Clive D. Holes


Emeritus Professor for the Study of the Contemporary Arab World & Emeritus Professorial Fellow, Magdalen College 

Faculty / College Address:

Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern StudiesMagdalen College


Research Interests:

  • The Arabic language: history, dialects, modern evolution
  • Linguistic history, dialect geography, and ethnography of the Arabian peninsula
  • Arabic vernacular literature and popular culture

Current Projects:

  • The dialects and culture of eastern and south-eastern Arabia
  • Vernacular poetry and oral narrative of the Arab world
  • The sociolinguistics of language change in the modern Arab world

Courses Taught:

  • Modern Arabic vernacular literature (especially oral poetry, oral narrative) and popular culture.
  • Arabic linguistics (language history, dialectology, sociolinguistics)
  • Advanced Arabic language (translation, prose composition)

Recent Publications:

Forthcoming Books:

  •  (Ed.) The Historical Dialectology of ArabicLinguistic and Sociolinguistic Approaches. Oxford, OUP, (in preparation, due 2016). 350 pp approx.

 Books published (since 2000):

  •  Dialect, Culture and Society in Eastern Arabia. Volume III: Phonology, Morphology, Syntax, Style. Brill, Leiden, 2016. xxx + 490 pp. (published 15 October, 2015).
  • (with de Jong R. (eds)) Ingham of Arabia:  A Collection of Articles Presented as a Tribute to the Career of Bruce Ingham. Brill, Leiden, 2013. x + 241pp.
  • (with Abu Athera, S.S.) The Nabati Poetry of the United Arab Emirates. Ithaca, Reading, 2011. 240 pp.
  • Colloquial Arabic of the Gulf. New edition, Routledge, London, 2010. xxvi + 435 pp. + CD. (This is a completely revised and expanded edition of the book of similar title first published in 1984).
  • (with Abu Athera, S.S.) Poetry and Politics in Contemporary Bedouin Society. Ithaca, Reading, 2009. Xv + 351 pp.
  • Dialect, Culture and Society in Eastern Arabia, Volume II: Ethnographic Texts. Handbuch der Orientalistik Series, Brill, Leiden, Boston, Cologne. 2005. xli + 347pp.
  • Modern Arabic: Structures, Functions and Varieties. Revised Edition, Georgetown Classics in Arabic Language and Linguistics Series, Georgetown University Press, Washington D.C., 2004. xix + 420pp. (This is a revised and updated edition of the 1995 book of the same title).
  • Dialect, Culture and Society in Eastern Arabia, Volume IGlossary. Handbuch der Orientalistik Series, Brill, Leiden, Boston, Cologne. 2001. lxiii + 573pp.

Forthcoming Articles:

  • ‘Culture, identity and language’ in Peterson J.E. (ed.) The Gulf in History (in preparation and forthcoming 2016) Al-Tajir Trust, Bloomsbury. c. 20 pp.

Articles (since 1995):

  • ‘The Iraqi ‘monologist’ ‘Aziz ‘Ali (1911-1995)’ in Casini, L., La Spisa P. & Suriano, A.R. (eds.) The Languages of Arabic Literature: Un Omaggio A Lidia Bettini , Quaderni di Studi Arabi, N.S. 9, 2014, pp. 229-237.
  • ‘A Saudi ‘housewife’ goes to war: الفتاوي الشريرة or the “the evil fatwas”’ in Talib, A., Hammond, M., & Schippers, A.: The Rude, the Bad and the Bawdy: Obscenity in Islamic Culture. Essays in Honour of Geert-Jan van Gelder, Oxbow Books for the E.J.W. Gibb Memorial Trust, 2014, pp. 266-275. 
  • ‘Chapter 12: Orality, language and culture’ in Owens, J. (ed.) Handbook of Arabic Linguistics, Oxford, OUP, 2013, pp 282-299.
  •  ‘The language of nabati poetry’ in de Jong, R. & Edzard, L. Encyclopaedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics On-Line Edition, Leiden, 16,094 words (c. 43 pages), 2013.
  •  ‘An Arabic text from Sur, Oman’ in de Jong R. & Holes C.D. (eds) Ingham of Arabia:  A Collection of Articles Presented as a Tribute to the Career of Bruce Ingham. Leiden, Brill, 2013, pp. 87-107.
  •  ‘The Omani Arabic Dialects in Their Regional Context: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow’ in Zidgaly N. (ed.) Building Bridges: Integrating Language, Linguistics, Literature, and Translation in English Studies, Cambridge Scholars Press, Cambridge,  2012, pp. 233-250.
  •  ‘Some unusual verb forms of north-eastern Arabia’ in Den Heiyer J., La Spisa P., Tuerlinckx L. (eds) Autour de la langue arabe. Etudes présentées à Jacques GrandHenry à l’occasion de son 70e anniversaire, Publications de l'Institut Orientaliste de Louvain 61, Leuven: Peeters,  2012,  pp. 219-228.
  •  ‘A participial infix in the eastern Arabian dialects – an ancient pre-conquest feature?’ in Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 38 (2011), pp. 75-98.
  • ‘Language and identity in the Arabian Gulf’ in Journal of Arabian Studies 1 No 2 (2011),  pp. 129-145.
  • ‘Letter to Obama’ in Middle Eastern Literatures, 14 No 2 (2011), pp. 185-195.
  • ‘al-siyāqāt wa tarjamat al-’adab’ (‘Contexts and the translation of literature’) in al-Sadda H. (ed.) Intāj al-Ma‘rifa ‘an al-‘Ālam al-‘Arabiyy (‘The Production of Knowledge about the Arab World’), The Higher Committee for Culture, Cairo, 2010, pp. 19-34.
  • ‘Word order and textual function in Gulf Arabic’ in Owens J. & Elgibali A (eds.) Information Structure in Spoken Arabic, Routledge, London and New York, 2010, pp 61-74.
  •  ‘The 'mixed' Arabic of the letters of 19th and early 20th century Gulf rulers’, in J. Lentin &  J. Grand'Henry (eds.) Moyen Arabe et variétés mixtes de l'arabe à travers l'histoire, Peeters, Louvain-la-Neuve, 2008, pp. 193-229.
  • (with Abu Athera, S.S.) ‘George Bush, Bedouin Poet’, Journal of Middle Eastern Literatures 10 No 3 (2007) pp. 273-289.
  • ‘ “Hello, I say, and welcome! Where from, these riding men?” Arabic popular poetry and political satire: a study in intertextuality from Jordan’ in Ditters E. & Motzki H. (eds) Approaches to Arabic Linguistics: Festschrift presented to Kees Versteegh on his 60th birthday. Brill, Leiden, 2007, pp. 543-563.
  • ‘A Bedouin poem on the Iraq War’ in Al-‘Arabiyya 40-41 (2007-8), pp. 121-123.(with Abu Athera, S.S.)
  •  ‘Animal imagery in modern Bedouin poetry’ in Holes C.D. (ed.) Popular Arabic Poetry and SongQuaderni di Studi Arabi, Nuova Serie 2 (2007), 41-52.
  • ‘Colloquial Iraqi Arabic’ in Postgate N. (ed,) Languages of Iraq, Ancient and Modern, British School of Archaeology in Iraq, 2007, pp 123-134.
  • ‘Omani Arabic’ in Versteegh, K., Elgibali A., Woidich M., and Zaborski, A. (eds.) Encyclopaedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics Vol 3Lat-Pu, Brill, Leiden, Boston and Cologne, 2007, 478-491. [corrected version in Encyclopaedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics On-Line Edition, 2011]
  • ‘Kuwaiti Arabic’ in Versteegh, K., Woidich M., and Zaborski, A. (eds.) Encyclopaedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics Vol 2: Eg-Lan, Brill, Leiden, Boston and Cologne, 2007, 608-620.
  • ‘The Arabian Peninsula and Iraq’, in Ammon, Dittmar, Mattheier and Trudgill (eds.) Sociolinguistics: An International Handbook of the Science of Language and Society, Volume 3. de Gruyter, Berlin & New York, 2006, pp 1930-1941.
  • ‘The Arabic dialects of Arabia’, in Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 36, 2006, 25-34.
  • ‘Gulf States’ in Versteegh, K., Woidich M., and Zaborski, A. (eds.) Encyclopaedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics Vols 1: A-ED, Brill, Leiden, Boston and Cologne, 2006, 210-216.
  • ‘Bahraini Arabic’ in Versteegh, K., Woidich M., and Zaborski, A. (eds.) Encyclopaedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics Vols 1: A-ED, Brill, Leiden, Boston and Cologne, 2006, 241-255.
  • ‘Dialect and national identity: the cultural politics of self-representation in Bahraini musalsalāt’, in Paul Dresch and James Piscatori (eds) Monarchies and Nations: Globalization and Identity in the Arab States of the Gulf, I.B Tauris, Reading, 2005, 52-72.
  • ‘Theme X of the verb in the Arabic dialects of eastern Arabia’ in Khan G. (ed) Semitic Studies in Honour of Edward Ullendorff. Brill, Leiden, 2005, 115-125.
  • ‘The Birth of Orientalism: Sir William Jones’, in France P. & Gillespie S. (eds) The Oxford History of Literary Translation in English, Vol III 1690-1760. OUP, Oxford, 2005, 443-455.
  • ‘Tanwīn in the Arabic dialects of eastern Arabia’ in Aguade J., Corriente F., Vicente A. and Meouak M (eds) Festschrift in Honour of the 60th Birthday of Peter Behnstedt = Estudios de Dialectologia Norteafricana y Andalusi, 8, Zaragoza, (2004) [2006], 89-97.
  • ‘Arabian Gulf Èiyya biyya, Jewish Babylonian farfisa, Christian Sicilian sepolcri: popular customs with a common origin?’ Journal of Semitic Studies 49/2 (2004), 275-287.
  • ‘Quadriliteral verbs in the Arabic dialects of eastern Arabia’,in Haak M., De Jong R. and Versteegh K. Approaches to Arabic Dialects: A Collection of Articles presented to Manfred Woidich on the Occasion of his Sixtieth Birthday, Brill, Leiden, 2004, 97-116.
  • ‘Zawdj’, Encyclopaedia of Islam, Supplement (2004), 842-843.
  • ‘Non-Arabic Semitic elements in the Arabic dialects of eastern Arabia’, in Arnold W and Bobzin H (eds) “Sprich doch mit deinen Knechten aramäisch, wir verstehen es!” 60 Beiträge zur Semitistik. Festschrift für Otto Jastrow zum 60. Geburtstag, Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden, 2002, 269-280.
  • ‘Dialogue of the Deaf’, in Institute of Translation and Interpreting Bulletin, December 2001, 28-30.
  • ‘Āl-Wahība’, Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol XI, 2000, 47.
  • ‘‘Umān: modern Arabic dialects’, Encyclopaedia of Islam Vol X, 2000, 817-8.
  • Main article on ‘Arabic Literature in English Translation’ and articles on ‘the Koran’, ‘the Mu'allaqāt’, and ‘the Muqaddima’ in France P. (ed.) The Oxford Guide to Literature in English Translation, OUP, 1999, 139-149.
  • ‘Socio-economic change and language change in the eastern Arab World’, in Etudes Asiatiques 53/1 (1999), 45-74.
  • ‘Retention and loss of the passive verb in the Arabic dialects of northern Oman and eastern Arabia’, Journal of Semitic Studies 43/2 (1998), 347-362.
  • ‘The Debate of Pearl-Diving and Oil Wells: a poetic commentary on socio-economic change in the Gulf of the 1930s’, Arabic and Middle Eastern Literatures Vol 1 No 1 (1998), 87-112.
  • ‘The Arabic dialects of south-eastern Arabia in a socio-historical perspective’, Zeitschrift für arabische Linguistik 31 (1996), 34-56.
  • ‘The Dispute of Coffee and Tea: a debate-poem from the Gulf’, in Smart J. (ed.) Tradition and Modernity in Arabic Language and Literature, Curzon Press, London, 1996, 302-15.
  • ‘The Rat and the Ship’s Captain: a dialogue poem from the Gulf, with some comments on the social and literary-historical background of the genre’, Studia Orientalia 75 (1995), 101-120.
  • ‘Community, dialect and urbanisation in the Arabic-speaking Middle East’, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 58/2 (1995), 270-87.
  • ‘The structure and function of parallelism and repetition in spoken Arabic: a sociolinguistic study’, Journal of Semitic Studies, 40/1 (1995), 57-81.

Further Info:

  • Clive Holes's website
  • Advisory Editorial Board, Studies in Arabic Linguistics, John Benjamins, Amsterdam, 2012- present
  • Advisory Editorial Board, Arabian Humanities.  2012 - present
  • Advisory Editorial Board, Journal of the Anthropology of the Contemporary Middle East and Central Eurasia, 2012- present
  • Advisory Editorial Board, Journal of Arabian Studies, 2010- present
  • Advisory Editorial Board, World Oral Literature Project, 2010- present
  • Advisory Editorial Board, Encyclopaedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics Brill, Leiden, print edition, 2003-9 (completed); online edition , 2010-  present
  • Advisory Editorial Board, Journal of Oman Studies, 2007- present
  • General Editor, Arabic Linguistics Series, RoutledgeCurzon, London, 1997- present
  • Organiser of International Conference on Middle Eastern Popular Culture, Magdalen College Oxford, 17-21 September 2000; collaborator in the organisation of the Second conference in Tunis (2002) , the Third conference in Sharja (2004),  the Fourth in Ifrane, Morocco (April 2006); the Fifth in Oran, Algeria (October 2008); the Sixth in Vienna (2011).
  • Fellow of the British Academy (since 2002).

Photograph of Clive D. Holes