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Examples of Levelling and Counterreactions in the Dialects of Bedouin Tribes in Northwestern Sinai

Rudolf de Jong
p. 355-382

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Entre la version publiée sur papier et la version actuellement en ligne, les lettres emphatiques ne sont pas passées. L’article qui suit portant en grande partie sur cette question, il est recommandé de se reporter à la version publiée sur papier, encore disponible à la vente auprès du Cedej.

Notes de l’auteur

Languages and Cultures of the Middle East, University of Amsterdam, Oude Turfmarkt 129, 1012 GC Amsterdam, Nethertands.

Texte intégral

  • 1 I am grateful to the Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research (N.W.O.) for their generous financi (...)
  • 2 For more details, cf. DE JONG, 1995. :
  • 3 For the approximate distribution of the bedouin tribes in northern Sinai, cf. DE JONG, 1995, p. 105

1A long the northern littoral of the Sinai desert between the Suez Canal and the Israeli border live around twelve Bedouin tribes. The dialects spoken by these tribes 1 can be classified into four main typological groups 2: a northeastern group, which includes the dialects of the Sawarka. Rumêlât, and also further to their south Ahaywât, Tarabîn, and which bears strong resemblances to the dialect of the Dullâm of the Negev as described by Blanc (1970). A second (provisional) group is formed by the tribal dialects spoken in and around the oasis of Gatya in northwestern Sinai by the 'Agâyla and Samâ'na. The third group are the dialects spoken by the Biyyâdiyya and Axârsa, who live to their north in the same part of Sinai. And finally, there is the dialect of the Dawâgra, who live along the southern shore of Bardawîl Lagoon, right in the middie of the northern littoral 3.

  • 4 BLANC, 1970, p. 4, distinguishes three main styles: "plain colloquial", "koinized colloquial" and " (...)
  • 5 Cf. for instance the poem in BAILEY, 1991, p. 140, which the author heard recited, among others, by (...)
  • 6 Cf. TRUDGILL, 1983, p. 143; "As is well known, different situations, different topics, different ge (...)

2These typological groups were classified on the basis of data collected through recordings in which, more or less, the plain “colloquial” - in the sense of Blanc 4 - was spoken. The topics of conversation used lo record this “plain colloquial” did not include poetry 5, or legal matters, as it was feared that such topics are likely to trigger the use of a more elevated style 6. Rallies, the topics included methods of agriculture, desert life, the old days, stories, etc.

  • 7 Preface, p. x-xi.

3Stewart (1990) found that "differences in style between speakers are far more striking than the differences in style between utterances of a single speaker on different occasions" 7. This may be true for the speakers of the tribes appearing inhis research, but it holds less so (or speakers of tribes who do not speak the "plain colloquial" of this northeastern group. Indeed, speakers from the northwest. when they feel that the situation necessitates this, will try to accommodate to this "plain colloquial'' of the northeastern group, whereby, in effect, they will try to incorporate features of what they consider to be "proper Bedouin dialect" in their speech. Such efforts result in a more elevated style, which is perhaps best described as a "bedouinized colloquial" (characterized by so-called B-forms).

Koineization and bedouinization

  • 8 In terms of geographical distance, the Masâ'îd and 'Ayâyda are nearer, but these tribes are still s (...)

4This trend to bedouinize one's speech is apparently, at least in part, a reaction against the powerful mechanism of “levelling” taking place in the direction of sedentary dialects spoken in the Nile Delta, the effects of which can particularly be observed in the dialects spoken by the (settled) tribes that inhabit the northwest of Sinai, i.e. the tribes living nearest to Egypt proper -the Samâ'na and 'Agâyla, and especially the Biyyâdiyya and Axârsa8.

5The psycho-linguistic cause for both koineization and bedouinization is the wish (or need) of the speaker to accommodate his language to his audience. The two trends have some differences as well: the term “leveling”, a development phase of the koineization process, describes the process where certain forms or function's / categories (in phonology, morphology, etc.) are given up:

6a) to make way for other forms, similar in function, which are more generally present in a larger area with other dialects with which the original dialect has come into contact (such as e.g. taking over pronominal suffixes from another contact-dialect, while giving up its original pron. suffixes, cf. below, -*k-> ak, and -k -> ik in Sme'ni). This can be regarded as "levelling" in relation to other (contact-) dialects ;

7or b) the distinctions disappear completely, without being given a new shape (such as, e.g., giving up fem. pl. morphemes for verbs altogether for a simpler distinction pl.-sg., where the pl. is expressed by a c. pl. morpheme, which is historically the masc. pl. morpheme). This, then, is leveling (here by simplification) in relation to an older form of the same dialect.

  • 9 One might say that only (sub-) conscious choices are involved during the first phase, i.e. the lear (...)

8The process of leveling is ongoing, but the earlier effects of this process (the forms that characterize the leveled dialect) have been established, and no (sub-) conscious decision is taken by the speaker in order to reproduce the forms characteristic for a leveled dialect 9. This is long-term adaptation; such forms have become stable.

  • 10 Cf. TRUDGILL, 1986, p. 107.108 (paraphrased).
  • 11 Cf. TRUDGILL, 1983, chapter 5.
  • 12 Cf.TRUDGILL.1986, p. 62.
  • 13 Cf. DE JONG, 1996, p. 61. The examples chosen here are loanwords from European languages: Fr. télép (...)
  • 14 Upper Egyptian gineh is another example of such an interdialect form; speakers "knew" that CaA /g/ (...)
  • 15 The short a's in the first two syllables of such forme as talafawn and daraksawn are to be interpre (...)

9The term “koineization”, covers the processes of “mixing”, “focusing”, “reduction”, “leveling” and “simplification”. “Mixing” involves the increase in forms from the different dialects participating in the dialect contact. “Focusing” refers to the development towards certain forms which are preferred, for whatever reason, in the new interdialect taking shape; this leads to “reduction” of the number of forms available. “Leveling” entails the disappearance of “minority and otherwise marked speech forms”, which is often accompanied by “simplification”, which involves, crucially, a reduction in irregularities. The result of the focusing associated with koineization is a historically mixed but synchronically stable dialect which contains elements from the different dialects that went into the mixture, as well as interdialect forms that were present in none 10. The extent of the influence which one dialect may have on another, so that "leveling", or "accommodation", takes place, is dependenton a combination of factors, such as the number qf speakers of these contact dialects, the geographical proximity and accessibility, of these speakers, and the prestige of their dialect,or lack of it. The changes that are the result of such dialect contact are "non-natural", i.e. externally motivated, as opposed to "natural" changes, which are internally motivated 11. Often new and unique forms are the resutt of such dialect contact, i.e. forms that did not occur initially in any of dialects involved in this contact 12. Examples of such so-called interdialect forms are, for instance, the Fayyûmi words 13talafawn, "telephone", daraksawn, "Steering wheel", and ginâyh14, "pound"; ô and e in loanwords, here from or via Cairene Arabic (hereafter CaA) tilifôn, diriksiyôn, and gineh, are phonologically reinterpreted as the Fayyùmi diphtongs aw and ay15.

10"Bedouinization" involves the addition of forms by the speaker that are not part of his own dialect, but which he feels are characteristic of the target dialect, such as phonological and morphological features, typically Bedouin words, etc. The model for the speaker's adaptation will be a dialect type which is generally (i.e. by the speaker and his audience) held in higher esteem than the speaker's own dialect.

  • 16 TRUDGILL, 1983, p. 45-46, draws our attention to an important aspect of the "observer's paradox": t (...)

11The purpose of this paper is to illustrate with some examples the two main linguistic forces in northwestern Sinai: "leveling", which has led to more sedentary types of dialects that are now spoken in the northwest. And secondly, "bedouinization" (a form of "accommodation"), the mechanism that works in the opposite direction, and which becomes operative when speakers of these bedouin tribes from the northwest communicate with "outsiders whom they hold in high esteem, i.e. members of other bedouin tribes from the northeast and east, or even,as in the case ofthisdialect research, a linguist who has expressed his desire to record their everydayspeech, and finds that doing so by simply going through a questionnaire does not yield the desired results 16.

Dialect as an integral part of cultural identity

  • 17 Often enough, during direct elicitation, informants would state that a certain form would not occur (...)
  • 18 The question was justified, as this informant had produced several instances of stressed articles o (...)

12Bedouins in Sinai are generally very conscious of their own dialect, and especially in relation to other dialects spoken in the area by neighbouring tribes 17.To illustrate this, the following is the reaction l received one day from an elderly man (the grandfather, cf. below) of the Samâ'na in the Gatya oasis in northern Sinai when l asked him why he said ilmayya for "water", and not âlmiy18 :

lamma biğùna nâs... asil ibtù' ağğâbal, bigaddru-nnihna ya'ni 'êh? hadar. iw humma l'arab issahîh. fa 'ihna binkallimhum bi lagwathum... mayyih, bingul lehum âlmiy, 'asân mây'allgùš 'alêne, innâma-hnabingùl 'innu mayyih

  • 19 hadar: settled, as opposed to nomadic population: 'arab.

“When people come to (visit) us, who are originally from the desert, they regard us as what? hadar. And they are the true 'arab19. So then we speak to them in their dialect. mayyah, to them we say âlmiy (water), so they will not make (negative) comments about us. But we call it mayyah...”

13This remark aptly illustrates one of the linguistic forces operative in the dialects of many of the Sinai bedouins who live in the northwestern part of the Sinai (Samâ 'na. 'Agâyla, Axârsa, Biyyâdiyya). When they meet “true arabs”, they feel an extra urge to be taken seriously, and in order to achieve this they.adapt their language in such a way that the "true arabs" have as little cause as possible to make negative comments about them. The direction of the adaptation of their language is towards the dialect-type spoken by tribes in the northeast and east of Sinai, such as Rumêlât, Sawârka, Tarâbîn, etc., and further to their south, the 'Ayâyda. An explanation for this type of linguistic modification is to be found in the "theory of linguistic behaviour" (a quote from Trudgill, 1983, p. 144):

14This theory, expounded by Le Page in a number of writings (see Le Page, 1968, 1975, 1978; Le Page et al, 1974) seeks to demonstrate a general motive for speakers’ linguistic behaviour in terms of attempts to "resemble as closely as possible those of the group or groups with which from time to time we [speakers] wish to identify".

  • 20 TRUDGILL, 1986, p. 10-11, speaks of imitation in this case, because English popsingers do not accom (...)
  • 21 To mention just a few of the many cultural manifestations, this is illustrated by customs pertainin (...)
  • 22 In a linguistic sense, the influence of a more Syro-Palestinian culture is already apparent in the (...)

15Another remark relevant for the situation in Sinai follows a few lines below on the same page. Trudgill (while explaining why non-American popsingers would wish to imitate an American accent) remarks that "cultural domination leads lo imitation" 20. It is important to realize that, in a cultural sense, Sinai is much more part of a larger area covering the northern Higaz., southern Transjordania, and the Negev 21, than it is of Egypt, to which it belongs in a political and administrative sense 22.

  • 23 The dialects of northern Sinai, and perhaps all of Sinai (except that of the Dawâğra), form the wes (...)
  • 24 Even a process of koineization affecting the dialects initially forming such a patchwork, which res (...)
  • 25 Cf. PALVA, 1991, p. 154 and 160, where a relative homogeneity of the NWA dialects in earlier times (...)
  • 26 Cf. DE JONG, “A description of Biyyâdi Arabic” (forthcoming),
  • 27 The Axârsa are (fully) settled along the same main road through northern Sinai as the Biyyâdiyya, a (...)

16An integral, and psychologically important part of this cultural identity are the dialects that these bedouins speak. Northern Sinai today is no longer the more homogeneous dialect area it may have been in the past 23, or the patchwork type of linguistic situation one might expect when tribes from different origins have recently arrived in a certain area 24. But, in the course of time, it has become an area of linguistic transition between the heartland of this bedouin culture and the Egyptian Delta culture. This, however, is only after the development from an earlier situation of (an assumed) relative linguistic homogeneity 25, which has become disturbed by dialect contact with the dialect type spoken in the Egyptian Delta. The clearest exponent of the linguistic change that has resulted from this dialect contact is the dialect of the Biyyâdiyya26, closely followed by that of the Axârsa; the effects of the encroaching Egyptian culture are most strongly felt in the area nearest to it: the northwest of Sinai 27. As Trudgill (1986, p. 39) remarks: “The geographical parameter of diffusion models becomes relevant because, other things being equal and transport patterns permitting, people on average come into contact most often with people who live closest to them and least often with people who live furthest away.”

17The sense of loss of cultural identity, which accompanies the ongoing linguistic change ("leveling"), provides an extra stimulus ,to go back to what is felt to be a more original type of dialect where this is desired. The role model for this original type is the dialect type spoken in the northeast. This type of accommodation occurs during conversations with "true arabs" in so-called magâ'id (sg. mag'ad), where the men sit together and exchange the latest news, conduct court sessions, or during sessions where oral poetry is recited.

  • 28 Or more precisely, OD 3 (Eastern Dialect 3 spoken in the southwestem Šarqiyya and south and centre (...)
  • 29 The setling for the interviews during this research was usually a mag'ad.

18Thus we may witness two opposite trends in northwestern Sinai: the first trend is the seemingly inevitable development towards a Delta type 28, and the second trend lies in attempts to nullify the changes resulting from this development in situations where this is felt to be socially appropriate. One result is that an attempt to gather linguistic information from speakers of tribes in the northwest by using questionnaires will often yield a northeast type of dialect reflected in the isolated forms which are checked 29.

  • 30 For difficulties involved in the imitation of phonology, cf. TRUDGILL, 1983, p. 11.

19The adaptations informants make tend to be lexical, but also morphological, but seem to occur less so in phonology 30. When morphological adaptations occur, it is my impression that these occur mainly in set phrases, or as in poetry, in memorized lines. This makes even these morphological adaptations lexical in nature.

Leveling effects in sme’ni : interdentals

  • 31 With this word 'urfi the speaker may have been refering to an older version of his own dialect, but (...)
  • 32 Although TRUDGILL, 1983, p. 31 -32, warns us to be careful with conclusions on dialect differences (...)

20Quite astonishing was the treatment of interdentals by three members of the Samâ'na (sg. Sme'nî) in Gatya ilĞanâyin: a grandfather, a father, and a (grand-) son, who were interviewed simultaneously on one occasion during this research. All spoke the emphatic interdental d for *d, but the grandfather (in his early sixties) was the only one who consistedly spoke t and d for *t and *d. His grandson (about twelve years old), however, who tumed out to be going to school in Râb'a. i.e. the neighbouring village in Biyyâdiyya territory, spoke t and d throughout, and did not seem to be able to render the non-emphatic interdentals of his grandfather. The father (in his early forties) was still able to produce the two non-emphatic interdentals, but failed to do so in a consistent manner. When l confronted the three with my observation of the difference in their treatment of the non-emphatic interdentals, the grandfather commented that his speech was more 'urfi, that is "traditional" 31. The father, and especially the grandson, seemed unaware of the fact that there was a difference. E.g. for "my ears" the grandfather would say danayy, where his grandson would say danayy. Thus, after three generations of speakersofSme'ni, the non-emphatic interdentals were no longer present in the speech of the grandson (32), and we might even have to conclude, based on other characteristics of his speech as well, that the grandson actually no longer spoke Sme'ni.

Levelling effects in biyyadi : stress

  • 33 Cf. BEHNSTEDT/WOIDICH, 1985b, maps 59-60.
  • 34 Cf. ibid. map 59.
  • 35 Cf. ibid.

21Like in eastern Sarqâwi33, word stress in Biyyâdi is of the maktâba yikitbu type, and in Upper Egypt it is generally mâktaba/yikt(i)bu34, When we compare this to maktûba/yiktibu in the Central Delta and Cairo 35, we see that words like maktaba, "office", madrasa, "school", ma'la'a, “spoon", are all stressed similarly in Cairo, the central Delta, eastern Sarqiyya, and Biyyâdi, whereas there is a clear difference in the treatment of a basic form like *yiktibu, "they write", *yudrusu, "they thresh", etc.

  • 36 Cf.WOIDICH, 1979, p. 81-83.

22This difference in eastern Sarqâwi has been quite plausibly accounted for by rule order, in order to arrive at the surface forms madrasa and yikitbu. The assumption crucial to this reasoning, however,is that speakers would have unstressed forms at their disposal, "in their heads" so to speak, which they then, through a synchronic psychological process, treat according to these rules. Schematically we may illustrate these rules as follows 36;

23M. Woidich (1979) concludes that, in generative terms, eastern Sarqiyya dialect has the same stress rules as CaA (ad 2), simplified:

  • a) Stress the first "heavy" syllable from the right, unless this heavy syllable is followed by two "light" syllables (i.e. containing no consonant clusters).

  • b) If the latter is the case, stress the first syllable following the heavy syllable.

  • 37 The point is that underlying forms need not be historical forms in generative phonology.
  • 38 The reference is to primary word stress here, not to primary stress in word groups.

24It is precisely the assumption of the existence of unstressed base forms which is quite unlikely in terms of historical linguistics 37; each word uttered in isolation 38 has stress placed on one of its syllables. It may be fruitful, for descriptive purposes, to assume unstressed base forms, but these have, little to do with the historical (nor, presumably, psychological) reality. More seriously, however, such an assumption veils the historical development which has led to this seemingly random stress type for the two types of words.

  • 39 The rule here is that high vowels are not deleted when they occur between consonants C1 and C2 whic (...)

25The historical development becomes even more apparent when we contrast such sets as haddâdu, they set (perf.). and yhâddidu, “they set" (imperf.), or yğâddidu, "they renew", and ğaddâdu, "they renewed" 39. These examples also show that it is not merely a question of placing stress after vowel elision, for if that were the case, why then do we not hear *yğaddidu, *yhaddidu, or, for that matter, *bnittitu, "his (many) daughters", or *hittitu, "his piece", instead of the current forms bnittitu and hittitu?

  • 40 The conclusion of a stress shift in eastern Šarqâwi was also drawn by ABUL FADL, 1961, p. 222, and (...)

26The answer must be that it is exactly such forms which were excluded from the stress shift that has taken place in this dialect 40. They were excluded only because the first rule of vowel elision never applied owing to the phonetic closeness of the consonants surrounding the high vowel. Moreover, the fact that the first syllable is stressed shows that it was stressed all along, since there is nothing inherently "wrong" in (e.g.) CaA with stress in yihaddidu etc., so why would it be stressed here yhâddidu? The conclusion is that there never was an unstressed form yihaddidu.

27The claim is thus, not that word stress cannot be synchronically reassigned, for it can be, of course (E.g. when forms like yidbah or yiktib are suffixed with consonant-initial -ha, we get yidbâhha and yiktibha). But the claim is that if a similar reassignment of stress would take place in yhâddidu— yhaddidu, we would get a set of imperf. forms for the 2nd measure which is no longer symmetric, in terms of stress, in relation to the other imperf. forms. This symmetry is characterized by: perf. C1aC2C2áC3u, and imperf. yC1áC2C2(i)C3u.

  • 41 Also elision of the high vowel in such positions would lead to forms which are not acceptable becau (...)

28Using the forms marked * would disturb the symmetry, and would thus obscure morphological transparency 41.

  • 42 The dialects spoken by the Dullâm (cf. BLANC, 1970), and the Rumelât and Sawârka form a homogeneous (...)
  • 43 I.e. in the dialects of group 1, cf. ibid.
  • 44 Cf. BLANC, 1970, p. 5 (ll6).
  • 45 Cf. ibid., p. 10 (121).
  • 46 Such forms are found in the dialects of the Axârsa, Samâ'na and 'Agâyla as well.

29Biyyâdi shows more traces of an older stress system, which must have been of the type currently found in the northeast of Sinai and the Negev desert 42. Consider, for instance, Biyyâdi examples like ihna (although more regularly hâna), "here", ista, "winter", and plurals i’nab, "grapes", and irkab, "knees", which have their northeastern counterparts hniy, štiy. 'nâb and rkâb. When the latter forms occur in northeastern Sinai 43 and Negev 44 dialects preceded by a speech pause or a consonant, an anaptyctic is inserted preceding the consonant cluster thus: “əhniy, “aštiy, a'nab and ərkâb. These are quite probably older Biyyâdi forms as well, and when stress shitted from a katâb- like still today in northeastern Sinai and Negev 45 to a kâtab-type in Biyyâdi, the anaptyctics, that always precede these word-initial clusters when preceded by a consonant or a speech pause, had become stable, and were stressed according to the new rule: i'nab, irkab, etc. 46

Levelling effects in sme’ni morphology

  • 47 This velarized and labialized - *k, and the fem. - ik or - a, is certainly a feature of a dialect t (...)

30Another example of levelling due to dialect contact is the loss of the original Sme'ni 2nd pers. masc. suffix -"k, 47 as in (grandfather):

  • 48 I.e. battîx sêfi, which is grown in a so-called sefîyya, a "watermelon field".

lamman tâharit w itbattil, tug 'udluk yôm, xamis t- iyyâm, sitt t-iyyâm, 'ala hasab al'ard illi 'induk. iw ba'aden eh? tirkin alfard titwakkal 'allâh mi”k fâs 'âd bit'aššib bit'aššib fi ssefi. 48

"When you plough and stop, You stay (there) for a day, five days, six days, depending on (surface area of) the land that you have. And after that what? You put away the plough and trust in God. If you have a hoe, then you weed, you weed (from between) the watermelons."

  • 49 Although younger speakers are aware that it is a feature of the speech of their elders, and they ca (...)
  • 50 The suffix is actually vowelless, thus creating a final consonant cluster, and attracting stress to (...)

31In the dialect of the younger generations we no.longer find this -"k suffix 49; it has yielded to -ak, while the fem. suffix -k has yielded to -ik when following a consonant, and to -ki when following a vowel. E.g. 'axtak, instead of original 'axtuk for "your (masc.) sister", mâhfadatak, instead of older mahfadât"k50 for "your (masc.) wallet", and gâlamik instead of older galemk for "your (fem.) pen".

  • 51 Cf. BLANC, 1970, p. 130-131 (19-20), and DE JONG (1995), appendix, row 14. Although, in the village (...)

32This change must be the result of dialect contact, but it is unclear which dialect type is the principal actor in this change, as most surrounding dialect types, and also CaA, have the masc. suffix -ak. Based on geographical proximity one would conclude, however, that the dialect type of the Axârsa and Biyyâdiyya is responsible for effecting this - "k — - ak change in Sme 'ni, but the problem is that the -'k - -ik change cannot be attributed to contact with this dialect type, for Axrasi and Biyyâdi have invariable -ki in all positions and, for that matter, so has the north eastern type 51.

  • 52 The youngest generation is increasingly being exposed to CaA, mainly in primary schools where teach (...)

33What appears to be plausible then, is that after the "k suffix had been replaced by -ak through dialect contact, a new symmetric opposition, -ak /-ik, instead of the original -ki -k opposition, became possible, l.e. an irregular, because asymmetric, opposition *-ak i-k had to make way for the symmetric -ak /-ik opposition. The fact that often the older -k appeared on the surface as •ik, as in older 'axtik, "your (fem.) sister", raglik, "your (fem.) man' (where i is an anaptyctic), and that CaA 52 has the same opposition -ak /-ik, only helped this development. Thus -ik became stabilized as the new 2nd pers. fem, sg; suffix when following a consonant.

  • 53 The grandfather tended to use the -um suffixes in sandhi, but -uw suffixes in pause, eg.: 'asân 'êh (...)

34The next fragment shows the 3rd pers, masc. pl. suffix in the perf. and imperf.- (u)m of the original Sme'ni dialect 53:

  • 54 In the System of orientation of the bedouins in northern Sinai, šarg is geographically south, and a (...)
  • 55 They have settled in a village by the same name in the eastern Delta; cf. village 92 (asSama'na) in (...)

(grandfafher) gibîlt asSimâ 'na, ya’ni 'ala ma bnasmaf, âsilha mn attùr… šarig 54. (X) imn alihğâz. (grandfather) aywa min iblâd alihğâz. (R) attùr, tùr sîni? (grandfather) tùr sîni. iw ba'den, lamma liblâd mâhalat, gum. šiy xass masur 55, iw šiy sâkanihni. 'âhal algânam sâkanum ihni. Sâkanum fi Ibarr ihni,fi sîni. '

(grandfather) The tribe of the Samâ’na, that is, according to what we hear, is originally from Tùr...(in the) south. (X) From the Higâz (R) Tùr, Tùr of Sinai? (grandfather) Tùr of Sinai. And after that, when the land became barren, they came. Part (of them) went to Egypt, and part (of them) settled here. The people with sheep and goats settled here, they settled in the desert, here, in Sinai.

35In the dialect of the younger generations of the Samâ'na, this verbal sutfix -um does not occur; in their speech, - u with the regular verbs is current: e.g, sirbu, "they drank", and yikitbu, "they write".

  • 56 During one session, when the old man was rather tired, I did not record any prefixes with i for a-t (...)

36Another example of ongoing levelling in Sme'ni is the change from(harmonized) imperf. Ya- prefixes in n-type verbs to yi prefixes.The speech of the grandfather showed mainly -though not exclusively 56 - prefixes with a, a few examples:

ilwiliyyah btathan, iw byathaw 'a ssâğ

"the woman grinds (the flour), and they bake bread on the sâğ"

hâtt fi muxxu 'innu biddu ysâbig 'aleh, 'aw yâgazi 'alêh

"having set his mind on wanting to race it, or to go on raids on it i.e. on his camel)"

inkânhum, lamma yâsrabum... .

 "if they, when they drink..."

37 The speech of his son and grandson, however, showed mainly (again, not exclusively) imperf. prefixes with i (his son, 44 years old):

  • 57 raza’:. "compose rhymes" ; cf. BAILEY, 1981-1982, p. 139.

innâs ibtafrah lêh. ibyibda 'u w byirza 'u 57 .

 "People hold a celebration for him. They improvise ditties and compose rhymes"

38This ongoing change of a — i in the prefixes of the imperf. of the a-type verbs must be due to dialect contact with speakers of Biyyâdi, who live in Gatya and Râb’a as their direct neighbours, assisted in this development by the situation in CaA, where we have i throughout in the imperfect of these verbs.

Accommodation in sme’ni : stress

39One strategy to mark one's speech in an attempt to speak proper bedouin dialect is to adapt the stress. Among the Samâ'na in the oasis ofGatya the questionnaire used during this research yielded stressed articles (from the grandfather): âlğamal, "the camels", âlğabal, "the desert", and also in the "plain colloquial" of Sme'ni, one may especially (but not exclusively) hear stressed articles when the topics of conversation are aboùt daily bedouin life.It is precisety the type of words such as alğamal and alğabal, i.e. words closely associated with the bedouin way of life, which are stressed in this manner. The grandfather, for instance, said:

  • 58 The z in (i)nzâm is due to the word being a loan from CaA or CA, therefore not *(i)ndâm. Typically, (...)

nitilg.alğimal 'a nnâga, zayy... inzârn 58 rabbna 'ad

"We let the he-camel cover the she-camel, like... so the method of our Lord. (i.e. the natural method)".

40But the same informant, during the same interview, and even in the same lexical items, produced unstressed articles as well:

iw mi'na kull hâğa 'ağğâmal. Iykùn fîhin walâya 'ad binhutt almefa 'a lğâmal, iw sâ'at ma binbarrik. ya'ni biddna nbat, tâhafir la lmefih. ithutt almefa w ithutt alhâtab w itsawwi...

  • 59 A mêfa is a "cylindrical clay oven dug into the ground, used to bake bread"; Cf. LANDBERG, 1920, mi (...)

 "And we would have everything with us on the camels. Among these there would then be women, we would put the mefa 59 on the camel, and when we let the camels kneel (i.e. stop for the night), we want to spend the night, that is, she would dig a hole for the mefa. She would place the mefa and put the firewood (inside) and she would make..."

  • 60 TRUDGILL, 1986, passim, points out that salient features are the first to be subject to change as a (...)

41Also, in these cases of stress adaptations, words are loaned from the target dialect as "ready-made" lexical items. That is, stress is fixed in these items, and not synchronically (re-)assigned. This makes such loans, again; lexical in nature (comparable, for example, to stress in a K-form innâma, "but", in maktaba dialects). The salience 60 of the stressed article seems relatively high, as opposed to word-stress in CaCaC, which is usually kitâb, "he wrote", ğimâl, "camels", hatâb, “firewood”, etc., in the northeastern dialects, but not one instance of such stress was recorded among the Samâ'na, where one hears kâtâb, šâmal, and hâtab.

Accommodation in axrasi : phonology

  • 61 This was only a tendency, and it by no means occurred in all possible instances.
  • 62 I have also noticed that one of my best informants, a born and bred 'Arâyši, with a wealth of exper (...)

42Accommodation in phonology has so far only been encountered among the Axârsa in this research; where "true bedouins" are quoted the reflexes for *t and "d tended to be t and d (61), whereas often enough in plain Axrasi colloquial, t and d have been replaced by t and d. But what seems essential is that t and d have not (yet?) completely disappeared from the Axrasi phoneme inventory, and this is what seems to make this phonological adaptation possible. Similar adaptations of t and d for *t and *d in Biyyâdi, where the reflexes for *t and *d are t and d throughout (i.e. t and d are no longer part of the Biyyâdi phoneme inventory, whereas the emphatic d is), were not observed 62.

43 The following fragment is an illustration of how a speaker may incorporate features of the northeastern dialect in his speech. This fragment is told in its entirety by one member of the Axârsa '(who is S, the Storyteller). S lets the hero of the story address the king, and lets the king answer, having them both speak d for *d in âxudha and xudhe, after which the S continues in his own dialect speaking rifor *d inxarfand dabah'.

(S imitating the hero) "biddî'âxudha w awaddîha ma'a lganam,fi ssahra (...)." (S as Storyteller) gâl lëh: (S imitating the king) "mâši xudhe” [...) gâl: (S imitating the hero) "mâsiy. " (S as Storyteller) xad aîgazâl. iw râh waddâha 'ind gânamu, iwdabah îeh gfdiy...

"I want to take her and send her (to pasture) with the goats and sheep, in the desert [..;]." He said to him: "Allright, take her! [...]" He said: "Allright." He took the gazelle, and then took it with his goats and sheep, and slaughtered a kidgoat for him...

44Notice also that S, in his role as Storyteller, speaks proper Axrasi dialect îeh, "for him" (the preposition la followed by the 3rd pers. masc. sg. suffix), instead of current northeastern lah or lih.

Accommodation in axrasi : morphology

  • 63 These examples were recorded in the house of the Axrasi S, on an occasion where three members of th (...)
  • 64 Cf. DE JONG, 1995, appendix, field N-17.

45The next example shows an instance of morphological adaptation. It is from the same recording session among the Axârsa63. In Axrasi the 3rd pers. masc. sg. obj. suffix is actually -u (64);

fa gâl: "inrayyhah. 'âyiz b'mt mîn?"

so he said: "let's set his mind at ease. Whose daughter do you want?"

  • 65 Cf. BLANC, 1970, p. 144 [33], STEWART, 1990, glossary, p. 249.

46Notice also the word mîn. where in northeastern dialects one would hear min (65), instead of the K-form (in relation to the northeasten dialect) used here, which is.also proper Axrasi.

  • 66 This (phonetically conditioned) suffix - ih is not unique for the Negev (cf. PALVA, 1991, p. 157), (...)

47The following example shows an a - preformative in the imperative. where proper Axrasi would have (- : irhalu. Also, while explaining in his rôle as a Storyteller why he should "let them eat (i.e. the goats and sheep)", he uses 'asânnu, "because he", with the Axrasi pronominal suffix 3rd pers, masc. sg. - u, instead of -ih or -ah, like one would hear in the northeastern dialects 'asânnih or 'aSânnah (66);

  • 67 xalihin is not the apocopated imperative it may seem lo be, and which one would expect in northeast (...)

ibnak gâl “xallhin 67 yâklin! 'ašânnu bihibb ilbint. abu Iwalad... râh, gâl lal l'arab; "ârhaluw, ibne biyhibb bintku w ibnî... miš ni'flh bintkuw."

: Your son said: "Let them eat!" Because he is in love with the girl. The father of the boy... went and said to the arabs: "Go .away, my son is in love with your daughter, and my son... we shall not give him your daughter (in marriage)."

Opposite trends: a unique phoneme inventory for biyyâdi

  • 68 In two instances the emphatic interdental d was recorded for*d: idra “sorghum” and ma dugtiš, "I di (...)

48The two opposite trends may also account for the unique situation in which Biyyâdi has tost its non-emphatic interdentats, due to dialect contact with dialects' spoken in the Delta; the phoneme inventory has been "levelled" in that a four-fold opposition t-d, and f-rfhas been reduced to a two-fold opposition t-d. But, surprisingly, the Biyyâdi phoneme inventory does contain the interdental emphatic d. Thus we may hear: yumrut, "squash", talâta, "three", xad, "he took", yubdur. "sow", hâda, "this (masc.)", in contrast to the interdental reflex of *d in bed, "eggs", and of *d in dahr, "back" 68.

  • 69 Numerous Arabic dialects manage quite well without interdentals, so in this sense, one might say th (...)
  • 70 Cf. TRUDGILL, 1983, chapter 5. The implication of this rather short chapter is far-reaching. The ma (...)

49How can this be when we know that the general trend, not only in Arabic dialects, is for interdentals to yield to stops? If we accept that the loss of interdentals in Arabic dialects is generally a feature of sedentarization, then this type of levelling would in Trudgilf's terminology be a “non-natural” type of change which is duetosociolinguistic contact that eventually led to a reduction in redundancy (69), in this case, of the phoneme inventory 70.

  • 71 This is a general rule, to which there are exceptions, of course. For instance, in Bahârna Arabic, (...)

50The fact, then, that the emphatic interdental d was NOT lost is just as "non-natural”. Certainly, a general rule for Arabic diatects is that if interdentals are lost, the whole set of f, d and dis replaced, usually with i, d and d71. So if one exception is made, this must certainly be due to dialect contact, but surprisingly enough, it is the sociolinguistic dialect contact that is probably triggered as a reaction (i.e. the opposite trend) to the earlier contact situation that caused the loss of the non-emphatic interdentals. The "non-naturalness" of the retention of d does not lie in a change in this case, but in the fact that this change did not occur due to conservative forces rooted in the northeast, which restrained a natural enough "non-natural" development.

51An added linguistic factor restraining the development d->d is the fact that d is not part of the present phoneme inventory. Therefore, for d to yield to d would imply the introduction of a new phoneme d. This was not the case when t and d yielded to t and d, for ; and d were aiready part of the phoneme inventory, which must have facilitated this development.

  • 72 This notion must, for a good part, contribute to the high degree of salience of this feature, cf. f (...)

52Finally, we must take into account the strong connotations of d with arab identity, which among bedouins is synonymous with bedouin identity; speakers of Arabic often refer to their own language as "luġat addâd" “lugat addâd” among bedouins), "the language of the dâd'72.

  • 73 Unfortunately, I have not come across instances of reflexes of either *t or *d cooccuring in one wo (...)

53All in all, we may conclude that dialect contact has, on an abstract level, led to an interdialect system: a new and unique phoneme inventory, that did not exist before, in this particular shape, in any of the dialects involved in this contact 73 or, for that matter, in any Arabic dialect known so far.

An example of imitation

54At times bedouins may poke fun at Egyptians by imitating Egyptian dialect, like in this example from the Dawâġra:

ana gult: "alm'allim man? "- sullayt lî 'annabiy? - da lm'allim 'awz iflûs. tayyib, laggêt 'alêh, gult: "aywah ya m'allim. "lannih iygûl lî: "inta ya-xûya 'â'id hina, hiyya fatha lî min di?"

I said: "Who is the mu'allim?" (i.e. the owner of a coffeehouse). - Have you prayed for the Prophet for me? - The mu'allim here wants money. Okay, I went to him and said: "Yes, ô mu'allim." And there he says to me: "You sit here my brother, whom do you think this (coffeehouse) is open for?"

55Especially in the last sentence, where the speaker imitates the Egyptian gahwaği, the language has become almost standard CaA. In proper Duwêġri this would probably have been something like: lannih iygûl ilyah: "inta ya-xûya gâ'd ihniy, ihya fâtha l man hâdiy?"

56Apart from the adaptation of ilyah > lî, which occurs more often in Duwêġri, here, most likely in anticipation of the imitation that follows, we see that g for *q has been replaced by a CaA ' reflex, while the words for "here", "she", "whom" and "this" are all rendered in CaA. And even more striking is the perfectly CaA reduction of the long vowel â —> a, where it is directly followed by a cluster of two consonants. But such imitations are usually not entirely perfect. In this last example, for instance, the word axûya is much more velarized, like in proper Duwêğri, caused by the u - environment created by the long û, and carried by the x, than one would be likely to hear in CaA. So, in other words, the phonology of CaA is succesfully imitated; ‘ for *q and g for ğ are quite salient phonological features of CaA, and any Egyptian bedouin would very likely be able to imitate this. But the phonetics are not entirely successfully imitated; secondary velarization is apparently not as salient, and most speakers of northern Sinaitic bedouin dialects, as in this case of Duweğri, are probably not aware of this feature of their own dialect.

Conclusion

  • 74 Similar pressure is apparent in the dialect of the Ğbâliyya in southern Sinai; cf. NISHIO, 1992. To (...)

57Clearly, the bedouin dialects in northwestern Sinai are, and have been for quite some time, under considerable pressure from dialects spoken in the Nile Delta 74. If we attempt to map the major factors accelerating the development of these dialects towards an eastern Delta type dialect, we see that a number are characteristic of the conditions of the one tribe, the Biyyâdiyya, whose dialect shows the strongest influences:

  • They are fully settled, and are no longer (semi-) nomadic.

    • 75 And they were directly along the old railway to Palestine; hence Râb'a, the “fourth station on thi (...)

    They live directly along the main road along the northern coast from alGantara on the Suez Canal to al'Arîš in northeastern Sinai 75.

  • They are a tribe of which large numbers of members spent several years in Egypt proper during the Israëli occupation of Sinai.

    • 76 Many acquired university degrees in Egypt proper during the Israeli occupation. EUROCONSULT, 1992, (...)

    They are the tribe with the highest level of education 76.

    • 77 ABUL FADL, 1961, p. 3, mentions the village Nôba w-adDahašna in Šarqiyya, where they have settled. (...)

    They are tribes of which considerable numbers of members are settled in the Nile Delta 77.

    • 78 Geographically, Biyyâdi territory is nearer to the Šarqiyya than it is to Palestine, or the Negev. (...)
    • 79 The date of their arrival in Sinai must have been between the 7th and 10th centuries A. D., after w (...)

    They are geographically near the Nile Delta (78), and have been there for at least seven centuries 79.

    • 80 The Dawâġra are Htêm (or Hutaym, cf. E.I.), who are Mtêr (or Mutayr). Cf. e.g. OPPENHEIM, 1943, p. (...)

    They are a tribe which are not, for one reason or another, socially isolated (like the Dawâġra) 80.

  • 81 Cf. TRUDGILL, 1986, p.39-40.

58Another important factor to be reckoned with is the demographic factor: given the fact that the population of eastern Šarqiyya easily outnumbers the total bedouin population of northern Sinai (50,000 to 60,000 members in total), combined with their relative geographical proximity, we must expect their influence to be considerable. As Trudgill 81 puts it : “The demographic parameter becomes relevant simply because the larger the population of a city, the more likely an individual from elsewhere is to come into contact with a speaker from that city." '

59Finally, to have some measure of the extent of influence exerted on this dialect, let us run a check and see how many features considered typical for NWA dialects (listed in PALVA, 1990, p. 155-156) are typical for Biyyâdi as well.

60Hallmarks of NWA

  • 1) voice reflex of *q;

  • 2) a) gahâwah syndrome and b) CVCaCV -> CCVCV- syllable structure;

  • 3) gender distinction in 2nd and 3rd pl. pers. pronouns, pron. suff. and finite verb forms;

  • 4) productivity of measure IV;

  • 5) def. article (') al- and ref. pron. (') alli;

  • 6) typical Bedouin lexical items (gôtar, sôlaf, tabb, etc.);

  • 7) occurrence of stressed and -m 1st. p. pron. suffixes;

  • 8) occurrence of /a/ in preformative of measures VII-X, stressed when in eligible position;

  • 9) occurrence of /a/ in nouns 'amm,- 'axt, 'axwân, 'adên, 'afâm;

  • 10) invariable pron. suffix - ki of 2nd pers. sg;

  • 82 Cf. DE JONG, 1995, appendix, As (or feature 2 a): one may hear (stressed, if in eligible positions) (...)

61We see that Biyyâdi is indeed characterized by 1, 3, 7, 9,10, but shows only residues of 2 a), while features 2 b), 5, 6 and 8 are absent, and 4 is at least questionable 82. If we then accept Palva's claim of relative homogeneity of the dialects spoken in the greater Sinai, Negev, southern Jordan and northern Higâz area at some earlier stage in history, then the number of typological deviations from the NWA-type (almost 5 of the 10 listed) must have been the result of pressure from Delta-type dialects, for the features of Biyyâdi that do not comply with the typological characteristics of NWA listed here are ail more of a Delta type,

A last instance of koineization in bedouin dialects of Sinai : the B-imperfect

  • 83 With the exception of the dialect of the Dawâġra, cf. DE JONG, 1995, p. 5, and appendix, field K-38 (...)
  • 84 I.e. the dialect groups spoken (respectively) east and west of Wâdi 'Araba and the Gulf of 'Aqaba, (...)

62The effects of koineization are also apparent in the dialects of northern (and southern?) Sinai as a whole; the sedentary feature of the b-imperfect is current throughout the area 83. Palva labels the incidence of this b-imperfect in Northwest Arabian dialects (NWA) "the most conspicuous feature which divides the NWA dialect area into two groups: the eastern and the western one" 84.

63A few examples to illustrate the incidence of the b-imperf. in some of the dialects in northern Sinai thus far left unmentioned:

64From the Rumêlât (in šex Zwayyid, in the northeast):

  • 85 Originally wasm at-Turayyâ, the rainy season of 75 days, roughly coinciding with the appearance of (...)

iw yôm Allah birid w jyğiy wâsimna 85 badriy, ibyatla'

"And when God wills it, and our rainy season comes early, it comes up (i.e.. the crops)"

65From Bilî (in Ġarîf alĠizlân, appr. 7 km. southeast of Tlûl, in the central northern Sinai) •

w alliy birudd 'alâk, ...

"And he who answers you,..."

66From the 'Agâyla (in adDab', appr. 12 km. south of Balûda (Pelusium), in the northwest):

šuftu hadd ya'mal gâhawah zayy ma ba'nial?

"Have you (ever) seen anyone (who can) make coffee like I do?"

67And from the 'Ayâyda (from Abu 'Rug, recorded near Gotya)

  • 86 The fem. suffix -hiy does not only occur in the Negev (cf. BLANC, 1970, p. 19-20(130-131) and PALVA (...)

iw binhutt albakarağ fihiy 86

"And we put the coffeepot in it".

  • 87 And in the case of dialects in northeastern Sinai, we may also assume a strong influence from the d (...)

68Palva (1990, p. 160) attributes this feature to the influence of sedentary dialects spoken by villagers and townspeople in southern Palestine 87, and this is further evidence that the process of koineization in bedouin dialects spoken in the larger area of southern Palestine, Negev and Sinai has been a continuous factor of linguistic importance in these dialects, and that these sedentary influences have made themselves felt not only from the west, but also from the east.

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Bibliographie

ABUL FADL F, Volkstümliche Texte in arabischen Bauemdialekten der ägyptischen Provinz Šarqiyya mit dialektgeographischen Untersuchungen zur Lautlehre, Munich, thesis, 1961.

BAILEY C.:

- Poetry of the Desert, Ariel, Vol. 33-34, 1973 (a).

- "Bedouin Star-Lore in Sinai and the Negev", BSOAS XXXVII, 1974 (a), p. 580-596.

- "Bedouin Weddings in Sinai and the Negev", Folklore Research Center Studies, Vol. 4, Jerusalem, Magness Press, 1974 (b), p. 105-132.

- “The Negev in the Nineteenth Century: Reconstructing History from Bedouin Oral Traditions, Asian and African Studies, Vol. 14, No. 11, March 1980, p. 35-80.

- "Bedouin War Poems from the Negev: A Perspective on Pre-islamic Poetry", Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam, Vol. 3, 1981-2, p. 131-164.

- “Bedouin Religious Practices in Sinai and the Negev”, Anthropos, Vol. 77, 1982, p. 65-88.

- "Dating the Arrival of the Bedouin Tribes in Sinai and the Negev", JESHO, Vol. 28, 1985, p. 20-49.

- Bedouin Poetry from Sinai and the Negev, Clarendon, 1991.

BEHNSTEDT P., WOIDICH M.:

- Dieägyptisch-arabischen Dialekte, Band 1 : Einleifung und Anmerkungen zu den Karten, Wiesbaden, Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 1985 (a).

- Die ägyptisch-arabischen Dialekte. Band 2: Dialektatlas von Ägypten, Wiesbaden, Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 1985 (b).'

- Die ägyptisch-arabischen Dialekte, Band 3. Texte. Niltaldialekte. Teil III, Oasendialekte. Wiesbaden; Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 1988.

BLANC H., “The Arabic Dialect of the Negev Bedouins”, Israël Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Proceedings, Vol. 4, p. 112-150, 1970 (reprinted in STEWART, 1990).

EUROCONSULT, In ass. with Pacer and Darwish Engineers: World Bank/Arab Rep. of Egypt, Northern Sinai Agricultural Development Project, Environmental Impact Assessment, Vol. I- Main Report (draft), Cairo, Amhem, January 1992.

GROTZFELD H., “Zur Geschichte des Wortakzents in den arabischen Dialekten”, in W. Fischer (ed.), Festgabe fùr Hans Wehr zum 60. Geburtstag am 5. Jufi 1969 überreicht von seinen Schülern, Wiesbaden, Otto Harrassowitz, 1969, p. 153-164.

JASTROW O., Die Mesopotamisch-Arabischen Qaltu-Dialekte, Band 1 ; Phonologie und Morphologie, Wiesbaden, Steiner, 1978.

DE JONG R.:

- “Aspects of Phonology and Morphology of Dialects of the Northern Sinai Littoral”, in Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference of l'Association Internationale pour la Dialectologie Arabe held at Trinity Hall in the University of Cambridge, 10-14 September 1995. p. 105.113.

- “More Material on Fayyûmi Arabic”, part 1, ZAL 31, Wiesbaden, Otto Harrassowitz, 1996. p. 57.92.

KENNETT A., Bedouin Justice, Law and Justice among the Egyptian Bedouin, Cambridge, 1925.

LANDBERG (DE) C., Glossaire Datînois, Leiden, 1920.

MURRAY G. W., Sonsof Ishmael - A Study of the Egyptian Bedouin, London, Routledge, 1935.

NISHIO T., A Basic Vocabulary of the Bedouin Arabic Dialect of the Jbâli Tribe, Studia Sinaitica I, Tokyo, Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, 1992.

OPPENHEIM (F. VON) M., Die Beduinen, II: Die Beduinenstämme in Palästina, Transjordanien, Sinai und Hedjaz, Leipzig, 1943.

PALVA H.:

- “A General Classification for the Arabic Dialects Spoken in Palestine and Transjordan”, SO 55, 1984 (a), p. 359-376.

- "Is there a North West Arabian Dialect Group?”, in: M. Forstner (ed.) Festgabe für Hans-Rudolf Singer, zum 65. Geburîslag am 6. April 1990, überreicbt von seinen Freunden und Kollegen, Part 1, 1990, Peter Lang, Frankfurt, p. 151-166.

STEWART F. H. :

- “A Bedouin Narrative from Central Sinai”, ZAL 16,1987 (a), p. 44-92.

- “Tribal Law in the Arab World: a Review of the Literature”, IJMES 19, 1987, p. 473-490.

- Textsin Sinai Bedouin Law, Part 2. Texts in Arabic, Wiesbaden, Harrassowitz, 1990.

AT-TAYYIB M. S., Mawsu'at al-qabâ'il ai- 'arabiyya, buhùt maydâniyya wa târîxiyya, Cairo, Dâr al-Fikr al-'Arabî, 1993.

TRUDGILL P.:

- OnDialect,Socialand Geographical Perspectives, Oxford, 1983.

- Dialects in Contact, Oxford, 1986.

- WOIDICH M.:

- “Zum Dialekt von il-'Awâmra in der östlichen Šarqiyya (Ägypten)”, ZAL 2, Wiesbaden, Otto Harrassowitz, 1979, p. 76-99.

- “/a/ im Kairenischen: ein vernachlässigtes Kapitel aus der Morphophonologie eines Arabischen Dialekts”, Woidich M. (ed.), Amsterdam Middle Eastern Studies, Wiesbaden, Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 1990 (a), p; 131-159.

- “Some Cases of Grammaticalization in Egyptian Arabic”, in: Proceedings of the 2nd international Conference of l'Association Internationale pour la Dialectologie Arabe held at Trinity Hall in the University of Cambridge, 10-14 September 1995, p. 259-268.

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Annexe

Abreviations

BSOAS: Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies

IJMES: International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies

JESHO: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient

SO: Studia Orientalia

ZAL: Zeitschrift für arabische Linguistik

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Notes

1 I am grateful to the Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research (N.W.O.) for their generous financial support of a four-year research into the bedouin dialects of the northern Sinai littoral.

2 For more details, cf. DE JONG, 1995. :

3 For the approximate distribution of the bedouin tribes in northern Sinai, cf. DE JONG, 1995, p. 105.

4 BLANC, 1970, p. 4, distinguishes three main styles: "plain colloquial", "koinized colloquial" and "poetic idiom", STEWART, 1990, preface, p. x, adds a fourth: "the style peculiar to pleadings and summings up".

5 Cf. for instance the poem in BAILEY, 1991, p. 140, which the author heard recited, among others, by Xlêf Mgêbil ilHirš, a chief of the Hrûš-clan of the Biyyâdiyya in Râb'a in the northwest of Sinai. The poem (11 lines) shows quite a few dialect features which are definitely not part of the Biyyâdi plain colloquial, such as: nunation (10 instances), non-emphatic interdentals (6 instances), the article al-, instead of proper Biyyâdi il-(25 instances), the preposition b followed by a suffix has a short base (bi+ - ib+), rather than the regular Biyyâdi long base with e (be+) (2 instances in l.1 and 6), and also a masc. 3rd pers. sg. pron. suffix -a(h), instead of Biyyâdi -u (1 instance in l. 10), The question remains how much of the poem, such as it appears here, was actually heard from the mouth of Xlêf. For a description of Biyyâdi Arabic (the dialect of the Hrûš-clan), cf. DE JONG (forthcoming).

6 Cf. TRUDGILL, 1983, p. 143; "As is well known, different situations, different topics, different genres require different linguistic styles and registers." This is not to say that such topics were not included, or even avoided in the research, but merely that extra caution was observed in interpreting forms occurring in texts where such topics were discussed.

7 Preface, p. x-xi.

8 In terms of geographical distance, the Masâ'îd and 'Ayâyda are nearer, but these tribes are still semi-nomadic.

9 One might say that only (sub-) conscious choices are involved during the first phase, i.e. the learning phase of this process (short-term adaptation).

10 Cf. TRUDGILL, 1986, p. 107.108 (paraphrased).

11 Cf. TRUDGILL, 1983, chapter 5.

12 Cf.TRUDGILL.1986, p. 62.

13 Cf. DE JONG, 1996, p. 61. The examples chosen here are loanwords from European languages: Fr. téléphone and direction, and Eng. guinea. We can be quite certain, therefore, that the Fayyûmi diphtongs in these examples are not remnants of older Arabic diphtongs, but are the result of phonological reinterpretation of the monophtongs e and ô in CaA.

14 Upper Egyptian gineh is another example of such an interdialect form; speakers "knew" that CaA /g/ corresponds to /ğ/ in their own dialect, and substituted /g/ for /ğ/ accordingly.

15 The short a's in the first two syllables of such forme as talafawn and daraksawn are to be interpreted in terms of the preferred palterns for loanwords from other languages a-a-vCC and a-a-vC, cf. WOlDICH, 1990a, pp. 147-148.

16 TRUDGILL, 1983, p. 45-46, draws our attention to an important aspect of the "observer's paradox": the production of "hyperdialectisms" as an unwanted effect of informant's well-disposedness towards what he considers (or would have to be) his original dialect, and towards the dialect survey itself, especially in unnatural language-situations created by the use of questionnaires (direct elicitation).

17 Often enough, during direct elicitation, informants would state that a certain form would not occur in their own dialect, but in one of the other dialects, and they were usually right. Cf. also MURRAY, 1936, p. 256-257 (about bedouins in southern Sinai): "Among themselves, they can distinguish each tribe and subtribe by their looks and dialects [...]". This holds for bedouins in northern Sinai as well.

18 The question was justified, as this informant had produced several instances of stressed articles on other occasions, and especially when answering to a questionnaire, which I had prepared for this research.

19 hadar: settled, as opposed to nomadic population: 'arab.

20 TRUDGILL, 1986, p. 10-11, speaks of imitation in this case, because English popsingers do not accommodate to the dialect of their (English) audience. On the other hand, we might as well speak of accommodation here, as the singers actually do accommodate to what is expected from them by their audience: to sing in an accent that goes with the genre.

21 To mention just a few of the many cultural manifestations, this is illustrated by customs pertaining to tribal law (cf. STEWART, 1987e, p. 480), wedding customs (cf. BAILEY, 1974b), and the tradition of oral poetry (cf. BAILEY, 1991). And also, more visibly in daily life, the traditional dress of the bedouins, their professional activities (raising goats and sheep), as well as their agricultural tools, such as the plough with the typical funnel-shaped implement mounted on the sole, or the hôgal, a threshing board, rather than the nôrag one finds in the Egyptian Delta. Clearly, all these are not of the Egyptian type, and neither are their dialects.

22 In a linguistic sense, the influence of a more Syro-Palestinian culture is already apparent in the Šarqiyya governorate. BEHNSTEDT/WOIDICH, 1988, p. 264, state "stehen die Dialekte der Šarqiyya denen Oberägyptens, ja sogar denen des syrisch-palästinensischen Raums, näher als denen des übrigen Deltas". A similar observation was made by ABUL FADL, 1961, p.5.

23 The dialects of northern Sinai, and perhaps all of Sinai (except that of the Dawâğra), form the western branch of the North West Arabian group as identified by PALVA, 1991.

24 Even a process of koineization affecting the dialects initially forming such a patchwork, which resulted eventually in a more homogeneous dialect area does not seem all that implausible. For instance, certain stress patterns found in the northwest today point towards an older stress type still present in the northeast (cf. below).

25 Cf. PALVA, 1991, p. 154 and 160, where a relative homogeneity of the NWA dialects in earlier times is hypothesized.

26 Cf. DE JONG, “A description of Biyyâdi Arabic” (forthcoming),

27 The Axârsa are (fully) settled along the same main road through northern Sinai as the Biyyâdiyya, and are actually geographically some fifteen to twenty-five kilometers closer to Egypt proper than the Biyyâdiyya. So the fact that their dialect trails Biyyâdi in this development towards a more sedentary Delta type is a bit puzzling. It must, in part at least, have to do with the high degree of education. AT-TAYYIB, 1993, p. 611, reports that the Axârsa are very well trained, and are second in this respect only to the Biyyâdiyya. He writes that both tribes have many relatives in Egypt proper, but one important difference is that many Biyyâdi families emigrated to the Tahrîr province in 1967,(p. 607), where they stayed during the Israeli occupation of Sinai, after which many families returned to Sinai. This type of exile is not reported for families of the Axârsa. It may also have to do with the long history of the Biyyâdiyya in Sinai; they are the but one oldest tribe in northern Sinai, and are reported to have arrived in Sinai somewhere between the 7th and 10th centuries, and to have been in the northwest (in the Gatya oasis) ever since the 13th century, which is longer than the Axârsa, who came between the 10th and 13th centuries (cf. BAILEY, 1985, p. 47 and 21). It is therefore fair to assume that the Biyyâdiyya have been exposed to Egyptian Delta type dialects longer than the Axârsa. AT-TAYYIB, however, documents (p. 610) that they came from Syria together with the Biyyâdiyya in the seventh century Higra, i.e. the period of the crusades against Salâh ad-Dîn.

28 Or more precisely, OD 3 (Eastern Dialect 3 spoken in the southwestem Šarqiyya and south and centre and southeast of Qalyûbiyya); cf. WOIDICH, "Rural Dialects of Egyptian Arabic" (appearing in this volume).

29 The setling for the interviews during this research was usually a mag'ad.

30 For difficulties involved in the imitation of phonology, cf. TRUDGILL, 1983, p. 11.

31 With this word 'urfi the speaker may have been refering to an older version of his own dialect, but in the Sinaitic context the word 'urfi much more refers to a cultural background which members of the different tribes feel to have in common. And clearly, in this case, the two notions overlap.

32 Although TRUDGILL, 1983, p. 31 -32, warns us to be careful with conclusions on dialect differences between generations of speakers in "apparent time", our conclusion seems justified here; the other possibility of the different reflexes of */ and *d, would be for the grandfather to have learned at a later stage in his life to substitute t with t, and d with d to, as it were, "make" his speech more 'urfi. But then one would expect imperfections, or maybe even hyperdialectisms (cf. ibid. p. 11-13 and 149-150). Such instances of "imperfect learning", however, were not observed, Where instances of t and d for *t and *d did occur in grandfathers speech, this could generally plausibly be ascribed to the koineizing influence of CaA.

33 Cf. BEHNSTEDT/WOIDICH, 1985b, maps 59-60.

34 Cf. ibid. map 59.

35 Cf. ibid.

36 Cf.WOIDICH, 1979, p. 81-83.

37 The point is that underlying forms need not be historical forms in generative phonology.

38 The reference is to primary word stress here, not to primary stress in word groups.

39 The rule here is that high vowels are not deleted when they occur between consonants C1 and C2 which are phonetically identical, or close, i.e. in vC1C1iC2v; Cf.WOIDICH, 1979, p.79.

40 The conclusion of a stress shift in eastern Šarqâwi was also drawn by ABUL FADL, 1961, p. 222, and GROTZFELD, 1969, p. 160.

41 Also elision of the high vowel in such positions would lead to forms which are not acceptable because they are no longer morphologically transparent; triple consonant-clusters in forms (after elision of i) like *yğadddu or *yhadddu, would probably be reduced to double consonants *yğaddu and *yhaddu (cf. WOIDICH, 1979, p. 79: *dann + na —> danna), which would make them look like 1st measure verbs, and that would, again, disturb morphological transparency.

42 The dialects spoken by the Dullâm (cf. BLANC, 1970), and the Rumelât and Sawârka form a homogeneous typological group; cf. DE JONG, 1995.

43 I.e. in the dialects of group 1, cf. ibid.

44 Cf. BLANC, 1970, p. 5 (ll6).

45 Cf. ibid., p. 10 (121).

46 Such forms are found in the dialects of the Axârsa, Samâ'na and 'Agâyla as well.

47 This velarized and labialized - *k, and the fem. - ik or - a, is certainly a feature of a dialect type spoken in the south of Sinai. NISHIO, 1992, p. 178-179, reports similar forms among the Ğbâliyya [-ok ~ -ku (masc. sg.), and -k ~ -ek (fem. Sg.)), and Manfred Woidich heard forms like 'alê'k, "on you (masc. sg.)" and alê’kum, "on you (masc. pl.)" among the Garârša in Wâdi Ferân (personal communication). (BAILEY, 1991, map on p. 4, gives the position of the Garârša in Sinai at the beginning of this century). This vowelless *k (the superscript * is merely a notational device indicating labialization and velarization of he following k) must be the result of a back formation of the pl. forms: first the * in masc. pl. 'alêkum was labialized and velarized -> alê‘kum, as opposed to k in fem. pl. 'alêkin. Then -um and -in, like the verbal suffixes (e.g. dârabum/dârabin, they hit, masc./fem.) were interpreted as the pl. morphemes. Then, when k had become stable in this position, it acquired phonemic status in a new symmetric opposition 'alê*k - 'alêk.

48 I.e. battîx sêfi, which is grown in a so-called sefîyya, a "watermelon field".

49 Although younger speakers are aware that it is a feature of the speech of their elders, and they can reproduce it when specifically asked, it no longer occurs in their own spontaneous speech. In fact, in the majority of cases the grandfather also produced -ak, and it was only when he became tired that the older -*k suffix appeared.

50 The suffix is actually vowelless, thus creating a final consonant cluster, and attracting stress to the vowel immediately preceding, and in the case of 'ilbtiik, “your tin/packet” , and not *'ilibtik. And also the unrounded 2nd pers. sg. fem. suffix is vowelless: 'ağâbk. "he pleased you (fem.)", and ragabâtk, "your (fem.) neck".

51 Cf. BLANC, 1970, p. 130-131 (19-20), and DE JONG (1995), appendix, row 14. Although, in the village of asSama‘na in the Delta, the suffix -ik, when following a consonant, appears in the text of ABUL FADL, 1961, p. 134: 'allah yixrib bêtik ya ba'îda! (my transcription), and -ki when following a vowel; cf. ibid. p. 133: middîki; I assume that yixrib bêtik, "may He destroy your house", is too much of a koinized expression (one may hear this throughout Egypt) to draw any definitive conclusions here. Generally, we have invariable -ki in the eastern Šarqiyya as well; cf. BEHNSTEDT/WOlDICH, 1985b, map 152.

52 The youngest generation is increasingly being exposed to CaA, mainly in primary schools where teachers are often speakers of CaA. Furthermore, it should be noted that many members of the northwestern tribes (who are now in their mid thirties and forties) of Sinai, spent a considerable number of years in Egypt proper during the Israeli occupation, and often received an education there.

53 The grandfather tended to use the -um suffixes in sandhi, but -uw suffixes in pause, eg.: 'asân 'êh? yâthanum iw yâkluw: "to do what? (for them) to grind (wheat) and to eat".

54 In the System of orientation of the bedouins in northern Sinai, šarg is geographically south, and accordingly, gibli is west (although the gibla Js due south), ġarb is north, and šimâl is east. The explanation for this may be that many of the tribes in Sinai are originally from areas where the sea is to the west, i.e. the Gulf of 'Aqaba is west of the Higâz and the Mediterranean is west of Gaza. garrab, "going west", thus became synonymous with "going into the direction of the sea", and the opposite, šarrag, “going east”, with "going inland", and in this meaning the words moved with the tribes to nortern Sinai, where the Mediterranean is to the north, and where in daily speech the compass was turned 90 degrees clockwise. I am grateful to Fred Leemhuis for this suggestion. In addition, it must be remembered that many bedouins regularly traveled to Palestine to help out during harvest time. If they came from the Higâz in the old days, they were mšammlîn "going north'. Until the creation of the state of Israël many tribes would undertake the same journey (geographically going east) from northern Sinai. If then mšammil had already become synonymous with "going to Palestine", a similar 90 degrees turn of the compass in daily speech could have taken place, which leads to the same conclusion.

55 They have settled in a village by the same name in the eastern Delta; cf. village 92 (asSama'na) in ABUL FADL, 1961, p. 12, and the text on p. 132-138. Cf. also AT-TAYYIB, 1993, p. 600-604, who mentions the presence of numerous Samâ'na in this village (in the district of Fâqûs), and also in other villages.

56 During one session, when the old man was rather tired, I did not record any prefixes with i for a-type verbs.

57 raza’:. "compose rhymes" ; cf. BAILEY, 1981-1982, p. 139.

58 The z in (i)nzâm is due to the word being a loan from CaA or CA, therefore not *(i)ndâm. Typically, however, the syllabication is proper Smê'ni, therefore not (CaA) nizâm. Cf. TRUDGILL (1986), p. 16 (quoting Broselow, 1984), on constraints in accommodating syllable structure.

59 A mêfa is a "cylindrical clay oven dug into the ground, used to bake bread"; Cf. LANDBERG, 1920, mim -yâ '-fa'- 'alif maqsûra in vol. l ( 'alif- dâl), p. 81 (root * -f-y).

60 TRUDGILL, 1986, passim, points out that salient features are the first to be subject to change as a result of dialect contact, provided they are not "too salient, i.e. too much of a stereotype, in which case salience may inhibit change. Thus, when quoting other Bedouins, they will often successfully imitate salient features of the target dialect, but fail to include the less salient features of the target dialect.

61 This was only a tendency, and it by no means occurred in all possible instances.

62 I have also noticed that one of my best informants, a born and bred 'Arâyši, with a wealth of experience in recording and writing down bedouin oral poetry, and with whom I have spent lengthy hours working on recordings, was actually unable to produce an interdental t or d, replacing them with s and z, instead of the regular t and d reflexes of his own dialect.

63 These examples were recorded in the house of the Axrasi S, on an occasion where three members of the Axârsa, two members of the Biyyâdiyya. and one member of the Ahaywât were present. The storyteller directed the story to all men present. The fact that the Ahaywi (whose dialect was of a pure northeastern type) was among the audience, no doubt, contributed to the notably high incidence of B-forms in this story.

64 Cf. DE JONG, 1995, appendix, field N-17.

65 Cf. BLANC, 1970, p. 144 [33], STEWART, 1990, glossary, p. 249.

66 This (phonetically conditioned) suffix - ih is not unique for the Negev (cf. PALVA, 1991, p. 157), it occurs in the dialects of the Sawârka, Rumêlât (northern and southern), Tarâbîn, Ahaywât (cf. STEWART, 1990, passim), Bilî, Masâ'îd, 'Ayâyda, and of the Dawâġra as well, However, the 'Agâyla, Samâ'na, Axârsa. Biyyâdiyya, Tuwara (cf. BLANC, 1970, p. 21 [132], fint 37), and Ğbâliyya (cf. NISHIO, 1992, p. 179) have -u (own observations, unless otherwise indicated).

67 xalihin is not the apocopated imperative it may seem lo be, and which one would expect in northeastern dialects (cf. BLANC, 1970, p. 26 [137]), and STEWART, 1987a, p. 48), but rather a grammaticalized adhortative partide comparable to CaA xallî-, which is not declined either, eg. xallîk. xallîki, and xallîku, cf. WOIDICH, 1995, p. 263.

68 In two instances the emphatic interdental d was recorded for*d: idra “sorghum” and ma dugtiš, "I did not taste".

69 Numerous Arabic dialects manage quite well without interdentals, so in this sense, one might say that the opposition between t and t, and d and d is potentially redundant.

70 Cf. TRUDGILL, 1983, chapter 5. The implication of this rather short chapter is far-reaching. The majority of instances of linguistic simplification and reduction could then be attributed to sociolinguistic contact situations, that is, they are externally motivated, which makes the changes "non-natural" in character. Other changes, such as "an increase in redundancy, and even a possible move towards a more synthetic structure" (cf. ibid., p, 105), are then internally motivated, and the changes are for that reason to be labelled “natural”.

71 This is a general rule, to which there are exceptions, of course. For instance, in Bahârna Arabic, the dialect of Bahrayn, d became d, d became d, but f became ƒ! Thus hâda, “this, duhr, “aftemoon”, and ƒalaƒa, "three". And in the Siiri-dialects of Anatolia the three interdentals all have labio-dental reflexes, whereas the dialects of Âzax (of the Mardin dialects), and of Bahzâni (of the Tigris group) both have sibilants, cf. JASTROW, 1978, p. 35-39.

72 This notion must, for a good part, contribute to the high degree of salience of this feature, cf. ftnt 60. In this case, d proved too salient, too much of an identity marker in a positive sense, to be subject to change.

73 Unfortunately, I have not come across instances of reflexes of either *t or *d cooccuring in one word with d, tike in MSA diġt, "bunch, mixture", which might have been Biyyâdi *diġt, and which would have been an interdialect form in the litteral sense of the term.

74 Similar pressure is apparent in the dialect of the Ğbâliyya in southern Sinai; cf. NISHIO, 1992. To cite a few examples: the imperative for "take" among older speakers is (in my transcription) 'uxud, but for younger speakers it is xud (cf.p. 91). "To you (masc. sg.)" for older speakers is luk, but for younger speakers it is lîk (cf. p. 191). Original a-type perfect verbs seem to have become i-type lor the younger generation, e.g. faham (p. 111-112), nasal (p. 107), hafad (p. 112), ->fihim, nizil, hifid. And also interdental emphatic in bardu, "also", has yielded to d in the koine form bardu in the speech of the younger generation (on p. 194).

75 And they were directly along the old railway to Palestine; hence Râb'a, the “fourth station on this raiiway.

76 Many acquired university degrees in Egypt proper during the Israeli occupation. EUROCONSULT, 1992, E. 19 reports that in the village of Nagîla 80 of the male inhabitants hold a university degree, and AT-TAYYIB, 1994, p. 608, writes that the Biyyâdiyya have through history had the highest level of education. He mentions that there are more than 20 doctors, many engineers, 18 university professors, several teachers, and army- and police oflicers.

77 ABUL FADL, 1961, p. 3, mentions the village Nôba w-adDahašna in Šarqiyya, where they have settled. AT-TAYYIB, 1993, p. 607 lists a number of other villages in Šarqiyya where they live today.

78 Geographically, Biyyâdi territory is nearer to the Šarqiyya than it is to Palestine, or the Negev. Before the digging of the Suez Canal, traveling west by camel (to work as farmhands during harvest time, or for trade purposes) must have been easier and quicker than traveling east; going to the Šarqiyya mainly involved crossing wide plains, whereas traveling to the east meant traversing a difficult dune-landscape.

79 The date of their arrival in Sinai must have been between the 7th and 10th centuries A. D., after which they initially settled more to the east, "near al'Arîš", but in the 13th century their presence in the Gatya oasis is attested. Cf. BAILEY, 1985, p. 47 and 21.

80 The Dawâġra are Htêm (or Hutaym, cf. E.I.), who are Mtêr (or Mutayr). Cf. e.g. OPPENHEIM, 1943, p. 140: "Die Dewâghera werden zu den verachteten Mutêr gerechnet." The story told (by members of other tribes) concerning their pariah status is that during the earliest times of islam, a Duwêġri wornan, named Ğarâda, was caught trying to smuggle a message hidden in her hair to warn the unbelievers among the Qurayš against an oncoming raid by the followers of the Prophet. The Prophet, however, was warned by the archangel Gabriel, and she was caught in the act. After this act of betrayal the whole tribe was from then on excluded from any type of equal relationship with the other tribes. The Qur'ân verses mentioned with respect to this story are Surah 60:1, 9, 13 (oral information from several independent sources in the field). AT-TAYYIB, 1993, p. 743-744, gives the same story, and remarks in a footnote that the lady's name was actually Sârah. KENNETT, 1925, p. 23-24, gives another unflattering story concerning their lowly status. Whatever the true story may be, the social isolation of the Dawâġra has been the result, and their dialect, which is of a clear northeast Arabian type, must have remained largely unchanged ever since their arrival in Sinai.

81 Cf. TRUDGILL, 1986, p.39-40.

82 Cf. DE JONG, 1995, appendix, As (or feature 2 a): one may hear (stressed, if in eligible positions) gahawa-vowels in nominals, but not in verbs: e.g. bâhar, "sea", and naxâlha, "her datepalms" , but more typically mâhirha, "her dowry", and 'âhilha, "her family". As for feature 4): it is difficult to establish the productivity of measure IV, but I have certainly recorded more instances of measure IV in northeastern dialects. As for (eature 6): Speakers of Biyyâdi are very well aware of such lexical items when checked with questionnaires, but I have not recorded any in spontaneous speech. As for feature 9): the word for "mouth" in Biyyâdi is xašm, not 'afâm.

83 With the exception of the dialect of the Dawâġra, cf. DE JONG, 1995, p. 5, and appendix, field K-38. Cf. BLANC, 1970, p. 28 for tribes in the Negev (and Sinai). PALVA, 1984a, p. 16, writes: “The dialects of the Negev Bedouins display some traits (the b-imperfect in particular) typical of sedentary dialects. This fact reflects the old close connections of many tribes in the area with the sedentary population of South Palestine," As a whole the dialects belong to the same type as the Sinai dialects.

84 I.e. the dialect groups spoken (respectively) east and west of Wâdi 'Araba and the Gulf of 'Aqaba, cf. PALVA, 1990, p. 154 and 158.

85 Originally wasm at-Turayyâ, the rainy season of 75 days, roughly coinciding with the appearance of the Pleiades over the eastern horizon at the end of October; cf. BAILEY, 1974a, p.585.

86 The fem. suffix -hiy does not only occur in the Negev (cf. BLANC, 1970, p. 19-20(130-131) and PALVA, 1990, p. 157), but also in the tribal dialects spoken by the Rumelât and Sawârka (in the northeast), and (in the northwest) the Masâ'îd and 'Ayâyda (own observations).

87 And in the case of dialects in northeastern Sinai, we may also assume a strong influence from the dialect of the regional capital al'Arîš, where also a typically sedentary dialect is spoken, but more of the Palestinian type (cf. DE JONG, "A Description of 'Arâyši Arabic” (forthcoming))- For the dialects in the northwest, we must take into consideration the possibility of influence from the sedentary dialects of the Egyptian Delta.

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Rudolf de Jong, « Examples of Levelling and Counterreactions in the Dialects of Bedouin Tribes in Northwestern Sinai », Égypte/Monde arabe,Première série, 27-28 | 1996, mis en ligne le 09 juillet 2008, consulté le 25 septembre 2017. URL : http://ema.revues.org/1955 ; DOI : 10.4000/ema.1955

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Rudolf de Jong

University of Amsterdam

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