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The Changing Role of Arabic in Religious Discourse: A Sociolinguistic Study of Egyptian Arabic

by Soliman, Abdelmeneim

Abstract (Summary)
This study examined the language situation in the religious discourse in Egypt. It investigated the switch from Classical Arabic to Egyptian Arabic in the religious domain in one of the most renowned preachers in Egypt, Amr Khaled. In order to investigate the phenomenon, I chose to examine and analyze the instances of codeswitching from Classical Arabic to Egyptian Arabic in ten recordings of religious speeches delivered by Khaled, focusing on the phonological, syntactical, and morphological features. In addition, the study examined the possibility of a relationship between the frequency of switches and the kind of audience (Egyptians vs. non-Egyptians), and the type of discourse (lecture vs. discussion session). This study attempted also to measure the attitudes and perceptions of educated Egyptians towards the use of Egyptian Arabic in religious discourse in order to explore perception of language change from Classical to Egyptian Arabic in religious domain. This was carried out by means of two data collection methods: 1) a questionnaire and 2) interviews that were conducted in three states of Egypt; Cairo, Menoufiyya, and North Sinai which represent urban, rural, and Bedouin dialects respectively. The study showed that Egyptian Arabic occurred with a considerable frequency in religious discourse. Khaled used Classical Arabic whenever he recited Quranic verses, mentioned Prophetic narrations, gave quotations, and supplicated at the beginning and the end of the sermon, but anywhere else he resorted to Egyptian Arabic. The study also showed that there was no relationship between the frequency of codeswitching and the kind of audience (Egyptian vs. non-Egyptian). The audience was not a strong factor in switching to Egyptian Arabic. The topic of the lecture was a more important factor for having a high or low number of switches. Regarding the relationship between the frequency of codeswitching and the type of discourse (Lecture vs. Discuss Session), the study showed that the number of switches in the lectures was much greater than the number of switches in the discussion sessions. The study revealed the positive attitudes of Egyptians towards the use of Egyptian Arabic in a context that was supposed to disfavor it most. The results of the questionnaire and the interviews revealed that the Egyptian public opinion nowadays regards the use of Egyptian Arabic to be “more practical” “simpler”, and “more influential” than Classical Arabic.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Indiana University of Pennsylvania

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis

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Date of Publication:08/07/2008

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