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Title: on the problemof shawiihid in arabicgrammaticalthought
Author(s): hamzaqublanal-mazainy
Source: J. King Saud Univ, Vol.10, Art (1) (year 1998), 3-33

Abstract: One of the major issues in traditional Arabic grammatical studies is the problem of shawahid: lines of poetry or prose cited to show the proper usages, or the proper use of rules: grammatical, morphological, phonological, phonetic. It has been claimed, traditionally, that the ancient Arab grammarians greatly limited the scope of their coverage when they collected the examples they used as shawOhid. They relied, it was claimed, on examples they collected from the bedouins in the Arabian Peninsula, especially from those who were far away from the possible linguistic influence of non-Arabs. The examination of what the early Arab grammarians, such as Sibawayh, AI-Khalil and Abu-Amr b. AI-Ala, did in establishing Arabic grammatical studies, shows that this pic-ture is far from depicting their actual practice. It is clear that Sibawayh's al-Kitab is descrip-tive and normative, but the major concern of this work, in fact, is explanatory in nature. Its central aim is to account for the linguistic knowledge of the native Arab speakers. So he did not use the examples that he cited to testify to the usages or rules that he was discussing as examples of correct Arabic that must be followed. But rather, he used them in order to ex-plain the abstract knowledge that underlies the performance of the Arabs. This is far from the traditional picture that takes the shawahid as normative only. The principles that were used in those early Arabic studies to explain the regularities found in the performance of the Arabs are almost similar to modern linguistic theorizing about the underlying principles governing human language. The modern Arabic studies, therefore, should pay attention to the actual practice of the early Arab grammarians, in order to deepen their understanding of the phenomena of language as a whole and Arabic in partic-ular instead of bickering about some minor issues such as who is the best representative of good Arabic speech...

Addresses: department of arabic, college of arts, king saud university, riyadh, saudi arabia..

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