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Edited by Jonathan Owens, Arabic as a Minority Language serves to be the first book to explore the existence of Arabic outside of the Arabic world. As Owen states, there is an inherent difficulty in defining a minority language. However, he hopes that this volume will aid in providing the tools necessary to do so. Amongst the factors he lists in classifying such languages are: self-categorization, common-descent, distinctive linguistic, cultural or historical traits related to language, social organization etc. Through the lens of Arabic, each of the twelve articles presented in this volume extend our perceptions of the social factors involved in the formation and structural changes of minority languages. These articles are divided amongst three sections, “Historical Perspectives,” “Arabic Ethnic Minorities,” and “Cross-Ethnic and Non-Arab Perspectives,” each containing maps to help guide the reader in assessing the book’s contents. Contributors discuss different aspects of Arabic, exploring issues such as how political, economic, and religious factors establish and affect minority languages. These studies not only contribute to the largely unexplored area of Arabic linguistics but in general, deepens our understanding of minority and majority languages.
Jonathan Owens, Professor of Arabic Linguistics at the Bayreuth (University) International School of African Studies has compiled the first book to center on the countries in which Arabic is spoken by a minority. Focusing on the existence of many varieties of Arabic, it also addresses the larger question of the relationship between minority status and language forms in the linguistics of other ethnic groups. Professor Owens has taught at the Center for Advanced Study of Language, University of Maryland. He is also the author of A Linguistic History of Arabic (OUP 2006)
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