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A sociolinguistic study of the Tihami Qahtani dialect in Asir, Southern Arabia

Alqahtani, Khairiah (2015) A sociolinguistic study of the Tihami Qahtani dialect in Asir, Southern Arabia. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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This is a sociolinguistic investigation that examines variation in the use of two ancient features in the Tihāmi Qaḥṭāni dialect as spoken in two villages (al-Jawwa in the highlands and al-Farša in the lowlands) in ʿAsīr, southwest Saudi Arabia. The data are analysed within the framework of the variationist sociolinguistic paradigm and subjected to statistical testing using Rbrul. In addition to ‘linguistic environment’, ‘age’ and ‘gender’ as independent variables, the study analyses the effect of geographical location on the structure of variation and the trajectory of language change. The first linguistic variable is phonological, the Arabic sound ḍād, and the second linguistic variable is morpho-phonological, definite article m-. The Tihāmi Qaḥṭāni dialect preserves ancient realisations of these features. This is a dialect that traditionally has a lateral realisation of ḍād, and m- definite article, both of which are ancient Semitic features. A total of twenty eight speakers were sampled from the two communities. The data were obtained through sociolinguistic interviews. The results show that there is considerable variation in the use of both variables. The structure of this variation is influenced by social, linguistic and spatial factors. The incoming variants, emphatic interdental fricative [ðˤ] for (ḍād) and l-article for m-article, are koine forms. In the case of ḍād, the quantitative analysis shows that it is undergoing change towards [ðˤ]. This change is led by younger women in both communities, while men in general and older women lag behind. Analysis of m-article shows change in progress in the lowland community only (al-Farša). In this case too, the younger women are found to be in the lead. The qualitative analysis of the data shows that ambition, attitudes, tribal identity and mobility influence variation in the use of the traditional features. The analysis underlines the benefits of quantitative sociolinguistic methods towards understanding historical linguistic developments.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sociolinguistics, linguistics, dialects, Arabic dialectology, historical linguistics, Semitic languages, variation
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
P Language and Literature > PJ Semitic
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Language and Linguistics, Department of
Depositing User: Khairiah Alqahtani
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2015 12:24
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2015 12:24

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