Re-contextualizing Discourse and Social Action in Egypt after the Arab Spring

By Mohamed ElSawi Hassan
Submitted to Session P5028 (Language and Identity, 2017 Annual Meeting
Arab States;
LCD Projector without Audio;
Language ideologies can be defined as ‘cultural ideas, presumptions and presuppositions with which different social groups name, frame and evaluate linguistic practices’ (Gal 2006: 13). With the significant political and social shifts in post-Arab Spring Egypt, came significant linguistic shifts, specially in the discourses of social media as a globalized mode of communication. In presenting the self to others through linguistic choices, the tendency to use Standard Arabic (SA) or Egyptian Colloquial Arabic (ECA) in Facebook posts emerged as a discourse mode that transforms, and is transformed by, social practices. The discursive analysis of diglossic switching in some post Arab-Spring Facebook posts can help shed a new light on the concepts of identity and affiliation. The aim of this paper is to analyze and describe the interdiscursivity of the mix of SA and ECA, or lack thereof, based on data of posts of some advocacy groups like ‘Al-Mawqif AlMasri’ “The Egyptian Stance” in an attempt to understand the semiosis of this process of negotiating communal identity and expressions of transculturality in the current Arab context. The study argues that the type of code-mixing or code-switching of Arabic that the group uses, mainly dialectal elements of Egyptian Arabic (EA) with features of Standard Arabic (SA) is an intermediate register that represents a form of ‘crossing’ or ‘stylization’ (Rampton 2009) which enabled the group members to ideologically reference their commitments, position themselves and build their own community across the Arab world with respect to group identity through the functional use of language that represents its own type of social action in a culturally and linguistically diverse Arab world. The multidisciplinary theoretical framework of this paper relates approaches from Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) inspired by Fairclough (2000, 2003) and van Dijk (2011) with insights from Social Semiotics theory introduced by van Leeuwen (2005) with a view to providing a better foundation for understanding how social groups as epistemic communities of practice, thought and discourse share knowledge, that has been used to define the vary basis of cultures, as opposed to the traditional time and space parameters.