Spatial language and culture: Cardinal directions in Negev Arabic

Letizia Cerqueglini, Roni Henkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Negev Arabic displays a unique spatial system characterized by referential complementarity: Intrinsic, Relative, and Absolute frames of reference serve all speakers and are selected according to properties of the Ground. The Absolute frame of reference, employing cardinal directions, represents the lateral axis of all Ground-objects and serves as a default frame for problematic cases, such as modern, culturally alien objects; this frame of reference largely replaces right and left and serves, e.g., as a means to locate Figures in nonprototypical axial positions or in relation to modern Ground-objects. As in other Arabic dialects, cardinal directions also encode cultural, metaphorical, and symbolic meanings–especially east and west; north and south have not developed cultural salience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-208
Number of pages38
JournalAnthropological Linguistics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2016


Dive into the research topics of 'Spatial language and culture: Cardinal directions in Negev Arabic'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this