Language choice, code-switching and language shift in Antakya, Turkey.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Although Arabic is one of the world's ten largest languages in terms of numbers of speakers, the Arabic language in Turkey is in decline. This is due to the position of Turkish as the sole official language there and to other factors of social change (significantly migration). This thesis presents one of the first pieces of research into the shift from Arabic to Turkish in Turkey, focused on the city of Antakya (Antioch). The thesis has multiple goals. Firstly, it sketches the background of the Arabic-speaking community as it relates to the history of the language in the area. Secondly, it presents an assessment of the degree of language shift and community members' attitudes to the language and the shift. This was done through a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, namely, through the use of structured interviews and the analysis of naturally-occurring conversations. Thirdly, this work assesses the role language choice and code-switching play in the language shift. Specifically, it tests Myers-Scotton's Matrix Language turnover hypothesis (1993a, 1998) which postulates that intrasentential code-switching may cause language shift. The results show that the Matrix Language turnover hypothesis has little relevance to this community and thus that other communities undergoing language shift need not necessarily see intrasentential code-switching as a threat to their language. The work concludes with proposals of possible avenues for language maintenance for the Arabic-speaking community in Turkey.