Siculo-Arabic

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Siculo-Arabic
Native toEmirate of Sicily
Era9th–13th centuries
Arabic alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-3sqr
GlottologNone

Siculo-Arabic (or Sicilian Arabic) is the term used for the variety (or varieties) of Arabic that were spoken in the Emirate of Sicily (that included Malta) from the 9th century, persisting under the subsequent Norman rule till the 13th century [1].It was derived from early Maghrebi Arabic following the Abbasid conquest of Sicily in the 9th century, and gradually marginalized following the Norman conquest in the 11th century. Siculo Arabic is extinct and is designated as a historical language that is attested only in writings from the 9th-13th centuries in Sicily [2],[3]. However, present-day Maltese is considered to have evolved from one of the dialects of Siculo-Arabic over the past 800 years in a gradual process of Latinisation which gave it a significant Romance superstrate influence [4],[5],[6]. Very little Siculo-Arabic remains in present day Sicilian, which is an Italo-Dalmatian Romance language, its influence being limited to some 300 words [7].

History[edit]

Introduction to Sicily[edit]

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. Romance languages such as African Romance continued to be used in the island well after the Arabic conquest.[8] Its mixed population of Muslims and Byzantine-rite Christians used Romance-influenced forms of Arabic, at the Norman conquest of the island (1061–1090).[citation needed]

Norman kingdom of Sicily[edit]

When the Norman entered Sicily the island was divided into two main Non-Latin linguistic groups:

In 1086 The Normans managed to secure the conversion of the last important Kalbid ruler of Enna Ibn Hamud.[9] This conversion along with the Norman adoption of many Arab governing customs resulted in the emergence of a Christian Siculo-Arabic language. During the Norman era the chancery office operated in Arabic, Greek and Latin.[10]

The modern copy of the Tabula Rogeriana, upside-down with North oriented up.

The Nuzhat al-mushtāq fi'khtirāq al-āfāq (Arabic: نزهة المشتاق في اختراق الآفاق‎, lit. "the book of pleasant journeys into faraway lands"), most often known as the Tabula Rogeriana (lit. The Book of Roger in Latin) is a description of the world and world map created by the Palermo-based Arab geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi in 1154. Al-Idrisi worked on the commentaries and illustrations of the map for fifteen years at the court of the Norman King Roger II of Sicily, who commissioned the work around 1138.[11][12][clarification needed]

Decline after 1200[edit]

In the post-conquest period, both Arabic and Greek were sometimes used by the new rulers and subsequently used in the king's fiscal administration, which managed royal lands and men in Sicily and Calabria.[13] The many documents that it issued are among the main and most important sources for Arabic in Sicily. However, when the Hohenstaufen replaced the Normans, Arabic was dropped as a language of government in 1194[14] and the Hohenstaufen expelled the remaining Muslims to Lucera and North Africa in the 13th century. Due to the expulsions, the only remaining Siculo-Arabic speakers were Christians.[15]

When the Aragonese took Sicily they introduced Catalan nobility, made Latin the only official language and eliminated local residual Norman nobility; Greek and Arabic official records in Sicily ceased to exist by the 14th century.[16][17]

Arabic influence continued in a number of Sicilian words. Most of these terms relate to agriculture and related activities.

Maltese language[edit]

The modern language derived from the Siculo-Arabic spoken in Malta is known as the Maltese language. While "Siculo-Arabic" refers to the language spoken before 1300, there are hardly any records during the 14th century, and the earliest record in the Maltese language is is "Il Cantilena" (Xidew il-Qada) by Pietru Caxaro (late 15th century).

Maltese evolved from Siculo-Arabic through a gradual process of Latinisation after the re-Christianisation of Malta during the 13th to 15th centuries.[18]. Some items of Siculo-Arabic vocabulary are comparable with later items found in Maltese. Although Siculo-Arabic has relatively minor influence on modern day Sicilian, this language has also absorbed many Siculo-Arabic words, with those shown in the table a small sample:

Maltese Siculo-Arabic
(in Sicilian)
Arabic English
ġiebja gebbia جب (jabb) cistern
ġunġlien giuggiulena جنجلان (junjulān) sesame seed
saqqajja saia ساقية (sāqiyyah) canal
kenur tanura تنور (tannūr) oven
żagħfran zaffarana زعفران (zaʿfarān) saffron
żahra zagara زهرة (zahrah) blossom
żbib zibbibbu زبيب (zabīb) raisins
zokk zuccu ساق (sāq) tree trunk

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ "ISO 639-3 Registration Authority Request for Change to ISO 639-3 Language Code" (PDF).
  2. ^ "639 Identifier Documentation: sqr".
  3. ^ "ISO 639-3 Registration Authority Request for New Language Code Element in ISO 639-3" (PDF).
  4. ^ "ISO 639-3 Registration Authority Request for New Language Code Element in ISO 639-3" (PDF).
  5. ^ So who are the ‘real’ Maltese. Archived from the original on 2016-03-12. The kind of Arabic used in the Maltese language is most likely derived from the language spoken by those that repopulated the island from Sicily in the early second millennium; it is known as Siculo-Arab. The Maltese are mostly descendants of these people.
  6. ^ Brincat, 2005. Maltese - an unusual formula. Originally Maltese was an Arabic dialect but it was immediately exposed to Latinisation because the Normans conquered the islands in 1090, while Christianisation, which was complete by 1250, cut off the dialect from contact with Classical Arabic. Consequently Maltese developed on its own, slowly but steadily absorbing new words from Sicilian and Italian according to the needs of the developing community.
  7. ^ Ruffino, Giovanni (2001). Sicilia. Editori Laterza, Bari. p. 18-20.
  8. ^ Martin Haspelmath; Uri Tadmor (22 December 2009). Loanwords in the World's Languages: A Comparative Handbook. Walter de Gruyter. p. 195. ISBN 978-3-11-021844-2.
  9. ^ The Age of Robert Guiscard, 2000, Page 171
  10. ^ Siculo Arabic, Dionisius Agius, 1996, pp. 79-88.
  11. ^ Houben, 2002, pp. 102-104.
  12. ^ Harley & Woodward, 1992, pp. 156-161.
  13. ^ Paolo Collura, Le Più antiche carte dell'Archivio capitolare di Agrigento (1092-1282), 1961, pp. 120–126
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ S. Gleixner, Sprachrohr kaiserlichen Willens, 2006, pp. 412–413
  16. ^ [2]
  17. ^ [3]
  18. ^ Brincat, 2005. Maltese - an unusual formula. Archived from the original on 2015-12-08. Originally Maltese was an Arabic dialect but it was immediately exposed to Latinisation because the Normans conquered the islands in 1090, while Christianisation, which was complete by 1250, cut off the dialect from contact with Classical Arabic. Consequently Maltese developed on its own, slowly but steadily absorbing new words from Sicilian and Italian according to the needs of the developing community.

Sources[edit]

  • 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.

External links[edit]

  • Agius, Dionisius A. "Who Spoke Siculo Arabic?", XII Incontro Italiano di Linguistica Camitio-semitica (Afroasiatica), ATTI a cura di Marco Moriggi, Rubbettino 2007.