Creative hybridity over linguistic purity: the status of English in the United Arab Emirates

Sarah Hopkyns*, Wafa Zoghbor, Peter John Hassall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Currently, the linguistic landscape in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) can be described as dynamic, complex and multifaceted. This article discusses the status of English in the UAE with three key periods of language change being identified, based on Schneider’s ‘dynamic model’ of postcolonial Englishes. The increasing impact of English as a lingua franca, and the recent shift towards English Medium Instruction at all levels of Emirati education are then explored before examining attitudes towards English with reference to the ‘Englishization vs. hybridization’ debate. It is argued that rather than English and Arabic being used in a binary way representing linguistic purity, the UAE’s linguistic landscape is more complex and dynamic. Emiratis are increasingly using multiple forms of linguistic hybridity such as ‘white dialects’, ‘Arabizi’, ‘translanguaging’ and ‘code-switching’, which are reshaping Emirati language use and additionally influencing local identities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-169
Number of pages12
JournalAsian Englishes
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2018


  • identity
  • language change
  • language contact
  • linguistic hybridity
  • United Arab Emirates


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