Colorado Research in Linguistics

Document Type

Working Paper


This paper surveys studies on language ideologies in the Arabic diglossic environment of present-day Egypt. Specifically, it discusses linguistic and cultural implications of language ideologies associated with Classical Arabic (CA), Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), Egyptian Arabic (EA), and English in the Cairo area. The language ideologies of these varieties are a product of both the past and the present: they emerged during British colonialism in the late nineteenth century and are maintained in the postcolonial climate through discourses on the purity of Classical Arabic, on the linguistic corruption of the dialects, and on the increasing use of English as a symbol of Western capitalism and modernity. Aligning with Woolard’s (1998) definition of language ideology as a mediating link between linguistic features and social processes, this study demonstrates how language ideologies are communicated in structural aspects of the language varieties in the Arabic diglossia and how Egyptians use language varieties strategically to access the symbolic power of these ideologies. It argues that studies of language ideologies, language features, and discursive interaction are inseparable in uncovering how language is used in the Arabic diglossia in Egypt.



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