Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Variation in the educated spoken Arabic of Jordan with special reference to aspect in the verb phase

By Shahir Ata El-Hassan


In a theoretical framework where variation is accorded\ud a central role in language analysis, the educated spoken\ud Arabic of Jordan (ESAJ) is recognized as a viable variety in the Arabic continuum, intersecting with modern standard\ud Arabic (MSA) and the colloquials. The recognition of\ud ESAJ raises serious questions against the concept of\ud diglossia in its application to Arabic. Evidence is\ud adduced to show that diglossia is insufficiently sensitive\ud to the facts of language; in particular, its functional\ud basis of definition is in places mistaken. By the same\ud token, such related concepts as 'well-defined' versus\ud 'ill-defined' applied to vernacular Arabic and MSA are\ud shown to be ill-conceived. The more recent work of, say,\ud W. Labov, C-J. Bailey, D. DeCamp, D. Bickerton and J. R.\ud Ross provides on the whole a more satisfactory conceptual\ud framework for dealing with variability in ESAJ.\ud \ud The present study is in two parts. Part I deals with\ud diglossia and related concepts, educated spoken Arabic and\ud its place in the Arabic continuum, and the demonstrative\ud system as an example of variation in ESAJ. Part II is\ud devoted to a systematic analysis of 'aspect' in the verbal\ud phrase in ESAJ, and also to the extent and regularity of\ud aspectual variation and the aptness of 'variable rules'\ud to the analysis of Arabic.\ud \ud The thesis concludes that aspect in ESAJ exhibits a\ud fairly extensive range of variation. Aspectual rules can indeed be formulated, but unless variation is given serious consideration such rules will fall short of satisfactorily\ud accounting for the facts of language. The evidence presented, to quote Mitchell (1978b) 'supports a theoretical\ud view of language, the object of the linguist's study,\ud as simultaneously embodying continuity and change,\ud stability and flux ...; it is not the homogeneous\ud tightly organized affair in which many wish to believe.\ud \ud The study of variation necessarily involves facts\ud and figures. The percentages and averages that are\ud introduced in the analysis are not empty statistics.\ud Without them one cannot do justice to the linguistic\ud facts

Publisher: Linguistics & Phonetics (Leeds)
Year: 1978
OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. 70) -1 ' / I 'The concept of earlier-later: more or less correct. I
  2. (1952). 75b) 'Towards a definition of Modern Standard Arabic. ' Archivum Linquisticum III (new series), 57-73. 'La diglossie arabe. ' Llenseignement public 97. 'Stative verbs in Russian.
  3. (1941). A New Polish Grammar.
  4. (1971). A Reference Grammar of Syrian Arabic. Georgetown University Press. 'Specification and English tenses. '
  5. (1973). An Essay Concerning Aspect. Moutoi
  6. (1976). Arabic Language Handbook. Center For Applied Linguistics. The Arabic Language Today.
  7. (1971). Brace and World Inc. doi
  8. (1921). Educated spoken Arabic in Egypt and the Levant, with special reference to participle and tense. ' (Forthcoming). 'The appearance of aspect. doi
  9. (1976). Eng lish in Black and White. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Win s ton. 'Dialect variants and linguistic deviance. ' Foundations of Language 7,239-254. 'On the notion of "rule of grammar"
  10. (1977). Foundations of Syntactic Theory. doi
  11. (1974). Intelligibility Among Arabic Dialects.
  12. (1972). Introduction to a Survey of Scottish Dialects.
  13. (1971). Jamaican Creole: can dialect boundaries be defined? '
  14. (1969). Modern standard Arabic and the colloquials. ' doi
  15. (1973). mustawayaatu lEarcLbiyyati lmuracLSircLti f ii miSr. dcLcLru lmaEaarif, ialqacLhircL .
  16. (1975). New Ways of Analyzing Variation Shuy,, doi
  17. (1972). On the Compositional Nature of the Aspects.
  18. (1973). Perfect and other aspects in a case grammar of English. ' doi
  19. (1973). Phonological rules and sociolinguistic variation in Norwich English. '
  20. Press. 'Pidginization and syntactic change: from SXV and VSX to SVX. I Papers from the Parasession on Diachronic Syntax. Chicago Linquistic Society,
  21. (1978). Principles of Firthian Lin*quistics.
  22. (1973). Sankof f,
  23. (1971). Semantic overloading: a restudy of the verb remind. doi
  24. (1961). Sociolinguistic Patterns. University of Pennsylvania Press. Language in the Inner City: Studies in the Black English Vernacular. University of Pennsylvania Press. 'Stative adjectives and verbs in English. ' doi
  25. The case for case. I In Bach and Harms (eds. ) (1968: 1-88) . 'Types of lexical information.,
  26. (1973). The category squish Endstation hauptwort. ' Chicago Linguistic Society VIII, 316-328. 'On the state of progress on progressives and statives. '
  27. (1963). The English Verb Auxiliaries. 2nd edition.
  28. (1972). The History of English Syntax: A Transformational Approach to the History of English Sentence Structure.
  29. (1971). The Phrasal Verb doi
  30. (1969). The Problem of Diglossia in Arabic: a comparative study of Classical and Iraqi Arabic. Harvard Middle Eastern Monograph Series. doi
  31. (1971). Toward a generative analysis of a post-creole continuum. I
  32. (1970). Two models of socially significant variation. doi
  33. (1969). Verbal aspect in Semitic. I orientalia 42,114-120. 'The logic of nonstandard English. '

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.