Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik
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. In Dubai, a mere ten to fifteen per cent of the population have local roots and speak Arabic as their native tongue. The international workforce is primarily recruited from India, Pakistan, the Philippines as well as several Western countries. These expats 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). They all come together in Dubai and the UAE. 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. We recently studied the multilingual texture of Singapore using an extensive sample of students drawn from different educational institutions. We found strong convergence on a bilingual model of language use across all ethnic groups (English plus Mandarin/Malay/Tamil) and also the emergence of positive attitudes towards the local norm of English. Evidently, Colloquial Singapore English (Singlish) has developed into a marker of Singaporean identity. In this presentation, we will be reporting from our recent research on Singaporean multilingualism and develop ideas of how this line of research can be usefully applied in the context of Dubai and the UAE. We will also present initial findings from a new research project on the Language Attitudes and Repertoires in the Emirates (LARES). In comparison to Singapore, we expect students in the UAE 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 Gulf English, i.e. a newly emerging local norm.
Univ. Prof. Dr Peter Siemund
Alexander Onysko / Marta Degani (alexander.onysko [at] aau.at)