Politeness Formulas in Spoken Arabic: Figuration and Influence of Religious Discourse

Sumaya Daoud, Purdue University


The study examines formulaic politeness expressions used in Jordanian Arabic by looking into two salient features that characterize this set of idioms: figuration and traces of religious texts. One main goal is to explore the conceptual metaphors that are represented in these idioms and show their coherence and consistency with cultural values. The other goal is to look for evidence of echoes of religious discourse in the formulas under discussion. A third relevant goal is to prove that these idioms support the argument that Classical Arabic is still a living variety of Arabic. The study examines a small corpus that is comprised of data collected from a variety of sources including radio talk shows, published works and introspection. Findings of the current research show that the conceptual metaphors represented in politeness idioms are grounded in the physical and cultural experience of the individuals of the speech community. Furthermore, these metaphors are insightful about and coherent with the cultural values held by the speech community. In addition, the data from the present study give evidence of extensive use of religion-based formulas that stem from the Quran and Hadeeth. This, in turn, backs the argument that Jordanian Arabic speakers efficiently use Classical Arabic as a living variety.




Taylor, Purdue University.

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