The Arabic Dialect of Tillo in the Region of Siirt : (south-eastern Turkey)

University dissertation from Semitiska språk: Arabiska, Arameiska/Syriska, Etiopiska, Hebreiska

Abstract: This study is in many respects a traditionally descriptive one which places special emphasis on socio-linguistic and language-contact phenomena. It concerns, however, a relatively unfamiliar example of involuntary cultural assimilation and probable extinction, which is not without relevance to current politics among great powers.The Arabic dialect of Tillo, in the region of Siirt in south-eastern Turkey, is spoken by a small isolated group of Arabs living mainly among Kurds but also among Turks. The latter represent the state of Turkey in the form of civil servants, police officers, army officers and other authorities. The official language is Turkish which is also the only language taught in schools. All television and radio programs are broadcast in Turkish, just as all newspapers are published in that language. Since Kurds constitute the vast majority in the region, north Kurdish (Kurmandji) is needed for daily conversation. Arabic has thus come to a standstill stage of development and at the same time lost status for the benefit primarily of Turkish but also of Kurdish. The Arabs are leaving Tillo and immigrating to the big cities in the western parts of the country. This migration is occurring so rapidly that the Arabs of Tillo are distressed that soon no Arabs will remain in the village. In the big cities, for instance Istanbul, the Arabs avoid speaking Arabic in order not to attract attention; they are afraid of being classified as tarrōr “terrorists”. The consequence of this socio-linguistic situation is that Tillo Arabic goes on losing its importance and becoming kaba “vulgar”, and since its development has already been arrested it seems destined to die out.Turkish impact on Tillo Arabic is immense. In accordance with Turkish phonology, the voiced consonants are pronounced voiceless in final position and in contact position before voiceless consonants. An epenthetic or prosthetic vowel is used to avoid a two-consonant cluster. Turkish particles such as the superlative particle en and the adverb hem “also, too” are often used in everyday life. Constructions similar to Turkish ones, such as compound nouns or possessive compounds, are used. The lexicon includes many borrowings and second borrowings. The latter means that a word was first borrowed into Turkish and from Turkish back into Tillo Arabic.

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