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Dialect Variation and Change in Eastern Arabia: Al-Ahsa Dialect

Al-Bohnayyah, Moayyad (2019) Dialect Variation and Change in Eastern Arabia: Al-Ahsa Dialect. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

The present study is a sociolinguistic investigation of the Al-Ahsa urban dialect (AU) in eastern Arabia, a dialect that belongs to the Najdi type of dialects. The focus of this investigation is on the dialect spoken in the urban centres of Al-Ahsa (Hofuf and Mubarraz). Two salient vocalic features of AU dialect are examined against internal (linguistic) constraints and 3 external (social) factors. Data are collected through sociolinguistic interviews with 36 native speakers, distributed over two age groups and with almost equal representation from both genders. Beside age and gender, variation in the use of these features is also measured in relation to the speakers’ socio-sectarian affiliation. The data are analysed within the framework of the quantitative variationist paradigm using Rbrul. The first linguistic variable is rounding/unrounding of (ɑ:) in word medial position, of which unrounding is the innovative feature. The second variable is imala (vowel raising) in the feminine ending in the unbound state, of which lowering is the innovative variant. Data analysis shows that the traditional rounding of (ɑ:), as well as, vowel raising in the feminine ending are undergoing change in the speech of Al-Ahsa people, and that there is a tendency to unround the vowel regarding the former variable, and to lower the short vowel in the latter in their speech. However, the rate of linguistic change in the first variable is noticeably higher than in the second one. The linguistic variable (a:) is associated with socio-sectarian identity and so this adds pressure to the force of change on that variable as compared to the feminine ending (-a) which has no direct sectarian association. Overall, Al-Ahsa dialect is levelling out of the local features and replacing them with features found in the supra-local variety in the central region of Saudi Arabia. This change is found to be influenced by the social factors of ‘age’, ‘gender’, and ‘socio-sectarian affiliation’. The method of interpreting the results of the present study focuses on local issues that include the social composition of the community under investigation, community social practices, role of genders, social meaning of the linguistic choice.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sociolinguistics, Arabic sociolinguistics, Dialect variation, Al-Ahsa, Al-Ahsa dialect, Variation in Arabic, Age, Gender, Socio-sectarian affiliation, Sunni, Shia.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Language and Linguistics, Department of
Depositing User: Moayyad Al Bohnayyah
Date Deposited: 07 May 2019 10:03
Last Modified: 07 May 2019 10:03
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/24548

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