The Implications of Global English for Language Endangerment and Linguistic Identity: The Case of Arabic in the GCC States


  •  Naser M. N. Alzaben    
  •  Abdulfattah Omar    
  •  Mohamed Ali Mohamed Kassem    

Abstract

Numerous sociolinguistic studies have been concerned with investigating the factors that pose challenges to the position of Arabic in the Arab Gulf countries including the demographic structure, migrant labor, bilingual education, and the unique diaglossic nature of Arabic. However, thus far, there has been no conceptual framework for addressing the implications of the increasing use of English for the position and future of Arabic in these countries. A number of studies concluded that English has superseded Gulf Arabic and dominated the linguistic identity of its native speakers without providing empirical evidence for such claims. In the face of this limitation, this study adopts a sociolinguistic framework using language planning and language policy (LPP) methods in order to investigate the effects and implications of the use of English as a global language and lingua franca in the Arab Gulf states and propose workable, reliable and effective language policies that can help in maintaining Arabic as the first language in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and addressing problems of language endangerment and death. Results indicate that the disappearance of a language and the loss of its status cannot be solely attributed to the widespread of global English. Global English, on the contrary, should not be considered as a threat to the linguistic and national identity in the GCC countries. The real threat that Arabic faces is the failure to meet the increasing needs of its users and speakers which has its implications for the status and future of Arabic. It is suggested then that more descriptive approaches should be adopted in the analysis and teaching of Arabic. Linguistic changes of Arabic should be considered inevitable and not be resisted in order for Arabic to address the changing needs of its users. Arabic should also be more involved in today’s globalised world. Finally, the sense of linguistic identity should be promoted among citizens and students.



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