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News broadcasts between fuṣḥā and Lebanese: Language choice as an implicit comment on national identity in Lebanon

Helge Daniëls


This article presents an analysis of the news bulletins broadcasted by South Lebanese radio station Ṣawt al-Ğanūb (SaJ, Voice of the South). SaJ broadcasted its news bulletins in fuṣḥā (Standard Arabic), as well as in Lebanese. This is interesting because in most news bulletins tend to be broadcasted in the standard language, rather than in spoken varieties. This is definitely the case for so-called diglossic societies, such as Arabic-speaking societies, in which the linguistic metanorm for ‘serious programs’ is fuṣḥā. After presenting a brief linguistic description of a small corpus of news bulletins that were broadcasted in January 1998, this article focuses on how language (choice) functions symbolically in the extra-linguistic world. It argues that the choice to breach the metapragmatic norms, while framing the language use in the news bulletins explicitly as ‘the Lebanese language’ (al-luġa al-lubnānīye) can be interpreted as an implicit comment on Lebanese national identity.


language ideology; nationalism, identity construction; language variability, Lebanon

Full Text:



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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/lcm-2021-002-dani

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