The Dialect of Sfax (Tunisia)

Zeineb Sellami

Résumé

This paper aims to describe the most outstanding features of the Arabic spoken in Sfax, the second largest city in Tunisia, which is located 270km southeast of Tunis. It is based on a fieldwork conducted in the old city of Sfax in September 2016. To the best of my knowledge, this dialect hasn't been thoroughly documented yet, except for one short description written by Dhouha Lajmi, which was based on her ‘empirical experience of the linguistic situation in Sfax' (Lajmi 2009). This article is an attempt to fill this lacuna in the field of Tunisian dialectology, by providing a linguistic sketch of the most prominent features of the Sfaxi dialect on the phonological, morphological, and morphosyntactic levels.

While falling into the pre-Hilali category, this dialect retains some archaisms that make it very different from other varieties in Tunisia, and more generally in North Africa, making it useful for the account of the history of Maghrebi Arabic.

Note de l’auteur

Abbreviations:

1: first person 2: second person 3: third person def: definite article
f: feminine fut: future ipfv: imperfective pass: passive
pfv: perfective pl: plural sg: singular
sub: subordinate conjunction top: topicalizer

1. Introduction

  • 1 In Sfax Ville and Sfax Ouest. Source: Institut National de Statistiques.
  • 2 Tunisia can be counted as one of the most investigated areas in the field, its accessibility for fi (...)

1Located 270km southeast of Tunis, Sfax (Ṣafāqis) is the second largest city in Tunisia, home to 211.301 people as of 20141. Despite its weight in the country’s economical and cultural life, it has not received as much attention from dialectologists as other areas may have2. As a matter of fact, to the best of our knowledge, there are only two references available. The first one dates back to 1907 and is a body of texts collected by Karl Narbeshuber (Aus dem Leben der arabischen Bevölkerung in Sfax Regentschaft Tunis). The second one, more recent, is a short description written by Dhouha Lajmi in 2009. In her paper, the author regards Sfax and its countryside as a separate dialectal area, since it “presents very specific characteristics”. Aside from this initial comment, a thorough analysis of the original data collected in September 2016 could help show in what ways the Sfaxi dialect stands out from the other Tunisian pre-Hilali dialects. The present paper is a preliminary study of the dialect spoken by the elderly inhabitants of the Old City. As it appears to be, it differs from the one spoken by their younger counterparts and from the one spoken outside of the walls. I intentionally chose to focus my efforts on these speakers in order to show the most outstanding features that can be regarded as retained archaisms.

2The fieldwork took place in September 2016, where I recorded eight people: two women and four men (born between 1930 and 1950) who have lived in the Old City their whole life, and two young men and an old lady outside the Old City. These last recordings will only be used as points of reference, as they are the most representative of today’s Sfaxi dialect, which falls beyond the scope of this article.

3As mentioned above, Sfax is a major city in Tunisia, and has been throughout history. The medina as seen today was founded in 849 between the ruins of ancient Roman Taparura and Thanae, by the Aghlabid ʕAlī Ibn Aslam al-Bakrī. Taparura was first mentioned in Ptolemy’s Geography around the year 140, and was one of Africa’s bishoprics during the 5th Century (Du Paty De Clam 1890: 6). After these mentions, the Roman toponym disappears and Sfax is the only name referring to the city, which remained under Roman rule until 655, when the Arabs started occupying it. The inhabitants of the city rebelled during the 11th C and Sfax was independent for a short period of time, before falling under Sicilian rule in 1148. Afterwards, its fate didn’t differ much from the fate of the other Tunisian cities. Its dialect though, seems to have taken a very different direction from the other Tunisian pre-Hilali varieties.

2. Phonology

4Sfaxi seems to be a differential dialect in the terms of J. Cantineau (1937: 49) who distinguishes between dialects which elide all short vowels in open syllables, calling them ‘non-differential' and dialects which have a loss of the high vowels in such positions while keeping the low vowel. Though this distinction is mainly used for Eastern dialects of Arabic, it proves to be useful in this case, especially since Cantineau describes Maghrebi dialects as ‘non-differential’. This feature is only found in nearby Kerkennah (Herin and Zammit 2017), as far as my knowledge of Pre-Hilali dialects goes.

2.1 Short vowels

5There is a consistent maintenance of unstressed /a/ in open syllables, such as in the CaCaC and CaCāC patterns. As a matter of fact, the informants kept these vowels in words like: kalēm ‘speech’, zamēn ‘time’, ḥamē-tī ‘my mother in-law’, ḥaṭab ‘wood’, ḥanaš ‘snake’. One would have expected these short vowels to be reduced or deleted as they are in the other sedentary Tunisian dialects.

  • 3 All Tunis data in this paper is from the TuniCo Corpus, “a corpus of unmonitored speech that contai (...)

6With regard to the syllabic structure in this dialect, perhaps the most important pattern to look at is the CVCC one. As a matter of fact, the form qabal (*qabl) ‘before’ appears twice in our sample. The same pattern can be found in one dialect of Kerkennah (vestigial), on which B. Herin and M. Zammit (2017: 141) write that it “suggests that this dialect did not undergo the widespread North African shift CvCC [to] CCvC, unknown in Maltese (cf. Maltese qabel).” It is confirmed here that the Old Sfaxi as well did not undergo that shift, and it can be witnessed more obviously than in the data from Kerkennah, since the reflexive adverb baʕḏ̣ followed by any suffix keeps its vowel in its original position: Sfaxi baʕḏ̣a-na vs. Tunis3 bʕaḏ̣-na.

7Probably due to lack of evidence in the sedentary data, Zammit 2013 (“The Sfaxi Element in Maltese”) considers this feature as a shared Bedouin-Maltese trait, but we can now assert that it is another feature that Sfaxi and Maltese share.

8In the same article referred to above, the authors note the form yrakkabū-hum (Herin & Zammit 2017: 141-2) with the maintenance (or the addition) of the short /a/ in an “extremely unusual” position as far as pre-Hilali dialects are concerned. Interestingly enough, this unusual maintenance appears as the norm in the data I have collected. They argue that this short /a/ is more likely to be a retention than an epenthesis, explaining the shift from etymological /i/ to /a/ as a result of “some kind of euphony”. The data seems to go in that direction: examples such as yammar-ūh ‘they let it raise’, sakkarū ‘they have closed’, idaḫḫal-ǝk ‘he lets you in’, are prolific in the sample, and they are produced by different speakers. The /i/[to]/a/ shift can be explained as a result of an analogy with the perfective conjugation of the same verbs, the speakers keeping the same vowel /a/ for the two forms, as in sakkarū (pfv) / ysakkarū (ipfv).

2.2. Treatment of /ā/

9It has three different outcomes: raising (imāla), maintenance, and the shift to ō (tafḫīm):

  • 4 “L’imāla tunisienne est un phénomène spontané et bloqué seulement par une emphatique ou q précédent (...)
  • 5 Maltese cognate qiegħed.

10Imāla conditioning for medial /ā/ is the same as in Tunis (Mion 2008: 306), except for a few words. It is indeed raised to ē in neutral environments, but when the vowel is preceded by a ‘guttural’ consonant (Mion’s terminology), as it is the case for /q/, the rules found in Tunis don’t necessarily apply4 as we can see in qēʕid5 ‘sitting’. Some cases of medial /ā/ raising involve diphthongization as in lǝnniēs ‘to the people’.

11Final /ā/ in monosyllabic words, as opposed to the other Tunisian dialects (Mion 2008: 307), is never raised as we can see in these words: ‘water’, žā ‘he came’, s(a)nā ‘years’, hnā ‘here’, ‘no’ ... These would all be raised to ē in Tunis.

  • 6 In their dictionary, Zwāri and Sharfi (1998: 53) indicate the pharyngealization of /z/ in this word (...)

12Finally, a very typical sound change in Sfax is the rounding and backing of /ā/ to ɒː, ɔ̄ and ō. As a general rule, back and emphatic consonants usually trigger the tafḫīm as in ʕɒːm ‘a year’, ḫɒːmis ‘fifth’, ṭɔ̄yba ‘cooked (f.)’, ṣōfi ‘pure’. All the other cases of tafḫīm involve pharyngealized front consonants, as in nōṛ ‘fire’, dɔ̄ṛ ‘house’, and bẓōẓ6 ‘provocation’.

2.3. Diphthongs

  • 7 “Les villageois réduisent à ē l’ancienne diphtongue ay et à ō l’ancienne diphtongue aw.” (Marçais 1 (...)

13The majority of the pre-Hilali dialects have reduced etymological diphthongs /ay/ and /aw/ to ī or ē and ū or ō respectively. The high vowels are found in Tunis and Kairouan, while the mid-vowels are characteristic of the rural areas in the Sāḥil region7. Almost all of the diphthongs in our sample are retained. Perhaps the most striking example for this feature was when one of the informants, a twenty-year-old man, asked an eighty-seven-year-old woman whether she used to preserve food. He used the term ʕūla (*ʕawla), and the woman did not understand what he meant. After a few seconds of confusion, he said ʕawla, to which she automatically answered, having finally understood the request.

  • 8 This is more likely due to sociolinguistic reasons, Tunis Arabic being established as a Koine, and (...)

14This exchange shows not only how relevant diphthongs are in Old Sfaxi, but also how they are being reduced by the younger generations.8 Furthermore, the oldest speakers tend to reinterpret etymological long vowels as diphthongs, as it is the case in patronyms and toponyms, where this trait is particularly salient: For example, one of the informants said Ṭawẓar for the city Tūzǝr.

3. Morphology

3.1. Morphological Dual in Nouns

15The morphological dual (-ayn suffix) has mostly been abandoned in pre-Hilali dialects, which, in most cases retain it for double body parts or time and measurement units. For all other cases involving two things, the speakers will naturally use the number two and the counted noun in its plural form. In Sfax, the dual seems much more productive than that, appearing in what can be considered as frozen duals such as wɛldayna ‘our parents', but also suffixed to words that don't necessarily come in pairs. In the example below, an old man was saying that he still had to go back and forth (to the door) twice and used the French loanword voyage (trip), which seems to be completely integrated into the dialect:

(1) mēzēl fāyāž-ayn
There are still two trips remaining.

3.2. Verbs

16The verbal system is overall very characteristic of the general pre-Hilali system: the III/y verbs are conjugated like yimši (3sg)/ yimšīw (3pl) as opposed to Bedouin yimši /yimšu, but the few forms analysed below make Sfaxi stand out.

3.2.1. The Passive

17The passive is, in the majority of cases, expectedly expressed with the prefixed t- as in tǝbnēt ‘it was built’, except in one example where the informant used the N-Stem.

(2) ammā

n-qaṭaʕ

l-ʕaḏ̣am

but

pass-cut.pfv.3sg

def-eggs

But there was a shortage of eggs.

18Unfortunately, one occurrence cannot give much evidence as to why this form was used in this particular context. It is unclear whether it conveys a different meaning than the prefixed t- passive, or if this is a reflection of a much earlier stage of the dialect, where the Arabic N-Stem was somewhat productive.

3.2.2. The Causative

  • 9 In this paper I use the common Semitic linguistics terminology: The G-Stem is the ground stem, and (...)
  • 10 Forms found in the TuniCo Corpus include 3sg yuxṛuž and 1pl nuxǝṛžu (author’s transcription).

19There is one residual occurrence of the C-Stem: no-ḫerž-ū-h ‘we get it out’, this same form appearing twice in the corpus, with two different informants, but in the same context: the recipe of a typical Sfaxi dish. The form in itself can be confusing, since we clearly have a direct object –h affixed to a verb that would be intransitive (meaning to go out) for a speaker of Tunis Arabic for example. Taking into account the fact that in the data, the intransitive form of the same root has different prefix and thematic vowels, we can already establish an opposition between the G-Stem and the C-Stem9 of the root ḫ.r.ž. From there, we can reconstruct the 3rd person conjugation of this verb, imagining the whole paradigm could have been productive in earlier stages of the dialect. This is displayed in the table 1 below, where the C-Stem in Sfaxi corresponds morphologically to the G-Stem in Tunis10.

Table 1: G-Stem vs C-Stem in Sfaxi

Table 1: G-Stem vs C-Stem in Sfaxi

20However, this is the only occurrence of the C-Stem, and all other causatives in the corpus are expressed via the D-Stem. One could wonder whether this is a very specific use within the context of the old recipe being transmitted unchanged from generation to generation, with that verb having that particular meaning, or if the C-Stem was a tangible morphological category at an earlier point in the history of the dialect that is now only residual.

3.2.3. The verb

  • 11 “The archaic verb is still used in peripheral dialects of Arabic, including Maltese, and must ha (...)

21M. Zammit states that in “Sfaxi Arabic, the verb for seeing is regularly expressed by ‘šāf’, and to a lesser extent by ‘rā’” (Zammit 2013: 33), and that we find it mostly in frozen context, “very often in the perfective”. However, a closer look at the data shows the contrary. Whereas šāf shows up numerous times, is still very productive. The whole paradigm, as shown in table 2 below, appears in the corpora, the most outstanding occurrences being the imperatives. It is worth noting that this paradigm is the same one as in Maltese (Borg & Azzopardi-Alexander 1997: 366). To quote Zammit again, the verb is still seemingly common currency in one small part of the Maghreb.11

Table 2: Paradigm of the verb ra (r.ʔ.y) in Sfaxi

Table 2: Paradigm of the verb ra (r.ʔ.y) in Sfaxi

4. Morphosyntax

  • 12 “La littérature dialectologique concernant le Maghreb oriental, et notamment l’arabe tunisien, ment (...)

22In Old Sfaxi, the future is mainly expressed with the adverb mǝš, a reduced form of the active participle māšī of the root m.š.y (to go), followed by the verb in the imperfective. In most Tunisian dialects, this reduced and grammaticalized form of the root has merged with the subordinate conjunction bǝš (in order to), making bāš or its allomorph bǝš the form expressing both the future and subordination (Mion 2014: 65). This merger is so engrained that, in his most recent paper on the future in Tunis Arabic, G. Mion talks about it as the prototypical form to express the future in Tunisian Arabic.12

23Old Sfaxi seems to have preserved the opposition between the two morphemes. One example in the data shows how clear the difference is for the speakers when both futurity and subordination are expressed:

(3) mǝš nḥǝbbu

naʕmlu

bēb

hawniyya, barša ḥwēyiž

nqillik

fut want.ipfv.1pl

make.ipfv.1pl

door

here, many things

tell.ipfv.1sg

aʿlī-hom

bǝš tʕīnū-na

fī-him

mǝš naʕmlu

bēb mǝn ġɔ̄di

prep-them

sub help.ipfv.2pl-1pl

prep-them

fut make.ipfv.1pl

door over there

bēš mibqā-š

yitʕadda

ḥatta ḥadd.

sub stay.ipfv-neg

go.ipfv.2sg

any person

We’re going to, we want to put a door here, I will tell you about a lot of things that you can help us with, we’re going to put a door there so that no one goes there anymore.

24Furthermore, some speakers have a less reduced form of the active participle, going as far as putting gender and number agreement on it, as in the example below:

(4) rā-k

mēšy-a

tkassar-u

top-2sg

go.ptcp-2fsg

break.ipfv.2sg-3sg

You’re going to break it.

25Old Sfaxi thus displays an earlier stage of the grammaticalization of māši as the form expressing futurity in Tunisian Arabic.

5. Lexical items

26Some lexical items seem to be very typical of this dialect, as shown by Zwari & Sharfi’s (1998) Arabic dictionary dedicated to Sfaxi vocabulary, where the authors write the words as pronounced. We can afford not to dwell on the roots analyzed by Zammit in his paper (2013: 35-41) and look into the items that do not appear there.

  • 13 Including Kerkennah.
  • 14 Tunis qāʕdīn yzīdū ‘they are adding’ vs. Sfax gēdsīn naʕmlū ‘we are doing’
  • 15 "جلس فأصبح كالڤدس والڤدس هو الكدس"

27One particular root whose use is, as far as one can tell, limited to the Sfaxi area13, is g.d.s, which corresponds to the widespread q.ʕ.d ‘to sit’ semantically and functionally, by also serving as the means of encoding the progressive.14 The dictionary (p. 500) gives this definition (translation mine) “he sat and thus became like a ‘gids’, and the ‘gids’ is the ‘kuds’ [pile]”15, thus referring to the Arabic root k.d.s. It is not particularly surprising that the voiceless velar stop is voiced, considering its environment, but it would be interesting to point out a few things. Sfaxi seems to be the only dialect where the root is completely reinterpreted as g.d.s, the voicing not being limited to forms where the velar stop is in direct contact with the second root consonant. Moreover, to the best of my knowledge, the G-Stem of k.d.s is not found in other Tunisian Sedentary dialects, though the D-Stem and the tD-Stem (meaning to pile up, to be numerous) are very common. The only G-Stem I could find is in the Arabic of the Marāzig, a Bedouin variety, where the verb kedas/yèkdes means living with someone, “vivre avec quelqu'un, se nourrir de frais communs" (Boris 1958: 524). It is conceivable to see in what ways the two meanings can be derived from each other, but it is unclear whether a possible contact situation or something else might have been the cause of the G-stem to be only found in these two dialects.

28Finally, it is worth mentioning that the root appears with the voicing of the first consonant in Maltese, where the verb doesn't exist, but where ‘heap’ is gods with the root g.d.s given as a reference (Aquilina 1987: 440). This is yet another common feature between Maltese and Sfaxi, meaning that this voicing, and the subsequent reinterpretation, are likely to have occurred in much earlier times, as early as before Maltese developed into a language of its own, although at this stage, we still have to consider the parallel development possibility.

  • 16 This lies in the largely accepted assumption that Maltese was historically part of Tunisian Arabic, (...)

29Another item is the word šayn for ‘thing’, which is the same realization as in Maltese xejn, as opposed to šay(y) for other dialects. It has been posited that this final [n], which shows up in many Arabic (Eastern and Western) interrogatives is a ‘remnant nun’, that is, a retention from the case system. J. Aquilina (1987: 1558) points to “a residue of the accusative case of Classical Arabic”, but D. Wilmsen (2014: 177) argues that this kind of claim is “based purely in superficial similarity”. While we can agree with Wilmsen, the final [n] is still interesting from a historical perspective, pointing out to a trait shared by both Sfaxi and Maltese, that is, a feature in older layers of Tunisian Arabic16 and perhaps more generally Maghrebi Arabic as a whole.

6. Comparison with Narbeshuber’s data

30More than a century ago, Karl Narbeshuber transcribed about three pages describing the traditional wedding celebrations in Sfax, followed by popular songs and poems. There is very little information on the conditions of the data collection of this scholar, and as useful these texts might be, they are to be read with caution, as some of their content contradicts the recent recordings as well as descriptions made by his contemporaries.

31He recorded two examples of high short vowels in unstressed syllables: in errižāl ‘the men’ and yufṭuru ‘they eat’. This might be an indication that, earlier than that, the vowel system of Sfaxi Arabic was more stable, just as Zammit & Herin 2017 suggest for the differential dialect of Kerkennah. Words with unstressed /a/ in such position are much more numerous in his work, but surprisingly, their maintenance seems less regular. In fact, in the data I have collected, the retention of unstressed /a/ in open syllables seems to be non conditioned, wherein in these older texts, the vowel is regularly maintained when in the vicinity of a voiced pharyngeal fricative but dropped in other environments: arbaʕīn ‘forty’, arbaʕa ‘four’, iṭallaʕūha ‘they lift her’ vs. idaḫḫlu in the same text, šeʕīr ‘barley’, ʕarūsa ‘bride’, ʕalīha ‘on her’. He also gives xlāxǝl ‘bracelet’ as an example, whereas in the more recent data, it is ġarēbǝl ‘sieves’ that appears, with the short vowel maintenance in a similar environment.

32The raising pattern seems to be the same, although some tokens that appear in both my data and in his do not exhibit imāla, such as in qāʕda where we have qēʕda in all the cases, xlāxǝl cited above, where we would expect raising, especially in a neutral environment like this one. Final /ā/ in monosyllabic words has the same outcome as in my recordings, with no to little raising in a few cases such as nsǟ.

  • 17 “Toutefois, la ville de Sfax et les milieux féminins de Tunis ont maintenu la diphtongaison primiti (...)

33As far as diphthongs are concerned, they are very rare in the texts, reported by Narbeshuber in three words: zawžtu ‘his wife’, ḥeit ‘wall’, and fi ʕawḏ̣ ‘instead of’. This is rather unexpected, since they appear in my corpus, and W. Marçais mentions their retention in the first half of the 20th C17, that is, not so far after Narbeshuber had collected his data.

34Finally, we also find the root g.d.s in its various forms, with g as the first root consonant, except one occurrence displaying /k/ in that position: kǟdes for the active participle. This single occurrence pushes us to nuance the hypothesis of an older reinterpretation of the root into g.d.s.

7. Outlook: Pre-Hilali revisited?

  • 18 This has been brought up for Maltese, for which H. Stumme (1904) argues a possible Levantine origin (...)
  • 19 “Le maltais intéresse la dialectologie historique comparée par les témoignages anciens qu’il peut e (...)

35Considering the features discussed in this paper, Old Sfaxi seems to be a valuable example of early Pre-Hilali dialects, and its ties with Maltese deserve further investigation. An extensive work on this dialect as well as the differential dialect of Kerkennah (Herin & Zammit 2017), and their comparison to other sedentary dialects is important to the better understanding of the development of North African Arabic, as far as the Pre-Hilali type is concerned. The data shows that this dialect differs from the ones it is related to, by lacking heavy syncopation, having a slightly different imāla conditioning, peculiar verbal forms, and shared vocabulary (Zammit 2013), to name a few features. It is important to point out the fact that these differences make it sound almost ‘oriental'18 (especially its differentiality) and link it to Maltese in a tighter way than Zammit showed it in 2013. The latter already states that “excluding the possibility that Maltese could've been directly influenced by Bedouin varieties, these isoglosses [shared by Bedouin varieties of Arabic and Maltese] might be an indication that, a number of centuries ago, the features outlined below constituted some kind of homogenous ‘common Tunisian' which were later innovated by the sedentary varieties". The Sfaxi data analyzed in this paper strengthens this hypothesis and compels us to look further into the development of North African Arabic, as this kind of data, in a similar manner to Maltese, bears older testimonies of this type of dialects. 19

Zwari, Ali & Sharfi, Youssef. 1998. Muʿğam al-kalimāt wa-t-taqālīd aš-šaʿbiyya bi-ṣafāqis. Sfax.

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Notes

1 In Sfax Ville and Sfax Ouest. Source: Institut National de Statistiques.

2 Tunisia can be counted as one of the most investigated areas in the field, its accessibility for fieldwork being one of the main reasons, and yet some of its dialects are still understudied.

3 All Tunis data in this paper is from the TuniCo Corpus, “a corpus of unmonitored speech that contains both conversations and narratives” with young speakers who grew up in Tunis. (url: http://www.oeaw.ac.at/acdh/de/tunico).

4 “L’imāla tunisienne est un phénomène spontané et bloqué seulement par une emphatique ou q précédents et frappant tous les /ā/” (Mion 2008: 308)

5 Maltese cognate qiegħed.

6 In their dictionary, Zwāri and Sharfi (1998: 53) indicate the pharyngealization of /z/ in this word alongside with the definition “بزاز: بتفخيم الزاي”

7 “Les villageois réduisent à ē l’ancienne diphtongue ay et à ō l’ancienne diphtongue aw.” (Marçais 1950: 211).

8 This is more likely due to sociolinguistic reasons, Tunis Arabic being established as a Koine, and people tending to level toward it (Gibson 1998, 2009).

9 In this paper I use the common Semitic linguistics terminology: The G-Stem is the ground stem, and corresponds to the form I (CaCaCa) in Arabic grammars, the C-Stem is the causative (form IV, ʔaCCaCa) and the D-Stem, where the second consonant is geminated, is the form II (CaCCaCa).

10 Forms found in the TuniCo Corpus include 3sg yuxṛuž and 1pl nuxǝṛžu (author’s transcription).

11 “The archaic verb is still used in peripheral dialects of Arabic, including Maltese, and must hark back to a time when that verb was still common currency in the Maghreb.” (Zammit 2013: 34).

12 “La littérature dialectologique concernant le Maghreb oriental, et notamment l’arabe tunisien, mentionne systématiquement bāš en tant que spécialisé dans la construction du futur.” (Mion 2017: 207)

13 Including Kerkennah.

14 Tunis qāʕdīn yzīdū ‘they are adding’ vs. Sfax gēdsīn naʕmlū ‘we are doing’

15 "جلس فأصبح كالڤدس والڤدس هو الكدس"

16 This lies in the largely accepted assumption that Maltese was historically part of Tunisian Arabic, as Vanohove (1998: 97) puts it: “il semble maintenant admis que la langue maltaise provient d’une variété d’arabe proche des parlers des vieilles cités maghrébines de la période préhilalienne, et plus précisément des vieilles cités tunisiennes (Cohen 1988: 106), tel Kairouan [...] L’histoire comme la langue [...] plaident en faveur d’une telle hypothèse”.

17 “Toutefois, la ville de Sfax et les milieux féminins de Tunis ont maintenu la diphtongaison primitive” (Marçais 1950: 207).

18 This has been brought up for Maltese, for which H. Stumme (1904) argues a possible Levantine origin, that A. Borg (1996) describes with a more nuanced “Levantine linguistic traits”.

19 “Le maltais intéresse la dialectologie historique comparée par les témoignages anciens qu’il peut encore apporter” (Vanhove 1998: 98).

Auteur

Zeineb Sellami

INALCO - LACNAD