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Title: Ideology, identity, and linguistic capital : a sociolinguistic investigation of language shift among the Ajam of Kuwait
Author: Hassan, Batoul
ISNI:       0000 0004 2669 5664
Awarding Body: The University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2009
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The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between language practices and non-linguistic processes that affect the outcome of language shift and loss situations. The community under investigation form a small minority Kuwaiti-Persian ethnic group known as Ajam. The Ajam speak a distinct variety of Persian referred to as Eimi within a dominant Arabic speaking community. The language practices of Ajam are analysed within a language and political economy framework. Key notions such as capital, field, habitus, and symbolic domination (Bourdieu 1991) are used to understand not only why language shift has taken place, but also why Eimi is still used to some extent. To this end a combination of ethnographic methods and quantitative analysis was used to collect data from 140 questionnaires and 20 informal interviews. Analysis of the data shows that Eimi has limited linguistic capital that can be symbolically used as a marker of solidarity. However, the analysis also indicates that not only has Eiml been in a state of decline for some time but the use of Eimi has drastically declined among the youngest generation of Ajam. Essentially, Eimi does not function as a symbol of ethnic or religious identity. Furthermore, underlying the language shift process is the divergent language ideologies and attitudes towards Eimi and Arabic. Despite the expression of positive attitudes towards Eimi and the teaching of Eimi to future generations, negative ideologies in the form of the 'non-standard language' and negative effects of multilingualism' are the main catalyst in the language shift process. On the other hand, informants attached positive ideologies to Arabic as a symbol of Arab nationalism, as a divine language, and as a symbol of Kuwaiti identity. Through discussion of these findings this study contributes to the understanding of the relationship between language behavior, ideology, and identity in the face of language shift and loss.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available