Pluricentricity and heritage language maintenance of Arab immigrants in the English speaking New World countries

Morad Alsahafi


Historical accounts of immigration from the Arab world show that Arab immigrants ended up in different New World destinations including North America, Australia, and New Zealand. The present review intended to be representative of studies on Arabic language contact and maintenance in English speaking New Word countries. As a pluricentric language (Abd-el-Jawad, 1992; Clyne & Kipp, 1999), Arabic has been brought to English speaking New Word countries by Arab immigrants from a range of different Arab countries. The Arabic language and its role in the formation of pan-Arab nationalism or Arabness throughout the Arab world seem to have an impact on the dynamics of Arabic language contact in immigrant multilingual contexts. The review indicates that Arabic pluricentricity plays an important role in creating a sense of “shared Arabness” among different Arabic-speaking immigrant groups. As a base of networking, the Arabic language provides one aspect of commonality for Arab immigrants that transcends other possible aspects such as religion and country of origin. Thus, Arabic operates as an important identity marker that seems to bring Arabic speaking immigrants together to establish their own ethnic associations and arrange for a variety of community events and activities conducive to heritage language maintenance.

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