Department of Middle Eastern Studies
Department of Middle Eastern Studies

Phillip W. Stokes


PhD in Arabic Linguistics - UT Austin; M.A. in TAFL - The University of Jordan; B.A. in Biblical Languages - Carson Newman University,

PhD Student / Assistant Instructor
Phillip W. Stokes

Contact

Interests


Historical Linguistics; Historical Arabic grammar; Comparative Semitics; Arabian Epigraphy; Arabic Dialectology; Contact Linguistics; Aramaic varieties

Biography


I am currently working on two major projects - 1) A Historical Grammar of Case in Arabic (UT Dissertation). While case marking is commonly assumed to demarcate Classical Arabic from all dialectal material, we actually have access to a number of different corpora of Arabic, from the pre-Islamic period (Safaitic, Hismaic, Nabataean, Graeco-Arabica, and early Arabic scripts) to the Qur'anic consonantal text, and other important material from the early Islamic period that evidence various realizations of case marking. Further, several modern Arabic dialects seem to maintain a nominal marker that originated as a case marking. My UT dissertation will analyze these features from comparative and diachronic perspective, and offer a comprehensive history of the feature in Arabic. 

2) An Edition of Safaitic Inscriptions from Wādiī Murabb aš-Šurafāt, NE Jordan (in conjunction with Center for the Study of Ancient Arabia, University of Leiden). Nomads in southern Syria, Jordan, and northern Saudi Arabia produced tens of thousands of inscriptions in variations of the Arabian script, which was also in use in ancient Yemen. The Safaitic script, the most well-attested of the so-called "North Arabian" scripts, was used to represent varieties of old Arabic. Though formulaic, these inscriptions nevertheless can tell us quite a lot about these varieties of Arabic, and thus fill in a crucial gap in our knowledge of the makeup and distribution of the pre-Islamic Arabic.

I'm also student of Arabic dialects. I'm interested in how speakers use language to situate themselves and establish identity in relation to others. I'm interested in what the study of dialects - both past and present - can tell us about the history and development of "Arabic." I'm interested in the contributions the study of Arabic can make to our understanding of the semitic language family, its history and development. I'm excited to be able to teach Arabic as a part of a department that values communication - in all its aspects - and structures the curruciulum in a way that reflects that value.

In addition to Arabic, I work on the other major Semitic languages - Ancient South Arabian, Modern South Arabian (Jibbali and Mehri), Akkadian (Old Babylonian), Ge'ez, Ugaritic, Biblical and Rabbinic Hebrew, various Aramaic dialects (especially Nabataean and Syriac). I have also studied Biblical Greek.

I've spent various chunks of my life in the middle east, especially in Jordan. The most recent 2-year stint (Aug. 2011 - Aug. 2013) including obtaining a M.A. in Teaching Arabic to non-native speakers from the University of Jordan in Amman. I have such a love for the country, the people, the unique places, even the food (yay mansaf!) that I like to consider myself part Jordanian (at least, in my heart!). 

The people are warm, hospitable, friendly, and welcoming. You can head up north for a drive through rolling green hills, or you can head south into the wilderness. You can visit sites from Umm Qais - a decapolis city overlooking the Sea of Galilee (Lake of Tiberius), through Jerash - an important decapolis city with some of the most impressive Greco-Roman ruins in the east, on to the citadel of Amman (home of the ancient Ammonites). You can head west and down down down to the lowest place on earth - the Dead Sea. Nothing beats a float in the Dead Sea as the sun sets behind the rolling hills of Palestine. While there, a visit to Wadi Mujib is a must (in fact, visiting as many wadis as possible is a great way to enjoy some uniquely Jordanian natural wonders!). From the Dead Sea you can hop in your car and head south along one of three highways, hitting the wildlife sanctuary of Dana for some beautiful climbing and compaing, followed by a long day of roaming around the Nabatean city of Petra (a new wonder of the world). Don't forget about take a tour around Wadi Ramm - definitely plan on camping with the Hwetat and the Zalabieh - the bedouin who'll guide you around with stories of Lawerence of Arabia. Last, but certainly not least, my favorite place to hang out is Aqaba. There's world-class snorkeling right off the beach, without the crowds of nearby Eilat (though you should go in the fall, winter, or early spring to avoid being cooked by the 130 degree sun).  

While in Jordan, I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to dig deep into the dialects of Jordan. There are many fascinating details that emerge as you travel around and spend time with people in different parts of the country. I am particularly interested in how these dialects fare as Amman begins to draw so many with the lure of jobs and education. I'm also interested in how gender plays a role in feature usage. As a speaker, I delight in using rural/bedouin phonology, morphology, and lexical items, many of which are in danger of extinction. Features like the feminine plural for pronouns, verbs, etc, and lexical items, like حنقطية "swelteringly hot" (appropriate for Texas!) are ones I try to incorporate. Rural and bedouin dialects are of particular interest to me, as is the form of poetry called "Nabati." It's typically described as less bound by the structure of traditional poetry, and it utilizes much more dialect-specific lexical items. As Clive Holes' work has shown, Nabati poets often combine flattery and pointed critique in the same poem to push a particular social or political agenda (Nabati poetry is often created and recited for visiting heads of state). 

I really enjoy the shows that are produced, especially for قناة رؤيا, and then downloaded on to Youtube. They give great little windows into local life, culture, etc (especially in Amman). Shows like "Female" في ميل , fooq alsaada فوق السادة, and N2O comedy shows are great fun and interesting to listen to. 

My wife of 3+ years, Rachel, accompanied me, directed an Enlgish language program, and now teaches English as a second language here at UT's International Office. She patiently puts up with my obsession with Arabic, languages, and the middle east. 

Courses


ARA 611C • Intensive Arabic II

40375 • Spring 2015
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM MEZ 1.206

This course builds communicative skills in formal and colloquial Arabic as well as Arab culture through listening, speaking, reading and writing activities in and outside of class. The course focuses on Intermediate level tasks and topics, which involve daily life, as well as developing efficient reading strategies and listening skills. At the end of the semester students should expect to have reached Intermediate proficiency, to be able to communicate with others about daily life topics and understand simple texts on familiar topics, and to have an active vocabulary of approximately 600 words. In addition to daily reading, listening, and writing homework, the course requires participation in group work in class, presentations, quizzes, and tests. Students should expect to spend at least two hours of homework daily. Requirements also include active participation in group work during class, and occasional presentations, quizzes, and tests. Not open to native speakers of Arabic.

Grading:

To be provided by instructor.

Texts:

Al-Kitaab fi Ta'allum al-Arabiyya I, Dictionary of Modern Arabic, Wehr/Cowan

Course Meeting Times:

This course meets M-F. Please check the online course schedule for the TTH meeting times.

ARA 621K • Intensive Arabic III

41475 • Fall 2014
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM MEZ 1.208

This course is the third semester of intensive Arabic language instruction and is not open to native speakers of Arabic.

Texts

Brustad, Al-Batal, Al-Tonsi:  Al-Kitaab fi Ta'allum al-Arabiyya Part One with DVDs

Grading

To be provided by instructor. 

ARA 611C • Intensive Arabic II

41815 • Spring 2014
Meets MWF 8:00AM-9:00AM MEZ 1.206

This course builds communicative skills in formal and colloquial Arabic as well as Arab culture through listening, speaking, reading and writing activities in and outside of class. The course focuses on Intermediate level tasks and topics, which involve daily life, as well as developing efficient reading strategies and listening skills. At the end of the semester students should expect to have reached Intermediate proficiency, to be able to communicate with others about daily life topics and understand simple texts on familiar topics, and to have an active vocabulary of approximately 600 words. In addition to daily reading, listening, and writing homework, the course requires participation in group work in class, presentations, quizzes, and tests. Students should expect to spend at least two hours of homework daily. Requirements also include active participation in group work during class, and occasional presentations, quizzes, and tests. Not open to native speakers of Arabic.

Grading:

To be provided by instructor.

Texts:

Al-Kitaab fi Ta'allum al-Arabiyya I, Dictionary of Modern Arabic, Wehr/Cowan

Course Meeting Times:

This course meets M-F. Please check the online course schedule for the TTH meeting times.

ARA 601C • Intensive Arabic I

41655 • Fall 2013
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM MEZ 1.206

This course is the first semester of intensive Arabic language instruction. Not open to native speakers of Arabic. Heritage speakers of Arabic and students who have studied Arabic before must contact the language placement coordinator for a placement test before beginning this course.

Texts

Brustad, Al-Batal, Al-Tonsi: Alif Baa:  Introduction to Arabic Letters and Sounds 3rd edition

Brustad, Al-Batal, Al-Tonsi: Al-Kitaab fi Ta'allum al-Arabiyya: Part One with DVDs 3rd edition

alkitaabtextbook.com student access key 

Available at Austin TXbooks (Beat the Bookstore) at 2116 Guadalupe St.

Grading

To be provided by instructor.

Curriculum Vitae


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