Formulaic Language in Media Arabic: The Case of Pseudo-titles

By Zeinab A. Taha
Submitted to Session P4865 (Formulaic Language and Pragmatic Competence, 2017 Annual Meeting
Pseudo-titles according to Bell (1988), Meyer (2004) and Berutto (2004) serve to provide descriptive information about the proper nouns with which they are associated. They are mainly found in news reportage and consist of a prenominal construction occurring in a position in which a title is typically found.
As titles come before full names to describe and refer to a person, pseudo-titles can also occur before full names but they might neither have honorific function nor are they used to address the referent. In such cases, pseudo-titles represent short linguistic forms which are preferred for brevity, but they also represent different pragmatic values to their referents. In that sense, Pseudo-titles have idiomatic use since their reference is always to specific people or events in specific contexts. They are formulaic in the sense that they do not convey the same meanings in different contexts and they could be interpreted literally in other contexts.
This paper observes variation in using the pseudo-titles that precede the name “Mohamed Morsi” (former president of Egypt) and “The Constitutional Court in Egypt” which was heavily mentioned in Egyptian newspapers under the rule of Moslem Brotherhood and the year after they left power. Data is collected from Al-Ahram, Al-Masry Al-Youm and Al-Youm Al-Sabi? Newspapers over the period of two years. The paper argues that use of pseudo-titles goes in line with the process of grammaticalization, illustrating both semantic bleaching and morphological reduction. The paper illustrates the linguistic processes involved in morphological reduction, noting the different pragmatic functions conveyed through the use of each one. The paper also aureus that the idiomatic use of pseudo-titles are content, time, and topic sensitive. Other examples form printed media will also be used to illustrate how linguistic variation utilizes pragmatic functions that are important for the media and which reflect socio-political factors.
On another level, the analysis sheds light on the value of citing examples from Pseudo-titles use in the curricula for AFL students in order to help develop pragmatic competence accumulatively from the first year of study.