Encyclopedia of Language and Education

2008 Edition
| Editors: Nancy H. Hornberger

The Language Ecology of the Middle East: Jordan as a Case Study

  • Yasir Suleiman
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-30424-3_226


The Middle East is geographically, historically, linguistically and culturally diverse in ways that do not permit simple generalisations about its language ecology. This is true of the Arabic‐speaking part of this region where, in spite of shared cultural commonalities, a mosaic of historical, political and socio‐economic conditions has created diverse language situations with their own special characteristics. Thus, although Arabic is shared as a common code by most people in the Arab world, the language largely exists in a diglossic situation consisting of the standard and many dialectal varieties, some of which are hardly intelligible to the speakers of other dialects (Ferguson, 1959, 1996). Even the standard, which is assumed to be constant by Arabs, does exhibit phonological and lexical variation from one dialect area to another. This variation is most apparent in the oral medium, but it also exists in writing, especially between the Mashreq (Eastern part of the Arab...


Middle East Minority Language Indigenous Language Language Shift Urban Variety 
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© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yasir Suleiman
    • 1
  1. 1.University of EdinburghEdinburghUK