Skip to content

Genetic and Behavioural Patterns in Al-Xaliilian Metrics

Bello S. Y. al-Hassan

Pages 309 - 328


Al-Xaliilian Metrics has enjoyed attention and influence both as a cultural and an intellectual matter. For instance, it has been an object of cross-systemic comparisons and theoretical (re)interpretations. Subsequently, the system is either viewed from the angle of that of another poetic tradition or (re)analyzed in the context of some sophisticated linguistic perspective. In either case, the actual focal point may (inadvertently) not be Al-Xaliilian Metrics itself. The current theory casts its gaze single-mindedly on Al-Xaliilian Metrics, demonstrating that it is a self-sustained and self-explanatory mechanics, the internal structure of whose pivotal feature, the foot, determines interactive behaviour within the system. Constitution determines which foot can(not) repeat, or combine or do both and why. The theory unveils Al-Xaliilian metrics as a rigidly segregated, contrast-driven social system, in which genetics, generation and social class ascribe to feet their competencies as prosodic actors. The behaviour of feet within Al-Xaliilian Metrics is reminiscent of that of humans in society. Seventeen rules have been identified as sustaining the system.


1 Bello, A. 2014: Poetry, Prosody and Prosodic Analyses of Hausa Poems. Zaria.

2 Beeston, A.F.L./T.M. Johnstone/R.B. Serjeant/R.G. Smith 1983: Arabic Literature to the End of Umayyad Period. Cambreidge.

3 Bloch, A. 1946: Vers und Sprache im Altarabischen. Basel (Acta Tropica, suppl. 5).

4 de Tassy, J. G. 1970 (1873): Rhetorique et prosodie des langues de orient musulman. Amsterdam.

5 Eisenlohr, L. L. 2011: Arabic Quantitative Metrics in al-Zamakhshari's al-Qisṭâs al-Mustaqîm. (A Senior Honors Thesis Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for Graduation with research distinction in Arabic in the Undergraduate colleges of the Ohio State University).

6 Ewald, G. H. A. 1825: De Metris Carminum Arabicorum. Braunschweig.

7 Furani, K. 2012: Silencing the Sea: Secular Rhythms in Palestinian Poetry. Palo Alto.

8 Galadanci, M. K. M. 1975: “The poetic marriage between Arabic and Hausa.” In: Harsunan Nijeriya 5, pp. 1-16.

9 Golston, C./T. Riad 1997: “The Phonology of classical Arabic meter.” In: Linguistics 35, pp. 111 - 132.

10 Halle, M. 1966: “On the metrics of pre-Islamic Arabic poetry.” In: Quarterly Progress Report of the Research Laboratory of Electronics 83, pp. 3-116.

11 Hayes, B. 1979: “The rhythmic structure of Persian verse.” In: Edebiyat 4, pp. 193-242.

12 Haywood, J. A. 1960: Arabic Lexicography: Its History, and its Place in the General History of Lexicography. Leiden.

13 Hiskett, M. 1975: A History of Hausa Islamic Verse. London.

14 Johanson, L. 2000: “Introduction: Formal aspects of 'arud versification.” In: L. Johanson/B. Utas (eds.): Arabic Prosody and its Applications in Muslim Poetry. Uppsala, pp. 7-16.

15 Maling, J. 1973: The theory of classical Arabic metrics. (Unpublished dissertation MIT).

16 McCarthy, J./A.S. Prince 1990: “Foot and word in prosodic morphology: the Arabic broken plural.” In: Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 8, pp. 209-228.

17 McCarthy, J./P. Smolensky 1993: “Optimality theory: constraint interaction in generative grammar.” Unpublished manuscript. (Rutgers University and University of Colorado, Boulder.)

18 Muhammad, D. 1979: “Interaction between the oral and the literate traditions of Hausa poetry.” In: Harsunan Nijeriya 9, pp. 85-90.

19 Prince, A. 1989: “Metrical forms.” In: P. Kiparsky/G. Youmans (eds.): Phonetics and Phonology. Vol. 1. Rhythm and Meter. San Diego, pp. 44-80.

20 Ryding, K. C. 1988: Early Medieval Arabic: Studies on Al-Khalīl ibn Ahmad. Washington D.C.

21 Schuh, R. G. 1988: “Préalable to a theory of Hausa poetic meter.” In: G. Furniss/P.J. Jaggar (eds.): Studies in Hausa Language and Linguistics in Honor of F. W. Parsons. London/New York, pp. 218-235

22 Schuh, R. G. 1996: “Metrics of Arabic and Hausa poetry.” Paper. 27th Annual Conference on African Linguistics University of Florida, Gainesville March 29-31.

23 Schuh, R. G. 2014: “Where did quantitative metrics in Hausa and other Chadic songs come from?” Paper. 1st International Conference on Endangered Languages, Kano, 4-6 August.

24 Sībawayh, A. b.U. 1988: Al-Kitāb Kitāb Sībawayh Abī Bishr Amir Ibn 'Uthmān Ibn Qanbar. Ed. A.M. Hārūn. Cairo.

25 Stoetzer, W. F. 1986: Theory and practice in Arabic metrics. (Unpublished dissertation University of Leiden).

26 Utas, B. 1994: “Arabic and Iranian elements in New Persian prosody.” In: L. Johanson / B. Utas (eds.): Arabic Prosody and its Applications in Muslim Poetry. Uppasala, pp. 129-141.

27 Vadet, J. 1955: “Contribution à l'histoire de la métrique arabe.” In: Arabica!, pp. 313-321.

28 Wright, W. 1991: A Grammar of the Arabic Language. Cambridge.


Export Citation