Sicilian Arabic

Sicilian Arabic

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Sicilian Arabic

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Siculo-Arabic (or Sicilian Arabic) was a variety of Arabic spoken in Sicily and Malta between the ninth and the fourteenth centuries. It is extinct in Sicily, but it has developed into what is now the Maltese language on the islands of Malta.

Arab conquest of Sicily

During the seventh and eight centuries, Sicily had been raided from Ifriqiya. The eventual Arab-Muslim conquest of Byzantine Sicily was piecemeal and slow. The region became a frontier zone even after the fall of Taormina in 902 which completed the invasion. By that time, Arabic had become the main language of the island.Its mixed population of Muslims and Greek-speaking Christians continued to use Arabic even after the Norman conquest of the island (1061–90). In the post-conquest period, both Arabic and Greek were sometimes used by the new rulers. However, Arabic was dropped as a language of government between 1117 and 1132. Thereafter, it was revived as and used in the king's fiscal administration which managed royal lands and men in Sicily and Calabria. This chancery office operated in Arabic, Greek and Latin. The many documents that it issued are one of the main and most important sources for Arabic in Sicily.Although the Norman rulers employed Arabic and some were attested as Arabic-speakers themselves, after only a century the dynasty died out and their successors expelled the remaining Muslims in the 13th century.

Arabic influence is present in a small number of Sicilian words (compared to the...
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