Euphemism, Hedging or Mystification of Responsibility? An Investigation into Contemporary Colloquial Discourse with Particular Reference to Taxi Drivers & Undergraduate University Students in Egypt & Jordan

Ahmed Abdel Azim ElShiekh


The present research attempts to investigate a certain linguistic feature which the researcher believes to be characteristic of contemporary colloquial Arabic discourse, viz. the use of certain linguistic techniques and/or tricks, whether consciously or unconsciously, to avoid the use of a harsh description of a given situation, to avoid fulfilling, answering, or performing duties and questions, or even to elude responsibility altogether. All the above-mentioned may fall under the umbrella of passivism and irresponsibility. In case this is true, academic research in the field of sociolinguistics, pragmatics and discourse analysis may as well contribute to diagnosing the phenomenon in question as a necessary step towards the solution of any problems resulting from the negative attitudes underlying the linguistic behaviour under study.

The research hypotheses stem from the researcher’s personal observations in Egypt and in Jordan. In an attempt to verify these hypotheses, the present research examines a sample of common expressions used as potential and almost automatic responses to certain situations, all of which have one thing in common: dissatisfaction, ranging from the trivial or at least insignificant (Misunderstanding/Miscommunication) to the sublimely tragic (A car accident/failure in a final examination). The sample consists of two different groups: undergraduate university students and taxi drivers, in an attempt at finding out whether or not the occupational interests of the sample group members play an active role with regard to the linguistic phenomenon in question.

The researcher depends on face-to-face encounters in an attempt to keep the linguistic behaviour of the informants as fresh and spontaneous as possible. The data analysis makes use of relevant semantic, pragmatic, stylistic, grammatical and discoursal devices.

Finally, the researcher comes up with the main findings of the research, discusses them and attempts to explore the causes and possible implications of the linguistic phenomenon under study.

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International Journal of English Linguistics   ISSN 1923-869X (Print)   ISSN 1923-8703 (Online)   E-mail:

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