Insight into the Attitudes of Speakers of Urban Meccan Hijazi Arabic towards their Dialect

Sameeha D. Alahmadi


The current study mainly aims to examine the attitudes of speakers of Urban Meccan Hijazi Arabic (UMHA) towards their dialect, which is spoken in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It also investigates whether the participants’ age, sex and educational level have any impact on their perception of their dialect. To this end, I designed a 5-point-Likert-scale questionnaire, requiring participants to rate their attitudes towards their dialect. I asked 80 participants, whose first language is UMHA, to fill out the questionnaire. On the basis of the three independent variables, namely, age, sex and educational level, the participants were divided into three groups: old and young speakers, male and female speakers and educated and uneducated speakers. The results reveal that in general, all the groups (young and old, male and female, and educated and uneducated participants) have a sense of responsibility towards their dialect, making their attitudes towards their dialect positive. However, differences exist between the three groups. For instance, old speakers tend to express their pride of their dialect more than young speakers. The same pattern is observed in male and female groups. The results show that females may feel embarrassed to provide answers that may imply that they are not proud of their own dialect, since the majority of women in the Arab world, in general, are under more pressure to conform to the overt norms of the society than males. Therefore, I argue that most Arab women may not have the same freedom to express their opinions and feelings about various issues. Based on the results, the study concludes with some recommendations for further research. 

Keywords: sociolinguistics, language attitudes, dialectology, social variables, Urban Meccan Hijazi Arabic

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