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An Examination of the /m-/ Definite Article in Upper Faifi Arabic

Abdullah Alfaifi, Stuart Davis

Pages 36 - 52


This paper describes the occurrence of the /m-/ definite article in Upper Faifi
Arabic, an understudied dialect spoken in the southwest corner of Saud Arabia.
In this dialect, the /m-/ definite article attaches to most nouns, including
some proper nouns. While Standard Arabic and most Arabic dialects have the
definite article /l-/, the definite article in Upper Faifi Arabic is
predominantly /m-/. As found in other dialects in the region, though, Upper
Faifi Arabic does have the /l-/ definite article but in limited usage. While
Upper Faifi Arabic does possess both /l-/ and /m-/ as definite articles, there
are certain semantic and syntactic conditions that determine the occurrence of
either definite article. This paper examines a range of issues regarding the
occurrence of the definite articles in Upper Faifi Arabic, including the role of
the dialect's phonology on the choice between the two allomorphs of the /m-/
definite article, [m-] and ['im-].

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