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Gender and Age Effects on Lexical Choice in The Baghdadi Speech Community: A Cognitive Sociolinguistic Analysis

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  • P Philology. Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics


The effects of gender and age on lexical choice in Arabic sociolinguistics have been found to be contradictory and problematic. This is because the prestigious dialect is not necessarily the standard variety, or Standard Arabic (SA) in the Arab world. The objective of this study is to delve into the inner workings of Baghdadis' linguistic system in pursuit of a better understanding of the interface between the social and the linguistic by adding the cognitive approach. The cognitive approach to lexical choice is primarily interested in the subjective meanings or experiences of individual language users within their social groups. This quantitative research is based on the differences in lexical choices depending on gender and age of the literate Baghdadis. Patterns of lexical variables are identified according to males‘/females‘ (24 males/24 females) choice of new lexical items of the Baghdadi Dialect (BD) speakers. This study also identifies any patterns of change according to three age groups (18-24, 30-40, and 50-60) by comparing their lexical choices. The informants were chosen using judgment sampling procedure. The speech of the 48 BD speakers was investigated using face-to-face interviews. Correlations and F-tests were conducted using the SPSS (Version 18) to process data on the independent variables (age and gender) and lexical choices. It was found that variation is not mechanical or automatic, but is based on personal conscious choices. It was also found that gender is one of the most important social factors correlating with lexical variation. Among Baghdadi women, the prestigious linguistic form was found to be associated with Standard Arabic. Thus, females who opt for SA can be considered to represent competent Arabic teachers since they are linguistically more prestige conscious than males. Future studies can analyze the relationship between BD and SA and its educational impact on Iraqi schools.

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