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Current Research on Linguistic Variation in the Arabic-Speaking World

Horesh, Uri and Cotter, William M (2016) 'Current Research on Linguistic Variation in the Arabic-Speaking World.' Language and Linguistics Compass, 10 (8). 370 - 381. ISSN 1749-818X

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Given its abundance of dialects, varieties, styles, and registers, Arabic lends itself easily to the study of language variation and change. It is spoken by some 300 million people in an area spanning roughly from northwest Africa to the Persian Gulf. Traditional Arabic dialectology has dealt predominantly with geographical variation. However, in recent years, more nuanced studies of inter‐ and intra‐speaker variation have seen the light of day. In some respects, Arabic sociolinguistics is still lagging behind the field compared to variationist studies in English and other Western languages. On the other hand, the insight presented in studies of Arabic can and should be considered in the course of shaping a crosslinguistic sociolinguistic theory. Variationist studies of Arabic‐speaking speech communities began almost two decades after Labov's pioneering studies of American English and have flourished following the turn of the 21st century. These studies have sparked debates between more quantitatively inclined sociolinguists and those who value qualitative analysis. In reality, virtually no sociolinguistic study of Arabic that includes statistical modeling is free of qualitative insights. They are also not flawless and not always cutting edge methodologically or theoretically, but the field is moving in a positive direction, which will likely lead to the recognition of its significance to sociolinguistics at large.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PJ Semitic
Depositing User: Uri Horesh
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2016 14:29
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2019 22:15

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