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Modern Arabic: Structures Functions, and Varieties (Georgetown Classics in Arabic Language & Linguistics) (Georgetown Classics in Arabic Languages and Linguistics Series) Paperback – 3 Sep 2004

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"Thanks to Clive Holes we now have a book that examines in some depth the relationship between the spoken and written language, and which provides us with a lively and erudite account of the current state of the Arabic language in its many forms... it is really in the areas of phonology, morphology and syntax that Holes is at his best, drawing on his vast experience of field work and profound linguistic knowledge. His assessment of modern Arabic in all its forms is honest, contrastive and comparative, and presents impressions and analyses of many categories from a fresh angle. It will appeal to anyone with an interest in the Arabic language today." -- Bibliotheca Orientalis "Clive Holes's book is written in a pleasantly informal manner. Matters are discussed throughout in a knowledgeable, objective and informative fashion and presented in a lively, readable style... The author has no theoretical axe to grind, he is bound to no one school of thought and has no interest in supporting the cause of any particular doctrine. His approach to the material and the problems it raises is refreshingly straightforward and characterized at all points by the simple application of common sense and the desire to see the truth for what it is. This is in welcome contrast to much recent work in Arabic linguistics, which suffers, as Holes observes in his preface, from a regrettable reluctance to see things as they are. His book is a deliberate, and very successful, attempt to redress the balance. It will be read with pleasure and benefit by all who are interested in the Arabic language... [A]n excellent book and will surely become a standard work on the subject. It will be read with much profit by all interested in the Arabic language, to whom it is herewith heartily recommended." -- Zeitschrift fur Arabische Linguistik "In a pleasant and extremely clear style on which he must be complimented, the author puts at the disposition of a large readership, from advanced students of Arabic to general linguists, an excellent synthesis of the relationships between written Arabic, spoken standard Arabic, the spoken dialects and relationships between the dialects. It was only natural that Clive Holes's work would benefit from our improved knowledge of dialectal Arabic, but these improvements would have been insufficient without the author's remarkable powers of synthesis and his ability to capture sociolinguistic phenomena. One can only warmly recommend a work which is agreeably accessible at the same time as rigorously scientific, and which opens paths for future research, which one hopes will be explored by the community of Arabists. [Translated from French.]" -- Journal of Semitic Studies

About the Author

Clive Holes is Khalid bin Abdallah Al-Sa'ud Professor for the Study of the Contemporary Arab World at the Oriental Institute, University of Oxford, and a Fellow of Magdalen College. He is also a Fellow of the British Academy.

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Amazon.com: 1 review
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Amazing book- a must buy for a serious Arabic student 27 Jan 2012
By applepie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is what I've been looking for as a student of Arabic since forever. I have a background in linguistics, so I like to learn about a language in a systematic, scientific, exhaustive way, in addition to the typical vocab drill, grammar practice, listening practice, etc. that you get from a language class. Almost everything you could want to learn about the Arabic language's history, phonology, syntax, morphology, dialects, loanwords, sociolinguistic situation, etc. is covered in great depth in this book. Every linguist learning Arabic should read this book. And if you're learning Arabic and you don't know anything about linguistics, it would be a good idea to learn some, because it will be a very good investment. Again, this book is about Arabic linguistics, and is not a stand-alone language learning course (for those, go look for Jane Wightwick).

This book helped me understand all the "irregularities" in Arabic that actually have a method to them (how to predict broken plural forms, the middle vowel in verbs, seemingly haphazard coining of nouns from verb stems, etc.) and also explained diachronically how they developed and evolved into the systems found in modern dialects. I had always wanted to know this information, but there was never an opportunity to ask in my language class (the lecturer probably wouldn't have been able to explain it anyway). I also understand the sociolinguistic diglossic situation in the Arab world a lot better now, and have a better idea of when to tilt my speech more towards the dialect or more towards MSA and which sounds to change gradually as I climb the hierarchy.

This is a wonderful book with a consistent Romanization (important when dealing with multiple dialects since a letter like qaf can have several different pronunciations), tons of information, and a comfortable read.
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