A Change of a Consonant Status: the Bedouinisation of the [j] Sound in the Speech of Kuwaitis: A Case Study

Abdulmohsen A. Dashti, Rahimah S. Akbar, Hanan A. Taqi


In light of sociolinguist phonological change, the following study investigates the [j] sound in the speech of Kuwaitis as the predominant form and characterizes the sedentary population which is made up of both the indigenous and non-indigenous group; while [ʤ] is the realisation of the Bedouins who are also a part of the indigenous population. Although [ʤ] is the classical variant, it has, for some time, been regarded by Kuwaitis as the stigmatized form and the [j] as the one that carries prestige. This study examines the change of status of [j] and [ʤ] in the speech of Kuwaitis. The main hypothesis is that [j] no longer carries prestige. To test this hypothesis, 40 Kuwaitis of different gender, ages, educational background, and social networks were spontaneously chosen to be interviewed. Their speech was phonetically transcribed and accordingly was quantitatively and qualitatively analyzed. Results indicate that the [j] variant is undergoing change of status and that the social parameters and the significant political and social changes, that Kuwait has undergone recently, have triggered this linguistic shift.


Arabic Phonology, Sociolinguistics, Kuwaiti variable, language

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