Dissertations on Libyan Languages

When you do research in a particular field, over time you become acquainted, naturally, with the general trends of that field, what studies are considered the most important, what gaps there are, and with individual scholars and their works. But it often isn’t until you can sift through a large bibliography that you can really see what has or hasn’t been done, what’s completely lacking, and what works have been totally overlooked.

One of the major surprises to come out of my bibliographic work on Libyan languages (you can see the complete bibliography here) has been how many MA and PhD theses were written on Libyan Arabic or Berber (there are no theses, nor any academic publications at all, on the other languages of Libya), primarily by Libyan students in Western universities. Not only is the number higher than one would expect, but in most cases these theses were never published, their authors returned to Libya, and their theses were not circulated among linguists and hence rarely, if ever, cited. Although most of these theses have been almost totally overlooked, several of them are quite valuable and deserve wider attention. So, the purpose of this post is to first and foremost make them all more accessible. This isn’t a detailed review of any particular work, rather just an effort to simply show how they, and the scholars who wrote them, represent unused potential for broadening and deepening scholarly knowledge of Libyan languages. A complete listing is posted at the end, but first I want to briefly examine the bibliographic data.

So far, I’ve found 47 PhD theses on Arabic, 3 PhDs on Amazigh, and 24 MAs on either. This is a really large number given how few people actually work on any language of Libya these days. And of the PhDs, 48 of the 50 are by a Libyan author. Of these 48 Libyans who did a PhD, fewer than 10 have gone on to publish any of their research in Western academia. Moreover, only a handful of these PhD theses have ever been cited in other publications (though usually in other unpublished theses by Libyan authors); the older works of Abdu (1988), Elfitoury (1976), or Harrama (1993)  are the only ones with more than 10 citations recorded on Google Scholar, for example. Many, like that of Yedder (1982) on Ghadames, hadn’t ever been looked at (which I know because I found the only physical copy and had it scanned). The only theses which were then published as a book are those of Pereira (2008) and Van Putten (2013), who both happen to be the only non-Libyan scholars of this group, and are both still active in academia.

Given how few people currently work on Libyan languages, it’s unsurprising that there are only a few locations in Libya which have been the subject of linguistic studies. Below is a map with the locations which have had a book-length linguistic study in the past 50 years. Each point on the map corresponds to only one book.

But if we compare it with a map of locations which were the subject of a PhD thesis within the last 50 years (in fact, the oldest thesis on a Libyan language I can find is from 1976), then we can see that a far greater number of places are covered. The bigger the dot, the more theses it represents (Tripoli 18, Misrata 3, Benghazi and Zliten 2, the rest 1). Almost all the major cities of Libya are covered.

This means that studies are available for all these locations, but mostly have yet to be taken into account in publications on Libyan Arabic or Berber, or Arabic dialectology, or whatever else. This is of course unfortunate as Libya is the most understudied (least studied?) country when it comes to language in northern Africa. For myself, working as I do on Arabic dialectology, several of these works are valuable since they provide data from dialects and regions that are otherwise “unknown” (to Western academia). Even though none of them are written with dialectology in mind, some of the data at least can be taken into account in dialectological studies, and help to broaden and diversify our picture of Libyan Arabic dialects.

This is all to say:
1) that scholars can and should make use of unpublished PhD theses in their research, especially when it represents material which is otherwise totally absent from published research;
2) Libyan scholars who do PhDs should be encouraged to publish at least some of their results in traditional outlets (journals, books, etc.) so that even if they don’t continue as academics in the West, some of their valuable research is more easily available!

The following are the 3 dissertations on Libyan Berber. Of these so far only Van Putten (2013) has been published as a book (see here). For Yedder (1982), see this older post about it.

The following are all the PhD theses on Libyan Arabic that I’ve been able to track down. Of these, only Pereira (2008) has been published as a book (available here). I’ve tried to link to theses if they’re available online, which is mostly only those after 2000 or so.

There are also quite a few MA theses that have been written on Libyan Arabic or Berber. MA theses aren’t usually publicly accessible, and also aren’t always suitable for citation as they are a prelude to a PhD and often superceded. But, they show that interest in the linguistics of Libyan languages has been there and in some cases may provide otherwise unknown information. (The ones below with a * have been followed up by a PhD on a Libyan topic).

  • Abulgasem, Munsef. 1982. L’Emprunt lexical en arabe Libyen. Université Paris Sorbonne DEA Dissertation.
  • Ahmaida, Sirag M. A. 2010. The Difference Between Standard Arabic and Libyan Arabic Sentences. Bangor University MA Thesis.
  • Albakoosh, Esmaeil. 2010. Arabic Phonetic Modeling from Speech Recognition Perspective. Universiti Utara Malaysia MA Thesis.
  • *Al Tubuly, Sara. 2009. Phonological Development in Libyan Arabic Speaker Children: A Case Study. University of Essex MA Thesis.
  • Ashour, Abdulaziz. 2014. Code Switching Between Tamazight and Arabic in the First Libyan Berber News Broadcast: An Application of Myers-Scotton’s MLF and 4M Models. Portland State University MA Thesis.
  • D’Anna, Luca. 2010. Per un profilo linguistico di Bengasi e della Cirenaica. Università degli Studi di Napoli MA Thesis.
  • Deikna, Yousef M. 2011. Imaala in Libyan Arabic. Ball State University MA Thesis.
  • Elghariani, Khulud Abdulhakim. 2016. A Minimalist Analysis of Obligatory Reflexivity in Tripolian Libyan Arabic. University of Stellenbosch MA Thesis.
  • Fteita, Fawziyya. 1971. Stress and Vowel Quality of the Verb in Libyan Arabic. University of Reading Diploma.
  • Fteita, Fawziyya. 1973. Some Aspects of the Phonology of the Libyan Arabic of Benghazi. University College of North Wales MA Thesis.
  • Geist, Stephen. 1980. Esquisse du parler Arabe de Tripoli (Libye). Paris: Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3 MA Thesis.
  • Geist, Stephen. 1981. La Situation linguistique à Tripoli (Libye). Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3 DEA Dissertation.
  • *Ghadgoud, Khawla M. 2013. Jespersen’s Cycle in Libyan Arabic and Nafusi Berber. University of Manchester MA Thesis.
  • *Kriba, Hussin Abdulrazaq. 2004. Acoustic and articulatory features of the emphatic plosives in Libyan Arabic. University of Leeds MA Thesis.
  • *Laradi, Widad J. 1972. Negation in Colloquial Tripoli Arabic. University of Leeds MA Thesis.
  • Ras Ali, Hawa. 2015. L’Arabe de Misurata (Libye). Paris: Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO) MA Thesis.
  • Nikolova, Viara. 2003. Fonetichni i morfologichni osobenostina libiyskiya dialekt [Phonetic and morphological characteristics of the Libyan dialect]. Sofia, Bulgaria: Université Saint Kliment Ohridski MA Thesis.
  • Pavlovic, Ena. 2015. Osnovne odlike zapadnih libijskih dijalekata: dijalekat Tripolija [Basic characteristics of western Libyan dialects: the dialect of Tripoli]. University of Belgrade MA Thesis.
  • *Pereira, Christophe. 2001. L’Arabe de Tripoli (Libye): état des lieux et nouvelle approche. Paris: Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO) MA Thesis.
  • Rakas, M. S. 1981. Phonological Consonants and Phonetic Vowels in Eastern Libyan. New University of Ulster MA Thesis.
  • *Sheredi, Nesrin. 2009. Assimilation Phenomena in Tripolitanian Arabic: A Non-Linear Approach. University of Essex MA Thesis.
  • Steita, Fathiya. 1970. Clusters in Grammatical Categories in Cyrenaican Arabic. University of Leeds MA Thesis.
  • Vella, Joseph. 1970. A Comparative Study in Maltese and Libyan (Benghazi Dialect). Phonetics, Morphology, Syntax, and Lexicon. Royal University of Malta MA Thesis.
  • Weaver, John. 1970. Diglossia in Cyrenaica: An Exemplification. University of Leeds MA Thesis.

2 thoughts on “Dissertations on Libyan Languages

  1. Pingback: Libyan Bibliographies | The Silphium Gatherer | مجمّع سلفيوم

  2. Pingback: “Non-site” Fieldwork on Libyan Languages | The Silphium Gatherer | مجمّع سلفيوم

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