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Perceptual Dialectology of Egypt : A View from the Berber-Speaking Periphery

Title data

Serreli, Valentina:
Perceptual Dialectology of Egypt : A View from the Berber-Speaking Periphery.
In: Miller, Catherine ; Barontini, Alexandrine ; Germanos, Marie-Aimée ; Guerrero, Jairo ; Pereira, Christophe (ed.): Studies on Arabic Dialectology and Sociolinguistics : Proceedings of the 12th AIDA Conference. - Aix-en-Provence : Institut de recherches et d'études , 2019
ISBN 9791036533891

Official URL: Volltext

Abstract in another language

Perceptual dialectology is a sub-branch of folk linguistics first systematized by Dennis Preston in the 1980s (e.g. Preston 1989, 1999). Through the technique of mental mapping, borrowed from cultural geography, perceptual dialectologists seek to discover the perceived distribution of speeches, populations, and prevailing ideologies. In the Arabic-speaking context, map task experiments were conducted by Theodoropoulou & Tyler (2014) among students at Qatar University, and by Hachimi (2015) among Moroccans of different age, gender, social class and origin, to identify dialect boundaries and labels across the Arabic-speaking world and to understand the underlying ideologies.

This paper discusses lay speakers’ perception of the linguistic boundaries in Egypt, based on a map-drawing experiment submitted to secondary school students, in the Egyptian Oasis of Siwa. Siwa is a Berber enclave situated 50 km away from the Libyan border, where the beginning of mass Arabization dates back to the 1980s and whose geographical and social peripherality limited dwellers’ mobility and contact with outsiders. The map task, which asked the students to locate on a map of Egypt languages and dialects spoken in the country, was part of a questionnaire administered in 2011, with the aim of understanding the patterns of language use in the oasis, through the study of speakers’ attitudes, beliefs and ideologies (Serreli 2011). The results show that the respondents are aware of the major linguistic boundaries within Egypt, although they did not pay the same attention to all areas: Siwa, the area around Marsa Matruh, the Nile Delta region and Upper Egypt were identified quite clearly by a great number of students, while the Sinai Peninsula was taken into account to a lesser extent and the oases were largely ignored. The paper also presents the respondents’ labelling choices, which tell us something about their ideas and judgements of Egyptian communities and their reciprocal relationships.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a book
Refereed: No
Keywords: Perceptual dialectology; Metalinguistic labels; Egyptian Arabic; Siwi Berber; Siwa Oasis
Institutions of the University: Faculties > Faculty of Languages and Literature > Junior Professor Arabic Studies > Junior Professor Arabic Studies - Juniorprof. Dr. Valentina Serreli
Faculties > Faculty of Languages and Literature
Faculties > Faculty of Languages and Literature > Junior Professor Arabic Studies
Result of work at the UBT: Yes
DDC Subjects: 400 Language > 410 Linguistics
400 Language > 490 Other languages
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2019 08:35
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2019 08:35