Michael Wenzel

  • Fellowship Dates 2017-2018
  • Research Topic Language Ideologies and Egyptian Media
  • Fellow or Grant Type Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
  • Affiliation Pre-doctoral candidate University of Virginia
This research explores Arabic language ideologies in the context of Egyptian media representations of linguistic practices and national identity. Historically, the Egyptian media portrays these varieties as conflicting with a modern, Egyptian identity and mark speakers as out of touch with contemporary Egypt. This research contends that these characterizations shifted during the 21st century as the popularity of internet genres rose in Egypt. The study asks the questions: What does it mean for Egypt’s media to incorporate peripheral, nonstandard Arabic varieties? How are these changes shaping Egypt’s language ideology and, more broadly, Egyptians’ national identity? The research is grounded in rich sociolinguistic, anthropological and historical works exploring Egyptian language, media and nationalism that demonstrate the media’s construction of an Egyptian identity through representations of standard and nonstandard Arabic, noting that the Egyptian media promotes a specific Arabic language ideology where each variety maintains a specific connotative meaning. For instance, fusha indicates Arab-ness and formal contexts, masri points to informal speech and Egyptian nationalism and sa`idi Arabic marks regionalism. The research explores how peripheral communities, like Upper Egyptians, are able to produce their own representations of their local language and identity and examines how these representations trickle up to affect the national media’s depiction of peripheral communities and nonstandard Arabic varieties. It asserts that peripheral communities’ access to new genres, like the internet, allows them to reshape Egypt’s standard language ideology and national identity through their own mediated representations. Research data focuses on new internet genres from Upper Egypt and changing patterns in national television and print media to provide an alternative view on what it means to be both a Sa`idi and an Egyptian and promote a specific regional identity, rather than a broad nationalist connection. 

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