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A sociolinguistic study of a southern Iraqi dialect: fortition of the variants [j] and [ʧ].

Alshawi, Wisam A K (2020) A sociolinguistic study of a southern Iraqi dialect: fortition of the variants [j] and [ʧ]. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

Although dialect levelling is commonly investigated in research on phonological variation and change, it has been rarely dealt with in the Iraqi context. My research investigates sociolinguistic variation and change in the dialect of the Mišlab tribe in Qalʿat Siker, (a south-Mesopotamian dialect), where the traditional features seem to be superseded by supralocal variants of the mid-Mesopotamian norm, (i.e., the Baghdadi-like dialect), and considers why levelling is (not) happening. Qalʿat Siker is situated in Nāṣirriyya along the Euphrates River, to the southeast of Baghdad and Kūt. This research illustrates how (ʤ) and (k) vary and change. Each variable has two variants. (ʤ) has the local variant [j], e.g., /rajja:l/ ‘man’ and the koineised supralocal mid-Mesopotamian [ʤ], e.g., /raʤʤa:l/. (k) varies between [k] and the local variant [ʧ] as in /ʧibas/ ~ /kibas/ ‘he packed’. The thesis’s primary goal is to give a quantitative account of variation in the use of (ʤ) and (k)—and to provide an interpretation of the results. This study considers social variables (age, contact and gender) and multiple independent linguistic factors. Results show that many of the linguistic factors and all of the social factors are significant. The overall rate of usage of innovative [ʤ] is 67% and of innovative [k] is 61%. The community steadily increased its rate of use of the incoming variants over time such that [ʤ] and [k] are most favoured by the young group and least favoured by the old group, with the middle age group falling inbetween. Men lead both changes. Generally, the incoming variants are favoured in the environment of preceding and following consonants and back vowels. Crosstabulation of gender, age and contact show that old low contact women are the most conservative group, using the local features [j] and [ʧ] at 76% and 72%, respectively; while the young high contact men are the most innovative group. The young high contact male group use incoming [ʤ] consistently, and [k] in 74% of the total number of tokens for this variable. It can be stated, upon the generational differences exhibited in the speakers’ use of the two variables, that there is reliable evidence to claim that Mišlab Arabic shows traces of levelling in the traditional features: the weak allophones [j] and [ʧ] are unstable and it has undergone fortition in the dialect. That is, there is a typical pattern of dialect change toward the production of [k] and [ʤ] led by younger, male, higher contact speakers.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Language and Linguistics, Department of
Depositing User: Wisam Alshawi
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2020 09:35
Last Modified: 02 Mar 2020 09:37
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/27046

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