Influences of language proficiency, bilingual socialization, and urban youth identities on producing different Arabic-English voices in Australia

Verna Robertson Rieschild

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    Abstract

    This paper argues against a single Arabic-background ethnolect of Australian-English, claiming that there are differently motivated language patterns, connected with how and when young people learned English, or their need to express certain identities. A lightly nuanced way of speaking Australia-English is shared by many Australians of Arabic-descent with similar early bilingual socialization. This emerging type of Australian-English is not the same as accented ‘learners’ English’, most typically spoken by late learners. The social varieties are Arabizi, a playful code-switching displaying a modern bilingual/bicultural youth identity, and Lebspeak, which adds global hip-hop and Arabic highlights to an English matrix. Rather than being mainstream-oppositional, Lebspeak is shown to express a niche Australian identity. Survey results indicate that gender is more relevant than religion for using Lebspeak, and that people who use Lebspeak have a positive impression of their status in the eyes of the Australian mainstream. The findings can inform English language teaching and assessment, forensic linguistics, and subject sampling in language and society research.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)34-52
    Number of pages19
    JournalNovitas - ROYAL
    Volume1
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2007

    Keywords

    • urban youth
    • language change
    • Australian-English
    • identity

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