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When Diglossia Meets Digraphia: Reading Egyptian Arabic in Arabic Script and Latin Script - LRDG Seminar

Date: 7 December 2010 Time: 1.00 - 2.00pm

Venue: County South Room C89 (Meeting Room 7)

Mariam Aboelezz will speak on

When Diglossia Meets Digraphia: Reading Egyptian Arabic in Arabic Script and Latin Script.

Latinised Arabic (LA) is spreading from online to offline mediums in Egypt where it is used to represent Egyptian Arabic within a diglossic setting. LA, which is a digraphic variant of Arabic in Arabic script, can now be found in regulated spaces such as printed, edited magazines. The growing popularity of LA in such contexts can no longer be accounted for by lack of technological support for non-Latin scripts nor can it be attributed to the frequently mentioned explanation that Latin script is easier to type than Arabic script. In fact, it has recently been claimed that LA is easier to read than Arabic script. To investigate the validity of this claim, two reading experiments were conducted with 19 bilingual Egyptian subjects to compare the reading of Egyptian Arabic - an uncodified variety - in Latin script (EAL) and Arabic script (EAA). The texts were taken from printed magazines and the design of the experiments was informed by insights from reading, readability and fluency research. In the first experiment, the reading speed and accuracy rate of EAA and EAL were gauged against these measures in texts of Modern Standard Arabic and English from the same magazines. In the second experiment, disfluency features such as pauses, false starts, repair, etc, were used to work out a disfluency index for EAA and EAL, while errors were represented in an error index. The results were then used to verify the findings from the first experiment. The experiments revealed that while EAA was read more fluently, EAL was read more accurately. A direct relationship between reading speed and fluency was found, but the relationship between fluency and accuracy was ambiguous. A supplementary qualitative analysis of error types also indicated that reading accuracy does not necessarily reflect reading comprehension.

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Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Lancaster Literacy Research Centre, Linguistics and English Language

Keywords: Literacies, Literacy


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
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Lancaster University
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