Authored by: Gunvor Mejdell

The Routledge Handbook of Arabic Linguistics

Print publication date:  January  2018
Online publication date:  December  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138783331
eBook ISBN: 9781315147062
Adobe ISBN:


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A most characteristic feature of the Arabic language situation is that the language community has as its standard language norm, for written and for formal spoken uses, a variety which is not based on, or derived from, the natural spoken variety of any segment of the population, which is, however, genetically related to the spoken Arabic varieties but also highly divergent from them. This captures the essence of the sociolinguistic concept of ‘diglossia’, as it was defined and described by Charles Ferguson in a famous article in 1959 (treated at length in section 2.2). In a typology of language situations, ‘diglossia’ is contrasted with ‘bilingualism’ on the one hand, and with ‘standard-with-dialects’ on the other.

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