THE CONCEPT OF "THIRD LANGUAGE" AND ITS IMPACT ON MODERN ARABIC POETRY To the memory of Sal � h � Abd al-Sab � r, 1931-1981. 1. "Third language" in Prose The term al-lugha al-thalitha ("The Third Language") gained currency in the world of Arabic literature mainly in the 1950s although its underlying concept is apparently much older. It is sometimes synonymous with another term, al-lugha al-zem.r.ta ("The Middle Language"), but not always identical with it.' This term was originally designed to describe (or encourage) the rise of a type of style in written prose which, though adhering to the basic norms of classical Arabic, is easily understood by any speaker of Arabic, and is not far removed from the vocabulary, structure, and rhythm of spoken dialects. A prominent exponent of al-lugha al-thalitha was the famous Egyp- tian playwright Tawfiq al-Hakim. In 1956 he published a play entitled al-$afqa ("The Deal"), in which he introduced a type of Arabic which, according to al-Hakim, could solve the diglottic problem in the field of drama. In his postscript to that play,? the author tells us that the type of language he devised is comprehensi- ble both in terms of fusha (hereafter:
Journal of Arabic Literature – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1981
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