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Title: Acquisition of sociolinguistic variation in a dialect contact situation : the case of Palestinian children and adolescents in Syria
Author: Shetewi, Ourooba
ISNI:       0000 0004 7660 0598
Awarding Body: Newcastle University
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2018
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The present study investigates patterns of variation in the speech of 40 girls and boys (3;7- 17;9) in a Bedouin speech community of Palestinian refugees outside the Syrian capital Damascus. It contributes to the knowledge on the acquisition of variation in Arabic speaking communities, especially in situations of contact and diffusion (Britain 2002). The project focuses on the emergence of variation and its development as a function of age and gender by examining speakers' use of the phonological variables (dˁ), (ðˁ), (θ), (ð), (q), and the morphophonological feminine suffix (a), which are realized differently in urban and Bedouin dialects. Patterns of accommodation and register variation in the speech of these participants are also tested to further understand their linguistic behaviour and tap into their sociolinguistic awareness. Sociolinguistic interviews and a picture-naming task were carried out by two female fieldworkers, a local and an urban speaker, in order to elicit spontaneous data and examine variation patterns across different interlocutors and in diverse contexts. The general linear model was used to test the effect of age, gender, and their interaction on variation, and a paired-samples t test was employed to investigate the occurrence of accommodation with the urban interviewer and register variation in the picture task. Accommodation to the urban interviewer occurred in the realization of all variables. Style variation appeared in the realization of (dˁ), (q) and the plain interdentals. The most interesting patterns of variation were in relation to age and gender. Older speakers used the local variants more than younger speakers and girls generally favoured the urban variants. However, a further breakdown by age and gender revealed an intriguing pattern whereby gender differences were limited to speakers between the ages of 6 and 14. Use of the local variants showed a linear increase in the speech of boys older than 5. Girls, on the other hand, showed an increase in using the urban variants up to age 14 followed by a sharp decline, as older girls strongly favoured the local variants. This pattern persisted with all variables, but the degree of variation was dependent on specific variables as one might expect (Eckert 1997; Smith et al. 2007). For example, interdental fricative and (dˁ) showed the greatest amount of variation, with frequency and lexical diffusion (Bybee 2002) emerging as possible forces of change in the case of (θ) and (ð). In contrast, the morphophonological feminine suffix (a) was highly resistant to variation. Realizations of (q) ii showed a noticeable use of the standard variant, even when excluding lexical and phonological conditioning. This, together with an obvious awareness of the split between (dˁ) and (ðˁ), suggests a considerable influence of SA on the speech of young people in the community. Despite the tendency for females to favour prestigious variants (Cheshire 2002), the striking shift towards local variants by the oldest female group in the study is examined from the lens of an increasing national (Palestinian) identity as a key player in the linguistic choices of adolescents in the community.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Hama University
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available