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Sociolinguistic variation in the Yāl Saʿad dialect in northern Oman

Al Sheyadi, Sara Bakhit (2022) Sociolinguistic variation in the Yāl Saʿad dialect in northern Oman. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

This work presents a variationist sociolinguistic investigation of the dialect spoken by the Bedouin Yāl Saʿad tribe living in the neighbouring towns of al-Suwaiq and al-Miṣinʿa along the Bāṭina coast in northern Oman. Holes (1989) classified al-Suwaiq as a ‘mixed’ dialect area where both Bedouin (B) and Ḥaḍari ‘sedentary’ (Ḥ) dialect types are used. In such ‘transitional’ or ‘border’ areas, a high degree of variation occurs where an Ḥ/B fusion seems to be the norm (ibid: 447). The thesis aims to further explore the sociolinguistic situation of this area. The focus of the thesis are two sociolinguistic variables: one is phonological, namely the (ʤ) variable, and the other is morphosyntactic, namely the definite article (DEF). These variables are analysed quantitatively using descriptive and multivariate statistics for a sample of forty men and women distributed across three age groups and three localities within the study area. The multivariate results on (ʤ) show that the use of the traditional variant [j] is quite salient with an overall proportion of 71.9% in the (ʤ) dataset. The overall proportion of the incoming variant [ɡʲ] is 28.1%. Generally speaking, the middle age group leads both of the other age groups in the use of [ɡʲ]; men use it more than women, while older women are the most linguistically conservative group. Locality is not selected as a statistically significant predictor. In terms of the linguistic constraints, the use of [ɡʲ] is mostly favoured with a preceding coronal and in polysyllabic words; it is mostly disfavoured in monosyllabic words, and when preceded by a palatal sound. On the other hand, the use of the traditional variant of the definite article, NULL, is very infrequent with an overall occurrence of 3% in the whole dataset, compared to the overt article l- (97%). Older women and al-Tharmad locality are the most linguistically conservative in the use of NULL, whereas the middle age group are the least users of this variant. In terms of the linguistic nature of this variation, the results so far have emphasised that the cultural aspect of certain noun types influences the variation at hand, in that, generally speaking, tokens with the NULL variant in the speech of older speakers are core dialectal items that correlate with the Bedouin culture and traditional lifestyle. The saliency of the first variable and the survival of the second in this transitional area are explained in light of the prestige the former entertains in the Yāl Saʿad’s tribal territory which happens to be reinforced by that of the neighbouring Gulf states; on the other hand, the survival of the ‘marked’ variant NULL is attributed to the relative homogeneity in the demographics of certain localities which promotes a resilience to maintain the ‘Bedouinness’ of the dialect that is ‘indexical’ of the speakers’ Bedouin identity and heritage (Eckert, 2008; Eckert and Labov, 2017). Differences in the behaviour of men and women and the three age groups is explained in the light of contact these sub-groups are exposed to through social and geographical mobility, but generally speaking, men and the middle age group show the most variation in the case of the first variable and the least variation in the case of the second.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Arabic sociolinguistics, variationist paradigm, phonological sociolinguistic variables, morphosyntactic variables, Bedouin Arabic, northern Oman.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Language and Linguistics, Department of
Depositing User: Sara Al Sheyadi
Date Deposited: 26 Jan 2022 09:32
Last Modified: 26 Jan 2022 09:32
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/32097

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