Grammarians and Grammatical Theory in the Medieval Arabic Tradition: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Grammarians and Grammatical Theory in the Medieval Arabic Tradition

1st Edition

By Ramzi Baalbaki


356 pages

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Hardback: 9780860789482
pub: 2004-02-17
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Professor Baalbaki deals here with the Arabic grammatical tradition and the analytical methods of the medieval Arab grammarians. The essays included open new perspectives on the most authoritative work on Arabic grammar, Sibawayhi's tome or Kitab, on the relation between grammatical study and other areas of linguistic enquiry such as Qur'anic readings and stylistics, and on the techniques which the grammarians employed to explain and rationalize usage and to incorporate within their system the vast body of dialectal material which the corpus comprises. The author has sought to highlight the central position which Arabic grammar enjoys within the wider Arab culture, and in so doing has examined several aspects of a legacy which has been revered over a millennium and which forms to this very day the backbone of the teaching of grammar in the Arab world.


'Given that the papers, selected for the Variorum, span nearly a quarter of a century from 1979 to 2001, their great coherence, both methodological and thematic, is striking, so too is their impressively high scholarly standard…. this Variorum volume represents a milestone in the study of both the history of Arabic grammar and one of the three branches of rhetoric, the science of the meanings. …The author may justly be called one of the leading scholars in this field over the last quarter of a century, who excels by the precision of his methods and the value of his conclusions.' Journal of Islamic Studies

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Sibawayhi’s Kitab: The book in the grammatical tradition: development in content and methods; Some aspects of harmony and hierarchy in Sibawayhi’s grammatical analysis; A possible early reference to Sibawayhi’s Kitab?; A contribution to the study of technical terms in early Arabic grammar: the term asl in Sibawayhi’s Kitab; Coalescence as a grammatical tool in Sibawayhi’s Kitab. Grammarians and Related Disciplines: The treatment of qira’at by the 2nd and 3rd century grammarians; The relation between nahw and balaga: a comparative study of the methods of Sibawayhi and Gurgani; A balagi approach to some grammatical shawahid; Early Arab lexicographers and the use of Semitic languages; Kitab al-’ayn and Jamharat al-luga. Grammatical Theory: Arab grammatical controversies and the extant sources of the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.H.; Tawahhum: an ambiguous concept in early Arabic grammar; 'I’rab and bina’ from linguistic reality to grammatical theory; Reclassification in Arabic grammatical theory; Expanding the ma’nawi ’awamil: Suhayli’s innovative approach to the theory of regimen; The occurrence of 'insa’ instead of habar: the gradual formulation of a grammatical issue; Bab al-fa’ [fa’ + subjunctive] in Arabic grammatical sources; Teaching Arabic at university level: problems of grammatical tradition; Index.

About the Author

Ramzi Baalbaki is Professor of Arabic at the American University of Beirut, the Lebanon

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General