SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Normativisation and the hyper-dialect: Further developments in the formation of the Amman dialect

Enam Al-Wer (Essex)

Date: 20 March 2018Time: 3:30 PM

Finishes: 20 March 2018Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B102

Type of Event: Seminar


The ‘Amman Project’ is a study in New-Dialect Formation, which is currently in its third and final phase (funded through Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship). Based on empirical data collected through sociolinguistic interviews, the research traces the formation of this new dialect from inception to stabilisation over three generations, spanning a period of approximately the last eighty years. The framework of analysis adopted is the ‘Variationist Sociolinguistic Paradigm’, as described in Labov’s trilogy (1994, 2001, 2010). More specifically, the project is guided by the principles of dialect contact and new-dialect formation pioneered by Peter Trudgill in his two most important books on the topic (1986, 2004). Within the Arabic context, this project is unique in terms of its scope and depth. There has been no comparable study of new-dialect formation in any part of the Arabic-speaking world. The study of the Amman dialect will provide a model for the study of dialect contact and koineisation in other bourgeoning conurbations elsewhere in the Arab World.

In this talk, I will firstly summarise the results of the analysis of the earlier phases of the research, which clarify the process of the formation of this dialect as a whole. Secondly, and based on the preliminary analysis of the current on-going fieldwork, I discuss aspects of post-dialect formation, namely ‘normativisation’ (hegemonisation and diffusion), and the emergence of a ‘hyper-dialect’ (exaggerated forms).


Labov, William. 1994. Principles of Linguistic Change, Volume I, Internal Factors. Wiley-Blackwell

Labov, William. 2001. Principles of Linguistic Change, Volume II, Social Factors. Wiley-Blackwell.

Labov, William. 2010. Principles of Linguistic Change, Volume III, Cognitive and Cultural Factors. Wiley-Blackwell

Trudgill, Peter. 1986. Dialects in Contact. Oxford: Blackwell.

Trudgill, Peter. 2004. New-Dialect Formation: the inevitability of Colonial Englishes. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

About the speaker

Enam Al-Wer is a Professor of Linguistics at the University of Essex.