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Identity and the Indexicality of Code-switching in the Egyptian Society

13 pagesPublished: February 23, 2017


This sociolinguistic paper analyzes the linguistic codes used in the Egyptian television series A Girl Called Zaat (Zaat), which was produced in 2013. This series is an adaptation of the novel Zaat or self by the leftist Egyptian novelist Son’a Allah Ibrahim. The series was chosen because it depicts the eras of several Egyptian presidents, and thus is abundant of important political and social events in Egypt, from the 1952 revolution to the 2011 revolution. These political and social incidents were very influential in the life of the heroine “Zaat”, who represents Egyptians. It would be useful to examine how language was used to express the changes that were taking place in the Egyptian society and hence in Egyptian people’s identities. This research attempts to answer these questions: What were the codes used in the series? What were the indexes of these codes? How was Code-switching (CS) related to identity? Language and identity have a strong relationship and a reciprocal influence. The Theory of indexicality was used in the analysis, particularly second and third order indexicality. The analysis revealed that there were three codes in the series: Egyptian Colloquial Arabic (ECA), English, and Standard Arabic (SA). Hopefully, by examining the indexes of these three codes, the analysis of this series would be of interest and benefit in highlighting the Egyptian social and linguistic situation.

Keyphrases: code-switching, Egyptian, identity, indexicality, sociolinguistics, TV series

In: Chelo Vargas-Sierra (editor). Professional and Academic Discourse: an Interdisciplinary Perspective, vol 2, pages 159--171

BibTeX entry
  author    = {Rasha Mohamed},
  title     = {Identity and the Indexicality of Code-switching in the Egyptian Society},
  booktitle = {Professional and Academic Discourse: an Interdisciplinary Perspective},
  editor    = {Chelo Vargas-Sierra},
  series    = {EPiC Series in Language and Linguistics},
  volume    = {2},
  pages     = {159--171},
  year      = {2017},
  publisher = {EasyChair},
  bibsource = {EasyChair,},
  issn      = {2398-5283},
  url       = {},
  doi       = {10.29007/2k8c}}
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