The semantics of English Borrowings in Arabic Media Language: The case of Arab Gulf States Newspapers

Anwar A. H. Al-Athwary


The present paper investigates the semantics of English loanwords in Arabic media language (AML). The loanword data are collected from a number of Arab Gulf states newspapers (AGSNs). They  are analyzed semantically from the points of view of semantic change, semantic domains, and the phenomenon of synonymy resulting from lexical borrowing. The semantic analysis has revealed that AML borrowings from English occur in fifteen distinctive semantic domains. Domains that are related to terms of technical and scientific nature are found ranking much higher (9% - 18%) than those domains containing nontechnical elements (1% - 8%) with the computer and technology category (18%) is the most dominant domain. Almost all common mechanisms of semantic change (extension, restriction, amelioration, pejoration, and metaphorical extension) are found at work in the context of AML borrowings. The tendency of semantic change in the overwhelming majority of AML borrowings is towards restriction.  Factors like need, semantic similarity, and factors of social and psychological considerations (e.g. prestige, taboo) seem to be the potent factors at interplay in semantic change. The first two, i.e. need and semantic similarity, are the most common reasons in most types of semantic change. The problem of synonymy lies in those loanwords that have “Arabic equivalents” in the language. The study claims that this phenomenon could be attributed to the two simultaneous processes of lexical borrowing and?ištiqa:q (the modern efforts of deriving equivalent neologisms).



Loanwords, semantic change, semantic domains, synonymy, Arabic media language

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