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  1. D Diglossia in Arabic Presented by: RasmiaAlnajar, Angela Castañeda-Lopez, Annie Jones, Stacy Schmidgall, Monica Urso

  2. Diglossia (Ferguson, 1959) Diglossia describes a situation where in a given society there is more than one language variety in use. Two varieties of a language exist side by side throughout the community, with each having a definite role to play. Used in different social situations High (‘H’) and Low (‘L’) variety

  3. Features of Diglossia • Examples of languages which are diglossic: Modern Greek, Swiss German, Haitian Creole, and Arabic. • Why is diglossia relevant? • In the U.S. there are more than 4.5 million international students or 9.6% and rising in the total school population (Lenski, 2002) • More than a million immigrants arrive annually. • Impact on students’ education in general and ELLs in the classroom. • Language and educational backgrounds differ from student to student.

  4. Diglossia in Arabic • Acc. to Ferguson diglossia is not necessarily a stage in the evolution of the standardization of a language. Rather, it “may develop from various origins and eventuate in different language situations” (Ferguson, 1959, p. 327). • The phenomenon of Arabic diglossia is not new: • It can be traced “as far back as our knowledge of Arabic goes” (Ferguson, 1959, p. 327). • Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is no one’s mother tongue (Kaye, 2001, p.123). • ‘H’ or superposed variety is learned formally in an educational setting • Because ‘Classical’ Arabic, or ‘H’ is only learned formally, it has remained relatively stable (Ferguson, 1959, p. 327). • There is “strict complementary distribution of formal vs. informal usage” (Kaye, 2001, p. 117) - ‘H’ is only appropriate in certain situations while ‘L’ is only appropriate in others with very little overlap (Ferguson, 1959, p. 328).

  5. Diglossia in Arabic (cont’) • Since Ferguson, studies of Arabic diglossiahave found ample evidence of overlap between ‘H’ and ‘L’ use. • Boundary between standard and colloquial Arabic variable rather than discrete • Hary has proposed a continuum model in which the standard and colloquial varieties are at opposite ends of the continuum (1996, p. 71). • Hary’s continuum model proposes a “continuous transition between standard and colloquial Arabic” (Hary, 1996, p. 71). • In reality, neither pure fusha nor pure colloquial speech exist (Hary, 1996, p. 72). • “Even in the most ‘pure’ standard text, oral or written, we may find some colloquial elements. Conversely, standard elements tend to be found even in the most Colloquial texts” (Hary, 1996, p. 72). • In discussions between native Arabic speakers, it is not uncommon, depending on context, to include elements of both ‘H’ and ‘L’. • For example, someone may read aloud from the newspaper which is written in ‘H’ and then discuss the article in ‘L’ (Ferguson, 1959, p.329).

  6. Social • Interactions

  7. The Arabic Language " No people in the world manifest such enthusiastic admiration for literary expression and are so moved by the word, spoken or written, as the Arabs. Modern audiences in Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo can be stirred to the highest degree by the recital of poems, only vaguely comprehended, and by the delivery of orations in the classical tongue, though it be only partially understood. The rhythm, the rhyme, the music, produce on them the effect of what they call "lawful magic (sihr halal). " Philip K Hitti, History of the Arabs

  8. Values Associated with High and Low Varieties High Variety Low Variety The native language of every individual. Is essential for daily communication. Different dialects in different countries and within each country e.g. Yemen has 37 dialects and two old languages, Alsukatreyahand Almuhureyah. In most cases different dialects are respected and admired. Used more by populations with limited educational backgrounds • Is the language of the Quran, which is sacred. • Even though Quran is the source of classical Arabic, its verses are simple and effortless compared to pre-Islamic poetry. • It is the most beloved rhythm, rhyme, music, and beauty. • Even among speakers of a diglossiclanguage,‘H’is somehow more beautiful, more logical, better able to express important thoughts (Ferguson, 1959, p.330) • Holds a high prestige and status. • Language variety preferred by educators.

  9. Interacting between people of different dialects • Contact with Al-fus-ha exists from early stages due to the recitation of Quran, and religious speeches even in rural and Bedouin areas. • The main concern with interaction is communication, if a person is understood, no importance of which variety is used. • Interaction among educators from different dialects use Classical Arabic to communicate. • Some people do not have an ear for different dialects. They speak their dialect assuming others understand them easily. • When two people who speak different dialects interact the person with more education will use simpler words and try to be understood by the other person.

  10. Comprehension vs. Production in Classical Arabic Al-fus-ha is easily understood to some limit by all speakers of other dialects regardless of their educational background. Even though it is easier to comprehend other speakers like religious leaders, teachers, and broadcasters, it is difficult for an uneducated person to produce what was said in Al-fus-ha. Even though most Arabic speakers do not have a strong background in Classical Arabic, it is still preferred and more easily understood in communication among speakers of other dialects. Translation from dialect to dialect can be very challenging.

  11. Diglossia and Education

  12. Story Telling & Literacy A study was done by Feitelson, Goldstein, Iraqi, and Share (1993) with Arab children, kindergarteners ages (5-6) Better Comprehension Improved Vocabulary Attention span improved Grammar improved Ability to inference Understand an additional register

  13. Pedagogy Impact Teachers attitude changed Reading Fushafrom textImproved speechBecame better modelsParents engage Students Embraced reading sessionsComprehended storiesAsked for more stories

  14. Grammaticality Judgments in Elementary Students • Improvement in grammatical judgments didn’t relate to instruction • Improvements didn’t correlate to targeted instruction for H variety. • Improvements were made for L variety which was not targeted. • Negative construction more accurate for simpler H variety • Maybe H and L variety both improve with natural language development? • Accuracy in grammatical judgments didn’t correlate with hours of H variety input (TV, books) • Interference occurs both ways • L structure in H variety for younger children • H structure in L variety for older children • Educated Spoken Arabic • Code-switching allowances A study done by Khamis-Dakwar, Froud, & Gordon (2012) with Palestinian children, grades 1-5 (ages 6-12).

  15. Pedagogy implications: • Teach the varieties together to allow opportunities for transferring similarities rather than the current trend of separation • The H variety must be taught: “random exposure” is not enough Khamis-Dakwar, Froud, & Gordon (2012)

  16. Elementary Students’ Struggles between theH and L Variety Difficulties in the H variety Naming words Comprehending words Word endings Pronunciation Perception of children: the two varieties are two different systems Reading and writing necessitates “transferring” between the two varieties Dakwar (2005)

  17. A from the students Dakwar (2005) • 6-year-old: “It is not easy [to learn Fusha]. It is all about pronunciation. I transform a word back to Ammiya during reading so that I can understand it.” • 6-year-old: “The case-ending (harakat), for example, I want to put skoon (shwa) on the word, I forget the skoon. When I read Fusha I understand directly what I am reading, but when I write I think in Ammiya.” • 7-year-old: “Ammiya and Fusha do not differ much, that’s why it is easy. I think in Ammiya before I write, I later transfer to Fusha. Sometimes, while reading I feel I am going back to Ammiya.” • 8-year-old: “I find it hard sometimes when I read Fusha word, for example /?ilbed/ (eggs in Ammiya). I do not know what the Fusha word is for it.”

  18. Developing Literacy • Scholars connect the widespread illiteracy in the Arab world to the diglossic situation • Maamouri (1998): “Arab learners do not seem to follow the easy transition from ‘learning to read’ to ‘reading to learn’ that most children experience all over the world” (p. 45). • Comprehension needs development before decoding skills • Difference in correlation delays literacy • Ayari (1996): “Arab students’ poor writing skills, whether in their native or second languages, can be evidenced, among other things, by the pervasiveness of the oral mode of discourse in their academic writings” (p. 245). • Learning literacy in the H variety is similar to learning a second language • Using spoken language in initial literacy instruction may assist in learning H variety literacy • Dakwar (2005): “Illiteracy rates in the Arab world are higher than the average for developing countries and constitute a challenge for educational development” (p. 77). • Most improvement attempts ignore the diglossic aspect • Awareness of the critical factor of diglossia is growing

  19. Implications D For The ESL CLASSROOM

  20. - Know your students (ability, competencies, cultural and diglossic backgrounds) • - Language Experience Approach • - Value their input- Offer assistance (translation example) - Assess and reassess- Assign partners- Care and share- Collaborate with others- Make adjustments

  21. Questions How could this be applied to the different registers/dialects in English? What has your experience with diglossia been like?

  22. References Dakwar, R. K. (2005). Children’s attitudes towards the diglossic situation in Arabic and its impact on learning. Languages, Communities, and Education, 2, 75-86. Retrieved from Feitelson, D.,  Goldstein, Z., Iraqi, J. & Share, D. L.  Effects of listening to story reading on aspects of literacy acquisition in a diglossic situation.  Reading Research Quarterly, 28(1) 70-79.  Retrieved from Ferguson, C.A. (1959). Diglossia. Word, 15, 325-340. Hary, B. (1996). The importance of the language continuum in Arabic multiglossia. In A. Elgibali, (Ed.), Understanding Arabic: Essays in Contemporary Arabic Linguistics in Honor of El-Said Badawi,pp. (69-90). Cairo: American University of Cairo Press. Hitti, P. (2006). History of the Arabs (10th ed.).New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. Kaye, A. S. (2001). Diglossia: The state of the art. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 152, 117-129. Khamis-Dakwar, R., Froud, K., & Gordon, P. (2012). Acquiring diglossia: Mutual influences of formal and colloquial Arabic on children’s grammaticality judgments. Journal of Child Language, 39(1), 61-89. doi: 10.1017/S0305000910000784 Maamouri, M. (1998). Language education and human development: Arabic diglossia and its impact on the quality of education in the Arab region. Discussion paper prepared for The World Bank Mediterranean Development Forum, Marrakesh. Phildadelphia: University of Pennsylvania International Literacy Institute. Retrieved from