The Call for Colloquialisms: Origins and Remedies

Reem Salah


This research aims at discovering the gap between Standard Arabic and the current spoken varieties of Arabic due to social, educational, political, colonial, and media factors. The researcher will try to also analyse the causes of the current gap and suggest remedies.Standard Arabic (SA) or FuSha (the Arabic term for 'standard Arabic') is the language used for recording intellectual output in general, while spoken varieties or colloquialisms are used for everyday needs. SA has relatively fixed governing rules, whereas colloquialisms are relatively spontaneous and are subject to change according to the change of generations and the surrounding circumstances. This existence of dialects next to the standard is a general phenomenon in all living languages (Arabic spoken varieties are inherent for more than 1500 years). Hence, the existence of spoken Arabic varieties is not odd among languages. This research tries to highlight the colonial, educational, political and media factors that deliberately intensifies the gap between SA and spoken varieties as well as being behind the call to adopt spoken varieties instead of SA.

Keywords: Arabic Colloquialisms: social, educational, political, colonial factors  

Full Text:



Al-Deeb, B. (2003) Social Statistics in Egypt. (accessed on 12/08/2005).

Al-Kenai, Jamal, B.S. (1985). Some Linguistic and Cultural Problems of English-Arabic Translation and Their Implications for a Strategy of Arabization (PhD thesis). University of Glasgow.

Al-Sayyed, Mustapha (2003). Politics and Economic Growth in Egypt (1950-2000) library/global research projects/explaining growth/Egypt political economy.pdf (accessed on 12/08/2012).

Britto, F. (1986). Diglossia: A Study of the Theory with Application To Tamil. Washington: Georgetown University Press.

Fasold, R. (1984). The Sociolinguistics of Society. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Fishman, J. (1966). Language Loyalty in the United States. The Hague: Mouton.

__________, (1967) "Bilingualism With and Without Diglossia; Diglossia With and Without Bilingualism" Journal of Social Issues 23: 2.29-38. Revised and reprinted as "Societal Bilingualism: Stable and Transitional" in Fishman, Joshua Sociolinguistics: A Brief Introduction (1972: 78-89) Rowley, Massachusetts: Newbury House.

__________.(ed.). (1968, repr. 1972). Readings in the Sociology of Language. The Hague: Mouton.

__________, (1972a). Advances in the Sociology of Language., Vol. II. The Hague: Mouton.

__________.(1972b). Sociolinguistics: A Brief Introduction. Rowley, Massachusetts: Newbury House.

__________. (1972c). The Sociology of Language: An Interdisciplinary Social Approach to Language in Society. Rowley, Massachusetts: Newbury House.

_________. (1980). Bilingualism and Biculturalism as Individual and Societal Phenomena" Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, No. 1, pp. 3-17.

__________, (ed.) (1986). The Fergusonian Impact, vol. 2: Sociolinguistics and the Sociology of Language. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

__________, (ed.) (1999). Handbook of Language and Ethnic Identity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hary, Benjamin H. (1989) "Middle Arabic: Proposals for New Terminology," Al-Arabiyya, 22, 19-36.

__________, (1992). Multiglossia in Judeo-Arabic. Leiden: E.J. Brill.

Maamouri, M. (1998). Arabic Diglossia and Its Impact on the Quality of Education in the Arab Region" A paper in the Language Education and Human Development Series, International Literacy Institute, University of Pennsylvania.

McArthur, T. (1998). The English Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Madani, B. (1995). Re-thinking Missions today: Neo-Evangelical Missiology and the Christian Mission to Islam". (accessed on 02/06/2013).

Meiseless, G. (1980). Educated Spoken Arabic in the Arabic Language Continuum" Archivum Linguisticum, II, 118-147.

Rabin, Ch. (1955). The Beginnings of Classical Arabic. Islamica, 4, 19-37.

Razmjou, L. (2003). To Be a Good Translator. Retrieved from (accessed on 11/04/2013).

Rydin, K. C. (ed.) (1998) Early Medieval Arabic: Studies on al-Khalil ibn Ahmad. Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press.

Salah, R. (1999) . N.J. Dawood's Translation of the Holy Qur'an: An Evaluative Case Study, M.A. thesis, Yarmouk University, Irbid.

Salah, R. (2006). Diglossia In Literary Translation: Theory And Practice, Ph.D. thesis. Sydney: University of Sydney.

UNDP, Arab Human Development Report iv. (2003). (accessed on 12/06/2013).

UNESCO, Regional Reports for CONFINTEA V. (2003). Literacy and Child Education In the Arab World" (accessed on 11/08/2013).

U.S. Department of Labor (accessed on 12/08/2013).

Versteegh, K. (1984). Pidginization and Creolization: The Case of Arabic. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

__________, (2001/2003). The Arabic Language. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Willcocks, W. (1926). Syria, Egypt, North Africa, and Malta Speak Punic not Arabic in Naffousah Sa'id (1980:30-42) The History of the Call for the use of Colloquial Arabic and Its Ramification in Egypt (In Arabic) Alexandria: Dar Nashr Al-Thaqafa.

__________, (1893). Why Egyptians Lack the Power of Invention Now in Naffousah Sa'id (1980:32-37) The History of the Call for the use of Colloquial Arabic and Its Ramification in Egypt (In Arabic) Alexandria: Dar Nashr Al-Thaqafa.

__________, (1893). The Translation of Hamlet into Colloquial Egyptian in Naffousah Sa'id (1980:55-60) The History of the Call for the use of Colloquial Arabic and Its Ramification in Egypt (In Arabic) Alexandria: Dar Nashr Al-Thaqafa.

World Report 392 (2005). Producing children's videos in colloquial Arabic 'well worth the effort. (accessed on 02/06/2005).

Zughoul, M. R. (1980). Diglossia in Arabic: Investigating Solutions. Anthropological Linguistics, 22,5, 201-17.

____________ .(2001a). Diglossia in Arabic in the Context of Language Learning. in K. Sha'ban (ed.) Language in Education in Lebanon. Beirut: UNESCO.

_____________ .(2001b).The Language of Higher Education in Jordan: Conflicts, Challenges and Innovative Accommodation" in R. G. Sultana (ed.) Challenges and Change in the Euro-Mediterranean Region: Case Studies in Educational Innovation. New York: Peter Lang Inc.

____________ .(2007). Studies in Contemporary English/Arabic Sociolinguistics. Irbid: Hamada Est.

Zughoul, M. R. and Hussein, R. (1985) "English for Higher Education in the Arab World: A Case Study of Needs Analysis at Yarmouk University. The ESP Journal, 4, 133-152.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

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

2010-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

Advances in Language and Literary Studies

You may require to add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.