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Linguistic Interference and Religious Identity: The Case of a Lebanese Speech Community

Cristina Solimando


Multilingualism and multiculturalism are cornerstones of Lebanese society. There is a considerable amount of Arabic-French bilingualism, although English has been rapidly gaining ground in recent years. This situation has obviously affected the Lebanese dialect: loan words and even cases of phonological, morphological and syntactical change are widespread. Moreover, we constantly witness phenomena of code-switching and linguistic mixing between Lebanese/French and Lebanese/ English. This has become associated with a certain cultural and religious identity. The literature that investigates the role of foreign languages in Lebanon generally focuses on their use in Lebanese education and on the speakers’ perception of the foreign languages. The present study examines the role of foreign languages in authentic speech and explores the linguistic phenomena of code-switching and code-mixing as markers of speaker religious identity. Various extracts of authentic informal speech are analysed in order to define further the correspondence between language study and identity in the Lebanese context.


code-switching; code-mixing; linguistic interference; Lebanese dialect; religious identity.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/ling-2020-002-soli

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