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Durham e-Theses
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Kuwaiti Arabic:
A Socio-Phonological Perspective

AL-QENAIE, SHAMLAN,DAWOUD (2011) Kuwaiti Arabic:
A Socio-Phonological Perspective.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Diglossia manifests itself on various linguistic levels, one of which is phonological. It poses a linguistic ‘struggle’ for speakers in the Arab world through the functional distribution that exists between the Arabic language and its varieties. This is the main drive behind diglossia.
These varieties are part of the same language; hence, the term ‘diglossic-switching’ is employed when describing the alternation of speakers from one level to another. The extreme functional dichotomy in treating diglossia, such as that of Ferguson (1959) High Level and Low Level has since been replaced with a more flexible and realistic interpretation, whereby the speech situation is to be seen as one of continuum constituting a gradient of speech levels
co-existing between the two extreme poles: Modern Standard Arabic (H or acrolect) and the colloquial (L or basilect). First, this study examines diglossic switching in Kuwaiti Arabic along four main dialectal phonological variables. These are [č], [g], [j], and [y]. The occurrences of each of the four phonological variables are correlated concurrently with four sociolinguistic variables (age, gender, religious affiliation, and area~origin) and six recording groups (Duwāniyya ‘social gathering’ Group Observation, Semi-Structured Interview, Political Show, Kuwait National Assembly, and Xuṭba ‘religious sermon’) to which the respondents belong. A distribution and frequency analysis shows that there is a tight, dependant relation between the production of the dialectal features and sociological/recording groups. Further, a correlational and multivariate analysis shows that only ‘age’ correlates
significantly (negatively) with 3 out 4 of the dialectal markers.
Following this, the study constructs and defines the mid-levels in the dialect, and identifies Kuwaiti Modern Arabic as the mesolect, being a product of constant admixture
between Modern Standard Arabic and Kuwaiti Arabic in a process of diglossic-switching. It is established that that the speech situation in Kuwait is a multiglossic one, where seven overlapping levels exist in a functionally-distributed sociolinguistic relationship.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Kuwait; Kuwaiti Arabic; Diglossia; High Variety; Middle Variety; Low Variety; Acrolect; Mesolect; Basilect Diglossic Switching; Continuum; Multiglossic; Functional Distribution; Admixture
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Modern Languages and Cultures, School of
Thesis Date:2011
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:02 Aug 2011 11:16

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