Sociolinguistic Studies, Vol 12, No 2 (2018)

Globalization in the periphery: Arabization and the changing status of Siwi Berber in the oasis of Siwa

Valentina Serreli
Issued Date: 26 Feb 2019

Abstract


New media and communication technologies, heritage tourism and new reproductions of local identity are forms of globalization characteristic of the peripheries (Wang, Spotti, Juffermans, Kroon, Cornips and Blommaert, 2014:30). This article discusses some effects of globalization in a peripheral area of Egypt, where relative isolation delayed Arabization and favoured the maintenance of the indigenous Berber language, called Siwi. Globalization materialized in important socioeconomic changes that affected the linguistic attitudes and practices of the oasis dwellers. Following Milroy’s (1980) social network approach and Gumperz’ (1982) further elaboration, it is argued that such variation is not related to socioeconomic changes directly, but connected to the structural variation of the community’s social network they provoked. Based on qualitative attitudinal data collected through interviews and participant observation, the study shows that although Egyptian Arabic is widespread and acquires prestige, Siwi not only remains a strong marker of group solidarity but is also becoming a symbol of the Siwan identity.

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DOI: 10.1558/sols.35565

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