Dina El Zarka



Alexandria seaside Copyright © Dina El Zarka


About Me

I started my academic career as a language teacher, teaching German as a foreign language and Arabic in Vienna.
Then I worked for about 20 years as a translator for German, Arabic and English and as a lecturer for Arabic language and culture and Arabic-German translation and interpreting at the University of Graz, Austria.
However, my main interest has always been in linguistics, which is why I never stopped doing linguistic research.
Currently, I am Associate Professor of Linguistics at the Department of Linguistics (University of Graz).


My main research interests are Arabic linguistics, prosody, information structure, linguistic typology and language documentation.


Information Structure and Prosody in Egyptian Arabic


The present research project is aimed at investigating the information structure (IS) of Egyptian Arabic (EA) – a variety that is based on the dialect of the capital Cairo and may be considered the Spoken Standard of Egypt today. The project provides the first in-depth exploration of information structure in EA, an otherwise quite well-researched Arabic variety.
Methodologically, the data is largely based on a corpus of spontaneous speech, half-spontaneous and read speech that has been created specifically for the study of IS. In addition, some of the EA data from the D2 project Typology of information structure (SFB 632) and a number of prosodic experiments are used for the analysis.
The main focus of the project is on the interplay between prosody information structure, on the assumption that prosody is not only a means of interpreting syntactic structure, but that it directly contributes to the encoding of information structure on a par with syntax.
Prior research on the prosody of EA has suggested that prosody is only marginally exploited for the encoding of information structural categories. However, the results of the investigation show that EA makes extensive use of prosody to mark IS structure. The main conclusion drawn from the present research is that prominence relations and tonal configurations fulfil different functions, marking what Lambrecht (1994) calls pragmatic properties and pragmatic relations.

Information structure and prosody in Egyptian Arabic


This research was partly funded by the FWF (Elise Richter Project V 131-G19, 2009-2011)

Coming soon



On the interaction of information structure and prosody. The case of Egyptian Arabic.Habilitation thesis, University of Graz, 2013.(pdf)

Prosodische Phonologie des Arabischen. PhD thesis. University of Graz, 1997.

Interferenzen zwischen Zielsprachen. L1=Deutsch, L2=Arabisch, L3=Persisch. Ein phonemisch-graphemischer Vergleich. Master thesis, University of Graz, 1990.

Edited Volumes

El Zarka, D. & S. Heidinger (eds). 2014. Methodological Issues in the Study of Information Structure.Special Issue of Grazer Linguistische Studien 81. (urn:nbn:at:at-ubg:3-2041)


El Zarka, D., B. Schuppler & F. Cangemi, Acoustic cues to topic and narrow focus in Egyptian Arabic, Proc. Interspeech 2019, 1771-1775. (doi:10.21437/Interspeech.2019-1189)

Ziagos, S., D. El Zarka, B. Nikzat & G. Grupe, Sprache und Musik der arabischen Minderheit im Südiran, Grazer Linguistische Studien (GLS) 90, 5-32. (pdf)

El Zarka, D. & B. Schuppler, On the interplay of pragmatic and formal factors in the prosodic realization of themes in Egyptian Arabic, Grazer Linguistische Studien (GLS) 90, 33-106. (pdf)

El Zarka, D., Arabic Intonation. In: Sally Thomason & Jonathan Owens (eds), Oxford Handbooks Online. Oxford. Oxford University Press, 1-37. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199935345.013.77 (pdf)

El Zarka, D., B. Schuppler, C. Lozo, W. Eibler, P. Wurzwallner, Acoustic correlates of stress and accent in Standard Austrian German, Moosmüller, S.; Schmid, C.; Sellner, M. (eds), Phonetik in und über Österreich(= Veröffentlichungen zur Linguistk und Kommunikationsforschung, Band 31), 16-44. Wien. Österr. Akademie der Wissenschaften.(pdf)

Cangemi, F., El Zarka, D., S. Wehrle, S. Baumann, M. Grice, Speaker-specific intonational marking of narrow focus in Egyptian Arabic, Proc. Speech Prosody 2016, 335-339.

El Zarka, D. & S. Heidinger, Introduction, El Zarka, D. & S. Heidinger (eds), Methodological Issues in the Study of Information Structure. Special Issue of Grazer Linguistische Studien 81, 109-126.(pdf)

El Zarka, D., Pragmatic functions and the biological codes: evidence from the prosody of sentence topic and focus in Egyptian Arabic declaratives, Hancil, S. & D. Hirst (eds), Prosody and Iconicity, 109-126. Amsterdam, Philadelphia: John Benjamins.(pdf)

El Zarka, D., One ᵲa - many meanings. Syntax, semantics and prosody of the Moroccan modal particle ᵲa and its Egyptian Arabic counterparts, STUF – Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung 65/4, 412-431.(pdf)

El Zarka, D., Project description: On the interaction of information structure and prosody. Evidence from Egyptian Arabic, Grazer Linguistische Studien 77, 27-55.(pdf)

Schultze-Berndt, E. & D. El Zarka, The semantics of Moroccan Arabic dar ‘do’ in typological perspective, STUF – Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung 65/4, 321-328.

El Zarka, D., Leading, linking and closing tonal contours in Egyptian Arabic: what a simple intonation system tells us about the nature of intonation. Ouali, H. & E. Broselow (eds), Perspectives on Arabic linguistics XXII and XXIII, 57-73. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. (pdf)

El Zarka, D., Prosodic encoding of the thetic/categorical distinction in Egyptian Arabic: a preliminary investigation, Grazer Linguistische Studien 76, 91-111.(pdf)

El Zarka, D., Verbale Pluralität in vierkonsonantigen Verben des ägyptischen Arabisch. Zeitschrift für Arabische Linguistik (ZAL), 51-73.(pdf)

El Zarka, D., Reduplication. In: Kees Versteegh (ed), The Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics. Amsterdam: Brill Academic Publishers.

El Zarka, D. & S. Hellmuth, Variation in the intonation of Egyptian Formal and Colloquial Arabic, Langues et Linguistique. Revue Internationale de Linguistique 22, 73-92.

Hellmuth, S. & D. El Zarka, Variation in phonetic realization or in phonological categories? Intonational pitch accents in Egyptian Colloquial Arabic and Egyptian Formal Arabic, Proceedings of 16th ICPhS, Germany – Special Session ‘Arabic Phonetics at the Beginning of the 2nd Millenium, 147-152.

El Zarka, D. & B. Scheucher, 'Farhangnevīs', Uto von Melzers persisch-deutsches Wörterbuch. Introduction to N. Rastegar (ed), Uto v. Melzer. Materialien zu einem persisch-deutschen Wörterbuch, 1-28. Wien: Öst. Akad. d. Wiss.

El Zarka, D., On the borderline of reduplication: gemination and other consonant doubling in Arabic morphology, Hurch, B. (ed), Studies on Reduplication, 369-394. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.(pdf)

Hurch, B. & D. El Zarka, Der Sprachforscher Wilhelm von Humboldt. Der Turmbau zu Babel, Ursprung und Vielfalt von Sprache und Schrift, vol. 2, 173-178.

Wilhelm von Humboldts baskische Monographie. Grazer Linguistische Studien 59, 47-58.

El Zarka, D. & B. Scheucher, Eine lexikographische Fundgrube: Uto von Melzers Persisch-deutsches Wörterbuch, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 151/1, 69-101. (pdf)

El Zarka, D., Aspekte von Wilhelm von Humboldts Sprachdenken im Spiegel seiner baskischen Studien, Grazer Linguistische Studien 54, 1-23.

El Zarka, D., Liebe und Sexualität in der Geschlechtslehre Wilhelm von Humboldts. Humboldt zwischen Plato und Freud, Kodikas/Code. Ars Semeiotica 23/1-2, 115-136.

El Zarka, D., Der Akzent im kairinischen Arabisch. Eine natürlichkeitstheoretische Beschreibung, Grazer Linguistische Studien 52/1999: 53-72.


Drop, Hanke & Woidich, Manfred, ilBaħariyya – Grammatik und Texte. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2007, Mediterranean Language Review 18, 162-168.

Bassiouney, Reem, Functions of code-switching in Egypt. Evidence from Monologues. Leiden: Brill, 2006, Orientalistische Literaturzeitung 102 (2007), 5p.

Supplementary Materials

Supplementary materials for El Zarka, D., A. Kelterer & B. Schuppler (submitted), An analysis of prosodic prominence cues to information structure in Egyptian Arabic. INTERSPEECH 2020 (txt)

Curriculum Vitae

Professional Appointments

2014 − present
     Associate Professor at the Department of Linguistics, University of Graz

2011 − 2014
     Assistant Professor at the Department of Linguistics, University of Graz

2009 – 2011
     Elise-Richter-Project, funded by the FWF

2002 − 2011
     Coordinator of the Arabic Language and Translation Programme

1998 − 2004
     International Project for the edition of "Wilhelm v. Humboldts linguistic works" at the Institute of Linguistics, University of Graz; funded by the Austrian Science Fund

1993 − 1998<
     Several research projects at the Austrian Academy of Science, Vienna and the Department of Linguistics, University of Graz: Editing the works of Austrian scholar Uto v. Melzer: translations and lexicography

1990 − 1993 and 1999 − 2011
     Lecturer and senior lecturer at the Department of Translation Studies, University of Graz

1989 − 1992
     Lecturer for Arabic and German as a foreign language at the Österreichische Orientgesellschaft Hammer-Purgstall in Vienna


     Habilitation (venia legendi) in General and Applied Linguistics, University of Graz - Habilitation thesis: On the interaction of information structure and prosody: the case of Egyptian Arabic

     PhD (Mag.Phil) in linguistics with distinction (University of Graz) - PhD thesis: Prosodische Phonologie des Arabischen (Prosodic Phonology of Arabic)

     MA (Mag.Phil) in translation and interpreting with distinction from the Department of Translation Studies, University of Graz

1980 – 1997
     Arabic and Persian language studies at the Department of Oriental Studies, University of Vienna and at the University of Cairo, Egypt; Translation and Interpretation (German, Arabic, English), Department of Translation Studies, University of Graz Linguistics, Department of Linguistics, University of Graz

     School-leaving exam (Matura) with distinction (Vienna, Austria)

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Dr. Dina El Zarka
Department of Linguistics
University of Graz
Merangasse 70
8010 Graz

Tel: 0043-316380-8283
Fax: 0043-316380-9780