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Title: Loci and rhetorical functions of diglossic code-switching in spoken Arabic: an analysis of the corpus of homilies of the Egyptian hegumen Mattā al-Miskīn (1919-2006)
Authors: HAMAM, MARCO
Tutor: Lancioni, Giuliano
Den Heijer, Johannes
Keywords: code-switching
Arabic Language
argumentation
diglossia
diglossic code-switching
written and spoken language
diglossic relationships
Spoken Arabic
mixed varieties of spoken Arabic
Egyptian Arabic
Mattā al-Miskīn
Matta El Meskin
Issue Date: 10-Oct-2011
Abstract: This study falls within a broad field of the sociolinguistics of Arabic, namely the diglossic variation between spoken Standard Arabic (SA) and Native Arabic (NA). I borrow the latter term from Owens (2001) which seems to me more “neutral” than ‘colloquial’ or ‘dialect’: NA is, in fact, the first variety of Arabic people learn since they are children. It deals with one of the main approaches to variation, code-switching (CS), within a specific region, Egypt, and within a specific genre, Christian homilies. I will use EA to generically indicate Egyptian native varieties. Whenever I need to specify that I deal only with Cairene Arabic, I will use the abbreviation CEA (Cairene Egyptian Arabic). The general question this study starts from is: if the combined use of SA and NA at various level of Spoken Arabic is a very common practice among Arab speakers, attestable through simple linguistic observation, what are the rhetorical motivations for which Arabs code-switch from SA to NA and vice-versa? And specifically what does CS add to the argumentative construction of an oral text, specifically a Christian religious discourse? The hypotheses posited that will be tested in the course of this study are: 1) diglossic CS occurs with considerable frequency in Christian religious discourse as well as in other genres; 2) these switches occur only at an intersentential level; 3) switches are always rhetorically functional, that is they help the speaker build his discourse, differentiating textual material, just like other rhetorical mechanisms, such as figures of speech; 4) functions of CS are distinguishable from loci (i.e., parts of the text where CS is most probable to happen); 5) patterns of rhetorical CS (loci and functions) are clearly definable and divisible between “general” (common to all the genres) and “particular” (specific of one genre); 6) frequency of CS is related to specific part of discourse. Whenever the term SA will be used, it will mostly refer to Spoken Standard Arabic unless otherwise specified. Many of the scholars have dealt with CS within a genre (political discourse, mainly, but also Islamic religious discourse, panel presentation, academic lectures). I focused on another genre, that of the Coptic Christian homilies. The corpus chosen for the analytical part is part of a more vast unexplored and only partially published corpus of homilies of father Mattā al-Miskīn (1919-2006) , also known in the English-speaking world as father Matthew the Poor, the spiritual father and hegumen of the Monastery of St. Macarius in the desert of Scetis in Egypt. As a cultured person, and an important reformer of the Coptic Orthodox church, he was a controversial figure who has left, in addition to publications concerning spiritual, social and political topics, a huge corpus of recordings ranging from 1973 to 2001, all affected by the phenomenon of mixed varieties of spoken Arabic. Four main loci have been selected for the analysis - quotation, reiteration and argumentative elaboration, prayers and praises – which comprehend other main subloci: quotation (biblical quotation and pseudo-quotations, self-quotation vs. allo-quotation, imaginary quotes, personalization of quotes); reiteration (semantic equivalence, elliptical repetition, elaborative repetition); argumentative elaboration (text[quotation] vs. oral comment, text[quotation] vs. parenthetical comment, abstraction vs. concretization (examples), analysis vs. synthesis, story framing, contrastive argumentation, rhetorical questions, personalization). What emerges is that it has not always been possible to find a specific locus or a specific function for CS though it can be said, in the light of the data, that the basic function for all the cases of CS is essentially to generate a contrast within the text. Any other consideration on CS of whatever nature (social, psychological, textual, participant-related or situational) must be built on this preliminary consideration. The contrast created by CS, in fact, allows the speaker to focus or de-focus on certain segments helping him argumentatively structure his discourse. The strength and the success of the argumentation is given by a “good” dosage of the contrast within the discourse. This contrast can be charged or not with the symbolic values of the codes at stake. If the contrast is not charged with symbolic values (that is it is not rhetorically functional), then what is meaningful is not the direction of CS but only the opposition itself achieved by CS. If the contrast exploits these symbolic values, and makes them rhetorically functional, it means that the direction of CS is rhetorically meaningful. The distinction made by Auer (1995:120) of conversational loci and functions of CS has proved to be particularly operative, although presenting a numbers of limitations. The data show that Mattā al-Miskīn also code-switches without a specific locus. The function of this unlocalized CS is to give a dramatic effect to a part of a sentence in order to highlight it in the sentence and to temporarily attract listeners’ attention and then relax it by CS again. Another major difficulty encountered with the distinction locus/function was the overlapping of the loci. It is not always easy to determine where quotation ends and where reiteration begins, as often the same quote is repeated over and over again in the same monologue. The solution that was found was to consider as a quotation only the first time that this appears in the text while the following times it was considered as a repetition (i.e. a reiteration of a quotation). Still, comment can represent a repetitive segment, abstraction can represent a self-quotation, an elaborated repetition can represent a distinction between analysis vs. synthesis etc. Also, detachment and involvement seem to be attached to the switched codes in many loci. This means that if SA conveys abstraction it is also because it conveys detachment (and abstraction is, by definition, an expression of detachment). It seems that this problem, that repeats itself for all the loci, cannot be solved, unless we look at the loci as potentially multi-layered, apt to be interpreted in more than only one way. A code-switched passage can thus be read, for instance, as a repetition or a comment and explained accordingly. At the level of the clause, it is probably possible to speak of a sort of rhetorical climax through CS. The switch begins slowly in the first contextual part and it increases with SA markers until it ends the movement. The opposite process is a sort of anticlimax: after drawing the attention on the climax in SA, the speaker relaxes it down by CS to EA. Yet, topicalization seems to be a more profitable key to better understand CS at this level. Normally SA conveys topical clauses while EA conveys the comment part. SA conveys that about which one intends to speak. By uttering a clause in SA, the speaker probably invites the interlocutor to store the following information (in EA) as relative to the proposed topic. SA represents the static part of the communication. Comment is conveyed by EA and normally refers to the portion of the statement that contains the higher degree of information and communicative dynamism. Nevertheless, SA often conveys the peak of the comment part or a sort of restatement of the topic in different words. This is certainly a possible development for future research. Other possible paths for research would be studying the existence of phraseological loci, that is syntactic or phraseological structures that are more than others “sensible” to CS, and the links between style-raising and code-mixing.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10805/1148
Research interests: Sociolinguistics applied to Arabic language (specifically, mixed varieties of spoken Arabic) Corpus linguistics (spoken language)
Skills short description: (2011). Text vs. comment: some examples of the rhetorical value of the diglossic code-switching in Arabic: a Gumperzian approach,.PRAGMATICS: Quarterly Publication of the International Pragmatics Association". 21:1. pp. 41-68. (2009). Dire l’ineffabile: una ricognizione nel corpus di insegnamenti orali di padre Mattā al-Miskīn. «Miscellanea Arabica». pp. 195-214. May 24-26, 2011, Università di Roma 3, dipartimento di linguistica workshop entitled “Arabic computational and corpus linguistics: projects and perspectives” with the paper “Transcribing Mixed Spoken Arabic (monologues): Some Basic Reflections on a Complex Process”. October 11-14, 2010, Università di Firenze, dipartimento di linguistica third colloquim of the Association Internationale de Moyen Arabe (AIMA) “Middle Arabic and Mixed Arabic: an intentional choice of register? Researches on medieval, modern and contemporary sources” with the paper “Italian and arabic mixed (standard-dialect) oral production: a divergent convergence? Some functions of code-­‐switching as an example”. Proceedings are under publication. March 26-27, 2008, Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo round table “Mixed Varieties of Arabic” with the paper “Some rethorical values of fusha-'ammiyya code-swichting”. Proceedings are under publication. October 22-26, 2007, University of Amsterdam second colloquim of the Association Internationale de Moyen Arabe (AIMA) with the paper “Metalinguistic values of juxtaposition of fusha and 'ammiyya: the case of ideologized speakers discussing about the Arabic language”.
Personal skills keywords: Sociolinguistics, Arabic language, Egyptian Arabic, transcription of Spoken Arabic,
Appears in PhD:CIVILTA', CULTURE E SOCIETA' DELL'ASIA E DELL'AFRICA

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