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|Native to||Emirate of Sicily|
Siculo-Arabic (or Sicilian Arabic) was a variety of Arabic spoken in Sicily and Malta between the end of the ninth century and the end of the twelfth century. It is extinct in Sicily, but it has developed into what is now the Maltese language on the islands of Malta.
Arab conquest of Sicily
During the seventh and eight centuries, Sicily was raided from Tunis. The eventual Arab-Muslim conquest of Byzantine Sicily was piecemeal and slow. The region was a frontier zone even after the fall of Taormina in 902 which completed the invasion. By that time, Arabic had become the main language of the island. Its mixed population of Muslims and Greek-speaking (Orthodox) Christians[clarification needed] continued to use Arabic even after the Norman conquest of the island (1061–90).
In the post-conquest period, both Arabic and Greek were sometimes used by the new rulers. However, Arabic was dropped as a language of government between 1117 and 1132.[clarification needed] Thereafter, it was revived as and used in the king's fiscal administration which managed royal lands and men in Sicily and Calabria. This chancery office operated in Arabic, Greek and Latin. The many documents that it issued are one of the main and most important sources for Arabic in Sicily.
Although the Norman rulers employed Arabic and some were attested as Arabic speakers themselves, the dynasty died out after only a century and their successors expelled the remaining Muslims in the 13th century.
Although Siculo-Arabic died out in Sicily, it survived on Malta, with additional influences from Sicilian, Italian, French, and more recently English. Some items of Siculo-Arabic vocabulary are comparable with later items found in Maltese language. The Sicilian language absorbed many Siculo-Arabic words, with those shown in the table a small sample.
|Ġunġlien||Giuggiulena||Sesame seed||جنجلان (Junjulān)|
|Zokk||Zuccu||Tree trunk||ساق (Sāq)|
One characteristic of the modern Maltese language is that a phrase can be said in two ways: with mainly Latin words or with mainly Semitic words. As an example, the lexicon to say "The temple is located on the other side of the village square" can be expressed It-tempju sitwat oppost il-pjazza tal-villaġġ (Latin) or Il-maqdes jinsab biswit il-misraħ tar-raħal (Semitic).
- Brincat, Joseph M. (February 2005). "Maltese – an unusual formula". MED Magazine. Retrieved 2008-02-22.
- Agius, D. A. (1996). Siculo Arabic. London: Kegan Paul International. ISBN 0-7103-0497-8.
- Metcalfe, Alex (2003). Muslims and Christian in Norman Sicily. Arabic-speakers and the end of Islam. London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-7007-1685-8.
- Johns, Jeremy (2002). Arabic Administration in Norman Sicily. The Royal Diwan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-81692-0.
- Agius, Dionisius A. D.A. Agius, "Who Spoke Siculo Arabic?" XII Incontro Italiano di Linguistica Camitio-semitica (Afroasiatica) - ATTI a cura di Marco Moriggi - Rubbettino 2007