One of the major claims in Arabic linguistic research is that Standard Arabic (SA) is a second language for native speakers of Arabic simply because it is not acquired naturally from parents. This study examines this claim by investigating whether Arabic speakers’ proficiency in SA converges with their proficiency in Colloquial Arabic (CA) or English. Sixteen native Arabic speakers completed three oral production tasks and three written production tasks. These speakers were compared to ten native English speakers with respect to English proficiency. The findings revealed that the Arabic speakers performed significantly worse on the SA oral task than on the CA oral task, but the opposite was true on the writing task. Their overall proficiencies in SA and CA were not significantly different. However, they performed significantly worse on English than on SA and CA and worse than the native English speakers. Overall, the findings suggest that the Arabic native speakers’ proficiency in SA is closer to their proficiency in CA (their L1) than their proficiency in English (their Ln).


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pp. 49-71
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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