Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

Loanwords in the Urban Meccan Hijazi Dialect: An Analysis of Lexical Variation According to Speakers' Sex, Age and Education

Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

Loanwords in the Urban Meccan Hijazi Dialect: An Analysis of Lexical Variation According to Speakers' Sex, Age and Education

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

This study has been conducted to investigate lexical variation in Urban Meccan Hijazi dialect (henceforth, UMH), which is a dialect of Arabic spoken in Mecca. Particularly, it gives special attention to the historical influence on its lexical features, and how factors such as sex, age, and educational level may have played a role in the lexical variation between the speakers of UMH. Prior to embarking on this study, I have devoted a significant amount of time and effort to research the lexical variations associated with the dialect and the factors that triggered these variations. It has been observed that UMH has borrowed many words from other languages such as Turkish, Persian, Urdu, Malay, French and Italian. This is due to the fact that Muslims from all over the world need to visit Mecca, at least, once in their life time in order to fulfil one of the pillars of Islam, namely, pilgrimage. This influx of visitors to Mecca may have resulted in borrowing different words from different languages. In addition, to the best of my knowledge, no study has been conducted to study such variation. Therefore, this study pays special attention to one linguistic variation, i.e., lexical variation in UMH. The next section reviews some of the most prominent studies related to linguistic variation and change, showing the reasons beyond these variations based on social factors such as age, sex and educational level.

2. Literature Review and Background of the Study

2.1 Overview

It has been observed that change in lexical items is one of the most frequent types of linguistic change that can be easily identified. This change can be divided into three main categories: creation of new lexical items, change of meaning and loss of lexical items (McMahon, 1994). It has also been noted that variation in lexical items is highly observable when comparing various regions. For example, Carver (1987, p. 268) noted that 'a carbonated soft drink' could be referred to as 'pop' in the inland North and West in the USA, whereas it is called 'tonic' in Eastern New England, 'Soda' in the Northeast, and 'drink', 'cold drink' or 'dope' in different parts in the South. Hence, one of the reasons behind lexical variation could be geographical.

Sometimes the difference, whether lexical or phonological, in a certain dialect could be a result of the influence of foreign languages that have significantly affected the local language spoken in that area (Ibn Khaldu?n & Rosenthal, 1967). Particularity, Ibn Khaldu?n and Rosenthal (1967) justified the lexical changes in the dialects of Arabic spoken by Arabs in the East as a direct outcome of contact with Persian and Turkish in the East. This contact has resulted in borrowing a number of words from these languages. Such borrowings could have taken place due to many reasons. For instance, Ahangari and Moradi (2013) included many examples of Arabic vocabularies that have been borrowed from Persian due to the commercial and economic contact between Iranians and Arabs, since the time of the Achaemenid Empire. Another reason is that some Arabs migrated to Iran because of drought and started to propagate the Iranian language and culture in the country upon their return. Thus, the extensive interaction and communication with Iranians influenced Arabs and caused many vocabularies to be integrated into Arabic. Some of the lexes integrated into Arabic directly from Persian retained their Persian form and shape in Arabic.

In many sociolinguistics studies on language variation and change, it can be noted that special attention has been given to phonological changes and how they can be affected by various social variables such as age, sex, education, etc. However, lexical variation has been under studied in both sociolinguistics and corpus linguistics (Grondelaers & Geeraerts, 2003). Specifically, studies focusing on the actual choices selected for a certain name as a designation of a certain referent are quite rare (Grondelaers & Geeraerts, 2003). …

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