Practice-Dependent Differences in the Automatization of Literary Arabic (LA) Speech Production

Diglossia, literary Arabic, speech production, memory-based automaticity


October 6, 2022


Native speakers of Arabic acquire language in a diglossic context that requires them to use different varieties for different purposes: spoken Arabic (SA) is the dialect they use informally in daily oral communications; literary Arabic (LA) is the variety they use mainly for reading, writing, and formal communications. In general, Arabic native speakers perform differently across different tasks and modalities­­—performance tends to be better when the task requires SA or LA in the same way it is normally used. In this study, an LA speech production task was performed by two groups of Arabic native speakers who varied significantly in their amount of practice with LA. Although both groups acquired LA under the same conditions, the group with more practice was more fluent. Practice-dependent differences are interpreted within a memory-based automaticity framework. Such a framework, it is argued, is able to account for differences both in general performance patterns among the Arab population as well as specific, practice-dependent patterns such as those observed in the present study.