Style and sociolinguistics

Authored by: Jonathan Owens

The Routledge Handbook of Arabic Sociolinguistics

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138853966
eBook ISBN: 9781315722450
Adobe ISBN:


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The linguistic exponent of style in Arabic has been dominated by Ferguson’s (1959) classic H – L, Classical/Standard vs. dialect dichotomy. This was refined by Mitchell (1986) and colleagues’ graded Educated Spoken Arabic style, whose output is typically a range of mixed dialect/Standard forms. Far less attention has been paid to stylistic properties of ordinary spoken Arabic, even though different oral styles are marked by dramatically different linguistic attributes. A difference in conversation vs. narrative style, for instance, is indexed by marked differences in subject-verb word order, null vs. overt subjects and person of the verb. This article concentrates on these two aspects of style, without presuming that they exhaust the parameters which define oral style in Arabic.

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