Cypriot Arabic: Language Contact and Linguistic Deviations from Mainstream Arabic Norms
I was fascinated when I came to know that there is “Arabic” spoken in Cyprus, which aroused several questions in me as to how this language came into existence, how it is spoken now, what changes to its linguistic modules take place due to language contact with other languages, what its status now is, etc. This article, thus, aims to investigate these questions, focusing mainly on how Cypriot Arabic (CyA) deviates from Mainstream Arabic (MA) varieties in all linguistic modules as a result of the language contact with the dominant language, i.e. Cypriot Greek. Specifically, I investigate CyA linguistic modules: phonology, morphology, syntax and lexicon and how language contact leads to deviations from Mainstream Arabic norms. Language decay and death are also investigated. Cypriot Arabic is a dialect of Arabic spoken in Cyprus, having evolved as a purely oral (unwritten) variety in isolation from any written or spoken variety of Arabic after the twelfth century. It is spoken by the Maronite Cypriots who have immigrated mostly from Syria and Lebanon to Cyprus and have inhabited Kormakiti(s) village until the Turkish invasion of the northern part of the Island in 1974 (Borg, 1985; inter alia). The main contact CyA has is with (Cypriot) Greek. In this paper, I employ the comparative and analytic approaches to linguistic phenomena under study. Findings indicate that CyA is severely endangered and hence should urgently be documented and revitalized. Thus, this research, to the best of my knowledge, is the first to be conducted by a linguist who is a native speaker of Arabic (with a little knowledge of Greek), and here lies its significance. It provides a reliable investigation and contributes to the existing body of literature on this language variety.