W is for Wasta: A Grounded Theory for the Relationship Between Language and Culture
Arabic Language, Literature & Culture
Volume 3, Issue 1, March 2018, Pages: 1-8
Received: May 21, 2018; Accepted: Jun. 1, 2018; Published: Jun. 13, 2018
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Frank Zackary Jenio, Department of Capstone: Research, American School of Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
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In the field of sociolinguistics, the relationship between language and culture has been discussed briefly in larger hypotheses (i.e. Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis); however, the relationship (whether language influences culture, culture influences language, or no connection) has never been properly suggested through linguistic research and evidence. This research aimed to develop various grounded theories regarding the relationship between language and culture by analyzing semantic shifts for the Arabic word “wasta” (واسطة) used by Emirates today within the United Arab Emirates. The method utilized an online survey completed in Arabic by fourteen Emirati, native Arabic speakers. Of the fourteen responses, eight showed signs of a semantic shift that was not influenced by culture. As a result, the final grounded theory stated that “language is constantly evolving, but language and culture are not connected and do not influence each other”. This study and its grounded theories are significant to the fields of sociolinguistics and semasiology as it provides a deeper insight into both how languages change over time and what factors do (or in this case, do not) influence them to change. Moving forward, further research should investigate the relationship between language and culture and replicate this study with larger samples and with words that have various meanings in other languages in order to compile more evidence to either support or oppose the final grounded theory.
Arabic Linguistics, Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, Semasiology, Sociolinguistics, Wasta, Culture
To cite this article
Frank Zackary Jenio, W is for Wasta: A Grounded Theory for the Relationship Between Language and Culture, Arabic Language, Literature & Culture. Vol. 3, No. 1, 2018, pp. 1-8. doi: 10.11648/j.allc.20180301.11
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