Unity and Diversity within Pidginized Arabic as Produced by Asian Migrant Workers in the Arabian Gulf

Najah S Albaqawi


Gulf Pidgin Arabic (GPA) is a simplified contact variety of language spoken in the Gulf States in the Middle East. This unique linguistic phenomenon has resulted from the frequent language contact between the non-indigenous workforce with no Arabic skills, who come from countries such as India, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines for job opportunities, and native speakers who do not share a common language with them. Pidgin languages have not been studied until relatively recently, since the middle of the last century.  Similarly, GPA has received relatively little attention in the literature apart from a few descriptive works such as Albakrawi, 2013; Alghamdi, 2014; Almoaily, 2008, 2012; Alshammari, 2010; Al-Zubeiry, 2015; Avram, 2014, 2015; Gomaa, 2007; Hobrom, 1996; Næss, 2008; Smart, 1990; Wiswal, 2002. This study aims to propose an account of both unity and diversity within Asian migrant Arabic pidgins in the states of the Arabian Gulf in terms of a set of parameters where purely linguistic developments interact with contextual ones. The analysis of the social situation and of the available linguistic data shows that the main factor behind conventionalizing within GPA is migrants’ mobility in the Gulf region. This is basically compatible with Bizri (2014)[1] who suggests that in Asian Migrant Arabic Pidgins (AMAP) “[’] mobility across the region is the major factor for homogenizing both native Arabic-speakers’ foreigner talk and migrants’ pidgin Arabic” (p. 385). One of the recommendations at the end of the study is that Saudi government should offer some courses for the foreign laborers to help them become familiar with basic Arabic words.

[1] She conducted a comparative study on AMAP by grouping all the varieties attested from the Gulf area and from Lebanon.


Phenomena of Language contact; Gulf pidgin Arabic; Gulf Arabic Language; Second language acquisition; Substrate influence; Arabic foreigner talk; Asian migrants in the Gulf

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ISSN 2045-4031. University of Central Lancashire 2010-2013.