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Linguistic Variation and Change in the Dialect of Ha’il, Saudi Arabia: Feminine Suffixes.

AlAmmar, Deema (2017) Linguistic Variation and Change in the Dialect of Ha’il, Saudi Arabia: Feminine Suffixes. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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This study investigates sociolinguistic variation and change in the dialect of Ha’il city, a dialect that belongs to the Najdi type of dialects, especially Northern Najdi. Two traditional linguistic features of Ha’ili Arabic (HA) are examined: the realisation of the feminine ending (ah) and realisation of the feminine plural suffix (a:t), in relation to three social factors: age (Younger, Middle-aged, Older), gender (Male, Female) and levels of contact (High, Low) with people from different dialectal backgrounds. Raising of the feminine ending -ah is defined as: fronting and raising of short /a/ to /ɛ/ or /e/. In traditional Ha’ili Arabic, /a/ is raised unconditionally in all environments even after guttural and emphatic sounds (Abboud, 1979). The results, however, show progressive lowering of the (ah) variable, constrained by social and linguistic factors. Younger female speakers especially those with high level of contact lead the change toward the innovative and supra-local variant [a], while older speakers, even those with high level of contact, maintain the use of the traditional variant [e] at a very high rate (96%). Women are slightly ahead of men in using [a]. Such gender patterning can be interpreted in relation to the fact that there is no negative social meaning associated to the use of the two variants. Regarding the second variable (a:t), /t/ in the feminine plural suffix -a:t can be lenited to /h/ or /j/ in HA. According to previous research (Abboud, 1964 and Ingham, 1982, 2009), lenition of /a:t/ is linguistically conditioned by the following environment. It is promoted pre- pausally and when the following word begins with a consonant, but it is precluded when followed by a vowel across word boundary. The results show that the innovative variant [a:t] is highly favoured when it is followed by a vowel across word boundary. Additionally, the number of syllables and the stress on the final syllable appear to have a minimal effect on the realisation of (a:t). All the younger speakers, except low contact female speakers, use the innovative variant categorically, while the older speakers use it at a rate of 52%. Concerning gender, men are found to lead the change in using [a:t] than women. This gender pattern is explained with reference to men’s social interaction, mobility and to the overt stigmatisation associated with the use of the traditional variants [a:j] and [a:h] by male speakers. Overall, a progressive levelling out of local/marked features in HA has been observed in favouring the innovative features found in the emerging supra-local variety in the central region of Saudi Arabia.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PI Oriental languages and literatures
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Language and Linguistics, Department of
Depositing User: Deema Alammar
Date Deposited: 06 Nov 2017 13:17
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2021 02:00

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