Title

The multilingual nature of spoken Arabic and identity construction in light of Discourse Markers

Subject Area

Minorities and Multicultural Issues

Abstract

The study of identity is based on a variety of forms such as ethnicity (Fishman 1999), gender (Eckert and McConnell-Ginet 1992), and region (Cramer 2011) among other forms. Identity has been studied from two opposing perspectives, one perspective considers it to be fixed (Turner 1999) and the other considers it to be dynamic (Bucholtz and Hall 2004, 2005). This paper argues that identity is dynamic and is socially constructed as it results from social interactions. The discussion of identity in this paper is based on a project that examines the use of Discourse Markers (DMs) by Arabs in diaspora. The participants in this study represent three dialects of Arabic: the Algerian, Moroccan, and the Egyptian dialect. In light of data elicited through informal multi-party conversations and data collected from Al-Jazeera network, this paper examines how the use of elaboration and causality DMs reflects identity construction. The results of multi-party conversations show the use of local, standard, and exoglossic DMs. The Algerian participants, for instance, projected various identities through the use of various DMs. While the foreign DMs, cela veut dire “that is to say” and parce que “since”, reflect an identity associated with the colonial French heritage, the dialectal DM zəʕma “sort of” reflect a local and Maghrebi identity, and the shared DM liʔanna “because” reflect a sense of belonging to the broad Arab identity. While informal settings resulted in the projection of various identities, the results of Al Jazeera, which represents the formal setting, showed the projection of a single identity through the use of yaʕni “I mean” for elaboration and liʔanna “because” for causality. The results of Al Jazeera show that the shared DMs, yaʕni and liʔanna, reflect a desire to project an identity shared among the whole Arabic-speaking world, the Arab identity. The results of this study show that identity construction is dynamic and socially constructed and that the use of DMs reflects the multilingual nature of spoken Arabic and displays the correlation between the linguistic behavior and the complex identities a speaker exhibits. In light of Le Page and Tabouret-Keller (1985) theoretical model, this paper shows this correlation and provides an explanation for the social motivations that shape the linguistic behavior. Thus, any linguistic behavior is seen as an “Act of Identity” which lies in the need to “behave according to the behavioral patterns of groups we find it desirable to identify with” and in other contexts to be different from those we want “to be distinguished” (Le Page and Tabouret-Keller 1985, 182 - 182).

Brief Bio Note

Author:

Abdelaadim Bidaoui

Ball State University, USA

Corresponding author:

Abdelaadim Bidaoui

Department of Modern Languages and classics

Ball State University, North Quad 186

Muncie, Indiana 47 306, USA.

Email: abidaoui@bsu.edu

Cell phone: (765) - 760 - 4706

Office phone: (765) - 285 - 1361

Authors’ biographies:

Abdelaadim earned his PhD in Linguistics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He currently works as an Assistant Professor with the Department of Modern Languages and classics at Ball state University. His research concerns sociolinguistics, pragmatics, and second language acquisition.

Keywords

Arabic and French discourse markers, speakers in diaspora, identity projection, Acts of identity

Presentation Year

October 2020

Start Date

10-22-2020 3:45 PM

End Date

10-22-2020 4:25 PM

Embargo

1-7-2020

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Oct 22nd, 3:45 PM Oct 22nd, 4:25 PM

The multilingual nature of spoken Arabic and identity construction in light of Discourse Markers

The study of identity is based on a variety of forms such as ethnicity (Fishman 1999), gender (Eckert and McConnell-Ginet 1992), and region (Cramer 2011) among other forms. Identity has been studied from two opposing perspectives, one perspective considers it to be fixed (Turner 1999) and the other considers it to be dynamic (Bucholtz and Hall 2004, 2005). This paper argues that identity is dynamic and is socially constructed as it results from social interactions. The discussion of identity in this paper is based on a project that examines the use of Discourse Markers (DMs) by Arabs in diaspora. The participants in this study represent three dialects of Arabic: the Algerian, Moroccan, and the Egyptian dialect. In light of data elicited through informal multi-party conversations and data collected from Al-Jazeera network, this paper examines how the use of elaboration and causality DMs reflects identity construction. The results of multi-party conversations show the use of local, standard, and exoglossic DMs. The Algerian participants, for instance, projected various identities through the use of various DMs. While the foreign DMs, cela veut dire “that is to say” and parce que “since”, reflect an identity associated with the colonial French heritage, the dialectal DM zəʕma “sort of” reflect a local and Maghrebi identity, and the shared DM liʔanna “because” reflect a sense of belonging to the broad Arab identity. While informal settings resulted in the projection of various identities, the results of Al Jazeera, which represents the formal setting, showed the projection of a single identity through the use of yaʕni “I mean” for elaboration and liʔanna “because” for causality. The results of Al Jazeera show that the shared DMs, yaʕni and liʔanna, reflect a desire to project an identity shared among the whole Arabic-speaking world, the Arab identity. The results of this study show that identity construction is dynamic and socially constructed and that the use of DMs reflects the multilingual nature of spoken Arabic and displays the correlation between the linguistic behavior and the complex identities a speaker exhibits. In light of Le Page and Tabouret-Keller (1985) theoretical model, this paper shows this correlation and provides an explanation for the social motivations that shape the linguistic behavior. Thus, any linguistic behavior is seen as an “Act of Identity” which lies in the need to “behave according to the behavioral patterns of groups we find it desirable to identify with” and in other contexts to be different from those we want “to be distinguished” (Le Page and Tabouret-Keller 1985, 182 - 182).