Rural Palestinian Arabic
(Abu Shusha dialect)
Kimary N. Shahin
University of British Columbia
The sketch describes a rural (fellahi) dialect of Palestinian Arabic. The dialect is that of the pre-1948 Palestine village of Abu Shusha. There are an estimated 1000 speakers of this dialect living in Ramallah (West Bank), Amman (Jordan), New Jersey (USA) and a few other places. Abu Shusha fellahi is an endangered variety of Arabic. This is due to the original dispersian of its speakers and the resulting inter-dialect contact, the increasing age of its speakers and pressure from Standard Arabic (as on all non-urban varieties of the language) to conform to more urban and educated speech.
This dialect has not been documented before. Like all Arabic colloquials, it is unwritten. The present sketch addresses the general need for dialectology work on Palestinian Arabic. It also addresses the call for data to permit much needed comparative work in Arabic syntax and phonology.
This sketch describes the phonemic system of the dialect, its morphology (nominal and verbal systems), and syntax (word order, clause structure, and clause chaining). Throughout these sections, those features are identified which are markedly Palestinian (vs. Classical) or rural (vs. urban or bedouin). It remains beyond the scope of the sketch to compare this dialect with other Arabic colloquials (e.g., Egyptian, Iraqi, etc.). Two phenomena are highlighted. The first is the Abu Shusha vowel system, which has three times the inventory of Classical Arabic.
The second is its discourse structure, as found in oral narrative: features and strategies of topic/focus, coherence and cohesion. An example narrative is provided, with interlinear gloss and English translation. The sketch is based on initial data gathering from two trips each to New Jersey and Ramallah in 1989 and 1991.
ISBN 9783895869600. Languages of the World/Materials 28. 64pp. 2000.