Otto Jastrow (Tallinn University, Estonia) “Research on the Anatolian Arabic Dialects (qəltu dialects) – an Ongoing Story”


In an article from 1882/3 (!) Albert Socin described the closely related dialects of Mossul in Northern Iraq and Mardin in South-Eastern Turkey. Arabic dialectology, still in its early stages, could not properly appreciate the archaic character of Mardin Arabic nor put it in a typological context. Almost 90 years later (from 1968-1970) the present author conducted extensive fieldwork in Mardin province, collecting new data on Mardin Arabic and the closely related Mḥallami dialects. The fieldwork led to the discovery of a number of different Arabic dialect groups in Mardin province and the neighbouring provinces of Siirt, Diyarbakir, Bitlis, and Muş. For all the Arabic dialects spoken in this area, the terms “Anatolian Arabic” or – alternatively – “qəltu dialects” came into usage. In the meantime a lot of data has been published and the typological relationship between the various groups has been discussed in a number of articles. As recently as in 2008 Shabo Talay discovered a new dialect in Sine in the north of Diyarbakir province that sheds new light on the relationship between Anatolian and Syrian Arabic. Finally, last year a new dialect in Muş province was discovered representing the most extreme divergence so far from the conservative Mardin type. Thus the research on Anatolian Arabic, started more than 130 years ago, presents itself as an on-going story.