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
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