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date: 03 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

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; sociolinguistically and interactionally, e.g. in code-switching, it is represented by a diversity of configurations, each with its own specific outcomes. Arabic as a minority language (e.g. northeastern Nigeria) shows a different variationist profile than does Arabic-dominant Cairo and relatively monolingual Cairo again from Arabic-French-Berber North Africa. Historically unique events produced one of Africa’s few non-European-based creoles in the South Sudan and East Africa. 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.

Keywords: Arabic, creole, variationist profile, code-switching, script

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