Arabic, Africa’s largest language, has an outsized role among African languages. It is internally diverse, with interesting dialectal differences between, e.g., North African, Egyptian, and Sudanese dialects; in many regions it is a language of Islamic culture, leaving its imprint in its many loanwords and writing tradition. However, apart from an interest in such cultural domains as script and loanwords, Arabic linguistics is hardly integrated into African linguistics, reflecting more the division of labor between orientalists and Africanists in the West than the language reality in Africa.
This article by Jonathan Owens is a selection from The Oxford Handbook of African Languages, edited by Rainer Vossen and Gerrit J. Dimmendaal.
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