This study presents developments in the Arabic linguistic tradition that relate to the question of identifying and distinguishing foreign vocabulary in the language. The connection between the linguistic tradition and the issue of loan words in Arabic from other languages has been made explicit wherever possible. Otherwise the connection is made implicitly.
The thesis links landmark developments in Arabic linguistics, particularly in grammar, on the one hand, to the issue of discerning the criteria for identifying loan words, on the other, thereby demonstrating the close relationship that exists between these two conceptual bodies and the dependence of the latter's progress on the developments of the former; al-Khalīl ibn Aḥmad and Sībawayhi figure as key players in this regard. Al-Jawālīqī’s dictionary al-Mu‘arrab, of which I have made a case study, gives a practical and comprehensive summary of statements and views concerning words considered to have been imported into Arabic, and is the recognized sourcebook to this day on the subject.
The numerous translations that have been made from the chapters and entries in al-Jawālīqī’s work—which have heretofore only been available in the original Arabic—will serve as a potential springboard for its more widespread use by English speaking scholars, and as a possible starting point for further in-depth studies on foreign vocabulary and related topics in Arabic as much as in other languages.
A central feature of the thesis is the issue of loan words, which can be seen as a portal to investigating the complex discipline of etymology. The latter subject ties in with another theme treated here, viz. Arabic lexicography. Also treated are issues related to grammar—notably qiyas 'analogy' as applied by Sībawayhi. The latter's integral system for the evaluation and categorization of attested usage (samā‘) has, moreover, been examined in the context of identifying foreign vocabulary in the language.