Contemporary Arabic-based pidgins in the Middle East

Authored by: Fida Bizri

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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Arabic-based pidgins are languages resulting from the contact between members of the Arabic speech community and a group of non-native speakers who have to learn Arabic for urgent communicative needs in a context of asymmetrical power dynamics (slavery, unqualified labour or the like). In this context, the new speakers who break into Arabic usage for the first time have no access to the totality of the Arabic speech continuum and are not meant to have a real organic relationship with it on the long run. They initially learn the language from the input proposed by native speakers’ foreigner talk (henceforth FT), and they learn it informally, imperfectly. The resulting language is, therefore, characterized by its drastic restructuring of Arabic in accordance with both universal simplification laws and interferences with the mother tongue of the new speakers (the substrate). Further nativization of the variety leads to creolization, while continued exposure to the target language (the superstrate) may lead to decreolization if the sociological requisites are met (acceptance of the newcomers into the native speech community, access to a wider spectrum of the norm, or a more formalized/monitored language acquisition process, etc.).

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