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Until about 60 years ago, linguistic research on the Arabic language in the West was restricted to inquiries on Classical Arabic and the Classical tradition, and spoken Arabic dialects, with historical studies embedded within the broader field of Semitic languages. This situation is changing quickly, not only through the continuation of older research traditions, but also with the integration of new research fields and perspectives. With this explanation comes the danger of specialists in Arabic losing an overview of the field, and of leaving non-specialists without basic resourced for evaluating domains of research which they may be interested in for comparative purposes.The Oxford Handbook of Arabic Linguisticswill confront this problem by combining state-of-the-art overviews with essays on issues of perspective, controversy, and point of view. In twenty-one chapters, leading experts from around the world will lay out their own stances on controversial issues. The book not only evaluates ways in which questions and theories established in general linguistics and its sub-fields elucidate Arabic, but also challenges approaches which might result in accommodating Arabic to "non-Arabic" interpretations, and brings out the Arabic specificity of individual problems. TheHandbook, in one compact volume, gives critical expression to a language which covers large populations and geographical areas, has a long written tradition, and has been the locus of major intellectual fervor and debate.
Jonathan Owens is Professor of Arabic Linguistics at the University of Bayreuth, Germany.