Can Language Show-off Promote Social Status and Solidarity? An Explanatory Study of the Cognitive Attitudes of Kuwaitis towards Arabic-English Code-switching in Kuwaiti Social Domains

Abdullatif Alshatti, Fatma Jamali


The omnipresence of Arabic-English code-switching in Kuwaiti social contexts is unequivocal. Several studies have indicated that the motivation behind deploying such linguistic variety is to promote social status and solidarity. This study investigates whether adopting such linguistic variety in Kuwaiti social domains meets code-switchers’ expectations by characterizing and positioning them in the desired social category. Using a verbal-guise test, the study examines the status (class, education, intelligence) and solidarity (showing-off, attractiveness, sociability) dimensions of 92 Kuwaitis’ cognitive attitudes towards Arabic-English code-switching. A paired t-test has shown that Kuwaitis’ attitudes are in favour of Arabic-English code-switching. In complete contrast with other studies, a one-way ANOVA has uncovered that older generations are more in favour of code-switching than younger ones. Additionally, the results suggest that females are less in favour of Arabic-English code-switching than males, and their positive ratings for Kuwaiti Arabic are significantly higher. The findings are subsequently examined and subjected to critical analysis in order to elucidate the extent to which this phenomenon is deemed appealing by specific parts of Kuwaiti society whilst unfavoured by others. The paper concludes with some recommendations for future research endeavours that might contribute to the investigation of language attitudes and variation in Kuwait.

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World Journal of English Language
ISSN 1925-0703(Print)  ISSN 1925-0711(Online)

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