Assignment Writing Help on the Influence of Arabic Language on the Phonology of Spanish

The Influence of Arabic Language on the Phonology of Spanish


The impacts of the contact between the Spanish Language and the Arabic language due to the Moorish conquest of the Iberian Peninsula in the period between 711 and 1492 takes center place in the history of the Spanish language. The various literatures reviewed in this bibliography each describe to a certain degree the level of influence of the Arabic language on the Spanish language due to contact. Consequently, they form valuable resources for the proposed research study titled ‘The Influence of Arabic Language on the Phonology of Spanish’. The contributions of these articles on the study topic vary depending on the depth of research carried out in each study. However, they are all relevant to the proposed study in that they provide information relating to the impact of the Arabic language on the Spanish language. This is achieved through consideration of various aspects of language such as lexical features, semantics, syntactic and phonology. Although not all the articles consider all these aspects, each article contributes to at least one feature of language. A particular consideration in determining the relevance of these articles to the study was their focus on the diachronic language changes rather than on the synchronic characteristics. Besides this, the articles also give a description of the language characteristics from their origins through the influence to the final outcome in language.

Annotated Bibliography

Shaath, N. (n.d). Arabic Influence on the Spanish Language. Retrieved from

The article describes the influences of the Arab settlement in the Northern area of Spain during various periods between 711 and 1492. According to this article, the Muslim domination of the Northern Spain area, called Andalus during this period resulted in varying impacts on various aspects of the Spanish culture. The Arabs influenced the Spanish culture in terms of architecture, music and most importantly, language. The greatest influence however, was on the language of the area. This influence resulted in some lexical changes which led to the current Spanish language features. This report indicated that the influence of Arabic on the Spanish language was mainly through borrowed words which led to the formation of synonyms with differing origins.

The changes that came about as a result of the Arab domination of the Al-Andalus began in the Christian kingdom called Castille in Northern Spain where the Arabs first settled. During that period, Romance dialects, which comprised of Spanish-influenced language called Mozarabic were increasingly used as the Muslims spread from the Northern Spain to other areas. The results of the absorption of such dialects are described as being immense. For instance, the existence of synonyms with different origins was one of the impacts of Arabic influence on Spanish. For example, it is common to find words with Arabic and Latin origins meaning the same thing such as jaqueca and migrana to mean migraine. In addition to this, borrowed words also exist in the Spanish language whose origin were the Moroccan Arabic. The reason for this is explained to be the geographical proximity between the two areas.

Besides the impacts of word borrowing, the Arabic language also influenced the lexical construction of Spanish, particularly with respect to nouns. This means that the grammar and structure of the language did not change substantially. Changes in verbs, adverbs and prepositions are reported to be minimal. Changes in words are however recorded to be of a regionalism status where adopted words were only used in certain parts of Spain. An important influence of the Arabic language on Spanish was the adoption of the suffix i which is used as a relationship adjective in the Arabic language. This suffix has been used in the Spanish language to indicate relationships through words such as Marbelli or Alfonsi. Expressions and phonetics also gained influence from the Arabic language although to a minimal level.

Beale-Rivaya, y. (2010). On the Relationship Between Mozarabic Sibilants and Andalussian Seseo. eHumanista, Vol. 14: 40-56.

The study carried out by Beale- Rivaya was aimed at placing the mozarabic data within the context of Castilian language development to compare the two languages and thus find the relationship between the two. It is therefore a comparative study. According to the study, there have been immense changes in the Spanish language confirmed by changes in consonants and phonemes over time. The changes are mainly as a result of the influence of the mozarabic dialect on the language of other parts of Spain. using data obtained from ancient documents prepared within the mozarabic regime, the study confirms the changes in phonemes in the castilian language over time. The article describes changes in the Spanish language as a result of Arabic influence such as the change in the positions of articulation of certain phonemes as well as the subsequent sound changes. For instance, the change from sound /k/ + front vowel combination to /∫/ in modern Spanish is said to have taken place over time. According to Beale- Rivaya, the changes in the Spanish language due to Arabic influence were mainly as a result of variations in graphemic representations contrary to beliefs that language writings led to the changes. In the change from k to ∫ the influence of the Arabic language is confirmed through the fact that this modification was initially from /k/ to /ts/ as in the Latin language. However, with the observation and contact with the Arabic usage of /∫/ such as in the word i∫tara which means ‘to purchas’e in Arabic, the result was a further language development.

Other diachronic changes in the Spanish language due to contact with Arabic include the use of borrowed words such as aceituna which means olive; phonological changes such as t∫ to z; and the modification of phonemes.

Rorabaugh, D. (2010). Arabic influence on the Spanish Language. Thesis. Seattle Pacific University

The study focuses on the most important contribution to Spanish language by the Arabic language during the Moorish domination over the Iberian peninsula in Northern Spain. The author suggests that while Arabic contributed immensely to the Spanish vocabulary, other contributions also exist in terms of syntax, phonology, morphology and semantics. The influence of the Arabic language on Spanish language is said to have led to various similarities between Mozarabic and Spanish word pairs such as fente and vente. The lexical influence on Spanish is said to be great, with more than 8 percent of the Spanish language words being of Arabic origin. An example of the lexical changes is the adoption of the word Guada to mean a river. The term is borrowed from the Arabic word Wadi, which also translated to a river.

Besides the lexical influence, the Spanish language also borrowed from the Arabic language in terms of semantics. For instance, there are Spanish terms that derive their meanings from Arabic idioms and other phrases. Words such as ibn and verguenza which mean son and shame respectively were derived from Arabic phrases and can be used to create other phrases with varied meanings too. For instance, the word son, is not taken within the context of familial relationships alone but can also be taken to as part of other phrases such as ’son of wealth’ to describe the status of an individual. Phrases which were derived from the Arabic language such as ’ojala’ possess immense likeness to their parent language. While syntactic influences on Spanish from the Arabic language were limited, the derivation of meanings from Arabic was and still is represented through the use of word parts. The suffix i is also mentioned by this author as having been derived from Arabic. While the changes may have been unnoticed at the time of influence, the continued modification due to contact with the Arabic language makes it possible to note the change varieties in the Spanish language. Change in the Spanish language was mainly driven by the mozarabic dialects. As a matter of fact, it is purported that the representation of romance in the Spanish language driven from the interaction with the Arabic was due to the interaction with the Moorish immigrants.

Penny, R. (2002). A History of the Spanish Language 2nd Ed. Cambridge University Press.

The book describes the history of the Spanish language on the grounds that while diatopic differences in language can be noted by a singular study of a given piece of writing, diachronic differences are only observable from studies carried out over time. For instance, the impacts of the contact between the Arabic languages spoken by the Moors on the Spanish language are described from a historical perspective. The linguistic consequences of Arabic on Spanish came about due to the Islamic invasion of 711. Since the Arabic language was considered to have attained higher development, the interactions between the two languages led to the modification of the Spanish Romance language in phraseology and syntax particularly through the adoption of certain phrases and sounds from the Arabic language. According to Penny, the Moorish conquest led to profound linguistic impacts which were characterized in most cases by entire changes in the Spanish dialectical map. One of the possible reasons for this is that the Moors tool over parts of Spain that were considered remotest, and which they consequently influenced easily. Of particular interest is the Castillian dialect which was influenced immensely through lexical and syntactic means. The Castilians later spread to other parts of Spain where their language also impacted on the other Spanish dialects. The effects of the contact with the Arabic language thus spread to most parts of Spain. An influence noted in this book has to do with the suffix i used as a relational adjective. Having been adopted from Arabic during the Moorish dominion, it has gained extensive use through all the Spanish dialects.

Chrikishvili, N. (n.d). Stability and Variation in the Group of Binary Consonants of the Spanish Language. Spekali, vol. 6, (Iss 1987- 8583)

In the study carried out to determine how stable some binary consonants have been in the Spanish language despite the influence of various languages, the impacts of the Arabic language on the Spanish language are highlighted. From this study, it is noted that although the Latin Romance language was mainly spoken throughout Spain, it underwent various changes over time. The changes in the Latin Romance language are described as being due to contact with various other languages. Arabic is mentioned as an adstrate language whose influence on the Spanish language came about during the moorish conquest of parts of the Iberian peninsula. The impacts of the Arabic language are said to have began through influence of the Castilian dialect of the Spanish language which then spread to other parts of Spain. An example given in terms of changes in binary consonants is the change in the consonant combination lf, particularly in the Spanish word alfil. This combination is described as being originally derived from the Persian word pil. This was modified through the addition of an Arabic article to form al-fil. Another example is in the alfanique, which was also originally from the Persian word panid through the addition of Arabic article al-fenid.

Accredited Language Services: Translation, Interpreting, Transcription and Multimedia Services. (2010). Spanish. Retrieved from resources/languages /Spanish/

In the article that describes the Spanish language history and transcription, the Sapnish language is said to have originated from the Iberian Pensinsula. The Spanish language was influenced to varying degrees through interactions with various inhabitants and immigrants to the Iberian peninsula. A particular group of interest was the moors who settled in the Iberian peninsula around 711. After the Moorish conquest of the peninsula, the Arabic and mozarabic dialects became widespread through the area dominated by Castilian Spanish speakers. In the subsequent centuries, Christian Kingdoms regained control over the areas originally dominated by the Moorish conquerors. The dialects spoken by the Christian Kingdoms, i.e. the vulgar Spanish thus spread, albeit with modifications due to the influence of the Arabic language. The resultant language was a combination of Andalusia and Castilian, characterized with the presence of immense borrowing from the Arabic language. It is approximated that about 4000 words used in the resultant dialect had Arabic origins. The influence of Arabic on Spanish was therefore mainly through word borrowing. The semantics and syntactic influences were insignificant.

Engelbretch, G. & Marzouqi, L. (2009). Cucara Macara! Arabic Influence in the Spanish Language. Teachers, Learners and Curriculum,vol. 4.

This study of the Arabic influence on the Spanish language suggests that the contact between the Arabic language and the Spanish language began during the Moorish conquest of the Iberian Peninsula in 711. According to this study, the influence that the Arabic language had on Spanish was mainly through the adoption of some Arabic words into the Spanish dialect of Castile. Contribution of Arabic into the Spanish vocabulary can be described particularly through referencing certain words that have the prefix al in the Spanish language such as algebra and alcoba which is translated to mean bedroom are suggested to have been formed under the influence of the Arabic language spoken by the Moors. Complete words such as jefe also attest to the Arabic influence on the Spanish language. Besides words, phrases have also been identified which are confirmation of the immense impacts of the Arabic language on Spanish. The Castilian dialect of Spanish also borrowed immensely from Arabic in the periods of Moorish conquest during which it sought to displace the initially popular mozarabic dialects. The mozarabic dialect was a combnation of Arabic and the Spanish Romance language.

Bryan, K. (2014). The Not-So- Distant Relation Between Spanish and Arabic. Voices, vol. 2(1): 5-13

The article reviews the impacts of language contact between Arabic and Spanish in the period from 711 to 1492. In this period characterized by the Moorish conquest over the Iberian Peninsula, the article describes the impacts of the Arabic language on the Spanish language. One of the major impacts noted is the use of discourse markers in common communications that clearly indicate Arabic influence. Words such as Inchalla and walou which mean God willing and nothing respectively, take center place in Spanish interactions. In addition to the adoption of words and phrases, another impact that came about due to the Arabic – Spanish languages contact is the change in language phonemes such as the deletion of initial vowels also contribute to the language contact impacts.

Walter, M. (n.d). Grammatical Gender Versus Lexical statistics: The case of Arabic to Spanish Loan Words. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

According to this study of the Spanish language over time, the impacts of the Interaction between the Arabic language and the Spanish language is described as being mainly through word loans. In the Arabic language spoken by the Moorish conquerors of the Iberian peninsula in up to the 15th Century, words having the prefix al were in common usage. This prefix was adopted by various Spanish words leading to a slight modification of meanings. In addition to the prefix loans, Spanish also contains a significantly large number of words wholly derived from Arabic dialects. The impacts of the word loans on the Spanish language include ambiguity in some word representations. In this article, the method of deciphering underlying meaning in lexical representations is described as involving final consonant devoicing to increase the similarity between the intended meaning and the voiced output. The lexical influence of Arabic is however said to be mostly on nouns and not on other parts of speech. Words such as ataire and asesion which mean circle and assassin respectively are given as examples of Arabic derivatives.

Dworkin, S. (2012). A History of the Spanish Lexicon:A linguistic Perspective. Oxford university Press.

This book describes the history of the Spanish language in terms of the various dialects and the influence of various environmental factors on their development. Particular interest is placed on the influence of the Arabic language on the phonology of the Spanish language. With respires to this, the impacts are described as being on the lexicon, expressions and derivations. The influence of the Arabic language on Spanish lexicon is suggested to be the greatest, with a total of about 4000 Spanish words having Arabic origins. Of the 4000, 3000 are said to be borrowed entirely while the other 1000 have Arabic roots. Words with the prefixes el and al in the Spanish phonology are predominantly of Arabic origin. Similarly, words with the suffix i used in Arabic for relational purposes are also found in Spanish. In addition to this, expressions also exist in the Spanish language which posses Arabic origins. Most of the words with modified Arabic roots are suggested to be formerly of Persian origin and transformed through modification of various combinations of binary consonants such as /lm/ and change in voicing methods.