Standard Arabic [q]-lexical-borrowings in the speech of Syrian rural migrants


  • Rania Habib



lexical borrowings, Syrian Arabic, rural migrants, urban centers, education, gender, age


This study examines lexical borrowings from Standard Arabic containing the voiceless uvular stop [q] sound in the speech of 52 Christian rural migrant speakers to the city of Hims in Syria. The study shows that both older and younger males use more lexical borrowings than older and younger females respectively. This gender difference is attributed to the different gender roles and expectations of males and females in society and consequently the gender identity projected by the use of more or less lexical borrowings. Age does not play a role in the use of lexical borrowings, although younger speakers are generally more educated than older speakers and education plays some role. Those at the top of the education scale, i.e. holding professional degrees such as medicine, dentistry, and master’s degrees, show higher use of lexical borrowings than speakers with bachelor’s degrees and lower levels of education. The difference is statistically significant between speakers with professional degrees, on the one hand, and those with bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees and elementary school education, on the other. This difference is not statistically significant with speakers with middle and high school education. Interestingly, education overrides the gender effect when females are at the top of the education scale. That is, females who are highly educated tend to use lexical borrowings as much as males of the same educational level. In this sense, lexical borrowing becomes a marker of higher education not only among males, but also among females. In other words, the gender identity differentiation diminishes when speakers are highly educated.




How to Cite

Habib, Rania. 2018. “Standard Arabic [q]-Lexical-Borrowings in the Speech of Syrian Rural Migrants”. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 3 (1): 51:1–12.