language" (New York; Columbia University Press, 1997). For Middle Arabic, "the missing link between Classical Arabic and modern dialects," see Joshua Blau, "A Handbook of Early Middle Arabic" (Jerusalem: The Max Schloessinger Memorial Foundation, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2002) based on texts in papyri written in Arabic using Greek transcription, Judeo-Arabic texts in Hebrew transcription and Arabic texts in Coptic transcription. See also, Clive Holes (ed.),"Arabic Historical Dialectology. Linguistic and Sociolinguistic Approaches" (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).

  2. Bob Hoberman said,

    March 9, 2022 @ 12:51 pm

    A comprehensive and sophisticated discussion of just about anything one might want to know about Arabic as used nowadays is another book by Clive Holes: Modern Arabic: Structures, Functions and Varieties (Georgetown University Press, 2004).

  3. Terry K. said,

    March 10, 2022 @ 9:39 am

    Thinking of the varieties of Arabic being similar in some ways to Latin and the Romance languages, but also different in some ways, I'm struck by one difference. Quranic Arabic is the original language of the Quran. Latin, though, while it was the language of the church for part of Christianity, it's not the original language of any part of the Bible. Which perhaps gives Quranic Arabic a different status than Latin.

  4. Philip Anderson said,

    March 10, 2022 @ 2:44 pm

    The key difference between the Arabic languages and the Romance languages is surely that Moroccans, Iraqis and others in between would all say they speak Arabic, rather than Moroccan etc, whereas the French etc name their own language.

  5. CuConnacht said,

    March 10, 2022 @ 4:44 pm

    Terry K, my impression is that in Romance Europe in the middle ages, the Vulgate was as revered as the Qur'an is in the Muslim world today. For example, translation of the Vulgate (or of the original text) was frowned upon.

  6. Terry K. said,

    March 11, 2022 @ 10:40 am


    You very well may be right. But that doesn't change the fact of the difference I mentioned, that Latin is not the original language of the Bible (versus Arabic and the Quran), and that this might be relevant to language attitudes in some places and times.

  7. Rodger C said,

    March 13, 2022 @ 9:51 am

    Latin was the only ancient language studied in western Europe for hundreds of years. The Roman Church holds the Vulgate to be infallible. Magical incantations are in (usually bad) Latin, very rarely in Greek, which speaks to the language's associations.

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