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date: 21 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article addresses what we mean today by the term Arabic: the whole complex of spoken languages from Oman to Morocco, from southern Turkey to Chad, including almost the entire Arabian Peninsula. Which are the purely linguistic criteria on which our modern use of the term is based? Which are the isoglosses that set it apart from other Semitic languages? The modern concept of Arabic, which argues that it encompasses both Arabiyya and modern vernaculars, is not meaningful as a pure linguistic concept. Searching through the phonology and morphology of the complex we call Arabic today, it seems impossible to find anything that delimits the group from other Semitic languages in a meaningful way. From a purely linguistic viewpoint, the Arabic complex is dissolved into a large variety of languages that in varying degrees have elements in common with each other as well as with other Semitic languages.

Keywords: Arabic, linguistic, meaning, Semitic languages, Arabiyya

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