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Faculty of Languages & Literatures

Chair of Arabic Studies – Prof. Valentina Serreli

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  • Map of Nigeria (PDF)
  • Dialect Map of Nigeria (PDF)
  • Introduction (PDF)
The DataHide
  • The Collection (PDF)
  • Transcription conventions
  • Text inventory (PDF)
  • Studies relevant to Nigerian Arabic
  • Translations (PDF)
  • Notes - Maiduguri, Villages (PDF)


The transcriptions of the codeswitching texts are presented in part in two formats. In one the
texts are presented as straight transcriptions with nothing added. In the second the extensive
coding which was used as the basis of various publications (see bibliography) is included.
Those interested can contact Jonathan Owens for the coding key. Many variables were
tagged for, but among them is a code for identifying which languages are in play where. In
both formats many of the Hausa passages are translated (in purple), so that for those who
have a background in Arabic at least, the gist of the entire text can be followed. An English
translation for about half of CS 5 is provided, and a short translation passage from CS 7 will
be provided as well.
All of the CS recordings took place in Maiduguri, many of the speakers in these texts also
appearing in the Maiduguri interviews and group conversations.


  • CS 5 (transcription) PDF
  • CS 5 (tagged) PDF
  • CS 5 (audio file) Audio
  • CS 5 (translation) PDF
Group ConversationsHide


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Maiduguri interviews
The Maiduguri interviews were the first to be collected. Their purpose was twofold. On the one hand a sample of 56 individuals was made with a basic 2 x 2 division of men/women and under 30 vs. over 50. Added to these two basic demographic variables, there were four areal concentrations, three in neighborhoods with a high Arab density (Gwange, Gambori, Ruwan Zafi) and one a sampling of Arabs living in largely non-Arab districts. As the sociolinguistics of Maiduguri (unfortunately, like too much of the Arabic-speaking world) was completely terra incognita, the survey established basic benchmarks. As far as the content of the interviews go, they were largely orientated towards factors which elucidate the dynamics of Arabic as a minority language in a growing urban area. Most interviews therefore entered around a fairly set protocol, though the questions were always introduced in as informal, conversational a manner as possible. After asking basic biographical information, questions included the language repertoire of the interviewees and their immediate family and circle of friends, whether they had studied formally either in the Quranic school system (sangaaya*) or western education and in which languages they were literate, their exposure to media Arabic, including non-Nigerian Arabic stations (BBC,Kuwait, Chad, Sudan etc.), how common inter-ethnic marriages were and what they implied for language use in the family, whether the interviewees could distinguish different dialects of Nigerian Arabic, and general questions about the social life and institutions of Arabs in Maiduguri. The senior author was always accompanied by an Arab colleague, who was encouraged to participate in the questioning as well. As the interviews progressed, they became more fluent, if slightly routine. Mr. Dana Allamin became particularly adept at guiding the Maiduguri interviews, as well as many of the village ones.
* Curiously, the same etymological origin as ‘synagogue’, probably from North Africa.


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Introduction (PDF)


For aficionados (transcriptions only)


Webmaster: Juniorprofessor Valentina Serreli

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