A Consonant Shift in Kuwaitis’ Speech: Challenging the Bedouin Vs Sedentary hypothesis The case of [ʧ]

Abdulmohsen A. Dashti


In light of sociolinguist phonological change, the following study investigates the shift of [ʧ] to [k] sound in the speech of Kuwaitis and argues against the Bedouin/ Sedentary distinction. The main hypothesis is twofold: first the shift seems to be driven not by the differences between the sedentary and Bedouin varieties, but by the widespread of the English language as a prestige form and by the recent change of Kuwaitis’ lifestyle; second, the shift is not totally in the direction of [k], but rather in the direction of a lexical replacement by either English loanwords, classical Arabic, or other Arab dialects. To test this hypothesis, 130 informants were informally interviewed. 503 tokens were collected and were examined across gender, age, level of education. Their speech was phonetically transcribed and accordingly was quantitatively and qualitatively analyzed. Results indicate that the [ʧ] variant is undergoing change and that the social parameters and the significant social changes, that Kuwait has undergone recently, have triggered this linguistic shift.


Sociolinguistics, phonology, Kuwaiti variable, social parameters

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