The Last Word on the Foundations of the Language of the Arabs


Faṣl al-khiṭāb fī uṣūl lughat al-Aʻrāb (The last word on the foundations of the language of the Arabs) is an introductory grammar of classical Arabic by Nasif al-Yaziji, one of the founders of the renaissance of Arabic culture in the 19th century. In design and presentation it differs markedly from traditional descriptive grammars and pedagogy by Sibawayh (died 796), Ibn Malik (died 1274), and Ibn Ajarrum (died 1324). In format, al-Yaziji’s textbook provides rules and paradigms for memorization along with exhaustive explanations. In a short preface he explains that the book is an introduction to the rules of desinential inflection, conjugation of verbs, and declension of nouns, which are subsumed under the Arabic term tasrif. In contrast to other intellectuals of his generation, such as al-Shidyaq (died 1887) or ‘Ali Mubarak (died 1893), who brokered the introduction of Western thought into the Arab world, al-Yaziji reached back to the past, especially the linguistic past, to create a new appreciation of the glories of Arab civilization. His approach was to demonstrate that the received literary heritage of the Arabs is an adequate vehicle for the modern imagination. He made his living through mastery of classical Arabic, beginning as court scribe for Lebanese mountain rulers and then as the first teacher of Arabic at the Syrian Protestant College (later the American University of Beirut), which opened in 1866. Although al-Yaziji’s role in the Arab literary revival is well documented, this grammar and its approach and influence have been largely ignored by scholars.

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American Press, Beirut


Title in Original Language

فصل الخطاب في أصول لغة الاعراب

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255 pages ; 18 centimeters


  1. Antonius, George, The Arab Awakening (Simon Publications: Safety Harbor, Florida, 2001).

Last updated: January 16, 2015