In its series of “Lexical and Linguistic Studies,” the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies has published Nader Srage's Spoken Arabic in Lebanon: Words and Phrases from People's Lives, a contemporary etymological lexicon of widespread terms and phrases from daily life that are remarkable for their richness and variety. The book includes samplings of lexical items the author accumulated from onsite field work and language assessments in the public domain: monitoring the adaptations, inventions, borrowings and contractions that arise and accumulate as part of society’s dynamic activity.
In 560 fully referenced alphabetized pages of lexical entries, the author monitors and verifies his interlocutors’ expressive testimonials from a wide range of contexts and conditions of communication, highlighting “lexical meanings…disclosed in everyday, living language” and elucidating rhetorical connotations of vocabulary items to demonstrate their “metaphorical encoding”. The study of culture, civilization and anthropology is interwoven with lexicology and linguistics in the book’s discussion of some five hundred and twenty-two entries.
Srage approaches contemporary Lebanese spoken Arabic – and its variations across generations and social classes – as a tool of daily and wide-ranging communication characterized by openness, flexibility and expressiveness, a language reflecting culture strongly influenced by advertising and design, media and entertainment personalities, and a youth culture interacting boldly with other living languages and cultures.
The author expresses the hope that this lexicon can help to “humanize” the lexical material studied, as it probes the meanings and connotations of vocabulary and structures mined from the frank and sometimes bold language of discourse in the public sphere, language that is often extremely transparent and direct. The linguistic material of this book is thus treated lexicographically, and its syntax, vocabulary, and metaphors are deconstructed semantically, effectively showcasing the singularity of the spoken language.
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