DOI: 10.5176/2251-3566_L318.53

Authors: Kazuhiko Nakae

Abstract: This paper focuses upon the ‘incompatible discrepancy’ between low proficiency of Arabic language and its high status and prestige. This focusing point deserves to be researched but any analytic research has not been done so far since Owens (1995a) alluded to it in his descriptive analysis of a non-standard Arabic variety. Among several approaches considered I have approached it from two perspectives: language acquisition and “imagined identities”. Owens (1995b) mentioned the first perspective considering the rote learning of Qurʾanic Arabic as a ‘graphic mode’. Barkhuizen & de Klerk (2006) mentioned the second perspective although they did not deal with Arabic language. Here I have applied these two perspectives to the analysis of Arabic language. Through my analysis I have emphasized the significance of classical diglossia as an important idiosyncratic feature Arabic language has. Unless speakers are not put in a classical diglossic situation speakers’ demand cannot be met and the discrepancy cannot be solved. If they are put in a diglossic speech community their imagined link can be activated. I assert that in a classical diglossic situation the pulling-up power towards Standard Arabic is symbolic due to the valued cultural past through speakers’ imagination. As this imagined link gets intensified they tend to expel the Lower variety (not prestigious, not urbanized one) as a stigmatized one.1

Keywords: component; Arabic, standard variety, colloquial variety (vernacular), diglossia (classical, functional), imgained identities, bilingualism, sanctified language, Muslim identity


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