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The sociolinguistic functions of codeswitching between Standard Arabic and Dialectal Arabic

  • Abdulkafi Albirini (a1)

This study examines the social functions of codeswitching (CS) between Standard Arabic (SA) and Dialectal Arabic (DA). The data came from thirty-five audio and video recordings in the domains of religious lectures, political debates, and soccer commentaries. The findings suggest that speakers create a functional division between the two varieties by designating issues of importance, complexity, and seriousness to SA, the High code, and aligning less important, less serious, and accessible topics with DA, the Low code. The CS patterns therefore reproduce the unequal social values and distribution of SA and DA in the Arabic sociolinguistic landscape and simultaneously call for a reconceptualization of the notion of diglossia as presented in Ferguson's (1959) work. Other functions of CS as a marker of speakers' attitudes and as an index of pan-Arab or Muslim identities are discussed. (Arabic, bidialectal codeswitching, High/Low dichotomy, functional diglossia, identity, language attitudes)*

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Abdel-Rahman Abu-Melhim (1991). Code-switching and linguistic accommodation in Arabic. In Bernard Comrie & Mushira Eid (eds.), Perspectives on Arabic linguistics III: Papers from the Third Annual Symposium on Arabic Linguistics, 231–50. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

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Language in Society
  • ISSN: 0047-4045
  • EISSN: 1469-8013
  • URL: /core/journals/language-in-society
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