Arabic in Iraq A Diglossic Situation

Mohammad Jafar Jabbari


In some speech communities two distinct varieties of one language are used side by side, each of which serving a different range of social functions. One variety, called High, is used only under formal and public circumstances, while the other one, referred to as Low is used in normal daily-life events. Phonological, semantic and syntactic differences between the two varieties are so drastic that the two varieties are mutually incomprehensible. This sociolinguistic phenomenon is termed "diglossia". It is very common especially in Arabic-speaking countries. One good example is the diglossic situation, held between the Modern Standard Arabic and the Iraqi Colloquial Arabic. The present article aims to illustrate the differences between the two varieties at different linguistics levels, to account for this mutual unintelligibility. To achieve this objective, appropriate data were collected from the two varieties. The linguistic differences were spotted, and categorized according to the Surface Strategy Taxonomy.  The data were analyzed and supported by respective explanations, where necessary.



Diglossia, Modern Standard Arabic, Iraqi Arabic, High Variety, Low Variety etc.

Full Text:



Dittmar, N (2000). Sociolinguistics: A Critical Survey to Theory and Application. London: Edward Arnold.

Dulay, H., Burt, M. & Krashen, S. (1982). Language Two. Oxford University Press.

Ferguson, C.A. (1959). Diglossia. Word, 15:325-40. (1959).

Finch, G. (2005). Key concepts in Language and Linguistics. Palgrave Macmillan.

Fishman, J.A. (1971). Sociolinguistics: A Brief Introduction. Rowley, Mass.: Newbury House.

Hudson, R.A. (1996). Sociolinguistics (2nd edn), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Jabbari, M.J. (2012) . Diglossia in Arabic-A Comparative Study of the Modern Standard Arabic and Colloquial Egyptian Arabic. Global Journal of Human Social Sciences. Vol. XII, Issue VIII, pp 23-46, Apr. 2012.

Jorr, Kh. (1974). Al-Mu'jam-ul-Arabi-Al-Hadith. Larousse.

Mahyar, A. (1974). Arabic Grammar. (SAMT). Tehran.

Meyerhoff, M. (2006). Introducing Sociolinguistics. Routledge, London.

Trudgill, P. (1983b). Sociolinguistics; An Introduction to Language and Society, rev.edn. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Books.

Warduaugh, R. (2006). An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. (5th edn), Oxford: Blackwell.

Watson, J.C.E. (2002). The phonology and morphology of Arabic: Oxford: Oxford University Press.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.