Language choice on mobile text messages among Jordanian university students

Mahmoud Al-Khatib, Enaq Sabbah

Univesity of Science & Technology, Jordan


Text messages via mobiles are considered as one mode of computer mediated communication (CMC). In Jordanian society, English and Arabic are used alternatively in exchanging messages. The process can be seen as “code switching” (Scotton, 1993). The purpose of this study has been to investigate language-switching in text messaging via mobiles as used by Jordanian university students. Another aim of the study is to see what sociological factors may affect the process of switching between Arabic and English. The messages were collected from 49 male and female undergraduate and post-graduate students enrolled in different departments at the university of Science and technology. Furthermore, semi-structured interviews were conducted with the students, the purpose of which is to elicit the underlying motivations that make students use either language in writing their messages. Qualitative as well as quantitative analyses were carried out by the researchers. The major findings of the study reveal that English and a new form of Romanized Jordanian Arabic are used in writing mobile text messages. Furthermore, the results indicate that Arabic and English were used to serve different communicative functions, and that the process appears to by conditioned by the sex of the writer. In conclusion, one may claim that globalization and technology are framing out the choices made by people when using this particular medium of communication.

Session: Paper session
Digital language 1
Thursday, April 3, 2008, 10:30-12:00
room: 04