Towards a sociohistorical reconstruction of pre-Islamic Arabic dialect diversity
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This dissertation develops a new framework for reconstructing the diversity of a language at a given historical time period. It applies this framework to the problem of reconstructing the diversity of Arabic dialects immediately prior to the Islamic conquests, which spread speakers of these dialects across much of North Africa and the Middle East. The study first establishes a theoretical framework for reconstructing historical speech communities, defined as groups of speakers linked by shared allegiance. It then analyzes the tribal and non-tribal social organization in Pre-Islamic Arabia, and provides a detailed historical overview of how the Islamic conquests contributed to the Arabization of the conquered territories. Finally, the dissertation reconstructs the linguistic history of the Arabic demonstratives, using them as a variable to determine which speech communities existed in pre-Islamic Arabic, where they were located in time and space, and how the diversity of those communities is related to the diversity of modern Arabic dialects.