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The Islamic Linguistic Tradition: an Overview

Wed, 07 Mar 2012 18:20 in Community Engagement

Where: 3-5 Portland Street, Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, M1 6DP
Date: 07 March 2012
Time: 18:20-20:30
With: Prof James Dickins, Professor of Arabic at the University of Leeds

Abstract

In this talk, I consider the religious and other impetuses behind the development of the Arabic and Islamic grammatical tradition. I look at the origins of Arabic grammar from Al-Farahidi and Sibawayh onwards. I discuss how Arabic grammar became almost a rival to philosophy, leading to a ‘classical’ form of grammar which was both abstract and strove for maximum internal coherence and symmetry. I consider some of the basic features of Arabic rhetoric, and ask whether rhetoric is to be regarded as complementary to grammar, an alternative to it, or something in between. Finally, I look at some of the ways in which Arabic grammar was applied to other languages of the Middle East.

Biography of James Dickins

I studied Arabic and Turkish at the University of Cambridge between 1977 and 1980, and then worked as a teacher of English at a government school in Sudan (1980-1982). I began a PhD in linguistics at the New University of Ulster, completing it at the Heriot-Watt University in Scotland, where I worked as a lecturer in Arabic/English Translation from 1986-1989. Between 1990 and 2005, I was a lecturer at the University of Durham, and from 2005-2010 a senior lecturer and then professor at the University of Salford. Since 2010, I have been Professor of Arabic at the University of Leeds.

I have published books in a number of areas: 1. structural-functional linguistics (Extended Axiomatic Linguistics, 1998), 2. Arabic language teaching (Standard Arabic: an Advanced Course, with Janet Watson, 1999); 3. Arabic>English Translation (Thinking Arabic Translation, with Sandor Hervey and Ian Higgins, 2002); 4. Sudanese Arabic (Sudanese Arabic: Phonematics and Syllable Structure, 2007). I am currently working on a Syntax of Sudanese Arabic.

I have been married for 23 years, and have two children – one aged 22 and the other 18.