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Title: Social network integration and language change in progress in Iraqi Arabic : a sociophonetic study of dialect levelling in the Hīti dialect
Author: Mohammed, Fuad
ISNI:       0000 0004 7425 7124
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2018
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This study investigates the linguistic outcomes of war-induced dialect contact between speakers of two dialects of Iraqi Arabic (IA): the qiltu dialect spoken in Hīt (HIA) and the gilit dialect spoken by migrants from the gilit areas to Hīt. It differs from previous contact-based studies on Arabic dialects in that it investigates dialect change in the speech of the local residents rather than in the speech of the migrants. The HIA dialect has been noted for the loss of certain local linguistic features at the expense of gilit features with a wider areal distribution (Al-Ani, 1978; Khan, 1997). The thesis provides a quantitative sociophonetic description of the speech of 36 male and female HIA speakers and of their accommodation to the gilit dialect by examining the impact of four independent variables (age, gender, Social Network Integration (SNI), and speakers’ attitudes) on the use of four phonological variables (two consonantal and two vocalic). At the consonantal level, variation in the use of the uvular stop (q) and the velar stop (k) are examined. At the vocalic level, the variation in the insertion of the epenthetic vowel [i] within onset consonant clusters in word initial positions and the lowering of the short high vowel /i/ into [a] in the context of pharyngeal consonants is examined. This is the first quantitative sociophonetic study of its kind to be conducted on HIA to examine whether dialect levelling is taking place and to compare the findings to those of other sociolinguistic studies on IA qiltu dialects (e.g. Mosuli Iraqi Arabic) spoken in communities that have undergone similar sociodemographic changes as Hīt. Over the course of the last three decades, Hīt has seen high levels of internal migration of people from gilit-speaking cities, namely the capital Baghdad. Previous research has suggested that as a consequence of spatial mobility and dialect contact, language features with a wider socio-spatial currency become more widely used at the expense of more locally specific features (Britain, 2009). This mobility disrupts large-scale close-knit localised networks, which have over time retained highly systematic and intricate sets of socially built linguistic standards (Milroy, 2002). This study shows that speakers’ age, gender and SNI have an important impact on the acquisition of gilit features, with SNI being the most important independent variable. HIA speakers with more open friendship networks i.e. high scorers on the SNI scale were the leaders in adopting gilit features. There is sound change in progress and gilit features spread faster among the younger generation. In all age groups, male speakers produced more gilit features than female speakers did. The results suggest that the spread of the gilit features at the expense of the HIA local features is determined by social, linguistic and social-psychological factors. It was shown that speakers’ attitudes play an important role in their linguistic behaviour. Socially salient phonological variables such as (k) are levelled only minimally and the vocalic features are levelled more and adopted more frequently than the consonantal features. Epenthesis of the vowel [i] is restricted to monosyllabic words. Vowel lowering is not limited to the context of velar and pharyngeal consonants. The outcome of dialect contact is levelling, which involves the replacement of local linguistic forms with other linguistic features with a wider geographical spread (Cheshire et al., 1999:1) and motivated by individuals having open networks to people outside their community.
Supervisor: Wilson, James ; Watson, Janet Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available