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Complexity theory approaches to the interrelationships between Saudis’ perceptions of English and their reported practices of English

Complexity theory approaches to the interrelationships between Saudis’ perceptions of English and their reported practices of English
Complexity theory approaches to the interrelationships between Saudis’ perceptions of English and their reported practices of English
The extensive use of English in Saudi Arabia has inspired some studies to describe so-called 'Saudi English'. While these fruitful contributions have documented the linguistic features of this phenomenon, they have not taken into account the other dimensions in communication that interact with the linguistic dimension. This partialist approach could be part of a wider trend in the field of linguistics, with some researchers seeking generalisable findings and treating emergent languages as fixed systems of forms that can be researched in isolation. To open investigations of English in Saudi Arabia to insights beyond reductionism and variationism, this exploratory study adapts a holistic approach and a position inspired by complexity theory. This study's large-scale survey and interviews aimed to explore Saudis' (in)tolerance towards misalignment with standard English and how their positions relate to their reported language practices, beliefs, attitudes, motives, identity management, and ideologies. The statistical tests display significant interrelationships among all these parts. Overall, the findings reveal that Saudis' positive attitude towards the spread of English is enhanced by their international endeavours and willingness to play the role of transcultural negotiators, albeit not at expense of their non-negotiable Islamic identification. Prioritising Arabic over English enhances participants' tendency to transfer impressions from Arabic as a lingua franca to perceptions of English as a lingua franca. Participants' appreciation of standard Arabic in pedagogical settings aligns with their appreciation of standard English in pedagogical settings. However, participants' contextual(ised) tolerance towards misalignment with standard and native English usages is developed by their experiences with lingua franca communications. In favour of Islamic Saudi Arabian identification, participants' reported use of English in locally informal settings matched, with varying degrees, the linguistic description of so-called 'Saudi English'. As empirical evidence of this study displays, the regularity of 'Saudi English' language patterns is a by-product of repeated practices with religious, sociocultural, sociolinguistic, and translingual justifications. In favour of contextual performativity and adaptation, participants' reported use of English in international, transcultural, and multi-religion settings indicates openness to negotiation. This sensitivity to change suggests inadequacy of the label 'Saudi English' and a need to go beyond variationist approaches when seeking to understand language practices and perceptions. This study calls for the provision of a pedagogical space to address linguistic, cultural, functional, and contextual diversities of transcultural communication in English.
University of Southampton
Bukhari, Shahinaz
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Bukhari, Shahinaz
1fa83eb0-7a7b-4576-a12b-e50a517b2fbf
Baird, Robert
42b17178-829b-4360-a5ba-85851315a02f
Kiely, Richard
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Bukhari, Shahinaz (2019) Complexity theory approaches to the interrelationships between Saudis’ perceptions of English and their reported practices of English. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 242pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

The extensive use of English in Saudi Arabia has inspired some studies to describe so-called 'Saudi English'. While these fruitful contributions have documented the linguistic features of this phenomenon, they have not taken into account the other dimensions in communication that interact with the linguistic dimension. This partialist approach could be part of a wider trend in the field of linguistics, with some researchers seeking generalisable findings and treating emergent languages as fixed systems of forms that can be researched in isolation. To open investigations of English in Saudi Arabia to insights beyond reductionism and variationism, this exploratory study adapts a holistic approach and a position inspired by complexity theory. This study's large-scale survey and interviews aimed to explore Saudis' (in)tolerance towards misalignment with standard English and how their positions relate to their reported language practices, beliefs, attitudes, motives, identity management, and ideologies. The statistical tests display significant interrelationships among all these parts. Overall, the findings reveal that Saudis' positive attitude towards the spread of English is enhanced by their international endeavours and willingness to play the role of transcultural negotiators, albeit not at expense of their non-negotiable Islamic identification. Prioritising Arabic over English enhances participants' tendency to transfer impressions from Arabic as a lingua franca to perceptions of English as a lingua franca. Participants' appreciation of standard Arabic in pedagogical settings aligns with their appreciation of standard English in pedagogical settings. However, participants' contextual(ised) tolerance towards misalignment with standard and native English usages is developed by their experiences with lingua franca communications. In favour of Islamic Saudi Arabian identification, participants' reported use of English in locally informal settings matched, with varying degrees, the linguistic description of so-called 'Saudi English'. As empirical evidence of this study displays, the regularity of 'Saudi English' language patterns is a by-product of repeated practices with religious, sociocultural, sociolinguistic, and translingual justifications. In favour of contextual performativity and adaptation, participants' reported use of English in international, transcultural, and multi-religion settings indicates openness to negotiation. This sensitivity to change suggests inadequacy of the label 'Saudi English' and a need to go beyond variationist approaches when seeking to understand language practices and perceptions. This study calls for the provision of a pedagogical space to address linguistic, cultural, functional, and contextual diversities of transcultural communication in English.

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Published date: October 2019

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Local EPrints ID: 435920
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/435920
PURE UUID: b97587e7-636b-4863-bf17-e1f0fdc334b6

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Date deposited: 22 Nov 2019 17:30
Last modified: 22 Nov 2019 17:30

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Contributors

Author: Shahinaz Bukhari
Thesis advisor: Robert Baird
Thesis advisor: Richard Kiely

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