Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Special Issue on Communication and Language in Virtual Spaces, January 2023    Pp.88-98

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Lexical Innovation between Unification and Purism: The Case of Corona-Related
Terminology in Arabic-Broadcasting Media

Department of English
Faculty of Letters and Languages
Tlemcen University, Algeria


Received:11/09/2022            Accepted:12/23/2022                           Published:01/20/2023



Media is strong enough to influence different fields, including economy, politics, education, to name but a few. This influence is inevitable on languages of the world. Distant contact has proved to introduce interesting language contact phenomena just like direct contact does. The present paper investigated Corona-related lexis in the spoken language of Arabic-broadcasting media, namely Aljazeera and A3 (an Algerian public channel). The significance of the study lies in showing the extent to which such media can influence Standard Arabic and how journalists can be important language agents. The question guiding the research is to circle the main linguistic process(es) adopted by journalists when they are faced with a situation which calls for immediate lexical modernization to name new concepts or objects. The research built on a descriptive discourse analysis method within the language-in-use approach for studying a corpus of 9314 utterances. It was found that media plays a role of prime importance in the diffusion of new vocabulary. Such diffusion remains uncontrolled by linguistic bodies, and therefore the linguists’ role is, to a certain extent, divorced. It was found that the media language builds on borrowings, manifested in different types. Semantic expansion of already existing Arabic words was less attested. Coinage was found to be the least adopted method to introduce new items to name novel objects and concepts. Also, a point of prime significance is that English remains the main lending language on which Standard Arabic depends in the modernization of its dictionary. It was reported that some of the core borrowings of English origin are diffused even in the Maghreb region (namely Algeria) where French used to be a dominant foreign language.
Keywords: Arabic, borrowing, Covid-19, linguistic purism, media, modernization, semantic expansion

Cite as: DJENNANE, T. (2023). Lexical Innovation between Unification and Purism: The Case of Corona-Related Terminology in Arabic-Broadcasting Media. Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Special Issue on Communication and Language in Virtual Spaces,
January 2023: 88-98.                                                         


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Received: 11/09/2022
Accepted: 12/23/2022 
Published: 01/20/2023 

Taoufik DJENNANE is an associate professor of sociolinguistics and pragmatics at Tlemcen University, Algeria. His research interest revolves around language contact, and language planning with particular focus on language education policy. He is the head of a research project about minority languages in Algeria. He is also the head of a research unit in ESPTLab. ORCid ID: