Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Variation, shifting and identity in Arabic

Hassan R. Abdel-Jawad


This paper examines different ideological and identity construction functions of linguistic variation and shifting in Arabic through the analysis of the existing literature on language, politics and national identity, arguing that linguistic variation and shifting may be used for constructing/reconstructing, locating/relocating and/or shifting/abandoning identity, and divided/split identity. A few major cases will be surveyed to exemplify this. It is shown that variation and/or shifting in Arabic may reflec t different levels of sociopolitical, ethnic, sectarian, and religious grouping/ divisions. In such contexts, l anguage and /or varieties of language serve as markers of identity and as boundary - setters between groups.

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