International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Modern Standard Arabic in the Minds of Diglossic Speakers of Arabic
Moh’d A. Al-Omari

This paper reinvestigates the cognitive relevance of Arabic diglossia in spoken word recognition through replicating Ibrahim & Aharon-Peretz’s study (2005) on a more typical diglossic situation of Arabic. The present study targets native speakers of Jordanian colloquial Arabic rather than Arabic-Hebrew bilinguals of Israel. A priming lexical-decision task was designed and conducted on a group of 40 literate native speakers of Jordanian Colloquial Arabic. The experiment compared participants’ reaction times to Jordanian colloquial Arabic (JCA) words and Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) words when primed by semantically related and unrelated words from the same and the other variety of Arabic. Results revealed a processing advantage for JCA words relative to MSA words. The priming effects were larger when the related primes were presented in JCA relative to the priming effects of the MSA primes. The research findings support the proposal that MSA is an L2 for diaglossic speakers of Arabic (Ibrahim & Aharon-Peretz, 2005). The findings reject the proposal that MSA is an exceptional L2 for Arabic-Hebrew bilingual of Israel, a thing that cannot be generalized to the rest of the Arab-speaking world (Boudelaa & Marslen-Wilson, 2013).

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