Language Ideologies and Saudi Society: Understanding the Notion of Diglossia

  •  Abdullah Abdulrahman Bin Towairesh    


Discussing the role of Spoken varieties within Saudi society exposes a point of tension between those who view these varieties as a threat to Fus‛ħa Arabic and those who value them for their close association with local traditions and culture. The absence of a clear understanding of the concept of diglossia among the general public is at the core of this issue. Thus, one can see that although the use of Spoken varieties is expanding rapidly through new mediums such as “Shilat” (folkloric singing) and “Alqanawat Ash-Shaʕbeyah” (TV channels focusing on folklore), the linguistic campaigns that criticize these varieties remain as strong as ever. In this context, this paper aims to explore the discrepancy between linguistic ideologies within society and the reality of language use on the ground. The data used in this study were collected from questionnaires disseminated among Saudi speakers from both sexes and different age groups. The qualitative and quantitative analyses of the data reveal a number of directions and views that are prevalent within Saudi society regarding the H/L dichotomy. There seems to be a wide consensus about accepting Spoken varieties as a normal component of the linguistic repertoire of speakers, provided that such varieties are used in their predetermined domains. In contrast, any signs of infringement on the functions reserved for Fus‛ħa Arabic are always condemned and denounced. These infringements include the nonstandard use of language in any written form, such as the use of local varieties on internet forums, newspapers, and magazines or on information websites, like Wikipedia. This paper also examines the participants’ views on using Spoken Arabic on social media platforms, and their attitudes towards the influx of recent English borrowings into Spoken Arabic.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1923-869X
  • ISSN(Online): 1923-8703
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: bimonthly

Journal Metrics

h-index (February 2018): 20

i10-index (February 2018): 58

h5-index (February 2018): 15

h5-median (February 2018): 22

Learn more