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Spanish and Arabic have been in contact for long periods and in different regions. While this is largely due to the geographical proximity of the Iberian Peninsula to western North Africa, a set of historical, political and social developments helped bring both languages into close contact. Of remarkable significance was the presence of Arabic in Iberia from 711 to 1492 and, at least, for several more decades after the Reconquista was completed. This fact, as is often mentioned, led to heavy lexical borrowing from Arabic into Spanish and other Ibero-Romance languages. Also important was the introduction of Spanish into North Africa in the late fifteenth century and its continuing presence in the region since then. This presence was the result of conquest, settlement of Sephardic Jews and Moriscos, and, more recently, colonialism and the effect of mass media. Furthermore, since the last quarter of the twentieth century, Maghrebi immigration to Spain, Moroccan in its majority, has re-introduced Arabic into the Peninsula as an immigrant language and brought about yet another context of Spanish in contact with Arabic. Similarly, in the Americas, Spanish has been in contact with Arabic through the arrival of Arabic-speaking immigrants to many Latin American countries, mainly in the late nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth centuries. All these different contexts make the contact between Spanish and Arabic an interesting case to explore. Indeed, Spanish has been in contact with Arabic since the early years of its development and for longer than any other non-Iberian linguistic variety. This enduring contact has had implications for both languages through cases of bilingualism and language variation, as we will see below. The next section of this chapter surveys the socio-historical background that has provided the context for the contact between these two languages across time. In Section 3, I will analyze current situations of Spanish/Arabic bilingualism with a special focus on North Africa. In Section 4, I will look into the linguistic features that distinguish the varieties of Spanish in contact with Arabic from other varieties of Spanish. Finally, in the conclusion, I will describe prospects for the future of the contact between Spanish and Arabic, its implications for the spread of Spanish in North Africa, and the status of Arabic as a heritage language in Spain and Latin America.


Publisher Acknowledgment

With permission this is the publisher's version of the following book chapter: Sayahi, L. (2011) Spanish in Contact with Arabic, in The Handbook of Hispanic Sociolinguistics (ed M. Díaz-Campos), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444393446.ch22. This book chapter may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with the Wiley license terms and conditions.



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