Sociolinguistics: Geography and Economy Arabic dialects
Geographical conditions undoubtedly influence language development. Since pre-Islamic times the plains between the Euphrates and the Taurus Mountains have attracted nomads from Arabia and thus are still today dominated by ‘bedouin’-type dialects.
The role of geography is particularly obvious along the northern edges of the plain. For instance, the dialects of the Mardin group which are spoken in the villages in the plain below the town exhibit a significantly stronger influence of ‘bedouin’ dialects than those of the mountainous hinterlands (Jastrow 2008).
Further south, typologically older ‘sedentary’ dialects prevail against the ‘bedouin’ dialects only in some larger towns along the Euphrates. This was also probably due to the fact that they are situated along the main trade route between Syria and Mesopotamia, which resulted in steady contact with speakers of dialects of those two regions. Another good example of the importance of communication lines is the high degree of coherence among the urban dialects along the Tigris that share characteristic isoglosses such as the r > ġ shift.
On the north-western fringe of the Fertile Crescent, we find another good example of the geographical influence on linguistic patterns. The Alawī dialects spoken in the flat Cilician Plain are extremely homogeneous, but those in the hilly Hatay show significantly more internal variation.