Manchester Metropolitan University's Research Repository

    Sociolinguistic variation in Saudi English: syntactic, morphological and phonological features

    Alhamazany, Amal (2021) Sociolinguistic variation in Saudi English: syntactic, morphological and phonological features. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


    Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

    Download (3MB) | Preview


    This study investigates variation in an English variety in an Expanding Circle country, Saudi Arabia (Kachru, 1985), which has resulted from globalisation and modernisation rather than colonisation. Employing variationist sociolinguistic methods of data gathering and analysis, the study examines syntactic, morphological and phonological features in Saudi English, which is a variety that has been discussed in relation to some of its grammatical features (Al-Rawi, 2012; Mahboob & Elyas, 2014) yet that has never been examined in relation to its speakers and the social contexts in which it has emerged. Applying rigorous quantitative analysis, this study uncovers variation in five variables: verb be, -s inflection in third-person singular verbs, the definite and indefinite articles, and in the labiodental fricative /v/. It explores variation in relation to linguistic factors such as the influence of Arabic and context complexity within English; social factors such as gender, tribalism, and age; and other factors such as attitudes, education, social identity (Tajfel, 1972), and social networks (Milroy, 1980). The study also investigates social factors which have been studied in SLA research either separately or in relation to English as an Inner Circle variety. Using qualitative analysis, concepts such as standard English, correctness, native-speakerism, and westernisation are investigated in relation to the increasing use of English in Saudi. In addition, motivation of Saudi English speakers, which has been presented in SLA research as having binary fixed characteristics (either instrumental or integrative) is explored through the concept of investment (Norton, 1995) and imagined community (Anderson, 1991). The participants’ types of investment are investigated in relation to identity by allowing the speakers to express their needs, desires, and future plans in interviews and to elaborate on their responses in the questionnaires. The results of the quantitative analysis demonstrate systematic patterns of variation in all five features. These patterns are linguistically constrained in that Arabic influence may not be the only or primary factor, and socially constrained in that the speakers’ social or educational backgrounds seem to result in different language use. The qualitative results show the participants’ contradicting views regarding the status of English in Saudi. Issues such as fear of Arabic loss and westernisation, on one hand, and standard English, native-speakerism, and correctness, on the other, seem to have resulted from conflicting ideologies in Saudi. These can be seen as educational ideologies that favour and promote standard English as the language of the west, and religious ideologies that present the west as the enemy making English the language of the enemy. The results also demonstrate that Saudis in this study have three types of investment to use English: investment in children’s English education, investment in English for career advancement, and investment in English as an international language.

    Impact and Reach


    Activity Overview
    6 month trend
    6 month trend

    Additional statistics for this dataset are available via IRStats2.

    Actions (login required)

    View Item View Item