Accent Accommodation in the Workplace: Cross-Dialectal Realizations of the 2 F.SG. Object/ Possessive Pronoun Suffix by Saudis

Manal A. Ismail


Little attention has been given in the Arabic sociolinguistics literature on examining levelling influences across speakers of different dialects and social backgrounds. Moreover, the effect of occupational background, a relevant socioeconomic category, has been neglected. The study explores accent accommodation towards the community-wide second-person feminine singular (2 F.SG.) object/possessive pronoun suffix [-k] by Saudi Arabic speakers that are delineated according to three salient regional realizations of the suffix [-ʦ, -ʧ, -ʃ]. An interview was used to investigate speakers’ accommodation to the supralocal [-k] in their workplace environment. Subjects’ realization of the 2 F.SG. object/possessive pronoun suffix was examined in relation to four extralinguistic variables: gender, age, education, and occupation status. Findings show the [ʦ] dialect group resorted to their native variant of the second-person feminine clitic more, particularly women and a younger generation of speakers, whereas [ʧ] and [ʃ] dialect speakers converged more to [-k]. This may suggest that the spread of the supralocal form [-k] may be spearheaded by speakers of [ʧ] and [ʃ] dialects. Occupation status was a significant factor in subjects’ accommodation behavior for all three dialect groupings. Speakers of high status jobs accommodated more towards the clitic [-k], whilst probably paying attention to the professional aspect of their face. Yet, speakers of low status occupations resorted more to their native second-person feminine suffix and most likely demonstrated their closeness to vernacular culture. The results show that the processes of supralocalization are not uniform across dialect communities and speakers’ occupation status is an influential factor on their accent accommodation.


Saudi Arabic dialects, Accent Accommodation, Phonological Levelling

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