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The chapter focuses on religious and ethnic affiliation as social factors that influence the structure of variation in several Arabic-speaking communities. We go beyond the simplistic correlations between religious/ethnic groupings and language, and seek to uncover the histories and social meanings of variation based on such groupings. We include examples, both old and new, to illustrate variation according to these factors.
The chapter focuses on gender-differentiated patterns. It begins with a review of Labov’s principles regarding gender differentiation and proceeds to rectify misconceptions about the interpretation of Arabic data. It contains ample examples from a variety of regions and dialects that illustrate different patterns of gender-based variation.
The chapter discusses contact-induced phenomena, the models used in linguistics to represent processes of diffusion, and the principles that govern them. It explains several cases of diffusion across language barriers, borrowing and substrate effects, dialect contact, and new-dialect formation.
The chapter explains the basic principles of linguistic change from a sociolinguistic variationist perspective. It begins with an explanation of the inextricable relationship between linguistic variation and change, and proceeds to demonstrate how language change can be observed, investigated, and explained. Sociolinguists can document and analyse language change using either the real-time method or the apparent-time construct; these methods and their advantages and pitfalls are explained and exemplified.
This chapter provides an introductory coverage of the major issues involved in designing and executing sociolinguistic research with a focus on spoken Arabic in natural settings. It explains the concept of the observer’s paradox and suggests methods to reduce its effects in sociolinguistic interviews. It covers ethnographic, qualitative, and quantitative methods. The use of dependent and independent variables is explained in detail, with a focus on age as a social variable. The chapter ends with ethical considerations as an integral part of research and research conduct.
The chapter looks at the effect of natural barriers on linguistic configuration and diffusion through illustrations of cases from Arabic and other languages. It provides examples of how different types of topographical features either facilitate or hinder communication, thus affecting the diffusion of linguistic features. It also provides a thorough introduction to the Arabic linguistic atlases available, from 1915 into the twenty-first century. The chapter highlights cases of language isolation and language contact involving Arabic.
The chapter focuses on education as a social variable. It critically reviews classical approaches and suggests news ways of integrating education as a variable in sociolinguistic research in Arabic. These approaches are illustrated by examples from qualitative and quatitative studies.
In this chapter we discuss case studies from research on Arabic which employed various methods of social stratification. These include class-based socio-economic stratification, social network analysis, regionality, life-mode, and the community of practice construct.