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  • Numerals in Arabicgrammatical theory :An impossible questfor consistency ?

    Jean N. Druel



  • Numerals in Arabic grammatical theory:An impossible quest for consistency?

    Proefschriter verkrijging van de graad van doctoraan de Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen

    op gezag van de rector magnificus prof. mr. S.C.J.J. Kortmann,volgens besluit van het college van decanen

    in het openbaar te verdedigen op dinsdag december om . uur precies

    doorJean Nicolas Druel

    geboren op januari te Angers (Frankrijk)

  • Promotor: Prof. dr. C.H.M. Versteegh

    Manuscriptcommissie:Prof. dr. H. Motzki

    Prof. dr. C. Gilliot (Universiteit van Aix-Marseille, Frankrijk)Prof. dr. A. Marogy (Universiteit van Cambridge, Verenigd Koninkrijk)

  • Numerals in Arabic grammatical theory:An impossible quest for consistency?

    Doctoral esisto obtain the degree of doctor

    from Radboud University Nijmegenon the authority of the Rector Magnificus prof. dr. S.C.J.J. Kortmann,

    according to the decision of the Council of Deansto be defended in public on Tuesday, December ,

    at . hours

    byJean Nicolas Druel

    Born on January , in Angers (France)

  • Supervisor: Prof. dr. C.H.M. Versteegh

    Doctoral esis Commiee:Prof. dr. H. Motzki

    Prof. dr. C. Gilliot (University of Aix-Marseille, France)Prof. dr. A. Marogy (University of Cambridge, Great-Britain)

  • mon pre.

  • Contents


    Transliteration conventions

    I Preliminary apters


    Literature review

    . Psychological vs. linguistic approach . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . Prescriptiveness vs. descriptiveness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . Characterising Sbawayhs method . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . Prescriptiveness of post-Sbawayh grammar . . . . . . . . . .

    . e pedagogical turn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . e contact of Greek logic and grammar . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . Mutazilah and grammar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . e closure of the linguistic corpus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . Semantics in post-Sbawayh grammar . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  • II Presentation of the issues linked with the numerals

    Preliminary remarks

    . Explicit grammatical commentaries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . Prime examples . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . Grammatical tests . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . e testimony of canonised tradition . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . Extrapolation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    Numerals in isolation

    . A limited set of roots . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . Many paerns and irregularities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . Coalescence of numerals in compound numerals . . . . . . . .

    . Conjoined numerals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . Morphosyntactic issues linked with numerals . . . . . . . . .

    . Semantic considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    Numerals in the sentence

    . e numerals morphological class . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . Syntactic slots occupied by numerals . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . e special case of aad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    e expression of the counted object

    . e appositional construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . e predicative construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . e annexational construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  • . e specifying construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . Issues related to the counted object . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


    III ree different frames to tale numerals

    Sbawayhs approa to numerals

    . Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . e link with the counted object . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . Between three and nineteen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . e logic at stake in the Kitb . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . Beyond Sbawayh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    Al-Mubarrads approa to numerals

    . Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . Morphology and syntax of numerals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . Expression of definiteness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . Numerals in annexation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . e specifier complement tamyz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . e logic at stake in the Muqtaab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . Beyond al-Mubarrad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    Ibn as-Sarrjs approa to numerals

    . Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . Specifying the numerals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  • . Kam is an unspecified numeral . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . Issues on the numerical specifier and kam . . . . . . . . . . .

    . Compound morphosyntax . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . e logic at stake in the Ul . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . Beyond Ibn as-Sarrj . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    IV Results of the study

    A comparison of the three grammarians

    . Formal differences between the three treatises . . . . . . . . .

    . Example of treatment of specific issues . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . Differences in methodology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


    V Bibliographical references

    VI Annexes

    Index of rnic verses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    Index of poetic lines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    Index of Classical authors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    Index of proper names . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    General index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    List of tables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    Summary in Dutch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    Authors rsum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  • Anowledgments

    is study has been made possible thanks to the help of many people: myfamily, my Dominican brothers and sisters, my friends, my students, and myprofessors. All of them, all of you, have loved me, encouraged me, supportedme, endured my difficult moments, and rejoiced with me in the festive ones.

    From an early age, my parents have strongly encouraged me to study.ey spared no expense or effort to give me the best education and they havealways been there to support me.

    In the Dominican Order, I have received much more than I have brought.My Dominican professors were brothers and masters who sought to handdown wisdom, as much as they did knowledge. is is especially true of thebrothers at the IDEO, our institute in Cairo, where I live and study. It has beenthey who have encouraged me to pursue this doctorate. I would also like tothank the brothers in Jerusalem who have welcomed me in the final stage ofthis study andwho have provided a peaceful and studious environment whereI have been able to put my ideas together. Lastly, I would like to thank thebrothers in Lille who have welcomed me during my visits to Nijmegen.

    My friends have endured my lack of time and freedom, but they havealways supported me and encouraged me to give my best. I especially feelindebted to all of those of them who have not had the chance to pursue theirown education.

    My students have always been an inspiration to me. ey have forced meto present my ideas in a simple and convincing way. My only regret is that Ihave not had enough time to teach in the last two years.

    Last, but not least, I would like to thank the professors who have helpedme, inspired me, taught me integrity, and been an example. At the riskof forgeing someone, I would like to especially mention Prof. ChristianCannuyer (Lille), Vincent Holzer (Paris), Nabila al-Assyouti (Cairo), Alaa

  • Elgibali (U. of Maryland), Zeinab Ibrahim (Cairo), el-Said Badawi (Cairo),Zeinab Taha (Cairo), Khaled Fahmi (al-Manfiyyah), Yishai Peled (Tel Aviv),Shmuel Moreh (Jerusalem), Simon Hopkins (Jerusalem), and Ramzi Baalbaki(Beirut).

    e project of this study was born in the aermath of my master degreein teaching Arabic as a foreign language at the American University in Cairo.I began to read Classical Arabic grammarians with Dr. Zeinab Taha, and wasfascinated by the refinement of the interpretative layer these grammarianswere adding to the description of the language itself. Aer losing some timein a subject that was far too difficult for me (namely, variant readings of thern), I turned to the grammar of numerals. At first, I expected to not onlyunderstand why numerals behave the way they do in Arabic, but also to findsome linguistic variation with time.

    In the end, I discovered that the numerical system, as complicated asit seems, has not varied much since the first centuries of Islam. However,the grammarians interpretations of the reasons behind the way numeralsbehave have varied a lot between the IInd/VIIIth and the IVth/Xth centuries.What we teach to Arabic students today largely reflects the IVth/Xth centuryera of grammatical interpretation. I hope this limited study will help bothscholars and students understand what happened to numerals in the earlydevelopment of Arabic grammar.

  • Transliteration conventions

    e romanization system that will be used in this paper is the same as in theEncyclopedia of Arabic language and linguistics (Versteegh b, viii) with thefollowing differences for the ending vowels and t marbah:

    e t marbahwill be romanized as a h at the pause and as a t elsewhere,as in madrasah and madrasatun mahratun). e alif maqrah will beromanized as an in id, and as an in a.

    s l b m t n h j w or y or x d f h or t r q z k

    Table : Transliteration system

  • Part I

    Preliminary apters

  • Chapter


    e chapters on the syntax of numerals are among the strangest in ClassicalArabic grammar, because of the incredible number of syntactic rules thatapply, in particular in the expression of the counted object: numerals andcounted object either agree or disagree in gender and number, numerals areeither annexable or not, expression of definiteness is far from straightforward,and so on. In addition to these syntactic rules, numerals also have differentmorphosyntactic behaviour: some have adjectival paerns, others have nom-inal, participial, compound, dual, external masculine plural paerns, some aredeclinable, others are indeclinable, among other issues.

    Lastly, the expression of the counted object is also problematic. Here is asummary of the main rules that apply in Classical Arabic:

    One and two are adjectives that agree in number and gender with theircounted objects, as in waladun widun one boy and waladni nni twoboys in the independent form, and maa bintayni natayni with two girlsin the oblique form.

    Between three and ten, it is possible to annex the numeral to its coun-ted object, as in alatu awldin three boys (annexational construction).It is also possible to use the numeral in an adjectival slot, as in al-awldualatun the boys are three (predicative construction), and al-awldu -

    See Howell (/, IV, ); Wright (, I, ; II, ); Fleisch (,I, ).

    e three nominal cases have received different names in English: nominative, accusativeand genitive; u-form, a-form, and i-form; independent, dependent and oblique forms. We willuse this third set.


    alatu the three boys (appositional construction). In all three cases, thenumeral carries a final t marbah when it counts masculine nouns, and notwhen it counts feminine nouns. e counted object is in a plural form in allcases.

    Between eleven and nineteen, there are also three possible construc-tions in order to express the counted object: alataaara waladan thirteenboys (specifying construction), al-awldu alataaara the boys are thir-teen (predicative construction), and al-awldu -alataaara the thirteenboys (appositional construction). Compound numerals are made of two partsthat disagree in gender, except for eleven (aadaaara and idarata)and twelve (inaara and inatarata), where both parts agree ingender. All compound numerals are invariable in both parts, except twelvethat takes the dual declension in its first part (inaara and inayaara).e counted object is in the singular in the specifying construction, and in theplural otherwise.

    Between twenty and ninety, one can express the counted object inthe same three constructions as with compound numerals: irna waladantwenty boys (specifying construction), al-awldu irna the boys aretwenty (predicative construction), and al-awldu l-irna the twenty boys(appositional construction). Decades have the same form to count masculineand feminine nouns. Just like with compound numerals, the counted objectis in the singular in the specifying construction, and in the plural otherwise.

    With one hundred and one thousand, one can express the countedobject in the same three construction as with numerals between threeand ten: miatu waladin one hundred boys and alfu waladin one thou-sand boys (annexational construction); al-awldu miatun the boys area hundred and al-awldu alfun the boys are a thousand (predicativeconstruction); and al-awldu l-miatu the hundred boys and al-awldu l-alfu the thousand boys (appositional construction). Miah and alf are usedto count masculine and feminine nouns. e counted object is in the singularin the annexational construction, and in the plural otherwise.

    A specific difficulty arises from the fact that miah and alf can also becounted, between two and nine for the former, and with no limit for thelaer, as in alu miati waladin three hundred boys and alatu lfiwaladin three thousand boys. In this case, miah and alf follow the rulesmentioned above, except that miah remains in the singular aer three tonine.

    It appears from what precedes that the annexational and specifyingconstructions are in a complementary distribution for the expression of the

  • counted object between three and one thousand. is point is at thecore of the discussions on numerals in the Arabic grammatical tradition.Grammarians try to explain why compound numerals and decades are notannexable. Other issues do not receive as much aention.

    More difficulties arise from the fact that ideally all numerals should beinterchangeable in order to express any quantity of any counted object. Whatis more, all nominal groups consisting of a numeral and its counted objectshould also ideally be able to occupy any syntactic slot that the counted objectcan occupy in the sentence.

    is large syntactic and morphological diversity contrasts with a remark-able semantic unity: Numerals express an exact countable quantity, applicableto objects that are either counted (cardinals) or classified (ordinals). Althoughit is possible to discern some semantic diversity among numerals, commonsense has no difficulty to understand that there is an obvious semantic linkbetween expressions like first, four, twenty men, to triple, one eighthor three thousand years.

    What is more, this semantic unity is clearly the reason why there arechapters devoted to numerals in Arabic grammars and especially to theexpression of the counted object. Otherwise, there would be no justificationfor grammarians to discuss in the same chapters substantives and adjectivesthat behave so differently.

    In otherwords, numerals display at the same time a greatmorphosyntacticdiversity and a great semantic unity. Because of this particularity, we believethat the way Arabic grammarians tackle the grammar of numerals revealstheir approach to the link between formal and functional grammar, i.e.,the way they articulate morphosyntactic and semantic dimensions of thelanguage they study.

    To put it in an oversimplified way, there seems to be twomajor trends thatoppose historians of Arabic grammar. On the one hand, some of them insiston the fact that the history of Arabic grammar is the history of its gradualformalisation, at the expense of its functional and communicative dimension,which relegates semantic studies to separate fields of Arabic philology suchas rhetorics and rnic exegesis (Carter, Baalbaki). Contrary to this view,other historians of Arabic grammar hold that Arabic grammarians showa growing interest in semantics that is manifest in the categories used todescribe the language, either just aer Sbawayh (Owens, h) or aerthe confrontation between grammar and Greek logic (Bohas, Guillaume,Kouloughli).


    e present study aims to show, through a detailed analysis of theevolution of the grammar of numerals between the IInd/VIIIth and the IVth/Xth

    century, that these two views are equally true because they describe twoconcomitant phenomena. Our research hypothesis is that there is, on theone hand, a progressive reduction into formal rules of a communicationaldescriptive grammar that once focused on the intention of the speaker and theunderstanding of the interlocutor, while there is, on the other hand, a gradualintroduction of formal semantic criteria in grammatical definitions, aimingat a one-to-one correspondence between syntactic structures and meaningsexpressed.

    In this study, we will focus on three major grammarians, namely Sba-wayh (d. /), al-Mubarrad (d. /), and Ibn as-Sarrj (d. /).Aer a literature review covering the last forty years of academic researchin the methodology of Arabic grammarians in these centuries (chapter ), wewill present in detail all the morphological, morphosyntactic and semanticissues linked with numerals described by Arabic grammarians (chapters to). We will then focus on the way these three authors account or not for theinner consistency of these issues within their grammatical methodologicalframes (chapters to ). Finally, in chapter , based on the way these threegrammarians deal with numerals, we will be able to check our hypothesis thatthe search for consistency in the linguistic behaviour of numerals moves froma functional to a formal dimension of semantics.

    See in annex, p. , a table of the Classical authors cited in this study, sorted by their dateof death. See also p. the index of proper names, sorted alphabetically.

  • Chapter

    Literature review: e linksbetween semantics and

    syntax in the Arabicgrammatical tradition


    Medieval Arab historians who wrote the history of grammatical ideas co-terminously with the descriptive writings, as Owens (a, ) puts it,present contrasting views on this history. ey tend to describe the diversitywithin this grammatical tradition in a way that leaves lile space to histor-ical development as such, focusing instead on perceived mahib schoolsand excluding dissenting voices, or treating them in a caricaturesque andanachronic way (Carter , ).

    is surprising synchronic way of writing history corresponds to thestrictly synchronic approach that Medieval Arabic grammarians themselveshave toward language (Versteegh , ). ese conjoined phenomenamake the diachronic syntax of Arabic [] a hard nut to crack, as Dvnyi(, ) puts it.

    Bohas, Guillaume, and Kouloughli summarise this typically scholasticscholarship, which reinforces the impression of homogeneity of the tradition:


    Of course, the commentator could always express his disagreement on some point oranother with the author upon whom he commented, but then, as the general systembecame more and more elaborate, all the possible solutions to a given problem wereeventually worked out, together with the argumentation for and against every solution,so the only way one could disagree with somebody on some point was to acceptsomebody elses position on this point (Bohas, Guillaume, and Kouloughli /,).

    Since the nineteenth century, historians of Arabic grammar have triedto critically understand this tradition, at times deconstructing the traditionalviews (Weil b is an early example of this trend) and at times acceptingit at face value. Gradually, the availability of more edited texts has made itpossible for scholars to study specific issues in the development of the Arabicgrammatical tradition.

    Among the early editions made according to modern standards are thefollowing works: the grammatical anthology by Silvestre de Sacy (); Ibnal-Anbrs Inf (partially edited by Kout , then by Weil b); al-Astarbs ar al-Kfiyah () ; az-Zamaxars Mufaal (Broch );Sbawayhs Kitb (Derenbourg /); Ibn al-Anbrs Asrr al-ara-biyyah (Seybold ); Ibn Yas ar al-Mufaal (around ); and as-Sr-s Axbr an-nawiyyn (Krenkow ), to mention only themost importantones.

    As for the early studies in the history of Arabic grammar, we find a greatdiversity of topics studied: Goldziher (/) studies the link betweenArabic grammar, law and orthodoxy; Vernier () publishes a grammarbased on grammatical sources; Machuel () studies grammatical termi-nology; Wei () studies Aristotelian influences in Arabic grammar; Weil(b), mentioned above, deconstructs the traditional view of the competingschools of Kfah and Barah; Weil () studies the grammatical methodsas such; Beck () focuses on specific grammatical issues; Muaf ()investigates the identity of the first grammarian; Reuschel () aempts toqualify al-Xalls (d. /) influence on his pupil Sbawayh (d. /);and ayf () studies the grammatical schools.

    ese topics will be discussed extensively in the next decades, along withnew topics such as the Greek influence onArabic grammar, the link betweengrammar and rnic exegesis, the Bedouin informants of the grammarians,diglossia, the identity of the nawiyyn in the Kitb, to name only the mainissues, some of them under discussion until the present day.

    In this literature review, we will focus on the studies published aer theseventies and contributing to the issue of the grammatical methods used by

    e introduction (pp. ) is published separately in Weil (a).

  • .. Psychological vs. linguistic approach

    Arabic grammarians. As we will see in detail below, scholars have triedto characterise the methods of Arabic grammarians as being descriptiveor prescriptive, functional or formal, communicative, structural, semantic,speculative, pedagogical, logical, juridical, aiming at consistency, subdividingcategories or aiming at a limited set of rules, and so on. Some scholars havealso pointed out the artificiality of applying some of these criteria to theArabic grammatical tradition.

    Another issue, which is not discussed as such in the secondary literature,is the periodisation of the Arabic grammatical tradition. Bohas, Guillaume,and Kouloughli (/) separate between a formative period until theend of the IIIth/IXth century, an apogee in the IVth/Xth century, and a maturityand decline period until the Xth/XVIth century. Versteegh (b) believesthat Sbawayh inaugurates a shi in the grammatical tradition, and so dothe contact of logical doctrines with grammar at the end of the IIIrd/IXth

    century and the works of al-Jurjn in the Vth/XIth century (Versteegh ,b). Owens () and h () consider Ibn as-Sarrj to be a turningpoint between early and later grammarians. Baalbaki () divides thegrammatical tradition into three periods, pre-Sbawayh, Sbawayh, and post-Sbawayh. Carter () discerns four stages in the Arabic grammaticaltradition: before Sbawayh; Sbawayh; from Sbawayh to Ibn as-Sarrj; andaer Ibn as-Sarrj. Since our study focuses on Sbawayh, al-Mubarrad and Ibnas-Sarrj, we will not consider in this review the pre-Sbawayh grammaticalmethods and we will not consider grammarians aer the VIth/XIIth or VIIth/XIIIth


    Before reviewing these issues, we would like to introduce a distinctionthat will help us understand many of the subsequent questions posed by themethods of the Arabic grammarians, namely, the dichotomy between lafand man, which we can for the time being translate as uerance andmeaning.

    . Psyological vs. linguistic approa

    Kouloughli () has received lile aention in the literature and we wouldlike to present his view here in detail. In this article, the author proposesa new understanding of the couple laf and man and its meaning in theArabic tradition, where it has a central position in all the disciplines that areconcerned with language and texts, such as grammar, rhetorics, and poetry.He proves that this pair of terms refers to different notions depending on thecontext and the epoch when it is used. He opposes two extreme views of the


    meanings that these two terms have in the Arabic tradition, being consciousthat this is a distorted presentation and that authors are actually situatedsomewhere between these two extremes. e interest of this presentationis that it enables us to understand clearly what is at stake before we considerthe continuum. At one end of the continuum is a psychological approach andat the other end a linguistic one.

    La premire [problmatique] qui a ses racines dans ce qui semble tre le sol primitif des reprsentations arabes sur le discours et ses fonctions et devrait en consquencetre la clef de lecture de la grande majorit des textes anciens, est essentiellement uneproblmatique psychologique, fonde sur une conception intentionaliste du man etcaractrise par labsence de relation fonctionnelle (cest--dire biunivoque) entre lafet man.

    La seconde qui nait de manire progressive et diffuse, et trouve son expression la plusaboutie dans les travaux de Abd al-Qhir al-urn (XIe sicle), est une problmatiquelinguistique, fonde sur une conception conventionaliste du terme man et marquantlavnement dune vision fonctionnelle de la relation laf/man (Kouloughli ,).

    According to the psychological approach, man is not an object, noteven an intellectual one, but an activity: man, en tant que nom dac-tion [] du verbe an/yan signifie donc primitivement le fait-de-viser (Kouloughli , ). He bases this interpretation on a text by Ab Hillal-Askar (d. /). In this sense, it is not possible to speak of the manof a particular concept but of an uerance. It is possible to express manby different means: signs (irah), wrien texts (xa), counting on fingers(uqad) and through the situation itself (nabah). is means that man isnot primarily aached to the uerance but to the uerer, and more preciselyto his intention (Kouloughli , ).

    In this frame, laf is not an isolated word but the uerance, understoodas the totality of the linguistic sign, signifier and signified, and not only thesignifier. is is the natural consequence of the fact that man does not referto the signified, leaving it to the laf to assume both the signified and thesignifier (Kouloughli , ).

    e result of this situation is that the same man can be expressedby different al and that the same laf can express different man sothat ce quil y a de commun ces deux cas de figure, cest lide dune indtermination de la relation laf/man en tant que telle (Kouloughli, ), hence the many rnic variant readings, dialectal and poeticvariants, and the fact that language is fundamentally perceived as equivocal.

    According to Ab Hill, there is some sort of residual man in the lafitself, just like when a parrot uers a word. e parrot does not intend

  • .. Psychological vs. linguistic approach

    anything, so that it expresses no authenticman. However, there is a signifiedembedded in the parrots uerance. is showswell how laf can both assumethe signified and the signifier, without being an authentic man understoodas the psychological intention of the uerer, or, in other words, le laf, entant quil est un instrument pour signifier les intentions se trouve, en quelquesorte indirectement, investi de man (Kouloughli , ).

    At the other end of the continuum is what Kouloughli calls the linguisticapproach to the opposition laf vs. man, which is best represented by al-Jurjn (d. /). His research onrnic ijz inimitability led him tothe fundamental discovery that there is a strict correlation between a minimalvariation in form and a minimal variation in meaning of uerances that areotherwise similar (Kouloughli , ).

    Al-Jurjn thus had to redefine the terms man and laf. If a minimaldifference in laf implies a difference in the meaning perceived by the listener/ reader, and if one supposes that there is an intention behind this minimaldifference in laf, as must be the case with a qualified uerer, then one hasto conclude that the intention of the uerer is stictly correlated to the laf hewill use to express it and that, in other words, the semantic value of this laf isnothing else than the man intended by the uerer (Kouloughli , ).

    is shi introduced by al-Jurjn practically reduces the laf to thesignifier, a mere sequence of sounds, and gathers in the man both thesignified and the intention of the uerer. e consequence of this shi is thatdifferent al cannot have the same man any more because a differencein laf reveals a different intention of the uerer. Another consequence ofthis shi is that there is a one-to-one relationship between laf and man,which also implies that the intention of the uerer can be accessed throughthe uerance.

    Early grammarians kept themselves primarily busy with laf, understoodas the linguisticmanifestation ofman, i.e., signifier and signified. Koulough-li (, ) adds that this is how one should understand the definition thatArabic grammarians give of their discipline as technique du laf (inahlafiyyah), which has too oen been understood as an exclusive interest insignifiers. In this psychological approach, the man of an uerance is notthe lieral meaning of the uerance but its communicative value.

    Kouloughli (, ) goes on saying that the grammatical traditionhas progressively evacuated the communicative and functional aspects oflanguage from its scope, focusing on formal aspects of language because of anempire tyrannique de la thorie du marquage casuel (amal) that has finallydictated the structure of grammatical treatises.


    e author is clear that these two approaches of the relationship betweenlaf and man, psychological vs. linguistic, are caricatures of two extremepositions and that each author has a particular stand on a continuum thatgoes from one extreme to another. is will help us formulate our hypothesisin a more specific way: What is at stake in the evolution of the grammar ofnumerals from Sbawayh to Ibn as-Sarrj is the beginning of this progressiveshi from a psychological understanding of the couple laf vs. man to alinguistic understanding.

    Frank () also deals with meaning among grammarians between theIInd/VIIIth and the VIIIth/XIVth century. Unfortunately, he does not aim at ahistorical perspective of what meaning means. According to him, in thesources he studied, meaning refers primarily to two different things, ) thepurpose or aim (al-qadu) of the speaker, what he wishes (arda, yurdu) orintends (qaada, yaqidu) by his uerance and ) the equivalent restatement orthe analytic paraphrase of it (Frank , ). In these two meaningswe can recognise Kouloughlis psychological and linguistic man, but in away that is maybe more difficult to exploit further.

    In a more specific way, Frank identifies four types of meanings in gram-matical works of the first four centuries of Islam: . Meaning as the intentof the sentence, i.e., the intention or purpose of the speaker in making hisuerance. [] . e meaning of a noun or a verb as its referent. []. Meaning as the semiotic equivalent [rephrasing or tawl]. [] . Meaningas the content or conceptual significate of a word, phrase, or sentence (Frank, ). He adds that these meanings are found in three domains asthey exist in three basic modes: in the mind (f l-qalbi, f -amri) as mentalor as psychological acts, in words as linguistic or semiotic entities, and in theworld as referents (Frank , ).

    It is true however that the problem [of what is a formal theory ofmeaning] seems not to have posed itself and it is hardly required for us toaempt to formulate a theory for them, forcing the texts to answer a questionthey do not raise and, more pertinently, the answer to which is not needed forour understanding of their responses to the questions they do raise (Frank, ), but does this mean that one cannot try to understand in whatdirection grammarians have evolved? e relevance of Kouloughlis approachas compared to Franks is that it includes the second term laf, enabling adynamic view of the evolution of the Arabic tradition.

    Ayoub () expresses the same idea as Kouloughli, whom she does notquote, in different terms. For her, it is too simplistic to oppose form andmeaning and pretend that Sbawayhs Kitb focuses only on form:

  • .. Psychological vs. linguistic approach

    Lopposition pertinente pour entendre les propos du Livre dans leur juste rsonnancenest point forme/sens, mais forme/substance: Le sens lui-mme se prte la forme.Ou, dit autrement, le formel dans le Livre inclut, la fois, le syntaxique et le smantique(Ayoub , ).

    We can recognise Kouloughlis intuition that laf gathers both the sig-nifier and the signified in early grammars, which means that what she callssubstance could be equated with the intention of the speaker. We willcome back later to Ayoubs article, whose main focus is on the theory of amal(syntactic and semantic) operation in the Kitb.

    More recently, Versteegh (b, ) has also dealt in detail with the issueof the changing meaning of the couple laf vs. man. He firstly recognizes,like Frank, that the grammatical tradition lacks clear definitions of the termman, and that most Arabic grammarians took the meaning of man forgranted, relying on their common sense.

    is leads him to the same conclusion as Kouloughli (), namelythat these two definitions represent two different approaches towards thesemantic component of speech (Versteegh b, ), either as the intentionof the speaker, who uses speech to express what he has in mind, or assomething inherent in speech itself, which can be brought out by a processof interpretation by an exegete or a linguist (Versteegh b, ). Heimmediately adds that these two approaches do not exclude one another,even if the Islamic tradition kept the two disciplines apart, so that it could,for instance, be said of a scholar that he did well in grammar but knewnothing about lexicology. Because of this division of tasks the contribution ofArabic lexicography towards the development of a semantic theory is small(Versteegh b, ). It seems, however, that Versteegh does not insist asmuch as Kouloughli on the evolution that is at stake in the shi from oneparadigm to another, and that is at the heart of our research question.

    We would like to reproduce here the sixteen different possible aspectsof meaning that are listed by Versteegh (b, ) and that will helpus add some clarity in the debate about the role of semantics in the Arabicgrammatical tradition, taking the risk described above by Frank to [force]the texts to answer a question they do not raise, basically because texts donot raise the question of the evolution of grammatical theories:

    linked with the speaker:. the intention of the speaker or his purpose in making an uerance (related termsmaqd, qad, murd, niyya, all meaning intention)


    linked with the message:. the message which the hearer extracts from the speech (related term mafhmwhat is understood). the equivalent of an expression or uerance, i.e., its interpretative analysis orparaphrase (related terms tafsr, tawl, both meaning explanation). the motif or theme of a poem (related term ara purpose). the intent or the mood of the sentence (especially in the phrase man l-kalmmeanings of speech). the communicative purpose of speech (related term ida advantage)

    linked with the extra-linguistic world:. the referent in the extra-linguistic world (related term musamm what isnamed). the intrinsic causal determinant of accidents in physical objects, or qualifier (inMutazilite thinking, related term illa cause)

    linked with thought:. the conceptual correlate of a word, phrase or sentences. the essential qualities of an object that are perceived by the mind in the sense ofthe Aristotelian forma. abstract correlate of physical objects in the sense of Platonic ideas

    linked with the linguistic sign:. the semantic content of a set of radicals, its lexical meaningful. the underlying structure of a surface sentence (related terms al origin,principle, taqdr assigning). the function of a morphological or syntactic category (related term mawiposition). abstract notion (vs. concrete notion, in the expression ismman abstract nounvs. ism ayn concrete noun). that for which an expression has been established (in the theory of the waal-lua imposition of speech)

    As for the term laf, Versteegh simply says that it always indicatesa physical correlate of whatever man stands for (Versteegh b, ).Unlike Kouloughli, Versteegh does not explicitly mentions the possibilitythat laf could assume some of the semantic aspects mentioned above. InKouloughlis psychological paradigm, man refers only to the first aspectof Versteeghs categorisation, which we will note [m. ], and laf not onlyassumes the physical correlate of the intention (the actual uerance) but alsoVersteeghs [m. ] to [m. ], i.e., the semantic aspects linked with the actualuerance. As for Kouloughlis linguistic paradigm, man refers to bothVersteeghs [m. ] and [m. ], and laf to their physical correlate, theactual uerance.

    In this study, we propose to follow Versteeghs definition of laf asthe physical correlate of whatever man stands for and to focus on theevolution of the different dimensions of man. From now on, we will refer

  • .. Prescriptiveness vs. descriptiveness

    to intentional semantics [m. ], communicative semantics [m. ], extra-linguistic semantics [m. ], cognitive semantics [m. ] and formalsemantics [m. ]. ese can be further grouped into intersubjective,pragmatic semantics [m. ] and objective, formal semantics [m. ].

    Although this classification of Versteegh primarily aims to distinguish thedifferent meanings the term man takes in Arabic Classical texts, we will useit to characterise the different dimensions of semantics involved in ClassicalArabic grammar treatises.

    Accepting the risk of systematising things too much, we can representmore precisely what is at stake in Kouloughlis view of the evolution of thepsychological dialectic man [m. ] vs. laf [incl. m. ] towards thelinguistic dialectic man [m. .] vs. laf.

    With this classification of meanings, we wish to trace the evolution ofthe equilibrium between laf and man in the Arabic grammatical tradition,as studied by modern scholarship in the last forty years because we believethat this is the key to understanding the evolution of this tradition and thatmodern scholarship is not always clear on its use of the term meaning:

    From the point of view of the historiographer the most fascinating aspect of thedevelopment of the science of language in the Arabic world is the perseverance ofthe dichotomy of laf/man in spite of a constantly changing perspective in the useof man. [] It is surprising how easily the term meaning is oen used withoutany specification in studies on linguistic theory or speech production (Versteegh b,).

    Let us now consider the different issues that contemporary scholars havetackled in order to describe and evaluate the Arabic grammatical tradition.Our review of the literaturewill cover scholarly research done since the seven-ties, and focus on the grammatical methods that characterise the grammaticaltradition, mainly in the four centuries aer Sbawayh.

    . Prescriptiveness vs. descriptiveness

    It seems that Peterson is the first contemporary author to have tackledthe issue of prescriptiveness and descriptiveness in the Arabic grammaticaltradition. He writes that it is fair to say that the Arab grammarians wereprimarily descriptive in their methods and prescriptive in their intention(Peterson , ). He justifies his position by saying that the formalism

    One can also account for Bohas distinction between man I [m. ] and II [m. ] (Bohas, ). See Versteegh (b, ) for the application of [m. ] to man II.


    that Fleisch () charges themwith can beer be compared to structuralism,in the sense that most twentieth-century linguistics, including generative-transformational approaches, is structuralist (Peterson , ). In otherwords, they combine surface formalism in their definitions and abstractanalyses of deeper levels. In this sense, he adds, Arab grammarians are notin any sense merely descriptive. Unfortunately, this description, just likemany further quotations we will discuss, shows lile interest in historicaldevelopments, as Peterson tends to generalise his judgement to the wholetradition.

    In a more historical perspective, Carter characterises the shi that he seesin post-Sbawayh grammar. He opposes the Kitb to Baran grammar as itdeveloped in Badd aer Sbawayh:

    Le caractre essentiel de grammaire barienne rigidement formelle et impitoyable-ment prescriptive provient de l islamisation de leur discipline propre par lesgrammairiens de Bagdad qui, en purant slectivement le contenu du Kitb, crrentexactement le type de systme grammatical visant la justification interne que lIslamaendait deux (Carter b, ).

    In another formulation, he writes that llment descriptif de la gram-maire du second sicle (celle que lon trouve dans le Kitb) fut virtuellementlimin lorsque la grammaire se trouva infode aux besoins de lIslam ausicle suivant (Carter b, ). e same ideas on the islamicisation ofgrammar are again expressed in Carter (, ).

    Apparently, Carter is the only scholar to address frontally the link betweenIslam at large and grammar. A few years later he summarises his views bysaying that the close interdependence of Arabic grammar and the Islamicreligion is already well known, both with regard to the origins of grammaticalscience and its application in dogma, exegesis and law (Carter , ).As we will see below, other scholars limit their research to the field oflaw and exegesis, where terminological and methodological influence can beperceived.

    Carter does not hesitate to call Baran grammar, as opposed to Sbawayh,pedantic and sterile (Carter b, ), an accusation that is also adressedby Baalbaki (, ; and a, ) to most grammarians aer al-Mu-barrad and Ibn as-Sarrj.

    According to Carter, post-Sbawayh Baran grammarians are not to blamefor this shi in their methods. ey applied their undeniable intelligenceto what the Sunna asks them to do, namely restaurer sans relche les loisternelles rgissant une langue parfaite (Carter b, ). As for Kfangrammarians, he believes that their works rarely rise above the level of

  • .. Prescriptiveness vs. descriptiveness

    controversy and ad hominem arguments (Carter b, ). Insisting oncemore on this post-Sbawayh change in grammatical methods, Carter (/,) writes that these games [such as the proper name test] mark theprofound shi in direction which grammar underwent as it changed from adescriptive to a prescriptive discipline.

    Baalbaki presents a more subtle view of the equilibrium between descrip-tiveness and prescriptiveness of Arabic grammar, especially in Sbawayhswork, saying that it manages at the same time to be descriptive and tomanipulate and evaluate aested usages in order to reveal the underlyingharmony of the language (Baalbaki , ).

    In a more specific way, Baalbaki (, ) adds that the manipulationof linguistic material to discover the major principles according to whichlanguage works must not be considered as an element of a prescriptiveapproach by SBAWAYHI, as he uses it only to describe the language, withoutimposing unaested data, or using his conclusions to promote particularuerances at the expense of others.

    Versteegh seems to be following another path when he writes about theunderlying rules in the language that it is the task of the grammarian todetermine those rules, and thus to codify the inner system of speech, in otherwords, to unravel the secrets of the Arabic language (asrr al-arabiyya)(Versteegh , ). His thought becomes clearer, as far as the debateover prescriptiveness and descriptiveness is concerned when he writes aboutSbawayh that il nest pas dans son intention de donner une description dela langue arabe, et encore moins une grammaire prescriptive, mais il veut,au contraire, expliquer les faits linguistiques, tels quil les rencontre dans lekalm al-Arab (Versteegh , ). A few years later, he develops the sameidea about the specific task that grammarians have, namely, explaining theunderlying rules of the language, not to codify them (Versteegh b, ).

    Grammarians are thus looking for reasons that explain why Arabs speakthe way they actually and spontaneously do. is is linked, in Versteeghsview, to the origin of grammar, which grew out of the preoccupationsof the early Islamic scholars with the text of the rn, particularly theexegetical interpretation, rather than the analysis of the various readings (as[he] supposed elsewhere, Versteegh ) (Versteegh c, ).

    See below, p. , about these grammatical is also valid, according to Versteegh, for variant readings of the rn. Sbawayh can

    reject uncompromisingly all non-canonical variant readings even if they have a beer standingin Arabic, and this, according to the underlying principle that the existing has the preference overthe theoretical (Versteegh , ).


    It is in this explanatory frame that Versteegh comments on Sbawayhsuse of qiys:

    In the Kitb Sbawayhi made very clear that in this respect he did not share the opinionof his Basran predecessors: unlike them he did not use analogy (qiys) as an instrumentto measure the correctness of speech or even as a method for the production of newanalogical forms. For Sbawayhi analogy was only an explanatory device with whichthe correctness of linguistic theories rather than linguistic forms could be gauged(Versteegh b, ).

    Bohas (, ) seems to agree with Versteeghs theory of the Arabicgrammatical tradition as a explanative corpus of the language of the Arabs,but he goes a step further when he writes, based on his reading of Ibn JinnsXai, that the background aim of Arabic grammarians is to prove the uniqueand exceptional position of the Arabic language, in which the word of Godwas revealed.

    Finally, Bohas, Guillaume, and Kouloughli criticise the superficial dicho-tomy that the oppostion between descriptiveness and prescriptiveness coverswhen applied to a presumed shi in the Arabic grammatical tradition aerSbawayh. Rather, they say that Sbawayhs aim is twofold: to teach howto speak the language of the Arabs correctly and to enjoy the knowledgeof the language, as well as the prestige aached to this knowledge (Bohas,Guillaume, and Kouloughli , ).

    Aer , the opposition between prescriptiveness and descriptiveness isnot used to characterise the change in grammatical methods aer Sbawayh.In other words, scholars agree that grammatical methods change aer Sba-wayh but this change does not primarily lie in a shi from descriptiveness toprescriptiveness, except for Levin () and Carter (, ).

    . Characterising Sbawayhs method

    .. e ethical theory

    Scholars have endeavoured to characterise Sbawayhs grammatical methodsin terms that would be less caricaturesque than in the early period of Westernscholar activity. Carter () was a pioneer in a direction that other scholarstook aer him, namely, the legal origin of Sbawayhs method.

    In the same spirit [as in Itkonen , ], unscientific though it may be, I can alsorecord my own sense of relief and exhilaration on discovering (through a hint froma much later grammarian) that Sbawayhis Kitb became immediately comprehensiblewhen read like an th-century legal text (Carter b, ).

  • .. Characterising Sbawayhs method

    Primarily, this hypothesis of Carter was his contribution to the debate onthe origin of the grammatical tradition itself, and on the Greek hypothesisin particular, which kept Western scholars busy in the seventies and earlyeighties. We will not deal here with this debate as such, see Talmon (,) and Baalbaki (b, xx) for a detailed account of this debate and itsantecedent in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

    Carter describes Sbawayhs aitude toward language as being as far aspossible from a logical phenomenon, namely, a form of human behaviour:

    Loin dtre lexpression de principes logiques, le langage est, pour Sbawayhi, exacte-ment le contraire, cest--dire une forme de comportement humain. On ne pourraitgure trouver de contraste plus grand entre approches linguistiques que celui qui spareSbawayhi des Grecs du fait que, si la logique est la fois abstraite et absolue, lecomportement humain est concret et conventionnel (Carter a, ).

    e consequence of this ethical view is that Sbawayh is compelledto treat words as people, having rights and duties (Carter a, ). elinguistic criteria developed by Sbawayh are thus, in Carters theory, theprolongation of moral and juridical criteria, which leads him to write that lesquatre critres de rectitude linguistique sont tirs directement de la morale :ce sont asan, qab, mustaqm et mul, dans leur sens liral respectif de bon , mauvais , juste et faux (Carter a, ).

    Faithful to his view of the structural links between grammar and Islam,Carter (a, ) explains in more detail his interpretation of Sbawayhsmethod: Sbawayh regarded speech as a form of human behaviour, and hestudies the different ways people speak, just like ways of behaving. ehypothesis of Carter is that naw way is a back-formation from the wordnawiyyn, which Sbawayhi uses to refer to those who concern themselveswith the way people speak.

    As any other human behaviour, language is a relationship between twopeople, and it is subjected to rules. In the case of language, Carter is alsothe first one to have noted the importance of the listener in Sbawayhsgrammatical method:

    It is the listener who determines rightness: much of what we say, as Sbawayhipoints out, is conditioned by what we think our listener expects, whose questions wecontinually anticipate (Carter a, ).

    In his keynote speech at the second Israeli symposium on the Arabicgrammatical tradition in Hafa in november , Carter says that grammarunderstood as a way is analogous to Sunna, the Way par excellence, andfinds its place in the coherent system of medieval Islam at large (Carter ,


    ). For him, this accounts for the minor role that the categories of trueand false have played in the grammatical tradition:

    For example, if the above outline is correct, it would account for the fact that truth andfalsehood only play a minor role in grammar, having at first (with Sbawayhi) playednone at all. Since in theMuslim view only God can see into peoples hearts, therewas noway for a grammarian, at least a purely formal one such as Sbawayhi, to determine thetruth of an uerance, and he, like the lawyers, simply assumed that actions (includinglinguistic ones) can only be judged by their appearance. It was none other than Hallhimself who is supposed to have declared, in verse,

    Only God knows what is in mens hearts, and all you have is what shows in theirtongues (Carter , quoting al-Marzubns Nr al-qabas, .).

    He later formulates the same idea in a more straightforward way, byintroducing a distinction between the meaning of what people say [m. ]and what they intend to say [m. ]:

    By eliminating truth and falsehood as linguistic criteria at the very start of his Kitb,Sbawayhi establishes that he has no interest in the meaning of what people say, onlyin how they say what they intend to say (Carter b, ).

    is ethical interpretation of Sbawayhs method, which initially aims toanswer the question of the origin of Arabic grammar, is further explored andcompared to different authors of different periods in Carter () and Carter().

    In a way that relates with Carters theory, Baalbaki has further exploredthe idea that words have rights and duties, and has described at length thehierarchical classification of words according to these rights and duties bySbawayh:

    SBAWAYHIs analysis of uerances and his application of the concept of taqdr are relatedto his set of considerations by virtue of which the sounds, words, etc. are to be classifiedand treated. us there are criteria for this classification, in a certain order or hierarchy,of sounds, words, etc., and the different positions in this hierarchy determine, forSBAWAYHI, the treatment each merits. is concept of merit is among the conceptsthat relate harmony to hierarchy, as we shall see later (Baalbaki , ).

    In hisKitb, [Sbawayhi] invariably tries to establish an organized system of hierarchieswhere every element occupies the specific position which it merits based on a numberof criteria, such as iffa (lightness), iqal (heaviness), tamakkun (declinability), andtaarruf (plasticity). By arranging linguistic items hierarchically, Sbawayhi not onlytries to disclose the underlying order and organisation of Arabic but also to justifyvarious aspects of usage, such as the discrepancies between words in causing amal, inbeing marked or unmarked, and in being triptotes or diptotes (Baalbaki b, xxxv).

    e arrangement of linguistic elements according to a hierarchical order is thus aprominent feature of Sbawayhis phonological and morphological analysis (Baalbaki, ).

  • .. Characterising Sbawayhs method

    Versteegh, following a track he initiated at the end of the seventies,describes the method of Sbawayh as the reintroduction of the recourse tonative speakers as the most reliable source of linguistic knowledge: From thetimes of Sbawayhi onwards they returned, therefore, to sama as the mostreliable source of linguistic knowledge and the ultimate criterion of truth inlinguistic maers (Versteegh a, ). What is more, the Arabic languagehas the property of being extensible (saat al-kalm) and native speakershave some freedom to expand its syntactic constraints (iis) (Versteeghb, ).

    It is only in Versteegh () that he seems to integrate elements of Car-ters theory and articulate them to his own view of Sbawayhs method as anexplanation of underlying structures of the actual speech of Arabs:

    From the very beginning of grammatical theory, Arab grammarians treated the facts oflanguage as a system in its own right, within which the linguistic units behaved justlike members of a society. Language has its own laws, and from these laws linguisticunits derive certain rights and duties. Since language is part of Gods creation, therecan be no arbitrariness in this system and for every phenomenon, for every apparentexception, theremust be an explanation in terms of the overall system. eultimate taskof the grammarian is to explain to the believers why they talk as they do. Obviously,such a conception of the task of the grammarian could hardly be termed descriptive,but it would be wrong to regard the grammarians as normative, either. e only termthat covers their conception of the function of linguistics seems to be explanatory(Versteegh , ).

    .. e enunciative theory

    A new interpretation track appeared at the end of the eighties, namely theenunciative theory. It is first introduced by Guillaume () and furtherdeveloped by Bohas, Guillaume, and Kouloughli in the following terms:

    Fondamentalement, la dmarche de Sbawayhi se distingue de celle des grammairiensclassiques par la place centrale quelle accorde la dimension nonciative du langage.Chez lui, lanalyse des noncs ne consiste pas dgager les rgles formelles quigouvernent lassemblage des lments qui les constituent (les parties du discours),mais bien plutt retracer les oprations, tout la fois formelles et smantiques quipermeent au locuteur de construire la squence linguistique, la profration (laf)correspondant son vouloir-dire (man) subjectif [] (Bohas, Guillaume, andKouloughli , , referring to Kouloughli ).

    is description of the grammatical method of Sbawayh is centered onthe speaker and on his enunciation, i.e., the actualisation of his intention(man [m. ]) in a particular formulation (laf [incl. m. ]). eauthors further explain that for Sbawayh the success of a linguistic strategyis determined by the degree of compatibility between choices that the speaker


    has to make at different levels, semantic [m. ], syntactic, morphologicaland phonetic when he expresses his intention [m. ]. is is the frame inwhich they interpret Sbawayhs criteria, as described byCarter (a). Whathappens in later classical grammarians is that they reduce these criteria toonly two values, correct a and incorrect sid (Bohas, Guillaume, andKouloughli , ).

    For the authors, Sbawayhs grammar is concerned by the underlyingstructures of the language, as revealed by the enunciative choices made bythe speaker, as well as by the result of this hidden process, of which he is notaware as a native speaker.

    It seems that Belguedj and Anghelescu had a very similar view, a decadebefore Guillaume, but they have not folllowed this track in their later publi-cations. Anghelescu gives below clear examples of how Sbawayh focuses onthe speaker and on his view of language as behaviour:

    Linsistance des grammairiens sur at-taqdm wa t-tar pr-position et post-position,nous parat bien oiseuse si on la considre seulement comme un problme de lordre desmots. Il ne faut pas oublier que les deux noms daction proviennent des verbes actifset se rrent donc lintention de mere un membre de lnonc dans une certaineposition (en avant ou en arrire). De mme, un vocable comme amilta, frquemmentutilis par Sbawayhi, est pleinement significatif, parce quil veut dire tu las faitactionner (il sagit dun mil sur un certain terme de lnonc) (Anghelescu , referring to Belguedj ).

    She gives the example of the sentence Zaydun arabtu-hu Zayd, I hithim, where the verb does not operate on Zayd. e locutor can alsodecide to vocalise Zaydan arabtu-hu if he wants the verb to operate onZayd. Anghelescu (, ) says that Les contraintes dordre grammaticalsexercent donc, dans un cadre que le locuteur choisit lui-mme.

    According to Belguedj, the reason why the speaker would chose a partic-ular flexion can be motivated not only by an intented meaning, but also by aphonetic preference for one sound over another (Belguedj , ).

    e position of Versteegh (b, ) is slightly different. He acknow-ledges that the speaker has a central role as a criterion of correctness in theKitb but he also says that the elements of the language behave according totheir own rules.

    In later articles, Versteegh is even clearer that this can by no means becalled a communicative grammar. e study of the language has alwaysbeen based on a wrien corpus, not on communicative phenomena, althoughgrammarians say that they are analysing the Bedouin observed speech (Ver-steegh , ). In a more detailed way he writes:

  • .. Characterising Sbawayhs method

    His [Sbawayhis] method set the trend for the entire Arabic grammatical tradition.Henceforth, the main purpose of the grammarians became the explanation of thesurface form of the language, in particular the declensional endings. is is not tosay that Sbawayhi was not aware of the communicational function of language. Inmany cases he explains the difference between uerances by referring to the extra-linguistic context and the expectations of the listeners (on the distinction of speechacts in the Kitb see Buburuzan ). His use of the term man is significant in thisrespect. It denotes both the categorial meaning of linguistic elements, and the intentionof the speaker. But when he mentions the intention of the speaker, it is in the form ofa paraphrase of the uerance, serving no other purpose than to make sure that themeaning of the uerance is understood (Versteegh , ).

    is, because the rules of grammar do not refer to the speaker, but tothe elements of the language (Versteegh b, ). According to Bohas,Guillaume, and Kouloughli, the rules of grammar evaluate the success of thespeakers enunciation by checking the listeners comprehension [m. ] andthe communicative purpose of the sentence [m. ]. Ultimately, according toBohas, Guillaume, and Kouloughli (, ), Sbawayhs criteria enable himto evaluate the semantic [m. ], syntactic, morphological and phoneticchoices made by the speaker expressing his intention [m. ].

    At this point, there seems to be a discrepancy between Versteegh (b)and Versteegh (). In the former, Versteegh says that for Sbawayh thenative speaker is the ultimate source and criterion for the correctness ofspeech while in the laer he says that in Sbawayhs actual practice hedoes not describe and explain the observed speech of the Bedouin. e onlylogical conclusionthat will be confirmed below, p. as we will seeis thatthis native speaker is a fiction, though a necessary and efficient fiction inSbawayhs system.

    A late development of this enunciative theory can be discerned in Baalbaki(), who seems to draw it a step further in the direction of a communicativeinterpretation:

    In this part of theKitb [the first part, devoted to syntax], Sbawayhis linguistic analysisis far more vivid and engaging that in the rest of the book, chiefly because syntacticalstudy is where Sbawayhis treatment of speech as a social activity and as interactionbetween a speaker and a listener is most visible (Baalbaki , ).

    In a more specific way, Baalbaki adds that Sbawayh recognises to thespeaker the quality of ultimate operator (amal) for the importance of inten-tion (niyya) and hence meaning in amal as a whole (Baalbaki , ). isis a clear recognition that meaning is ultimately on the side of the intention ofthe speaker, which drives Baalbaki to write that it ought to be clear by nowthat Sbawayhi is more interested in the relationship between amal and theintention of the speaker than in the merely formal aspects related to amal(Baalbaki , ).


    In his review of Baalbaki (), Larcher translates Baalbakis interpreta-tion of Sbawayhs treatment of meaning in the frame of Kouloughlis ()criteria, although with a different terminology:

    Dans la quatrime [partie], intitule e balance between form and meaning ,Baalbaki pose que la tradition grammaticale arabe est vue comme faisant pencher labalance du ct du laf et non du man, autrement dit quelle est plus formaliste que smanticienne , mais quune telle affirmation nest pas vraie de toute ceetradition en gnral et de Sbawayhi en particulier. Pour Baalbaki ce dernier tientau moins la balance gale entre laf et man, voire la fait pencher du ct duman. En outre ce dernier est clairement vu comme une intention (sens liral dumot) que le locuteur communique lauditeur, ce qui tire le man arabe, non duct dune smantique objective (rfrentielle), mais du ct dune smantique intersubjective (pragmatique) (Larcher , ).

    In other words, the importance that Sbawayh gives to the intention ofthe speaker as ultimate operator reveals a psychological approach to thedichotomy between laf and man, in Kouloughlis wording. is clearlygives to Sbawayhs grammatical method a communicative quality, wherethe speaker is at the center of the communication process. e role of thegrammarian is to unveil the hidden process that lies between the intention ofthe native speaker, understood as ultimate operator (Baalbaki , ), andits actual realisation in a speech oriented at a listener.

    In this respect, Larcher (, ) draws our aention to the followingexample commented by Baalbaki:

    One of Sbawayhis awhid is wa-sqiyayni mili Zaydin wa-ual ? sabqnimamqni maknz l-aal (Two cupbearers like Zayd and ual, tall, slender anddense of muscle). Obviously, sabqni, mamqni and maknz, which are in thenominative, agree neither with sqiyayni norwith the two proper nouns (Baalbaki ,).

    Instead of rejecting the independent form in the second hemistich, Sba-wayh implicitly comments it as a case of istinf (beginning of a newsentence), i.e., as the answer to a potential listeners question man hum?,which Baalbaki (, ) explains as follows: Obviously, the laf rulespertaining to noun modification give way here to meaning as the ultimatereflection of the speakers intention.

    In exactly the same kind of research as Baalbaki (), Marogy wantsto investigate the fallacy of the one-sided aitude to language ascribed toSbawayhi, whether formal or functional, and restore the neglected comple-mentary account of syntax and pragmatics to its focal position in the Kitb(Marogy , xii). She concludes that the Kitb might be described as aninstance of communicative grammar i.e. a grammar whose main purpose,

  • .. Characterising Sbawayhs method

    according to Leech [], is to relate syntax, pragmatics and semantics toeach other (Marogy , ).

    In a recent article, Ayoub (, ) deals with the criteria of correctnessof speech in the Kitb. Based on a study of the ethical criteria mustaqmright, mul wrong, asan good, qab bad, and kaib false. WhileCarter (, ) considers that the pair mustaqm / mul evaluates thesemantic correction of an uerance, and the pair asan / qab evaluates itsstructural correction, Ayoub shows that each pair refers together to laf andman, and that the difference between them is that the pairmustaqm /mulevaluates the mere existence of the uerance, in terms of syntax andmeaning,whereas the pair asan / qab evaluates its quality as an uerance, also interms of syntax and meaning.

    A mul uerance is an uerance that is unintelligible, for structuraland/or semantic reasons. is is the case of ataytu-ka adan I came to youtomorrow (K. I, .), and Zaydun majnnun bi-hi ax Abdi l-Lhi Zayd iscrazy about him the brother of Abdallh (K. I, .). e point, for Ayoub,is that these sentences cannot be corrected because it is impossible to knowwhat is intended. An example of an amendable expression (mustaqm qabright [but] bad) is qad Zaydan raayta Zayd you saw, because, although itis ill-formed, it is intelligible.

    What is at stake in Sbawayhs grammar is clearly to first evaluate theexistence of a true enunciative uerance, its communicative purpose [m. ](mustaqm ormul), and then to evaluate the quality ofmustaqm uerances(asan or qab).

    Some uerances are also labelled by Sbawayh as kaib lie. e expres-sions amaltu l-jabala I carried the mountain and aribtu ma l-bari Idrank the water of the sea (K. I, .) are mustaqm but they are a lie [m. ].Ayoub notes that Sbawayh does not use this criterion in his grammar, exceptin the two preceding examples:

    Kadhib, en revanche, relve dune thorie de ladquation au monde : lnonc estempiriquement faux. Le kadhib ne joue pas de rle dans la thorie grammaticale (Ayoub, ).

    .. Semantics and underlying levels in the Kitb

    Far from this enunciative track (later transformed into a communicative one),most scholars have embarked since the early nineties on a description ofSbawayhsmethod as showing lile interest in semantics, in comparisonwith


    both earlier and later grammarians. It is now clear that what these scholarsmean by semantic actually corresponds to a formal man (Larchersobjective, referential semantics, our [m. ]), and not an intentionalman (Larchers intersubjective, pragmatic semantics, our [m. ]).

    Ayoub () is quite radical about Sbawayhs method. Here is what shewrites about taml [underlying] representation, a tool by which Sbawayhrestores, as she says, the intended meaning in a expression that is, as such,not used in the language:

    Au fond, le pur arabe, compltement intelligible, est celui qui ne se parle pas. Letaml, en tant que voulant le rgne de lunivoque, sans partage, sinscrit lui-mmencessairement en tant quemonstrueux, en tant que ce qui ne se dit pas, la langue tantessentiellement quivoque. [] Si cee lecture du taml est correcte, faut-il entendrela grammaire du Livre comme une grammaire formelle ? (Ayoub , ).

    What she apparently means by this is that through taml Sbawayhreformulates the intended meaning in pure Arabic, where the operationrelationships are functioning perfectly, at a deeper level than the actualuerance. In other words, she believes that Sbawayhs taml correspondswith the intention of the speaker (man [m. ]=laf), and since taml usuallydoes not fit the rules of actually uered language, she concludes that pureArabic is that which cannot be spoken, asking herself whether Sbawayhsgrammar is completely formal or not, which would be very far from what anenunciative grammar could be.

    Ayoub () gives a much more detailed presentation of Sbawayhs me-thod. We have already mentioned her idea that formal grammar in the Kitbdoes not exclude a semantic dimension:

    Dans le Livre, il ny a pas dun ct forme entendue comme gouvernement et de lautrele sens, que lon entende par cela lintention du locuteur ou quelqu autre notion, mais lathorie du gouvernement mme se fonde sur des analyses smantiques et rend comptetant doprations syntaxiques que smantiques ou relatives lnonciation. En somme,on a tort de croire que la thorie du gouvernement ne traite que de forme en oubliant lesens: Elle traite de la forme mme du sens. Voil ce quon tentera de montrer dans lesdveloppements qui suivent. Le formel sera entendu comme relationnel. On le savaitdj par lanalyse de la notion du taml, ce que la grammaire reprsente, lobjet de lareprsentation est la relation entre les termes, non les termes eux-mmes (Ayoub ,).

    In a comparison between al-Farr (d. /) and Sbawayh (d. /),Dvnyi says that Sbawayhi first explains the irb endings in his formalgrammatical model and then tells us what consequences these have in relationto the meaning (Dvnyi a, ) whereas in the case of al-Farr itis directly the meaning (man) that determines irb and not vice versa(Dvnyi a, ). She adds that for Sbawayh, irb is an entity existing

  • .. Characterising Sbawayhs method

    in itsel that may express different meanings. Unlike Sbawayh, al-Farrmakes a one-to-one correspondence between the form of a sentence and itsmeanings (Dvnyi a, ), in a way which is much less formal thanSbawayh.

    According to Versteegh (, ), the early exegetical tradition wasmainly concerned by the meaning of the text of the rn, endeavouring tofind out the intention of God in the text, through paraphrase and restitutionof underlying elements. e shi that Sbawayh and the grammarians aerhim have introduced is a focus on the deep structure of language itself.

    In order to explore and at times restore this deep structure, which theyequate with an underlying level of operation of some words on others, Sba-wayh and his followers use the tool of taml (in the Kitb) or taqdr (aerSbawayh, Versteegh , ). Whereas Ayoub () equated taml with asemantic reconstruction, Versteegh () distinguishes two different types ofreconstruction of the underlying level, structural (taml) and semantic (man[m. ]):

    It is important to note that in the examples given above the relation between thetaml and the actual uerance is not one of paraphrase: the representation does notconstitute a semantic reconstruction of the sentence. is becomes particularly clearwhen we look at the meaning (man) of the third example, which is not identical withits taml. Unlike the abstract representation the semantic paraphrase of the sentenceis a complete, uerable sentence:

    m anata wa-akataml *m anata akaman m anata maa aka

    what did you do with your brother? (Versteegh , ).

    e same idea is summed up in Versteegh (b, ) where Sbawayhand the following grammarians are said to have occupied themselves withthe formal-syntactic aspect of language to the exclusion of other aspects, suchas the lexical meaning of the words. In this article Versteegh even seemsto come back again to the views expressed in Versteegh (b) about thecentrality of the speakers intention in Sbawayhs method:

    In conclusion we may say that Sbawayhi at least once explicitly mentions the roleof man as the semantic correlate (the lexical meaning) of words [m. ] and sets ofradicals [m. ], and that in some passages he refers to the purpose of speech as amedium to communicate the intention [m. ] of the speaker to the listener [m. ]. Butin the majority of instances in the Kitb man denotes the syntactic function of a wordor category [m. ] (Versteegh b, . e additions between square brackets areours.)

    It appears from the above quotations that, against Baalbaki (), Ver-steegh considers that it is Sbawayh who was responsible for a shi from the


    psychological (intersubjective, pragmatic) approach to a linguistic (objective,referential) approach.

    In a somewhat less dichotomous way, he adds that Sbawayhi acknow-ledges the existence of a semantic level but since he takes its existence forgranted he does not appear to feel any need for dealing with it explicitly(Versteegh b, ). However, the semantic level which is dealt with inthis quotation must correspond to the intentional man [m. ], otherwise itwould contradict the previous quotation.

    e only logical way to reconcile Versteegh (b) and Versteegh (b)is therefore to consider that man [m. ], understood as the intention of the(native) speaker, is the ultimate source of correctness as a background (anefficient and necessary idealisation), leaving the foreground activity of thegrammarian to focus on formal man [m. ], and excluding the lexicalmeanings [m. ]. In other words, the shi that Sbawayh operates, accordingto Versteegh, is that he inverts the priority of the rnic commentatorsbetween their background interest in formal man [m. ] and theirforeground interest in intentional man ([m. ], the intention of God). As forthe meaning produced by reformulation (communicative semantics [m. ]), itis a tool used by both exegetes and grammarians (Versteegh , , ).

    is is how we understand the following quotation:

    One might almost say that from the times of Sbawayhi onwards the Arab grammariansaccepted the existence of a semantic aspect of speech but felt this to be outside the scopeof their own task, which was the elucidation of the syntactic changes in speech (thetheory of governance and declensional endings). e analysis of the lexical meaning ofwords was le to the lexicographers, who codified these meanings in their dictionaries(Versteegh b, ).

    us, Versteegh, referring to Dvnyi, distinguishes Sbawayhs approachfrom that of al-Farr, as far as semantics are concerned, in the followingterms:

    For the most part, Sbawayhi includes only syntactic arguments in his explanation oflinguistic phenomena, whereas al-Farr very oen invokes semantic constraints in hislinguistic argumentation (Versteegh b, , referring to Dvnyi a,b).

    Baalbaki (, ) seems to have very similar analyses regardingSbawayhs aitude towards semantics. Although Sbawayh recognises thepertinence of notions such as synonymy and homonymy, he does not usethem in the Kitb and focuses instead on syntax and morphology.

    However, faithful to his presentation of Sbawayhs communicative gram-mar Baalbaki acknowledges the absence of interest of Sbawayh in referential,

  • .. Characterising Sbawayhs method

    objective, formal man and, at the same time, his focus on the intention ofthe speaker, which gives its man to each uerance:

    As we shall see in the next section of this chapter, man according to Sbawayhi isdirectly related to the intention of the speaker and the type of message he wants toimpart to the addressee or listener, and is thus part of a wider process of communicationwhich requires analysis. e speakers intention is what gives each usage the desiredman, and it is in this context that Sbawayhis frequent usage of expressions in whichman is assigned to a certain case-ending, part of speech, particle, notion, etc. can bebest understood (Baalbaki , ).

    What Baalbaki does here is that, unlike Versteegh, he considers themeaning of syntactic structures [m. ] to be in a dialectic situation vis--vis the intentional man [m. ], exactly like in the psychological paradigmdescribed by Kouloughli (man [m. ] vs. laf [incl. m. ]), while in thelinguistic paradigm, the dialectic is man [m. .] vs. laf, which seemsto be nearer to Versteeghs view of Sbawayhs method.

    .. A limited set of rules

    Owens describes Sbawayhs methodology, and especially his substitutiontechnique, in the following words:

    Certains items were identified as typically occurring at certain grammatical positions.Sometimes these positions are explicitly named and clearly have an existence indepen-dent of the items that realize the position; in other cases the positions at which the itemsoccur are not named but nonetheless implicitly have a fixed status within the overallgrammatical structure. Very oen a position is identified in conjunction with a typicalfiller, and other members of the paradigm, oen morphologically or syntactically morecomplex, are identified relative to this typical filler (Owens a, ).

    is technique enables Sbawayh to reduce the number of possible casesto a limited set of rules. For example, the surface form of the compoundxamsataaara fieen is aached by Sbawayh to the existing simpleunderlying paern xamsatan wa-aaratan (Owens a, ).

    Baalbaki insists on the fact that a characteristic of Sbawayhs methodis to limit as much as possible the number of rules he uses to describe thelanguage (or rather, the underlying decisions that the native speaker makeswhen he wants to formulate his intention). It is thus part of Sbawayhsmethod to minimize the exceptions and so keep intact the general ruleswhich he endorses (Baalbaki , ). For example, in the case of xamsataaaru-ka your fieen which Sbawayh qualifies of bad language withoutjustification (see below, p. ), Baalbaki says that it is clear that, for him,this usage is weak because it is both scant, and irreconcilable with the qiys


    which stipulates that nouns which are indefinite (nakira) and mabn remainmabn in case of ifa (Baalbaki , ).

    In a more general description, Baalbaki writes that the first and surelymost important concept to which taqdr is related is that of the preservationof basic rules (Baalbaki , ) and he later gives his interpretation ofthese basic rules:

    Hence it is legitimate to introduce the concept of basic rule to refer to the usagewhich Sbawayhi considers to be most common and most representative of a form,paern, particle, etc. and which, in spite of the presence of deviating material, mustbe recognized as the actual manifestation of accepted norm. Obviously, Sbawayhi iskeen to deal with a relatively small number of basic rules which are considerably moremanageable than a large body that would result from an indiscriminate approach whichgives equal weight to the normal and the anomalous (Baalbaki , ).

    In the presence of variants that do not comply to these basic rules, Baalbaki(, ) mentions three differents tactics adopted by Sbawayh: Heeither ignores (deliberately?) these variants, or he judges them negatively(just like xamsataaaru-ka mentioned above), or he interprets data in a waythat does not contradict the rule, sometimes surprisingly, as the alif in kiland kilt (both [masc. and fem.]) which he refuses to interpret as a dualmarker because it would create further inconsistencies.

    .. Consistency at a lower and a larger scale

    Carter insists on Sbawayhs search for consistency, both at a lower and alarger scales, and of course, his article on the construction irna dirhaman isan advocacy for consistency in the Kitb on both these scales (Carter b).

    Versteegh has explained this search for consistency in a general way thatapplies to the whole grammatical tradition:

    For the Arabic grammarians speech is a system in equilibrium, whether it is the resultof a revelation from Allh (tawqf ), or of an agreement between men (iil). Each andevery leer, word, category, has its own place and its own rights. Every phenomenoncan and must be explained, and every deviation from the original form (al) is the resultof a well-defined cause (illa), and occurs according to well-defined rules (Versteegh, ).

    According to him, this trend has been reinforced by the introduction oflogic doctrines because, as he puts it, chaque lment de la langue devenaitune preuve de la perfection du tout (Versteegh , ).

    In a more specific way, Baalbaki writes that the main concept thatSBAWAYHI employs in discovering underlying harmony in the language is

  • .. Characterising Sbawayhs method

    that of taqdr , suppletive insertion, which is the assumption of the virtualoccurrence of parts of the uerance, mainly the operants or awmil, believedby him to have been elided (Baalbaki , ).

    Following her own interpretative track about amal (syntactic and seman-tic) operation in the Kitb, Ayoub reaches the same conclusion that thereis a very strong internal unity to Sbawayhs method, and that it applies tophenomena that modern linguistic tradition would consider as separate:

    On touche l, travers la question du gouvernement, un point de spcificit de ceethorie grammaticale. Elle fait la part des proprits gomtriques du langage et lesarticule, dune manire qui lui est propre, la rfrence et lnonciation. De lvient limportance cardinale de la thorie du camal o les trois types doprateurs seconjoignent. Elle articule des domaines qui sont sentis exclusifs lun de lautre dans lechamp de la linguistique contemporaine: lnonciation, la pragmatique et la syntaxe,ce qui se disait aussi grammaire de phrase et grammaire de discours. Ils le sont par lebiais dun aachement la liralit de la marque, la matrialit de la langue commeforme phontique, agencements, relations (Ayoub , ).

    Since then, Baalbaki has been the champion of this cause, namely, reveal-ing the consistency of the Kitb, both at a local level and between chapters.He does not hesitate to call spectacular the chapter in the Kitb whichdeals with the that is followed by the subjunctive (Baalbaki , )because of its local and wider consistency. e same goes for the chapterson the vocative and the generic negation l (Baalbaki ). He further says,describing Sbawayhs Kitb:

    Undoubtedly, it is the first coherent description of Arabic grammar, especially syntaxand morphology. It is also one of the earliest authored works in any Islamic discipline;that is, it is not the product of oral communication between a teacher and his disciples,but a real aempt at composing a coherent whole which has a beginning and anend, and which systematically examines the material defined by the discipline. eultimate proof of this lies with the numerous cross-references which Sbawayhi makesthroughout the Kitb and the amazing consistency with which he analyzes, in separateparts of it, phenomena which he considers to be parallel or analogous (Baalbaki b,xixxxx).

    Humbert (, ) summarises the three main arguments in favourof a wrien origin of the text, as presented first by Schoeler (, ): edivision in chapters with titles that are too precise to be the product of anoral teaching, the many cross-references in the text, and the fact that nobodynever read the book before Sbawayh, who died at an early age.

    Humbert (, ) has also shown, based on her study of the ma-nuscripts, that the wrien work of Sbawayh has gained the authority ofan oral teaching thanks to al-Mubarrads copy, where he had introduceda transmission chain and critical commentaries of al-Axfa al-Awsa (d./), al-Jarm (d. /) and al-Mzin (d. /). eseat time


    lengthyglosses are still present in the modern editions, which are all basedon al-Mubarrads vulgate.

    In his book devoted to the legacy of the Kitb, Baalbaki () devotesno less than three sections to the issue of consistency in Sbawayhs method:e classification of data within a coherent system (), e toolsof checking system validity () and e internal unity of the Kitb().

    e other analytical methods presented in Baalbakis () chapter twoare e preservation of basic rules (), e balance between formand meaning (), e role of the speaker and the listener (),and e use of mil and hid (). ese issues have been dealtabove.

    We will now consider the studies on the grammatical methods of latergrammarians. We will focus on the way scholars characterised the breaks inthe Arabic grammatical tradition aer Sbawayh.

    . Prescriptiveness of post-Sbawayh grammar

    At an early stage, modern scholars have expressed their opinion that a greatdeal of spirit was lost in Arabic grammar aer Sbawayh. As we have seenabove, the first criterion that these scholars used to oppose Sbawayh to thelater grammarians was that of prescriptiveness vs. descriptiveness. Cartermakes this very harsh description of the evolution of post-Sbawayh grammar,which he links to the evolution of Islam at large:

    Lhistoire de la grammaire arabe nest gure mieux que lhistoire des vicissitudes duKitb entre les mains de grammairiens de plus en plus prescriptifs : tout commelIslam en gnral devint de plus en plus consciemment normatif, le contenu purementdescriptif du Kitb se trouve rduit un corpus fossilis et improductif de donnesarchaques, et les arguments formels grce auxquels Sbawayhi (comme nimporte quellinguiste comptent) tait capable darriver des considrations prescriptives furentlabors et dvelopps au point de perdre tout contact avec les ralits des structureset des processus linguistiques qui avaient constitu le propos original de Sbawayhi(Carter b, ).

    Versteegh (, ) sees two main reasons behind this prescriptiveaitude of early Arab scholars: the confusion of many speakers with regardto the use of the declensional endings, and the constant decay of the Classicalstandard. ese two reasonswhich could easily be regarded as oneareintensified by the fact that a correct recitation of the rn dependedprecisely on the knowledge of the rules of grammar. e grammatical

  • .. Prescriptiveness of post-Sbawayh grammar

    doctrine that they produced was an answer to these problems. It consistedof a canon of rules extracted from the language of the Bedouins that wasavailable to apply to the language.

    is has led grammarians to retrospectively evaluate the language of theArabs and refute some of their expressions that did not comply with the rulesthey had formulated. is is what Ab Jan () and Baalbaki (, )mention about al-Mubarrad.

    In a later article, Baalbaki comes back to the prescriptive turn in post-Sbawayh grammar in more specific terms. He says that later grammarianshave departed from the delicate balance Sbawayh had established betweenanalogy (qiys) and actual use (sam). Post-Sbawayh grammarians took aprescriptive direction, and eventually subjected aested usage to their ownrigid rules (Baalbaki , ).

    It is only thanks to grammarians like al-Jurjn (d. /), accordingto Baalbaki, that an aempt was made to fuse again the study of naw andbalah, which were clearly separated at his time (Baalbaki , ). Wehave seen above that whatever communicative value scholars aribute to thegrammatical method of Sbawayh, he is widely considered as the one whoautonomised the study of syntax from that of exegesis. Baalbaki continues bysaying that this aempt [of al-Jurjn] was again short-lived, and balghahitself was later plagued with rigidity and the lack of continued revision oftheory (Baalbaki , ).

    is judgement of post-Sbawayh grammar as being prescriptive is againformulated in Baalbaki (b, xxxvi), Baalbaki (, ) and Marogy (,).

    Anghelescu () represents another voice in this debate that seems tobe rooted in the late forties and which focused on the opposition betweennormative and theoretical grammar. She concludes that the normative turnthat the Arabic grammatical tradition takes aer Sbawayh is not that of aprescriptive grammar understood as a pedagogical simplification but of atheoretical one, i.e., a grammar focused on formal expl