The Arabic dialect of central Palestine
At first sight, the Arabic dialect of central Palestine appears to have been documented sufficiently. On the one hand we have to our disposal Leonhard Bauer's grammar "Das Palästinische Arabisch - Die Dialekte des Städters und des Fellachen" (4. Edition, Leipzig, 1926), containing also a rich chrestomathy, and on the other hand, the beautiful two-volumed anthology of Schmidt/Kahle "Volkserzählungen aus Palästina - gesammelt bei den Bauern von Bir-Zet" (Göttingen 1918/1930).
In the course of my studies - while preparing my M.A. thesis on the dialect of il-Xalīl (Hebron), I met a Palestinian student, whose origins were in a village near Bir Zeit. Although it was not really my area, I asked him to record a story onto tape. The results were astonishing, for in some essential points it diverged from the data given in literature, e.g.:
- No Imala of the feminine ending
- The bound object pronoun of the 3. sing. m. is -a
- The disjunctive pronoun of the 3. sing. is either hûta (mask.) or hîta (fem.).
A few years later, in 1998, I decided to find out more about it and to spend some time researching the rural dialects near Ramallah. Having packed our Fiat with as much as luggage we could manage to get into it, my wife and I arrived in autumn 1998 in the West Bank, and were to stay for a year. We found an apartment in Bīr Zēt and, a lucky coincidence that turned out to be of great value, an assistant, Taḥsīn ʿAlāwnih, who accompanied us to the nearby villages and helped me afterwards listening to the recordings.
During this year I recorded samples of a total of 120 speakers from 68 villages, including villages that were destroyed in 1948 and now form part of Israel, e.g. some nice recordings of an elder woman from famous Dēr Yāsīn. Among the 120 speakers at an average age of 66 years, there were 34 women and 14 Christians.
With support of Professor Werner Arnold and the Fritz Thyssen Foundation finally the texts and a glossary appeared 10 years later as books. A grammar followed as third volume 2013. The bibliographical data of the three volumes are:
Sample Texts (PDF)
Sample Glossary (PDF)
Sample Grammar (PDF)
You can listen to the transcribed texts in the Semitic Language Archives SemArch.
Contact author: firstname.lastname@example.org