Sociolinguistics: Religion and arabic and latin language
An important factor in language development and variation is religion. Christians, Jews, and ˁAlawīs alike have always been much less influenced by MSA than Sunnīs, which means that their dialects more often exhibit lexical or syntactical peculiarities. Communal endogamy is still strictly observed even in mixed towns or villages—a factor that reinforces linguistic variation. Religious affiliation can also impede the shift to a region’s majority language.
In Iraqi Kurdistan, the Jews were the only autochthonous Arabic speakers (Jastrow 1989 ), and in and around Diyarbakır Arabic was spoken only by Jews and Christians (Jastrow). Isolated Sunnī Arab communities tend to conform more easily to the majority language: north of Urfa are several formerly Arabic-speaking tribes who switched to Kurdish, and the same is true for a subgroup of the famous Ṭayy, who live in the Turkish town of Silopi (Talay).
A possible case where the change of religion triggered the change of language happened in the sixteenth century when the Aramaicspeaking Mḥallamiyye, who live east of Mardin, embraced Islam and subsequently switched to Arabic.1
Related Post Sociolinguistics: sources of arabic dialects
In many towns of the region religious division, intra-group marriage, and group-specific town quarters have resulted in communal dialects. The dialects are spoken by Muslims, Christians, and Jews are generally mutually comprehensible but often differ in several respects. The degree of deviation varies significantly from town to town.
The Christian, Jewish, and Muslim dialects of Mosul, for instance, were quite similar (Jastrow 1989), whereas in Baghdad the first two differed markedly from the dominant Muslim dialect which, as was mentioned, has undergone significant change owing to bedouinization (Palva). On the whole, Jewish dialects were more prone than Christian dialects to diverge from Muslim dialects. On the other hand, the Jewish dialects often showed influences from other towns and regions which most likely were the result of their trade networks and supra-regional contacts with co-religionists.
The Jewish dialect of Siverek near Urfa exhibits several features that are clearly derived from Iraqi and Syrian dialects (Nevo). The dialects of the Jews of Iskenderun and Antakya show salient traits of Aleppo Arabic, otherwise not found in any dialect of Hatay. Among these features are the shift q > ˀ, monophthongization of ay and aw, and the typical Syrian interrogative šū (Arnold).
Sociolinguistics: Religion and arabic, latin language
1 Cf. Jastrow 2004; Kern 2015; Benninghaus (2002ff.), who advises caution in accepting these narratives.