Part 47

The current language of sedentary is different from the Mudar

December 30, 2021

The usual form of address used among the urban and sedentary population is not the old Mudar language nor the language of the (present-day) Arab Bedouins.

It is another independent language, remote from the language of the Mudar and from the language of presentday Arab Bedouins. It is more remote from the former (than from the latter).

It is an independent language by itself. The fact is attested by the changes it shows, which grammatical scholarship 1353 considers solecisms. Moreover, it is different in the various cities depending on the differences in terminologies used by their (inhabitants). 1354 The language of the inhabitants of the East differs somewhat from that of the inhabitants of the West. The same applies to the relationship of the language of the Spaniards to either of them. All these people are able to express in their own language whatever they want to express, and to explain their ideas. That is what languages and dialects are for. Loss of the vowel endings does not disturb them, as we have stated in connection with the language of present-day Arab (Bedouins). 1355

The fact that (the language spoken in present-day cities) is more remote from the ancient (Arabic) language than the language of present-day Arab Bedouins is conditioned by the fact that remoteness from the (ancient Arabic) language is due to contact with non-Arabs. More contact with non-Arabs means greater remoteness from the original language. For, as we have stated, a (linguistic) habit results only from instruction, and the (new) habit is a mixture of the ancient (linguistic) habit of the Arabs and the later (acquired linguistic) habit of the non-Arabs. 1356 The longer people listen to non-Arab (speech) and the longer they are brought up in such a condition, the more remote from the ancient habit do they become.

In this connection, one may compare the cities of Ifriqiyah, the Maghrib, Spain, and the East. In Ifriqiyah and the Maghrib, the Arabs had contact with the non-Arab Berbers who constitute the bulk of the population (‘umran) of (those countries). Hardly any city or group was without (Berbers). Therefore, the non-Arab (element) there gained preponderance over the language of the Arabs. Thus, there originated another, mixed language in which the non-Arab (element) was preponderant, for the reasons mentioned. (The language spoken there) is more remote from the ancient language (than other dialects).

Likewise, in the East, the Arabs gained superiority over the Persian and Turkish nations there. They had contact with them. These languages circulated among them in (the speech of) farmers, peasants, and captives whom they used as servants, wet nurses, and foster mothers. Thus, their (linguistic) habit was corrupted. With that, their language (also was corrupted, and) eventually it came to be another language. The same (happened to) the Spaniards in their relations with the non-Arab Galicians and European Christians. The entire urban population of those zones came to speak another language, one peculiar to them and different from the language of the Mudar. It also showed (dialectical) differences within itself, as we are going tomention. 1357 In a way, it was another language (and no longer Arabic), in as much as the habit of it became firmly rooted among those people (in Spain). “God creates whatever He wishes.” 135848. Instruction in the Mudar language. It should be known that the habit of the Mudar language has disappeared and become corrupted at this time. All Arab Bedouins speak a language that differs from the Mudar language in which the Qur’an was revealed. It has become another language through the admixture of non-Arab elements, as we have stated before. 1359

However, since languages are habits, as mentioned before, 1 360 it is possible to learn them like any other habit. The 1361 obvious method of instruction for those who desire to obtain the habit of the ancient (Mudar) language is to acquire expert 1362 knowledge of the linguistic documents (written) in it, such as the Qur’an, the traditions, the speeches in rhymed prose and verse of the ancients and of outstanding Arabs, as well as the statements of (early) men of mixed Arab and non-Arab parentage (muwallad) in all disciplines. Eventually, the student obtains expert knowledge of a great amount of such poetical and prose material. As a result, he is like a person who grew up among the (old speakers of Arabic) and learned from them how to express what he wants to express. 1363 After that, he may try to express his own thoughts with the expressions and in the style they would have used and to follow their ways and word arrangement, of which he has, by now, an expert knowledge. His expert and practical use (of the material) gives him the habit of (the old language). With the increase in (his knowledge and practical use of the material, 1364 his habit) becomes more firmly rooted and stronger.

In addition, the student needs a healthy disposition and a good understanding of the aspirations and ways of the Arabs in (their) word combinations and in (their) efforts that those word combinations should conform to the requirements of the given situation. 1365

Taste attests to the fact that (these things are needed by the student), for it originates as the result of the (existence of the proper linguistic) 1366 habit and of a healthy disposition.

The more the student knows by heart and the more he uses (the material), the better will his utterances in prose and verse turn out to be. The (student) who has obtained these (linguistic) habits knows the Mudar language. He has a critical understanding of what constitutes good style (eloquence) in it. This is how the (Mudar language) must be studied. God “guides whomever He wants to guide.” 1367

49. The habit of the (Mudar) language is different from Arabic philology and can dispense with it in (the process of) instruction.

The 1368 reason for this is that Arabic philology is merely a knowledge of the rules and forms of this habit. It is the knowledge of a quality, 1 369 and not a quality itself. It is not the habit itself. Rather, it is comparable to a person who has a theoretical knowledge of a craft but does not know how to exercise it in practice.

For instance, someone may know all about tailoring but not possess the habit of it. Such a person might explain some of the aspects of tailoring as follows= One introduces the thread into the eye of the needle; one inserts the needle into two pieces of material held together; one brings it out on the other side at such-and-such a distance; returns it to (the side) where he started; brings it out in front of the place where it first went in, so that there is some room between the first two holes. In this way, the person might go on and describe the whole operation and give a description of how to use bands, to quilt, and to cut openings,1370 along with all the other aspects and operations of tailoring. But if he were challenged to do something like the (things he talks about) with his own hands, he would in no way be able to. Likewise, a person who knows about carpentry might be asked about splitting wood. 1371 He would say= One places the saw on top of a piece of wood; one person holds one end of the saw, and another person opposite him the other; the two alternately push and pull, and the sharp teeth of the saw cut the part of the piece of wood over which they pass back and forth, until one gets through the bottom of the wood. If such a person were challenged actually to do it, or some part of it, he might not be able to.

The same applies to the relationship between knowledge of the rules governing the vowel endings and the (linguistic) habit itself. Knowledge of the rules is a knowledge of how to use them, but it is not the actual use of them. Therefore, we find that many outstanding grammarians and skilled Arab philologists who have a comprehensive knowledge of those rules make many mistakes and commit many solecisms when they are asked to write one or two lines to a colleague or friend, or to write a complaint concerning some injustice or anything else they might want to say. They cannot put (the words) together and express what they want to say in a way that corresponds to the ways of the Arabic language. Likewise, we find many people who have a good (linguistic) habit and a good (ability to express themselves in) both prose and poetry, but cannot distinguish between the vowel endings of subject and object, or nominative and genitive, and know nothing about the rules of Arabic philology. This shows that the (linguistic) habit is different from Arabic philology and can completely dispense with it. We find that some scholars who are skilled in the vowel endings have a good knowledge of how it is with the (linguistic) habit. This, however, is rare and a matter of chance. It happens mostly to those (students) who have close contact with the Book of Sibawayh. 1372 For Sibawayh did not restrict himself to the rules governing the vowel endings, but filled his work with Arab proverbs and evidential Arab verses 1373 and expressions. Thus, his work contains a good deal of (thethings that go with) teaching the (linguistic habit).

Therefore, we find that the (students) who apply themselves diligently to (Sibawayh’s Book) and come to know it, learn a good deal of Arab speech (from it). Where, and according to what arrangement, (Arab speech) is properly used becomes impressed in the (student’s) memory and makes him aware of the importance of the (linguistic) habit, with the result that he is taught the habit in its entirety.

Therefore, (Sibawayh’s Book) is more instructive (than any other work). 1374 (However,) some of the (students) who have contact with the Book of Sibawayh fail to realize this. Thus, they learn philology as a craft but do not obtain a (linguistic) habit. Students who have close contact with the books of recent scholars that have nothing of the sort but deal only with grammatical rules and contain no Arab poems or (documents of) Arab speech, for this very reason are rarely conscious of (linguistic) habit or aware of its importance. One finds that they think they have gotten somewhere in knowledge of the Arabic language. In fact, they are farther from it than anyone else.

The Arabic philologists and teachers of Arabic in Spain are closer to acquiring and teaching the (linguistic) habit than others. They use evidential Arab verses and proverbs in this connection and investigate a good deal of (Arabic) word combinations in the classroom. Thus, a good deal of (linguistic) habit comes to the beginners early in (their) instruction. (Their) souls are impressed by it and are prepared to obtain and accept it. Other people, such as the inhabitants of the Maghrib and Ifriqiyah and others, treated Arabic philology like any other research discipline. They did not tolerate investigations of the word combinations of Arab speech. They merely provided an evidential verse with the ending vowels, or decided in favor of one rule (against another), in accordance with theoretical requirements, and not in accordance with the usage and word combinations of the (Arabic) language. With them, 1375 Arabic philology thus came to be, in a way, one of the intellectual norms of logic and dialectics and (thereby) remote from the ways and habit of language. Arabic philologists in these cities and their adjacent regions 1376 thus became totally estranged from the (linguistic) habit, and it was as if they had not studied the Arabic language (at all). 1377 The only reason was their aversion to investigating the evidential verses and word combinations and to making a discerning study of the methods of the (Arabic) language, as well as their disregard for the (necessity of) constant practice of those things by the student. In fact, (to investigate these things) is the best way to teach the habit of the (Arabic) language. The (grammatical) rules are merely means for purposes of instruction. However, (scholars) employed them as they were not intended to be employed, and caused them to become a purely scholarly discipline. 1378 (Thus,) they were deprived of their (real) fruit.

Our remarks in this chapter show that the habit of the Arabic language can be obtained only through expert knowledge of the (documents of) Arab speech. Thereby, the imagination of (the student) will eventually have a picture of the loom on which the Arabs wove their word combinations, so that he can use it himself. Thus, he achieves the position of one who grew up with them and had close personal contact with the ways they expressed themselves in their speech and who, thus, eventually obtains the firm habit of expressing what he wants to express in the manner in which they would have said it. 137 9 God determines all affairs.