Cypriot Maronite Arabic
|Region||Kormakitis and urban areas in the south|
|Ethnicity||Maronite community of Cyprus|
|Native speakers||900 (2011)|
|Writing system||Greek and Latin|
|Recognised minority language in||Cyprus|
Location of Kormakitis in Cyprus, former stronghold of the language
Cypriot Arabic, known as Cypriot Maronite Arabic, is a moribund variety of Arabic spoken by the Maronite community of Cyprus. Formerly speakers were mostly situated in Kormakitis, but following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, the majority relocated to the south and spread leading to the decline of the language. Traditionally bilingual in Cypriot Greek, as of 2011, all 900 remaining speakers of Cypriot Arabic are over 30 years of age.
History and classification
Cypriot Arabic was first introduced to Cyprus by Maronites fleeing Syria and Lebanon between the ninth and tenth century. Since 2002, it is one of UNESCO-designated severely endangered languages and, since 2008, it is recognised as a minority language of Cyprus, coinciding with an attempt to revitalise the language that may prove to be futile.
Cypriot Arabic shares a large number of common features with Mesopotamian Arabic; particularly the northern variety, and has been reckoned as belonging to this dialect area. It also shares many traits with Levantine Arabic. It is believed these common features go back to a period in which there was a dialect continuum between the Mesopotamian dialects and the Syrian dialect area.
Borg (1997) argues that the sound system of Cypriot Arabic has been heavily influenced by that of Cypriot Greek. Even so, Cypriot Arabic has lost all emphatic consonants and stop voicing opposition (though this is subject to debate in literature)—but retained gemination. Geminate voiceless stops surface as aspirates. The consonant phonemes of Cypriot Arabic according to Borg (1997) are: /m n p t k f v θ ð s z ʃ ʒ x j l r ʕ/. Affricates [t͡ʃ d͡ʒ] occur as allophones of clusters /tʃ dʒ/. Voiced stops occur as allophones of voiceless stops intervocalically and next to a sonorant or /z/. There are five vowel phonemes, /a e i o u/, and two diphthongs, /aj aw/.
Phonological phenomena observed in Cypriot Arabic include:
- Historical stop + stop clusters are dissimilated to fricative + stop.
- /k x/ are palatalized to [c ç] before /i e j/. /j/ is fully assimilated.
- /j/ between an obstruent and a vowel surfaces as [kj].
- An epenthetic stop occurs between a nasal and a continuant or sonorant. Place of this epenthetic stop is carried over from the nasal and voicing from the succeeding consonant.
Phenomena similar to the first three are also observed in Cypriot Greek.
In May 2009, the so-called "Committee of Experts for the Codification of Cypriot Maronite Arabic" submitted to the Cypriot government a proposal for the codification of Cypriot Arabic. It is unclear whether this will be in the Greek or Latin script; both have apparently been suggested. There exists a Cypriot Arabic–Greek translation dictionary, where the Greek alphabet is used for Cypriot Arabic lemmas.
|Ismi o Kumetto. Ayşo ismak l-id?||My name is Kumetto. What is your name?|
|Ismi l-ana o Pavlo. Ayşo ismik l-idi?||My name is Pavlo. What is your name? (fem.)|
|L-aδa aş pikulullu?||What is his name?|
|L-ism tel l-yapati o Antoni||My father's name is Antoni|
|Xmenye u tisca aşka pisawnna?||What do eight and nine make?|
|Pisawnna caşra u sapca.||They make seventeen|
|Aş xar kan imps? Imps kan Yamuxmis||What day was yesterday? Yesterday was Thursday|
|Aş xar tte kun pukra? Pukra tte kun Yamussift||What day is tomorrow? Tomorrow is Saturday|
|Yamuxxat marrux fi li knise||On Sunday we go to church|
|Kilt xops ma zaytun, xaytċ casel u şraft xlip tel pakra||I ate bread with olives, some honey and drank some cow's milk|
All letters loosely represent their IPA values, with some exceptions:
Notes and references
- Council of Europe (2011), p. 7.
- Versteegh (2001), p. 212.
- Hadjioannou, Tsiplakou & Kappler (2011), p. 507.
- Cypriot Maronite Arabic reference at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013).
- Hadjioannou, Tsiplakou & Kappler (2011), p. 535.
- "Implementation of the Charter in Cyprus". Database for the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Public Foundation for European Comparative Minority Research. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
- Hadjioannou, Tsiplakou & Kappler (2011), p. 508.
- Owens (2006), p. 274.
- Borg (1997), p. 228.
- Borg (1997), p. 229.
- Borg (1997), pp. 228–229.
- Borg (1997), pp. 222–223.
- Borg (1997), pp. 223–225.
- Council of Europe (2011), p. 3.
- Public Foundation for European Comparative Minority Research (2006), p. 12.
- Cypriot Maronite Arabic in Cyprus through the lenses of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Public Foundation for European Comparative Minority Research. 2006.
- Borg, Alexander (1985). Cypriot Arabic: A Historical and Comparative Investigation into the Phonology and Morphology of the Arabic Vernacular Spoken by the Maronites of Kormakiti Village in the Kyrenia District of North-Western Cyprus. Stuttgart: Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft. ISBN 3-515-03999-6.
- Borg, Alexander (1997). "Cypriot Arabic Phonology". In Kaye, Alan S. Phonologies of Asia and Africa (including the Caucasus) 1. Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns. pp. 219–244. ISBN 1-57506-017-5.
- Borg, Alexander (2004). A Comparative Glossary of Cypriot Maronite Arabic (Arabic-English). Brill. ISBN 90-04-13198-1.
- Council of Europe (2011). European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Third periodical report by the Republic of Cyprus.
- Hadjioannou, Xenia; Tsiplakou, Stavroula; Kappler, Matthias (2011). "Language policy and language planning in Cyprus". Current Issues in Language Planning (Routledge) 12 (4): 503–569. doi:10.1080/14664208.2011.629113.
- Owens, Jonathan (2006). A Linguistic History of Arabic. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-929082-2.
- Thomas, George J. (2000). "The Spoken Arabic Dialect Of The Maronites Of Cyprus". The Journal of Maronite Studies 4 (1).
- Tsiapera, Maria (1969). A Descriptive Analysis of Cypriot Maronite Arabic. The Hague: Mouton.
- Versteegh, Kees (2001). The Arabic Language. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 0-7486-1436-2.