Tag Archives: Orthography

Diglossia and Arabic Literacy: From Research to Practice (Published)

Arabic-speaking children acquire literacy in a diglossic manner in which the variety of language engaged for reading and writing at school—referred to here as literary Arabic (LA)—differs from the variety they engage when speaking at home. Literacy acquisition in such a context necessitates teaching practices take into consideration the differences between spoken and literary varieties of language to assist children to bridge the gap between them. This study explores how Saudi teachers of kindergarten-level students perceive the effect of diglossia on the initial stages of literacy acquisition by their students, and which practices they follow to minimize its effect. The study participants took part in a focus group in which they shared their experiences of teaching literacy to Saudi kindergarten students, and reflected on their perceptions and practices as kindergarten teachers. Overall, the participants showed an awareness of how diglossia could generally affect literacy acquisition, as well as an awareness of how different spoken Arabic dialects work with and against LA to varying degrees, causing fluctuations in the diglossic effect across spoken varieties. In their context, however, teachers seemed to find children at a lesser disadvantage and would, therefore, prioritize remediating the challenges children experience as a result of orthographic characteristics of Arabic over the challenges posed by diglossia. Teachers indicated that they still follow certain practices to increase children’s exposure to LA and reinforce their LA knowledge, but without pinpointing any specific diglossia-based instructions—interestingly, they believe this could compromise the orthographic-based instructions they believed essential. Such reflections are discussed in light of the current empirical investigations of Arabic literacy and diglossia and the pedagogical practices they suggest.

Keywords: Arabic, Diglossia, Literacy, Orthography

The Yemba Language (Cameroon): 90 Years of Tone Orthography (Published)

Yemba is one of the Cameroonian national languages that has been taught and written for 90 years. From a diachronic perspective, a lot of efforts have been made regarding the standardisation of this language, particularly the tone orthography. Despite achievements related to the awareness of the tonal phenomenon, the graphic representation of tones and the routes to handle the tone orthography, there remains a real challenge on the issue, namely designing efficient standard spelling norms. More so, important lessons can be drawn from the historical review of tone orthography in the Yemba language.

Keywords: Linguistic Research, Orthography, Teaching, Tone, Yemba