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|Native to||Emirate of Sicily|
Siculo-Arabic (or Sicilian Arabic) was a vernacular variety of Arabic once spoken in the islands of Sicily and neighbouring Malta between the end of the ninth century and the end of the twelfth century. The language became extinct in Sicily, but on the islands of Malta it eventually evolved into what is now the Maltese language.
Arab conquest of Sicily
During the 7th and 8th centuries, Sicily was raided from Tunis. The eventual Muslim Arab 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 then, Arabic had become the main language of the island. Its mixed population of Muslims and Greek-speaking Orthodox Christians continued to use Arabic, even after the Norman conquest of the island (1061–1090).
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 in 1117.[clarification needed] It was revived in 1132 and subsequently used in the king's fiscal administration, which managed royal lands and men in Sicily and Calabria. The 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. The Sicilian language absorbed many Siculo-Arabic words, with those shown in the table a small sample:
|Ġunġlien||Giuggiulena||جنجلان (Junjulān)||Sesame seed|
|Zokk||Zuccu||ساق (Sāq)||Tree trunk|
- 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