Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

English and French code-switching – an index to Christianity and Islam in modern Lebanon

English and French code-switching – an index to Christianity and Islam in modern Lebanon

Zeina Lubus

Code-switching examined in sociolinguistics aims to show the relation between individuals’ speech and their identity, social class, or bilingualism, for example. In contrast, different interests will be presented in this research by discussing code-switching relative to Arabic sociolinguistics, focusing on how this linguistic alternation indexes religion in Lebanon today. In particular, the emphasis will be on French and English code-switching as they are integrated within common Lebanese-Arabic speech and on their comparison relative to Christianity and Islam in Lebanon and the United States. Furthermore, I aim to highlight and study three causes that have been largely contributing to this phenomenon. A major influential source is the country’s unique trilingual education and the linguistic methodologies employed in Christian and Muslim school systems. A brief investigation into Lebanon’s history illustrates why Christian schools have incorporated a trilingual methodology into their academic systems and why Muslim schools preferred adhering to Arabic as their primary – if not the only – educational medium. Second, another very powerful contributor to code-switching is the linguistic enforcement apparent in media and broadcasting of both religious beliefs. Here, I will talk in details about two of the country’s most popular stations – LBC and Al Manar – and how their contrasting religious-political backgrounds are not only reflected in their use of broadcasted language but might as well be affecting code-switching on both sides. Third, norms of Christian-Muslim child-upbringing are discussed, too, where on one side teaching linguistic varieties since early childhood is favored, compared to the other side which shows more preference to strict Arabic speech and usage. To examine the matter further, I have conducted two interviews and prepared surveys to be filled out by Lebanese in Lebanon and the United States to show that code-switching indexing religious affiliation among Lebanese is significantly connected to the dominant religious-political Lebanese reality today.

Keywords: Christianity, Islam, code-switching, language, Lebanon, United–States, Lebanese discourse

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April 9, 2014 - Posted by | abstract

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