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International group of scholars to meet at Illinois to consider Arabic linguistics

Andrea Lynn, Humanities Editor


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Scholars from 10 countries will gather at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in April for a symposium on Arabic linguistics.

The 19th annual Symposium on Arabic Linguistics will be held April 1-3 (Friday through Sunday) in the Foreign Languages Building, 707 S. Mathews Ave., Urbana, and in the Illini Union, 1401 W. Green St., Urbana.

The U. of I. also hosted the symposium in 1999.

According to Elabbas Benmamoun, who is the conference organizer and the head of Illinois’ department of linguistics, the U. of I. “is considered a major center for the study of Arabic language and linguistics. We have one of the fastest growing Arabic language programs in the country and we lead in research on Arabic.”

In addition to the dozens of Arabic and Arabic-related courses offered throughout the academic year, Illinois also offers intensive beginning Arabic to the public during May Term, the three-week period between the end of the spring semester and the beginning of summer school.
This year’s symposium, which has attracted scholars from Canada, the Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Kuwait, Morocco, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States, “has a strong focus on experimental and computational linguistics,” Benmamoun said.

Described as an “open forum for scholars interested in the application of current linguistic theories and analysis to Arabic,” the symposium is sponsored by the U. of I. department of linguistics, the Arabic Linguistics Society and several other units at Illinois.

Symposium topics include grammatical analysis, syntax, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, discourse analysis, phonetics, phonology, and computational linguistics.

In addition to the main session, two special sessions will be held on Arabic in local and global contexts and on developing and using Arabic computer corpora (an annotated electronic text or format, or the use of computers to access and study Arabic texts).

A half-day training workshop on “Using Corpora in Teaching and Research” also will be offered, to be conducted by Tim Buckwalter of the University of Pennsylvania, and Richard Sproat, linguistics and electrical and computer engineering, U. of I.

Keynote speakers are Buckwalter and Sproat, and Salem Ghazali, Institut Superieur des Langues, Tunisia; Niloofar Haeiri, Johns Hopkins University; John McCarthy, University of Massachusetts at Amherst; and Fatima Sadiqi, University of Fez, Morocco.

Presentations include Jessica Weinberg, University of Arizona, “Ideology and Practice of Arabic Language Use Among Jewish and Palestinian Women Peace Activities in Israel”; Sadiqi, “The Gendered Use of Standard Arabic in Morocco”; Sandiway Fong, University of Arizona, “Arabic Pappi: A Principles and Parameters Parser”; and Khawla Aljenaie, Kuwait University, Kuwait, “The Comprehension of Topic-Comment Word Order in Early Kuwaiti Arabic Child Language.”