<i>An Uncommon Use of Nonsense Verse in Colloquial Arabic</i>

Pierre Cachia

in Exploring Arab Folk Literature

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780748640867
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653300 | DOI:
An Uncommon Use of Nonsense Verse in Colloquial Arabic

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This chapter discusses M. Urbain Bouriant's collection. All but six of the thirty-four pieces in this collection follow the most common pattern for the zajal: first, an introductory couplet setting what is the binding rhyme of the entire song; then, a variable number of stanzas almost always rhyming, sometimes incorporating the introductory couplet or part of it; and the final stanza virtually always ending with the initial couplet. The penultimate stanzas usually consist of praise of the Prophet. In the last one, the poet often names himself amid expressions of piety and humility. Each of these songs is called a himl. These songs cover devotional and Sufi brotherhood themes. They also cover miracles by saints and love songs. Peculiar to these songs are the inclusion of nonsense verses that reflect ecstatic states.

Keywords: Urbain Bouriant; zajal; colloquial Arabic; Sufi brotherhood; himl; nonsense verses

Chapter.  2578 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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