The pragmatics of codeswitching from Fusha Arabic to Aammiyyah Arabic in religious-oriented discourse

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Saeed, Aziz T. (Aziz Thabit)
MacKay, Carolyn J. (Carolyn Joyce), 1954-
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Thesis (Ph. D.)
Department of English
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This study investigated the pragmatics of codeswitching from FuSHa Arabic, the high variety of Arabic (FA), to Aammiyyah Arabic, the low variety or vernacular (AmA), in the most formal type of discourse, namely religious-oriented discourse.The study posited the following five hypotheses:1) CS occurs with considerable frequency in religious discourse; 2) these switches are communicatively purposeful; 3) frequency of CS is related to the linguistic make-up of the audience addressed, 4) to the AmA of the speaker, and 5) to the section of the discourse delivered.To carry out the investigation, the researcher analyzed 18 audio and videotapes of religious discourse, delivered by 13 Arabic religious scholars from different Arab countries. Ten of these tapes were used exclusively to show that CS occurs in religious discourse. The other eight tapes were used to investigate the other hypotheses. The eight tapes involved presentations by three of the most famous religious scholars (from Egypt, Kuwait, and Yemen) delivered 1) within their home countries and 2) outside their home countries.Three of the five hypotheses were supported. It was found that: CS from FA to AmA occurred in religious discourse with considerable frequency; these switches served pragmatic purposes; and the frequency of the switches higher in the question/answer sections than in the lecture sections.Analysis showed that codeswitches fell into three categories: iconic/rhetorical, structural, and other. The switches served numerous communicative functions, some of which resemble the functions found in CS in conversational discourse.One finding was the relationship between the content of the message and the attitude of the speaker toward or its source. Generally, what the speakers perceived as [+positive] was expressed by the H code, and whatever they perceived as [-positive] was expressed by the L code. Scrutiny of this exploitation of the two codes indicated that FA tended to be utilized as a means of upgrading, whereas AmA was used as a means of downgrading.