Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Arabizi: Arabic-English Code-Switching

The following is from the documentary Arabizi, which was produced by MBC in 2005. The term 'Arabizi' is used informally to mean one of two linguistic phenomena: either Romanized and 'numeralized' written Arabic which is used in Computer Mediated Communication (CMC), such as in this sentence '9aba7 el 5air'. Or, Arabizi could be used to refer to the code-switching between Arabic and English. Code-switching can be defined as "the use by a speaker of more than one language, dialect, or variety during a conversation" (Crystal, 1999: 60). This documentary mostly discusses the latter phenomenon.

To be able to code-switch one needs to be at least bidialectal or bilingual. This documentary gives an interesting insight at how and when Arabic-English bilinguals code-switch and how it became part of their identity. Usually these individuals are exposed to the cultures of both the languages they use. Many would attack this linguistic/social behaviour and suggest that it is a threat to the Arabic language and identity. Many on the other hand, would say that it is a normal product of globalization. I leave the readers to judge for themselves.

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