Morsi on Stage

By Nesrine Basheer
Submitted to Session P3457 (Linguistic Performance and Speakers' Repertoires: Evidence from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, 2013 Annual Meeting
All Middle East;
LCD Projector with Audio Patch or Speakers;
The purpose of this paper is to investigate the roles an educated speaker of Arabic performs through code-switching. Previous studies, such as Holes’ analysis of Nasser’s use of code-switching, focus on the alternation of Modern Standard Arabic and colloquial in terms of stance and function. Using performance theory and Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), I re-evaluate the diglossic nature of Arabic and show that the colloquial-standard duality is in fact better described as a repertoire through which speakers of Arabic select different roles and achieve various functions.
To answer my research question I analyzed an unscripted 112-minute speech by the Egyptian President, Mohamed Morsi. I used CDA to examine instances of code-switching between Egyptian Colloquial and Modern Standard Arabic. I found that the speaker’s complex is linked to and triggered by the socio-political context of the post-revolution Egypt. Morsi delivered this speech at the end of his first 100-day period of assuming office, when the president and his political party had been harshly criticized for shortcomings in managing the transitional stage. The analysis revealed that Morsi played four major roles by selecting features from his linguistic repertoire: 1) the Head of the Household; 2) the Ruler-Citizen; 3) the ’im?m or religious leader; and 4) the Storyteller. Analytic tools such as performance theory and CDA reveal the multifaceted nature of language production and suggest that new models such as that of repertoire are more helpful in understanding the linguistic behavior of Arabic speakers.