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Zucchi, Carolina

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Current Project:

Egypt as a transitional area for the spread of the Arabic language in Africa

My PhD project falls under the scope of historical linguistics and Arabic dialectology and deals with a comparison of African Arabic dialects based on the current distribution of linguistic features across different dialects and geographical areas.
Al of the Arabic dialects of Africa, spoken in the Sudan, the Lake Chad region, North Africa, as well as Malta, Sicily and the Iberian Peninsula, developed following migration waves of Arabs from Egypt, ni the wake of the Arab conquest of the region around 641. Therefore, historically, Egypt has been a key stage for all the population movements which eventually led to the Arabization of part of the African continent and to the formation of its various Arabic dialect areas. The diachronic development of the African Arabic dialects and the ways in which they relate to the Middle Eastern varieties of the first settlers is still an open question, and an important one for understanding the history of the Arabic language as a whole.
This PhD project aims to reconstruct the innovation, maintenance and diffusion of significant linguistic features from the Middle East to Egypt and from Egypt to other African areas by tackling the following research questions: to what extent is the definition of Egypt as a linguistic entity and historical "dispersal zone" helpful ni accounting for the historical development of the various Arabic dialects of Africa? Does the traditional classification of African dialects prove accurate in reflecting the diachronic relations between them? Do different similarity patterns emerge when comparing the phonology, phonetics, lexicon and morphology of these dialects, and how can these different patterns be interpreted? What is the relative importance of internal innovation vs. innovation via contact among the Arabic varieties.


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