In the past decade, Latinised Arabic (LA), a popular form of writing spoken Arabic online, has made the transition from online applications such as internet chat and text messaging to offline mediums. No longer exclusive to computer mediated communication, the diffusion of LA into everyday life has been reported across the Arab world. Today, LA is a popular form of graffiti and can be found in handwritten notes and advertisements. However, the most interesting development in the career of LA has perhaps been in Egypt, where this form has appeared in a number of edited, printed magazines. Some of these have emerged in the wake of the recent boom in the Egyptian publishing industry; while others had already been on the market for longer. In an attempt to investigate the implications of this trend and the motivation behind it, four magazines were singled out and interviewed on the basis of the quantity and consistency of LA use. All of the magazines used LA alongside English, and identified themselves either as English or mainly English magazines. The applications of LA varied from one magazine to another, as did the importance of LA to the magazine’s market identity. There is evidence that magazines seek to moderate the use of LA by implementing their own set of internal editing and spelling rules. The editors and writers in the four magazines were mostly in their twenties. There was also an overlap in the target audience; mainly Egyptian adolescents of the upper middle class. Readers’ feedback suggests a predominantly favourable attitude towards LA from this audience. Overall, the findings from the interviews reveal the increasing commercial and symbolic value of LA, and indicate its growing popularity and acceptability.
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British Library Qatar Foundation Partnership
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United Academics Journal of Social Sciences
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