PhD student Najah Albaqawi presents at PARLAY, York

Congratulations to RGCL PhD student Najah Albaqawi for giving a presentation at the PARLAY Doctoral Consortium on 2nd September 2016, titled: “An Investigation into Morpho-syntactic Simplification in the Structure of Gulf Pidgin Arabic in Saudi Arabia”.

Abstract. Gulf Pidgin Arabic (GPA) is a simplified contact variety of language spoken in the Gulf States in the Middle East. This unique linguistic phenomenon resulted from the frequent language contact between the non-indigenous workforce with no Arabic skills, who come from countries such as, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines for job opportunities, and native speakers who don’t share a common language with them. Pidgin languages have not been studied until relatively recently. Similarly, GPA has received  relatively little attention in the literature apart from a few descriptive works such as Smart (1990), Hobrom (1996), Wiswal (2002), Gomaa (2007), Naess (2008), Alshammari (2010), Almoaily (2012), Albakrawi (2013), Alghamdi (2014), and Al-Zubeiry (2015). I aim to find out what are the potential factors that condition language variation in GPA. From the perspective of Universalist theories, there may be aspects of GPA which are found in all pidgin languages.  Hence, in this study I will attempt to provide a quantitative analysis which aims to discover the potential effect of two factors, namely the speakers’ first language and the number of years spent in the Gulf on variability, on GPA morpho-syntax. A corpus of samples of the pidginised dialects of Saudi Arabia will be created by recording speech among workers from different linguistic backgrounds. This text will be transcribed to form the corpus. This will enable the production of a matrix of word frequencies and regions, which will be input to a correspondence analysis of which substrate languages of GPA have most influence in their production of language, and whether GPA speakers shift to GA after spending some time in the Gulf or not. This is a form of exploratory statistical analysis. The study will also use a version of the chi-squared test to determine which words (or other linguistic features) are most typical of GPA as opposed to GA. This quantitative work will be complemented by a qualitative analysis, where there will be a discussion of the possible origins of variant terms, and suggestions made to encourage more widespread use of the standard language.