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LRC Speaker Series presents, Arabic Language Diversity Across Time and Space

Date & Time:
October 19, 2018 | 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
CHD 420
Dr. Alexander Magidow

Title: Arabic Language Diversity Across Time and Space

The Arabic language is much closer to a language family than a single language. United, much as European languages once were, by a shared Standard language, Arabic displays an incredible diversity of dialects, including pidgins, creoles and mixed languages. This talk will begin with a tour of the linguistic diversity of Arabic dialects, with examples of the significant regional and sociolinguistic variation within and between them. I will briefly consider dialects and languages such as Maltese which have been produced by the intertwining of Arabic with other languages. Throughout, I will consider the implications of this diversity for linguistic research. Following this, the talk will turn to the highly controversial questions surrounding the history of the development of the Arabic dialects, and of Standard Arabic. The traditional narrative is that Arabic dialects derive directly from Standard Arabic, but I will discuss how research by myself and others is now showing a much more complex picture of dialects developing as a separate branch from Standard Arabic, and indeed of Standard Arabic developing in a manner that took it even further from the dialects.



Alexander Magidow is an Assistant Professor at the University of Rhode Island, where he directs the Arabic language program. He conducts research on the history of the Arabic language, both the dialects and the Standard variety, using a combination of traditional methods and digital tools. His other passion is improve the teaching of the Arabic language to make it more efficient and more sociolinguistically realistic. He completed his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Texas - Austin and his B.A. at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He sometimes yearns for the frozen prairies of his hometown in Minnesota, but the beach is also pretty nice.