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The socio-pragmatics of dialectal codeswitching by Al-`Keidaat Bedouin speakers

Authors
  • Albirini, Abdulkafi
Type
Published Article
Journal
Intercultural Pragmatics
Publisher
De Gruyter Mouton
Publication Date
Mar 01, 2014
Volume
11
Issue
1
Pages
121–147
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1515/ip-2014-0005
Source
De Gruyter
Keywords
License
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Abstract

While the dynamics of dialectal codeswitching in the Arabic-speaking context has been the center of much discussion and research, only a few studies have examined the role of socio-pragmatic factors in the code choices of Arabic speakers in everyday interactions. Using Bourdieu's (1977) social capital theory as a general framework, this study examines the role of pragmatic and capital-related factors in codeswitching in an understudied Arabic-speaking group, namely Al-`Keidaat Bedouins in Syria. Audio-recorded data was collected from two Bedouin wedding parties and 37 interactions involving Bedouins in the workplace. The data analysis indicates that Bedouin speakers use their multi-dialectal package mainly to manage their self-representation in relation to other speakers, enhance their ability to access different forms of social capital, and maximize their benefit from social interactions with different speakers. Based on the findings, I argue that the speakers' use of their linguistic repertoires is more socio-pragmatically driven than based on the often-invoked prestige of specific language varieties. Finally, while it uses Bourdieu's social capital theory as a general framework, the study seeks to expand this theory by reconceptualizing power as a multi-dimensional top-down, bottom-up process of defining social structures and relationships.

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