dr. E.W.A. (Liesbeth) Zack
Faculty of Humanities
Capaciteitsgroep Semitische talen en culturen
Spuistraat 134 Room number: 2.06
1012 VB Amsterdam
Liesbeth Zack is Assistant Professor in Arabic language and linguistics. Her research interests include historical sources of the Egyptian Arabic dialects, Middle Arabic, modern Egyptian Arabic, Arabic sociolinguistics, and Egyptian dialect literature.
She is currently working at the Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication on a research project entitled "The making of a capital dialect: Language change in 19th century Cairo", with a Veni grant from NWO (The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research).
The making of a capital dialect: Language change in 19th century Cairo
The language situation in the Arab world is known as diglossia, which means there is a high variety (Classical Arabic / Modern Standard Arabic) used for official purposes, and a low variety (dialect) used for informal communication. In Ottoman Egypt the language situation was complicated further because the language of the government and the elite was Turkish.
In the second half of the 19th century, the Arabic dialect of Cairo changed in many respects: some features which the dialect until then shared with the surrounding rural dialects, disappeared, while other features were replaced by innovative ones.
Structural properties of the language alone cannot explain the change in the dialect, because the features that started to disappear then, had been part of the language for centuries. Therefore, the social context also has to be taken into account. In the 19th century, dramatic changes in the social structure of the city took place. Cairo in that period attracted many labourers from the rural regions of Egypt. The mixing of urban and rural dialects led to linguistic changes and the emergence of a different dialect known as modern Cairene.
The change of the official language of the government from Turkish to Arabic also had its impact on the dialect, since the elite who spoke Turkish until then, switched to Arabic. The urban population and the Turkish elite wanted to dissociate themselves from the speech of peasants and, accordingly, avoided stigmatized 'rural' features.
This project aims at analyzing the characteristics of this dialect and the changes that took place, explaining these changes by studying the language in its social context, and producing a digitalized corpus that can be used in future studies.
1998, MA (doctoraal) in Arabic Studies, cum laude, from the University of
Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The subject of my thesis was an analysis of the
Egyptian dialect used by the Egyptian novelist Yūsuf al-Qaʿīd in his novel
Laban ilʿaṣfūr ("The milk of the bird").
1997-2006, Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo, Assistant Arabic Studies.
2006-2009, Lecturer of Arabic at the University of Amsterdam.
2009, PhD thesis: Egyptian Arabic in the seventeenth century: a study and edition of Yūsuf al-Maġribī's "Dafʿ al-iṣr ʿan kalām ahl Miṣr".
2009-present, Assistant Professor in Arabic Language and Culture at the University of Amsterdam.
2012-present, Postdoc at ACLC, project title: "The making of a capital dialect: Language change in 19th century Cairo". Veni-grant from NWO (The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research).
Zack, Liesbeth and Schippers, Arie (eds.). Middle Arabic and Mixed Arabic: Diachrony and Synchrony.
In recent scholarship, the connection between Middle Arabic and Mixed Arabic
is studied in a more systematic way. The idea of studying these two varieties in
one theoretical frame is quite new, and was initiated at the conferences of the
International Association for the Study of Middle and Mixed Arabic (AIMA). At
these conferences, the members of AIMA discuss the latest insights into the
definition, terminology, and research methods of Middle and Mixed Arabic.
Results of various discussions in this field are to be foundin the presentbook,
which contains articles describing and analysing the linguistic features of
Muslim, Jewish and Christian Arabic texts (folklore, religious and linguistic
literature) as well as the matters of mixed language and diglossia.
Contributors include: Berend Jan Dikken, Lutz Edzard, Jacques Grand'Henry, Bruno Halflants, Benjamin Hary, Rachel Hasson Kenat, Johannes den Heijer, Amr Helmy Ibrahim, Paolo La Spisa, Jérôme Lentin, Gunvor Mejdell, Arie Schippers, Yosef Tobi, Kees de Vreugd, Manfred Woidich, and Otto Zwartjes.
Publisher: Brill, Leiden.
Series: Studies in Semitic Languages and Linguistics 64.
Publication date: April 2012.
Dafʿ al-iṣr ʿan kalām ahl Miṣr, " Removing the burden from the speech of the Egyptians", was written in 1606 by Yūsuf al-Maġribī (d. 1611), and provides its readers with valuable information about the Egyptian dialect used in the 17 th century. The work is unique because it was one of the earliest attempts to study colloquial Arabic. It is a list of Egyptian Arabic words, which al-Maġribī checked for consistency with Classical Arabic. His aim was to prove that many Egyptiandialect terms, which were considered to be "incorrect"Arabic, in fact had their roots in the Classical Arabic language. Al-Maġribī focused on the words used in daily Egyptian life, such as the names of tools and utensils and food and drink, as well as the speech of traders and artisans. These entries are often adorned by anecdotes and lines of colloquial poetry and therefore, provide the reader with insight into the culture and daily life of Egypt in this period. This volume consists of two parts: the first is a study of aspects of daily life, the colloquial poetry, the linguistic characteristics of the dialect of this period, and a glossary of the words which are mentioned byal-Maġribī and the second includes an edition of the Arabic text, based on the autograph .
- Zack, Liesbeth. 2016. “Arabic language guides written for the British Army during the British Occupation of Egypt, 1882–1922.” Schmidt-Brücken, Daniel, Susanne Schuster and Marina Wienberg (eds.), Aspects of (Post)Colonial Linguistics: Current Perspectives and New Approaches. De Gruyter Mouton. (Koloniale und Postkoloniale Linguistik 9) pp. 1-26.
- Zack, Liesbeth. 2015. “Future particles.” Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics.
- Bernhard Rieder, Rasha Abdulla, Thomas Poell, Robbert Woltering, Liesbeth Zack. 2015. “Data critique and analytical opportunities for very large Facebook Pages: Lessons learned from exploring “We are all Khaled Said””. Big Data & Society Nov. 2015. DOI: 10.1177/2053951715614980
- Thomas Poell, Rasha Abdulla, Bernhard Rieder, Robbert Woltering & Liesbeth Zack. 2015. “Protest leadership in the age of social media.” Information, Communication & Society. DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2015.1088049
- Zack, Liesbeth. 2014. “Key to mass literacy or professor’s hobby? Fiske’s project to write Egyptian Arabic with the Latin alphabet”. Al-ʿArabiyya 47. 1-19. http://hdl.handle.net/11245/2.154802
- Alexander-Bakkerus, Astrid and Liesbeth Zack (guest editors). 2014. Linguistics in Amsterdam 7,2. Special issue: Revitalizing Older Linguistic Documentation: Proceedings of the Vth International Meeting. http://www.linguisticsinamsterdam.nl
- Zack, Liesbeth. 2014. "The use of the Egyptian dialect in the satirical newspaper Abu naḍḍāra zarʾa." O. Durand, A.D. Langone & G. Mion (eds.), Alf lahǧa wa lahǧa: Proceedings of the 9th Aida Conference. Wien, Berlin: LIT Verlag. 465-478. (Neue Beihefte zur Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes 8)
- Zack, Liesbeth. 2014. “Review of Mejdell, Gunvor / Edzard, Lutz: High vs. Low and Mixed Varieties: Status, Norms and Functions across Time and Languages.” Orientalistische Literaturzeitung 109(3). 223-227.
- Zack, Liesbeth. 2012. "Li'b al-manār, an Egyptian shadow play. Some comments on orthography, morphology and syntax". J. Den Heijer, P. La Spisa & L. Tuerlinckx (eds.), Autour de la langue arabe. Études présentées à Jacques Grand'Henry à l'occasion de son 70e anniversaire. Louvain-la-Neuve: Institut orientaliste de l'Université catholique de Louvain; Peeters. 333-351. (Publications de l'Institut orientaliste de Louvain 61)
- Zack, Liesbeth and Schippers, Arie (eds.). 2012. Middle Arabic and Mixed Arabic: Diachrony and Synchrony . Leiden: Brill. (Studies in Semitic Languages and Linguistics 64)
- Zack, Liesbeth. 2012. ""Leave, I want to have a shower!" The use of humour on the signs and banners seen during the demonstrations in Tahrir Square". R. Genis et al. (eds.), Between West and East. Festschrift for Wim Honselaar. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Pegasus. 711-729. (Pegasus Oost-Europese Studies 20)
- Zack, Liesbeth. 2012. "Quenching the thirst for knowledge: An analysis of the colloquial material in al-Xafāğī's šifā' al-ġalīl fīmā fī kalām al-'arab min al-daxīl ". In: P. Sánchez, Á. Vicente and M. Meouak (eds.), De los manuscritos medievales a internet: la presencia del árabe vernáculo en las fuentes escritas. Zaragoza: Universidad de Zaragoza. 193-220.
- Woidich, Manfred and Zack, Liesbeth. 2009. "The g/ǧ -question inEgyptian Arabic revisited". In: E. Al-Wer, R.E. de Jong (eds.), Arabic Dialectology: In Honour of Clive Holes on the Occasion of His Sixtieth Birthday . Leiden: Brill. 41-62.
- Zack, Liesbeth. 2009. Egyptian Arabic in the seventeenth century:a study and edition of Yūsuf al-Maġribī's "Dafʿ al-iṣr ʿan kalām ahl Miṣr" . Utrecht: LOT. (LOT Dissertation Series; 199)
- Zack, Liesbeth. 2008. "Dialect in zeventiende-eeuws Cairo". In: Zemzem 3/2008. 122-128.
- Zack, Liesbeth. 2008. "Vernacular Versus Classical Arabic: A 17th Century Scholar's View on the Egyptian Arabic Dialect". In: Grand'Henry and Jerôme Lentin (eds.), Moyen arabe et variétés mixtes de l'arabe à travers l'histoire. Actes duPremier Colloque International (Louvain-la-Neuve, 10-14 mai 2004). Leuven: Uitgeverij Peeters. 489-504.
- Zack, Liesbeth. 2004. "Colloquial Arabicin the 17th Century:Yūsuf al-Maġribī's Egyptian-Arabic Word List". In: Haak, De Jong enVersteegh (eds.), Approaches to Arabic Dialects: Collection of Articles Presented to Manfred Woidich on the Occasion of his Sixtieth Birthday . Leiden: E.J. Brill. 373-389. (Studies in Semitic Languages and Linguistics; 38)
- Zack, Liesbeth. 2001. "The Use of Colloquial Arabic in Prose Literature: Laban ilʿaṣfūr by Yūsuf al-Qaʿīd". In: Quaderni di Studi Arabi 19. 193-219.
- Zack, Liesbeth. 2001. "Yūsuf al-Maġribī's Egyptian-Arabic Word List. A Unique Manuscript in the St. Petersburg State University Library". In: Manuscripta Orientalia 7,3. 46-49.
Last update: January 2016
Taalvaardigheid Arabisch 1a en 1b (propedeuse)
In deze module leren studenten Egyptisch Arabisch. Tevens leren zij in de tweede helft het Arabische alfabet en de elementaire regels van het schrijven. Ook maken de studenten kennis met Arabisch in transcriptie en met de westerse benadering van de Arabische grammatica.
Arabic sociolinguistics (MA)
This course focuses on "Language and Politics in the Arab world" and on the dichotomy between Modern Standard Arabic and the dialects, which often manifests itself in the language used in political texts such as speeches. Radio and television broadcasts of politicians in the Arab world will be analysed, e.g. the speeches of Mubarak, Ben Ali, and other Arab leaders, but also historical material will be used, such as the speeches of Nasser. Written material, for instance political commentaries, blogs, and slogans used during demonstrations, will also be analysed during the course. At the end of this course, the student will have gained a deeper insight into the language situation in the Arab world and in the way Modern Standard Arabic and the dialects interact in political texts.
Zie de studiegids van de opleiding Arabisch voor meer informatie:
- Poell, T., Abdulla, R., Rieder, B., Woltering, R., & Zack, L. (2016). Protest leadership in the age of social media. Information, Communication & Society, 19(7), 994-1014. DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2015.1088049 [details]
- Zack, L. (2016). Arabic Language Guides Written for the British Army during the British Occupation of Egypt, 1882-1922. In D. Schmidt-Brücken, S. Schuster, & M. Wienberg (Eds.), Aspects of (post)colonial linguistics: Current perspectives and new approaches (pp. 1-26). (Koloniale und Postkoloniale Linguistik=Colonial and Postcolonial Linguistics; No. 9). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. [details]
- Rieder, B., Abdulla, R., Poell, T., Woltering, R., & Zack, L. (2015). Data critique and analytical opportunities for very large Facebook Pages: Lessons learned from exploring "We are all Khaled Said". Big Data & Society, 2(2). DOI: 10.1177/2053951715614980 [details]
- Woltering, R., Abdulla, R., Poell, T., Rieder, B., & Zack, L. (2015). A Page and Its Politics: Situating Kullinā Khālid Saʿīd in Egypt’s Ideological Landscape at the Time of Revolution. Cyber Orient, 9(2). [details]
- Zack, L. (2015). Future particles. In L. Edzard, & R. de Jong (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics. - Online Edition Leiden: Brill Online. [details]
- Zack, L. (2014). Key to mass literacy or professor's hobby? Fiske's project to write Egyptian Arabic with the Latin alphabet. Al-'Arabiyya, 47, 1-19. [details]
- Zack, L. (2016). Nineteenth-Century Cairo Arabic as Described by Qadrī and Nahla. In G. Grigore, & G. Bițună (Eds.), Arabic Varieties: Far and Wide: Proceedings of the 11th International Conference of AIDA, Bucharest, 2015 (pp. 557-567). București: Editura Universității din București. [details]
- Alexander-Bakkerus, A., & Zack, L. (2014). Preface Revitalizing Older Linguistic Documentation: Proceedings of the Vth International Meeting. Linguistics in Amsterdam, 7(2), 45-48. [details]
- Alexander-Bakkerus, A., & Zack, L. (2014). Revitalizing Older Linguistic Documentation: Proceedings of the Vth International Meeting. Linguistics in Amsterdam, 7(2), 45-174. [details]
- Zack, L. (2014). The use of the Egyptian dialect in the satirical newspaper Abu naddāra zarʾa. In O. Durand, A. D. Langone, & G. Mion (Eds.), Alf lahǧa wa lahǧa: proceedings of the 9th Aida Conference (pp. 465-478). (Neue Beihefte zur Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes; Vol. 8). Wien: Lit. [details]
- Zack, L. (2012). Li‘b al-manār, an Egyptian shadow play: some comments on orthography, morphology and syntax. In J. den Heijer, P. La Spisa, & L. Tuerlinckx (Eds.), Autour de la langue arabe: études présentées à Jacques Grand'Henry à l'occasion de son 70e anniversaire (pp. 333-351). (Publications de l'Institut orientaliste de Louvain; No. 61). Louvain-la-Neuve: Université catholique de Louvain, Institut orientaliste. [details]
- Zack, L. (2012). Quenching the thirst for knowledge: an analysis of the colloquial material in al-Xafāğī’s "Šifā’ al-ġalīl fīmā fī kalām al-‘arab min al-daxīl". Estudios de dialectología árabe, 6, 193-220. [details]
- Woidich, M., & Zack, L. (2009). The g/ğ-question in Egyptian Arabic revisited. In E. Al-Wer, & R. de Jong (Eds.), Arabic dialectology: in honour of Clive Holes on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday (pp. 41-60). (Studies in Semitic languages and linguistics; Vol. 53). Leiden/Boston: Brill. DOI: 10.1163/ej.9789004172128.i-298.20 [details]
- Zack, E. (2008). Vernacular versus Classical Arabic: a 17th century scholar’s view on the Egyptian Arabic dialect. In J. Lentin, & J. Grand'Henry (Eds.), Moyen arabe et variétes mixtes de l'arabe à travers l'histoire : actes du premier colloque international (Louvain-la-Neuve, 10-14 mai 2004) (pp. 489-504). Leuven: Peeters. [details]
- Zack, L. (2012). 'Leave, I want to have a shower!' The use of humour on the signs and banners seen during the demonstrations in Tahrir Square. In R. Genis, E. de Haard, J. Kalsbeek, E. Keizer, & J. Stelleman (Eds.), Between West and East: Festschrift for Wim Honselaar on the occasion of his 65th birthday (pp. 711-729). (Pegasus Oost-Europese studies; No. 20). Amsterdam: Pegasus. [details]
- Zack, L. (2008). Dialect in zeventiende-eeuws Cairo. ZemZem, 4(3), 122-128. [details]
- Zack, L. (2011): The making of a capital dialect: Language change in 19th century Cairo.
- Zack, Liesbeth (2016): General Secretary of the AIDA board, Association Internationale de Dialectologie Arabe (AIDA).
- Zack, Liesbeth (2016): Lid van de Wetenschappelijke Adviesraad, Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo.
- Zack, Liesbeth (03-03-2015): Vijf uur reizen voor zeldzaam Arabisch boekje [Web] Nieuw-Dordrecht, RTV Drenthe. Vijf uur reizen voor zeldzaam Arabisch boekje.
- Zack, Liesbeth (17-12-2014): Internationale dag van de Arabische taal [Radio] Radio 1. Internationale dag van de Arabische taal.
- Zack, L., & Schippers, A. (2012). Middle Arabic and mixed Arabic: diachrony and synchrony. (Studies in Semitic languages and linguistics; No. 64). Leiden: E.J. Brill. [details]
Talk / presentation
- Zack, Liesbeth (speaker) (31-5-2017): Cairene Arabic in the 19th century: a comparison of three textbooks., 12th AIDA conference (Association Internationale de Dialectologie Arabe), Marseille, France.
- Zack, Liesbeth (speaker) (21-3-2017): What did ‘literary Arabic’ look like in 19th-century Egypt? Middle Arabic in text books for teaching Arabic as a foreign language., Fifth International Symposium of the International Association for the Study of Middle and Mixed Arabic AIMA , Strasbourg, France.
- Zack, Liesbeth (speaker) (24-11-2016): A case of plagiarism: three 19th-century descriptions of Egyptian Arabic., VIIth International Colloquium of the Research group "Revitalising Older Linguistic Documentation" (ROLD), University of Amsterdam.
- Zack, Liesbeth (participant) (30-5-2017 - 2-6-2017): 12th AIDA conference (Association Internationale de Dialectologie Arabe) (participating in a conference, workshop, ...).
- Zwartjes, O.J. (organiser), Alexander-Bakkerus, A. (organiser), Zack, Liesbeth (organiser), Fernández Rodríguez, R. (organiser) & Balsem, A.C. (organiser) (24-11-2016 - 2-12-2016): Book exhibition Revitalizing Older Linguistic Documentation 2006-2016 (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
- Zack, E. W. A. (2009). Egyptian Arabic in the seventeenth century : a study and edition of Yusuf al-Magribi's 'Daf al-isr an kalam ahl Misr' Utrecht: LOT [details]
- No ancillary activities