When did Lebanese Christians start speaking French?

The influence of the Arabic language on the français parlé in Saint-Denis (Paris)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Classification of the Arabic language

3. Arabic graphematics and phonetics
3.1. The Arabic graphemes
3.2. Types of articulation and places of articulation of some Arabic consonants

4. History of language contact between France and the Orient
4.1. Early influence from the High Middle Ages
4.2. Direct contacts in modern times
4.3. The linguistic consequences

5. Conversation analysis
5. 1. Methodology
5. 2. Conversation analysis 1
5.3. Conversation analysis 2
5.4. Conversation analysis 3

6. Conclusion

7. Bibliography

8. Appendix
8. 1. Transcription of the conversation analyzes
8.1.1. Transcription 1: Hachim H.
8.1.2. Transcription 2: Kenza Ait M.
8.1.3. Transcription 3: Unknown subject
8.2. Guidelines for the conversation analysis
8.3. List of Arabic letters (Ineichen 1997)

1. Introduction

"Language is a living organism, and it has always been the case with organisms that they grow and develop according to certain laws" (Keller 2004, 194f.). This metaphor comes from Rudi Keller, one of the most famous German linguists of our time, who deals with the topic of language change. Language is not static, it is in a permanent process of change.

During my stay abroad in Paris, I spent a large part of my time in the suburb of Saint-Denis, where a large number of French people with a Maghreb migration background live. One afternoon I asked my French host mother where my host brother was staying. Your answer motivated me to dedicate my bachelor thesis to this topic: " Salam Ibrahim. Ludovic n'est pas encore là. Je crois qu'il est dans la madrasah, peut-être il est passé chez mon ukht. Wallah il m'a dit qu'il viendrait avant le maghrib, mais c'est presque nuit ”.

It is known that the French language contains many words of Arabic origin and these are words that speakers use every day and that have become part of the French language system. Nonetheless, my host mother, who doesn't speak Arabic, used three words and a phrase that we don't find in any French dictionary these days, like madrasah = école, ukht = sœur, maghreb = coucher du soleil and wallah = Je jure par Dieu. Of course, I immediately asked my host mother why she had used these words and she only replied: "C'est ma langue maternelle, je comprends pas ce que tu veux dire". Saint-Denis is a place where the Arabic language occupies a very dominant position. In the Maghreb it is the first language of most of the residents. In Muslim-African countries, learning the Arabic language is of great importance. As a result, students learn Standard Arabic over several years. Both migrants from the Maghreb and migrants from various Muslim-African countries live in Saint-Denis.

This bachelor thesis is entitled “The influence of the Arabic language on the français parlé in Saint-Denis (Paris) ”and is intended to describe this impressive encounter between two languages ​​to the reader and demonstrate it on the basis of practical studies.

The following work is divided into two parts: At the beginning the standard Arabic language is introduced and graphematics and phonetics are specifically addressed. In addition, the history of French-Arabic language contact from the Middle Ages to modern times is summarized and the term diglossia introduced by Ferguson is also discussed.

In the second part, I will present a practical implementation in which I will analyze three conversations that I recorded in conversation with residents of Saint-Denis ‘. These conversations were phonetically transcribed and analyzed with regard to the question of the extent to which the Arabic-French language contact can be proven in the statements of a French person in Saint-Denis. At the beginning I will describe my methodical approach. The conversations are then analyzed with the aid of literature on structural and sociolinguistics.

2. Classification of the Arabic language

It is of great importance to know that Arabic is not seen as the language of the Arab people, but as "the language of Islam" (Ineichen 1997, 6). The inhabitants of the Arab countries all speak Arabic, be they Christians, Druze or others, but all Muslims who do not inhabit the Arab countries speak Arabic nonetheless. The language is needed to recite and memorize the Koran. It is also used to understand and interpret the statements of the Prophet Mohamed and the Islamic scholars (cf. ibid.). The following is often used to illustrate the high status of the Arabic language in the Islamic religion Hadith[1] called:

"Love the Arabs for three reasons: Because I am an Arab, because the Koran was revealed in Arabic and because it is the language of the people of Paradise.‘ "[2]

Through this Hadith you can see clearly how closely the Arabic language is linked to Islam. It serves as a feature of the identity of the Islamic religion and as a sign of an extremely strong literary era. When Mohamed taught the Koran, the heyday of the Arabic language prevailed. The art of language fascinated all inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula and many follow Mohamed because the Koran was written in a language that no poet or linguist could have described or written before. This relation between religion and language can also be attested for Judaism, where Hebrew is of great importance. All people of the Jewish faith learn to read and write Hebrew, even if they do not live in Israel. This is also comparable with Latin, which served as the lingua franca for Christianity (cf. Ineichen, 6th), even if this is only the case today in the Vatican itself. Arabic is a world language and is currently spoken by around 353 million people as their mother tongue and around 246 million as a second or foreign language (cf. Ulaval 2010).

Arabic is one of the Semitic languages, which in turn can be classified as a subgroup of the Afro-Asian language group. The Semitic language group has a lot in common in their different languages, including Hebrew, Barbeque and Aramaic, among others. For example, they all have a three-consonant root system, glottal consonants and paratactic constructions, and action types are represented with prefixes or suffixes. These similarities make it easy to borrow words from one language to another. Otherwise it would be very difficult for a word of the Indo-European language to be integrated into classical Arabic (Versteegh 1997, 10), since the complete morphology of the Semitic languages ​​is based on the three-consonant root system. In addition, a distinction is made between South and North Semitic languages. For example, while Hebrew belongs to the North Semitic branch of the language and Amharic to the South Semitic, Arabic is both a South Semitic and a North Semitic language. Kusters explains this as follows:

Typologically and geographically, Arabic occupies a position between these two groups. In older works Arabic was classified as a southern Semitic language, but Hetzron (1976) adducts arguments for a grouping amongst the northern languages. The position of Arabic between the two poles is often explained in a historical scenario in which the speakers of Arabic hold an intermediary position between the southern and northern Semitic people (2003, 91).

In older literature one often reads that Arabic is a South Semitic language, but Kusters very explicitly points out that Arabic is an intermediary between the two language groups due to the language contact with North and South Semites.

The knowledge of the great importance that Arabic has among the members of the Islamic religious community allows the expectation that Muslim speakers of other first languages ​​such as French also integrate the language of their religion into the language used in their colloquial language and especially phrases and words from religious backgrounds replace with Arabic phrases and words.

3. Arabic graphematics and phonetics

3.1. The Arabic graphemes

Arabic has its own script, which has also been introduced into other language systems, such as the Persian dialects in Iran and Afghanistan. Unlike the Latin script, it is written from right to left. In the following, the Arabic graphemes and phonemes are dealt with so that the subsequent analysis of the conversation can be more easily understood. In Arabic there are a total of 28 consonants, two of which function as semivowels (cf. Boudaakkar 2008, 13 ff.). "It is a current script, i.e. both in the cursive and in the printed script the letters - with the exception of six - are connected by connecting lines [...] with the following letter in the verbatim" (Kästner & Waldmann 1992, 7). This can be compared with the Latin original script, which did not represent the letters in isolation from one another, but instead represented the words as letter strings. The Arabic script - unlike the Latin script - is not case-sensitive, but has 4 forms for each letter. First of all, there is the isolated form, that is, the form in which the letter is written when it stands alone, without being followed by or following another letter. Then there is the initial position, which is used whenever the letter is used at the beginning of the word. The medial position represents the letter in the middle of the word and the final position represents the letter at the end of a word (cf. ibid.). To represent this phenomenon, I put the letter of the sound / x / in all its possible positions in (1) shown:

Figure not included in this excerpt

Often several Arabic letters have the same body and only differ by a point. The alphabet is sorted according to the optical form of the letters, i.e. the letters that have the same corpus are next to each other, but differ in the puncturing (see ibid.). For clarification, I have included in (2) some examples given.

Figure not included in this excerpt

Vowels do not exist as letters, but as so-called vowel symbols. Arabic has three vowels: / a /, / u / and / i /. These three are realized by symbols that come on the respective letter to indicate its vowel position. In the heyday of the Arabic language, the people were so gifted with language that these vocalization symbols were not needed, but due to increasing ignorance and incorrect recitation of the Koran, these vocalization symbols were introduced by Islamic linguists and are still used today (cf. Versteegh 1993, 20) . Today they serve primarily as an aid to those who are learning Arabic as a second or foreign language. Native Arabic speakers usually do not need these vowel markers, but do use them to avoid ambiguity, as the short vowels can also change the meaning. In addition, the short vowels can be lengthened by inserting certain letters. These three letters are that [ali: f] / a: /, [wa: w] / u: / and [Yes:] / i: / (ibid., 30). A vowel lengthening is used in (3) shown.

Figure not included in this excerpt

Representing every single grapheme and phoneme in the Arabic language would lead too far here. Ineichen's representation of the Arabic graphemes and sounds is added in the appendix and it also shows which IPA symbols are used here. To conclude this chapter, I would like to mention a few peculiarities of Arabic phonetics that do not exist in French, including various types and places of articulation.

3.2. Types of articulation and places of articulation of some Arabic consonants

There is a Articulation typethat doesn't exist in French. This is the affriction. This phenomenon describes such a close connection between plosive and fricative that the plosive sound changes directly into the fricative sound (cf. Gimson 2008, 326). Affricates also exist in German, for example in the word jungle [ ʤ ʊŋl̩]. Exactly this sound / ʤ / also exists in Arabic.

Arabic knows four Places of articulationnot used in French phonetics, including the interdental sounds. The articulation takes place through friction between the tongue and the two upper large incisors. Well-known examples of this are known from the English language, as in the words this and that. There are three interdental sounds in Arabic: voiced / ð /, empathic / ðˤ / and unvoiced / θ /. Glottal sounds are formed in the glottis (glottis) and can also be found in German pronunciation, as in Haus [ H aʊs] (see Plag et al. 2007, 11). The same sound / h / exists again in Arabic. Pharyngeal sounds, of which there are two in Arabic, are formed in the pharynx (throat): First the voiceless fricative sound / ħ / and the voiced fricative sound / ʕ / (cf. Ineichen, 8).

In addition, Arabic distinguishes between 3 types of participation in voting: voiceless, voiced and emphatic. In Arabic phonetics, the term is emphatically synonymous with a secondary articulation with a narrowed pharynx or rear tongue, which is viewed as velarization or pharyngealization, depending on the articulation point. There are three such sounds in Arabic: the alveolar plosive / dˤ /, the interdental fricative / ðˤ / and the alveolar fricative / sˤ / (cf. ibid.).

4. History of language contact between France and the Orient

The Arabic language and its culture influenced the entire western world. In the French language we can determine this from the many loanwords from Arabic, which began to establish themselves as early as the time of Old French and whose borrowing process continued in some cases until the second half of the 19th century. The arabisms reached all the different registers of French as well as the technical language alcali <[alka: li], the colloquial bésef <[basa: f] and the vulgar zob <[zib] (see Kiesler 2006, 1648). Linguists speak of two ways in which the Arabicisms got into French: Either a direct borrowing from Arabic into French or an indirect borrowing from Arabic via Italian or Spanish into French took place, so that one can speak of different layers of French words with Arabic origins can speak. If one compares the influence of Arabic on French with the influence on the Southern Romance languages, two important differences can be ascertained: First of all, the difference in time, since the Southern Romance languages ​​incorporated most of the Arabicisms into the language system during the Middle Ages, while in French the high growth in arabisms did not take place until modern times. The second important difference is the influenced registers, as the Arabicisms influenced both the communal languages ​​and the dialects of the South Romanic languages, while in French it was predominantly the lower colloquial language and the argot that were influenced by the words of Arabic origin (cf.ibid., 1649 ).

4.1. Early influence from the High Middle Ages

The direct and indirect influence of the Arabic language on the French took place in three significant areas, both directly and indirectly. The most important period was the Crusades, because it was there that French warriors met the Arabs for the first time. Important here is the conquest of Jerusalem by the Christians in the period from 1099-1291, at which time there were also Christian states in the Orient that made language contact between French and Arabs possible. The second important influencing factor was trade with the Orient, which made language contact between the Orient and France inevitable. However, since Italy was a superior trading power at that time, Italian was able to accommodate more Arabicisms than French in this epoch. The last area of ​​social life in the Middle Ages that positively conditioned the inclusion of words of Arabic origin in French was the translation of a wide variety of literature "by the Romance sisters" (ibid.).The first Arabicisms in French date from this period, the High Middle Ages, and are estimated at 15, but there are also experts in literature who were able to discover up to 17 or 18 Arabicisms. Belong to this earliest arabisms gazelle <[raza: l] and caroubier <[xaru: ia:].

When asked why so few Arabic words have made it into French, first of all “the lack of direct cultural contact between Arabs and Crusaders” (ibid.). In addition, the French had too strong competition from the Italians in the field of trade that they often could not negotiate with the Arabs. Incidentally, Latin was the only recognized scientific language in France, so there was no motivation to learn Arabic (cf. Ineichen, 6ff.). However, the adoption of indirect Arabisms was higher at this time, resulting from the translations from Middle Latin texts or from the Romance sisters into French, which also includes many terms from various sciences that were conveyed to the West by the Arabs. In the Middle Ages, the Arabs were more knowledgeable about many scientific disciplines than today's Europe, so that they transferred a lot of technical terms from different scientific disciplines such as botany, medicine, anatomy and astrology to the West. Some examples of these indirect borrowings would be julep (13th century) or algèbre . Furthermore, through the trade relationship between Italy (Italian) and the Iberian Peninsula (Catalan) and through many literary contacts with these languages, French received a further large increase in words of Arabic origin such as sucre or alcôve (see Kiesler, 1650).

4.2. Direct contacts in modern times

The French language received the highest number of Arabicisms in modern times. Reasons for this were, for example, the trade, travel reports, the Egyptian campaign of Napoleon between 1789 and 1799 and especially the French colonization in the Maghreb. The French conquest of Algeria began in 1830, France continued its expansion with the colonization of Tunisia in 1883 and conquered the entire Maghreb with Morocco in 1912. As a result of this takeover, many different French troops who spoke only French came to an environment where Arabic was the dominant language (cf. ibid.). So there was a very close linguistic contact between these two languages, although due to France's position as a colonial power, French subsequently became the dominant language in these environments. Algeria in particular became the center of French activities, so that in 1898 around 275,000 French were living in Algeria. Many loanwords that have become established in French are not of high Arabic origin, but come from the colloquial dialects of the Maghreb. So that this can be better understood, it is necessary to know that the phenomenon of diglossia prevails in all Arab countries today, which means that two varieties of a language are spoken by the same speaker community (cf. Ferguson 1959, 232 ff.). A distinction is made between the H-variety (high-variety), which is used in formal contexts such as school, university or administration, and the L-variety (low-variety), which is usually the first language (L1) of the speaker and in used in family contexts. The H-variety is standard Arabic in all Arab countries, but all countries differ in their L-variety. As a result, one speaks Moroccan Arabic, Lebanese Arabic, Egyptian Arabic, etc. Thus, Arabs from different countries use standard Arabic as the lingua franca, since the H variety is identical in all of them (cf. ibid.). Arabic was suppressed throughout the Maghreb during colonial times and the Arabs and Berbers were supposed to acquire the French language, but the French adopted a great many words from the Maghreb dialects into French during their stay. A lot of war vocabulary of Arabic origin got into the French language, because native troops like the Bat d’Af were stationed in North Africa and the natives of the Maghreb also fought for France in World War I. After some time the so-called returned Pieds-noirs, the French living in North Africa, returned to France, so that a lot of Arabicisms got into French. These arabisms are divided into two categories: Some words of Arabic origin have been able to establish themselves in standard French such as houri 'Lady of Paradise'> ar. [hu: ri]. These arabisms have not yet been extensively researched. The second category includes words that share five common characteristics:

1. They are borrowed from Maghrebian Arabic
2. They belong to a low style in both Arabic and French
3. They have connotations of the derogatory, the familiar and the rough
4. They have been adopted in direct, ongoing contact situations between sociologically analogous layers.
5. They are sonically close to the Etyma

This includes, for example kif-kif 'Equal to'> ar. [kifkif]. During this time, not only nouns were incorporated into French, but verbs such as niquer 'Fuck'> ar. [ni: k], Adjectives like mesquine 'Poor'> ar. [misqi: n], Adverbs like chouIa 'Little'> ar. [ʃwai] and interactions like zob 'Penis'> ar. [zib]. There are also arabisms that only exist in French and not in other Romance languages, such as bled 'dump', clebs 'mutt' or maboul 'stupid' (cf. Kiesler, 1651).

4.3. The linguistic consequences

The Arabic language has enriched the French vocabulary directly or indirectly in many areas such as the military, shipping, the vocabulary for fabrics, household, animals and fruits. Much scientific work deals with indirect arabisms, but the direct arabisms are not yet very well researched. With regard to the graphematic adaptation of arabisms to French, it can be said that this is a relatively complex process because it is about is two completely different writing systems. In addition, the dialect of the Maghreb can often not be written in Arabic script because certain sounds like the [e] do not exist in standard Arabic. Due to the graphematic adaptation one uses for some arabisms such as cadi the final position of the vowel [i] (<-i>), which is otherwise not used in French, and a vowel before the letter (<(V) h>) as in kasbah. In addition, the letter , which is very seldom used in French, appears frequently, as in aboukorn. In addition, French is enriched by two diagraphs: First of all, the to mark the fricative affricative sound / dʒ / as in canadji and the in words like fellagha, although the sound is identical to the French / ʁ / as in la rue is. The other consonants of the Arabic language are retained, but the empathic quality of some sounds is lost, so that they are substituted by a voiceless or voiced consonant depending on the word. The pharyngeal fricative sound / x / becomes a / k / both graphematically and phonetically, rarely also [kʁ] as in [xalas] 'End' fr. class. / h / and / ħ / disappear completely in the pronunciation and spelling of words of Arabic origin (cf. ibid., 1651).

The arabisms are also adapted to French so that they can accept various French suffixes, such as {ni: k} + {er} = niquer or [alku ħ u: l]> { alc Ɔ l} + {ik} = alcoolique. A distinction is also made between two types of Arabicisms, namely those that have been integrated into French, such as jupe and candi and those that are still regarded as foreign by French speakers, such as couscous (cf. ibid., 1652 f.).

5. Conversation analysis

5. 1. Methodology

After having presented the Arabic language and the history and mechanisms of Arabic-French language contact, I would now like to move on to the main part of my work. In this section I would like to show the extent to which the language contact between Arabic and French in the français parlé the resident of Saint-Denis ‘can be proven. To answer this question, three residents of the Paris suburb were interviewed. All three respondents differ in age, occupation and neighborhood, so that the results can be compared in detail. Each interview lasted seven minutes, which resulted in a total of five minutes of speaking time per subject. The respondents' statements were then transcribed into the IPA script and initially analyzed individually. In addition, some guidelines were drawn up that made the analysis easier. The same aspects were taken into account for each speaker and specific linguistic phenomena were discussed in more detail using specialist literature in order to be able to analyze them more precisely.

The guidelines and the three transcribed discussions can be found in the appendix. In order to make this analysis easier to understand, the respective aspects that have been dealt with have been marked in bold and numbered.

5.2. Conversation analysis

The first speaker who was interviewed is called Hachim H., comes from Lebanon, is 33 years old and has lived in Saint-Denis for 13 years. In Lebanon, he did not learn French as a foreign or second language, but acquired his language skills during his long life in France. His wife is French and French is also the mother tongue of his two children.

When looking at the utterances of the first test person, linguistically very interesting phenomena become apparent. The speaker is proficient in both French and Arabic and can therefore express himself in both languages. When looking at the phonetic transcription it becomes clear that Arabic is used very often instead of French. This phenomenon is called Code switching and by this one understands that a multilingual speaker switches between two languages ​​known to him. A distinction is made here between intersential code switching, i.e. that the speaker changes language from sentence to sentence, and intrasential code switching, i.e. that the speaker uses several languages ​​within a sentence. Code switching is a very common phenomenon and the main reason for its appearance is migration (cf. Winford 2003, 13 ff.). Code switching only takes place if the other party speaks both languages. It is therefore not surprising that in the present case, i.e. among the speakers in Saint-Denis, where many citizens speak both French and Arabic, code switching is a very common process.

When examining subject 1, it can be clearly seen that the speaker uses both intrasential and intersential code switching:

Figure not included in this excerpt

[...]



[1]Hadith (Arabic statement) denotes the traditional quotations of the Prophet Mohamed.

[2] Own translation of: "أحبّوا العرب لثلاث: لأنّي عربي ، والقرآن عربي وكلام أهل الجنة عربي" (At-Tabarani Al-Jami` as-Saghir, 225)

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