World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010



· Date: THU, 22 / 2.30 - 4.30 pm

· Language: English

· Description:

Paper presenter: Maria Berzighiyarova (Senior lecturer, Lomonosov Moscow State University), “The Description of the Forms Designating Quantity in the Classical Arabic Grammar”
The article surveys a general method of describing forms designating different types of quantitative meanings, developed in the Classical Arabic Grammar and based on the category of number with its main subdivisions (singular/ dual/ internal and external plurals, and the related meanings of singularity/ plurality including the connotation of lesser and larger number, generic and collective meanings, the so-called sub-individual plural and others). The main object is to determine basic quantitative meanings underlying formal categories as well as different types of their interpretation in the Classical Arabic Grammar. The article outlines the general way of description of those forms and its development as displayed in the related chapters of Kitab Sibawayhi, Al-Muqtadab by al-Mubarrad, Al-Hasa'is by Ibn Jinni, Al-'Idah fi 'Ilal an-Nahw by Az-Zajjaji, Al-Mufassal by Az-Zamakhshary, Sharh al-Mufassal by Ibn Ya'ish. That also includes the analysis of some general types of deviations in functioning of the forms designating quantity, as well as concepts underlying the actual functioning of the category of number (such as the possibility of existence of the plural of dual and plural forms). The research leads us to a conclusion that Arab grammarians developed a comprehensive and consistent system of description of such forms that allowed to make a difference between at least 10 types of quantitative meanings (based on the category of number alone), and describe the peculiarities of functioning of the same category within different types of nouns. The analysis of forms designating quantity also added to the development of a whole theory of the relation between form and meaning.

Paper presenter: Paula Santillán Grimm (PhD candidate, University of Granada), “A new Taxonomy of Collocations in Modern Standard Arabic”
Over the last two decades there has been a great deal of interest in lexical studies, particularly in the combinatorics of words in natural languages. In the field of Arabic linguistics, proverbs, idioms and compounds have taken the lion’s share of researching, while collocations have been dealt with in a rather intermittent and modest way.
Our research is set to contribute to the development of a more comprehensive Arab notion of collocation. We aim at approaching the collocational phenomenon in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) from a phraseological perspective, bearing in mind two basic goals: first, describing its main syntactic and semantic features, and, second, putting forward an inclusive taxonomy of collocations in MSA, whilst bringing to surface the most relevant characteristics and behaviour of each category.
First, in order to work out a practical definition of collocation we begin by explaining the main syntactic and semantic features of this phenomenon (i.e. polilexicality, lexical restrictions, arbitrariness, frequent co‐occurrence, syntactic shifts, hypotactic relationship, transparency, and semantic accuracy), whilst comparing it to other neighbouring combinations (proverbs, idioms, compounds) within the so-called phraseological continuum. Second, we analyze –and, in some cases, create– some linguistic terms crucial to the study of collocations in MSA: the base (nawāt al’talāzum), the collocate [mulāzim (al’nawāt)], the collocational span (madā al’talāzum), the collocational range (al’qā'ima al’talāzumiyya), upward vs. downward collocations (al’talāzum al’taṣā`udiyy/al’tanāzuliyy), simple vs. complex collocations (al’talāzum al’basīṭ/al’murakkab), and chained collocations (al’talāzum almutasalsal). Third and most importantly, we provide a new taxonomy of collocations in MSA arguing that the classifications of collocations in Arabic that have been proposed so far pose two major problems: on the one hand, they highly depend on English lexical studies as a conceptual framework (Bahumaid 2006: 137), and, on the other hand, they have tended to mix different linguistic levels of analysis (Al’Brashi 2005: 39’42).
Within the taxonomy presented in our paper we will prove that collocations in MSA may be reduced to four basic syntactic groups upon which more detailed categories may be devised. The fact that we will base our analysis on an Arabic grammar perspective will shed some light on particular aspects of collocations such as the fact that English verb+adverb collocations should be conceived as two different categories in Arabic; that adjective+adverb collocations are not a productive category in Arabic; or that there is a high degree of lexical correspondence across categories.

Paper presenter: Isabel Hervás Jávega (Professor, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona), “Arabic Diglossia Revisited: Why it is not Merely a Linguistic Fact, or How Would Possibly be Unveiled its Hidden Political Realm”
Up to now, the analysis of the Arabic diglossia has be undertaken only from the linguistic point of view, or to be more precise, from the micro-linguistic stance, namely dialectology, sociolinguistics, sociology of language, etc. As a result, the researchers have strictly focused on the description of the linguistic system itself, would it be the so-called “High” variety of Arabic or the “Low” one, in words of Ferguson (1959) , or the five possible varieties of Arabic ?according to Badawy’s taxonomy (1973) -, or the register variation, as posed by Blanc (1964) . Another point of analysis has been the sociolinguistic functions of the different varieties, as well as the consideration of a variety of linguistic phenomena in relation with language contact (borrowings, code-switching, linguistic accommodation, etc.) But maybe all this academical interests have become one of the reasons why we are not able any more to contemplate the whole picture of a given linguistic phenomenon, because we usually forget that it always implies a bigger landscape at the sociological macro-level. More often than desired we, linguists, overview that the social reality of any living language goes much further than, for instance, what the structuralism and post-structuralism have depicted as the “social side” of the linguistic sign. This “social side” involves forces that go beyond the domains of the individual practice, or even the social practice of the language as it is usually understood as the sum of individual performances. The macro-linguistic level involves the ideological submissiveness of the speakers to the linguistic ideal sustained and pushed through by the institutions (writers, teachers and the school system behind them, grammarians and the Academies) that find their raison d’être in the tireless and permanent defence of this more or less realistic linguistic ideal. Following P. Bourdieu’s conception, this is the symbolic violence that the legitimate language exerts upon the speakers of any given language. But the most terrifying aspect of this symbolic violence is the lack of awareness of the speakers about the fact that it actually exists: the discourse of the authority of the symbolic power is void if there is no relationship between the properties of discourse, properties of the person giving the speech and properties of the institution that authorizes that person to pronounce it. Moreover, the symbolic efficacy of the discourse of authority is primarily in the fact that senders and receivers of the discourse of authority do not perceive this relationship established between the three factors mentioned above, and what is transmitted is that the power source lies in the speech itself, when in truth the power of authoritative discourse lies in the institutional conditions that mediate its emission and its reception. The specificity of an authoritative discourse (i.e., a lecture, a sermon, etc...) resides on the property that it is not even necessary to be understood. This is what happens, for example, when the Arab philologists that study at an especially traditional institutions like the Cairene University of Al-Azhar render the classical variety as the only legitimate language, and therefore the only one that deserves to be studied and analyzed, while claiming that vernacular varieties are nothing but a product of illiteracy and ignorance, and consequently, should be eliminated from the face of the earth And it is this lack of awareness and recognition of that power and authority exercised through language usage (or put another way, that lack of awareness of this delegation of power) the fundamental pillar on which are based the domination and the submission to institutions of authority in any given community. This lack of awareness has highly significant consequences in all spheres of social life, in particular the political one, and we could say that it might probably be one of the bastions on which the tribal and patriarchal structures that support the Arab regimes totalitarian type settle down and remain in through the time.

Paper presenter: Raoudha Kammoun (Assistant Professor, University of Humanities and Arts, Manouba, Tunis), “Gender Differences in the use of Expletives and Profanities: A Tunisian Case”
Gender research and gender studies in Arab countries are still fighting for an equal chance as the one granted to science and arts in university curricula. Drawing on widely-held Western assumptions, this paper attempts to examine gender differences associated with the use of expletives and profanities in Tunisia. Most Western studies have found that men generally outscored women and the conclusions resulting from these researches indicate that women use milder or softer kinds of vulgar or profanity words and generally occur in all-female groups.
Given that expletives as well as blasphemy are perceived as an intrinsically aggressive activity, women who engage in such behavior, are seen (unlike men) as breeching a taboo, hence transgressing cultural stereotypes and symbols of femininity.
Cultures and societies (Eastern and western) may not use the same kind of expletives and profanities, but the taboos are generally the same. This is true for Tunisian society, too. In Tunisia, where a general increase of the use of coarse and aggressive language publicly, concerning the entire society has been noticed lately, causing only limited worry and concern has not ratified the part of responsibility endorsed by women. If women use the same ‘swear words’ used by men, they are not judged on an equal footing; they are still thought to invite judgments regarding their moral standing and aspirations.
Though long-standing programs of massive education and progressive laws in favor of women have legally empowered Tunisian women, societal attitudes and behaviors toward women have not kept pace alongside the socioeconomic grown and success and remain openly gender biased and male-chauvinist.
We have thus conducted a questionnaire on gender use of expletives and submitted it to a group of a hundred university students from diverse backgrounds (50 girls and 50 boys) aged from 20 to 25 and asked them to answer some questions related to the difference between male and female use of expletives and blasphemy and also to give their personal opinion toward both men’s and women‘s usage of this particular linguistic aspect. The informants were also asked to mention their hometown (rural or urban) and social class (rich, middle or working class), given that in Tunisia as well as in the whole Arab countries and unlike in some Western countries, the rural/urban dichotomy is closely associated with poor/rich, literate/illiterate, conservative/modern, privileged/underprivileged.