Mixed Styles in Spoken Arabic in Egypt

Somewhere between Order and Chaos


This volume deals with the linguistic behaviour of Egyptian academics in a specific setting: the panel presentation - assumed to represent a discourse genre, to which speakers will respond with some kind of similar stylistic norm, reflected in linguistic choices among variants of a feature. The features selected for investigation are: complementizers, demonstratives, negation, relatives, and pronoun suffixation - all of which have binary variants in the two basic codes available to the speaker, the standard variety and the vernacular. The use of the variants is discussed for each speaker and across speakers, demonstrating certain patterns of distribution (order), but also a high degree of variable usage (chaos). The investigation is set in a wider comparative sociolinguistic framework.

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Biographical Note

Gunvor Mejdell, Dr. philos. (2005), University of Oslo, Associate Professor of Arabic Language and Culture. Her publications are mainly in the field of sociolinguistics, but also include contributions on Arabic literary and cultural issues.

Review Quotes

"... a testimony to a high level of scholarship."
Mohammed Sawaie, International Journal of Middle East Studies, August 2008

"Mejdell's language is pleasantly clear and detailed. All the theories and studies that are relevant to her research - such as Badawi's language levels, Mitchell's Leeds Project and Holes' lexical hypothesis - are considered and the hypotheses upon which she builds are well grounded and highlighted. The orgaization o fher investigation is substantial and systematic... In this solid, detailed and nuanced work, Mejdell has most certainly '(contributed) to the exploration of speakers' linguistic choices (and) their verbal strategies', which she states as her aim."
Caroline Roset, Orientalistische Literaturzeitung, 104 (2009) 3

"In conclusione, questo libro rappresenta uno dei più significativi e originali contributi all’intenso dibattito degli ultimi 30 anni sulla diglossia e la commutazione di codice in arabo egiziano: se ne raccomanda vivamente la lettura non soltanto agli specialisti di sociolinguistica, araba come generale, ma anche agli studiosi dell’uso del dialetto nella letteratura scritta in Egitto, tematica tanto largamente coltivata quanto spesso affrontata in modo superficiale e ripetitivo."
Riccardo Contini, Quaderni di Studi Arabi 5-6 (2010-2011)

Table of contents



Chapter One: Arabic and the Issue of Standard Language

Chapter Two: Intermediate Forms—‘Mixed Styles’

Chapter Three: Variants of Complementizers

Chapter Four: Demonstratives

Chapter Five: The Expression of Negation

Chapter Six: The Relative Phrase

Chapter Seven: Pronoun Suffixation

Chapter Eight: Results, Interpretation, and Conclusions

Appendix 1: Sequential presentation of variants
Appendix 2: Transcribed text
Appendix 3: Translation of text



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