California Linguistic Notes
Volume XXX No. 1 Spring, 2005
Comparative Glossary of Cypriot Maronite Arabic (Arabic-English) with an Introductory Essay.
By ALEXANDER BORG. Handbook of Oriental Studies, Section 1, Near and Middle East, Vol.
70. Pp. xxviii + 486.
This is the long-awaited comparative lexicon of Cypriot Maronite Arabic (CMA) that Borg
promised in his (1985) book Cypriot Arabic (Stuttgart: Deutsche morgenländische Gesellschaft,
Franz Steiner). It is based on the author=s fieldwork conducted in the early 1980s and in the
summer of 2000 among CMA speakers living in Nicosia. CMA, or as native speakers call it B
sanna >our language= < lis~nna (also arápika) B is an endangered Arabic dialect, to be sure, with
1,300 speakers. They all originally hail from the village of Kormakiti (Turkish Korucam since
1975). Comparative Arabic dialectology is grateful indeed to Borg because this dialect will soon
succumb, since Maronites from villages other than Kormakiti have Greek as their mother tongue.
The foreword (pp. xvii-xxviii) presents information about the peripheral Arabic dialects
that includes the author=s native Maltese (sometimes erroneously referred to as Maltese Arabic),
Anatolian Arabic, Afghan Arabic, Uzbeki Arabic, and Chadian/Nigerian/Cameroonian Arabic
(this latter group has high mutual intelligibility). All of the aforementioned dialects are spoken
outside of the Arab countries per se. Borg rightly points out that Aspeaker competence in peripheral
Arabic [usually: ASK] entails some knowledge of foreign languages@ (p. xix). As he illustrates
with Maltese, many speakers have some knowledge of English, which has replaced Italian (ibid.).
Turning to Borg=s AIntroduction@ (pp. 1-88), it is a splendid essay on the history and
development of CMA, with an exhaustive bibliography (pp. 89-132). Among the most fascinating
lexical retentions are the roots qš) and r(y >see= (pp. 34-35). I agree with the author=s conclusion that,
since the former root is also found in A