Neurocognitive modeling of the two language varieties in Arabic Diglossia

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Diglossia is one distinctive feature of Arabic and other languages, such as Swiss-German (Ferguson 1959). Neurocognitive studies aiming to understand the neural mechanisms of diglossia in general, and Arabic diglossia in particular, are sparse. This paper provides a framework for discussing neurophysiological approaches to questions concerning the representation and processing of languages exhibiting diglossia in the brains of native speakers, as well as understanding the potential contribution of such approaches for applied linguistics and teaching Arabic as a first or second language. The first section introduces electroencephalography (EEG), and some event-related potentials (ERPs) known to correlate with aspects of language processing. The second section reviews neurophysiological studies of language representation and processing in Arabic diglossia to date. Finally, we discuss some potential contributions of neurophysiological studies to the fields of Arabic linguistics, applied linguistics and teaching Arabic. The review points to separateness of the two lexicons in Arabic diglossia and highlights the need for further neurophysoplogiocal and behavioral studies to revisit the suggested model of mental representation in diglossia.


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