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From Singapore to Dubai: Students’ Multilingual Language Repertoires and Attitudes
Part of the College of Arts and Sciences' Dean's Lecture Series
Abstract: Although Arabic is the official language of Dubai and the other emirates of the UAE, English is the de facto lingua franca in the area since the local economies rely extensively on foreign labor. Expats living in Dubai, and the UAE, speak different forms of English, namely as a native tongue, as a second, and as a foreign language. Some source areas of labor recruitment have developed their own distinct forms of English (e.g., Indian English). The current situation in Dubai is reminiscent of Singapore and partly also Hong Kong, prosperous and globalized cities forged out of small local populations and extensive immigration, with large parts of the population adopting English as their main language, and English developing local norms. In this lecture, we will be reporting from our recent research on Singaporean multilingualism and develop ideas of how this line of research could be usefully applied in the context of Dubai and the UAE. We plan to study the multilingual repertoires of students at American University of Sharjah (AUS), recruiting students from different colleges and disciplines as well as involving interested AUS faculty members. A detailed language background questionnaire in combination with a personal interview will reveal the individual language repertoires, the degree of multilingualism, patterns of language use, as well as language attitudes towards different languages and "Englishes" in the area. In comparison to Singapore, we expect AUS students to reveal more usage of English as a lingua franca and a stronger orientation towards their native tongues. Nevertheless, we do expect to find incipient traces of Dubai English, i.e., a newly emerging local norm.
Dr. Peter Siemund (University of Hamburg) has been Professor of English Linguistics at the University of Hamburg since 2001. He pursues a crosslinguistic typological approach in his work on reflexivity and self-intensifiers, pronominal gender, interrogative constructions, speech acts and clause types, argument structure, tense and aspect, varieties of English, and language contact. His many publications include, Pronominal Gender in English: A Study of English Varieties from a Cross-Linguistic Perspective (Routledge 2008), Varieties of English: A Typological Approach (CUP 2013), Speech Acts and Clause Types: English in a Cross-Linguistic Context (OUP 2018), Linguistic Universals and Language Variation (Mouton de Gruyter 2011) and Foreign Language Education in Multilingual Classrooms (with Andreas Bonnet; John Benjamins 2018).
Dr. Jakob Leimgruber (University of Freiburg/Basel) studied English linguistics at Fribourg (MA, Switzerland) and Oxford (DPhil, United Kingdom). He currently holds appointments at the universities of Freiburg (Germany) and Basel (Switzerland). His research interests include sociolinguistics, World Englishes, multilingualism, language planning and policies, and the study of linguistic landscapes. Having carried out the fieldwork for his doctoral thesis in Singapore (published 2013 by CUP), his post-doctoral work took him to Quebec, where a two-year European Union Marie Curie fellowship allowed for a research stay at Montreal’s McGill University.
For more information, please contact Dr. Ahmad Al-Issa [email protected].