Date of Award

5-1-2014

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Applied Linguistics

First Advisor

Chang, Soo Jung

Abstract

Every language has distinct features that reflect the values of its culture. Some societies are similar or different in such aspects as gestures, talk, gender, dialects, colors and so on. This study focuses on the variables of gender and region on Saudi use of Arabic vs. newly borrowed color terms. For the theoretical background, the researcher used related studies related to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, Berlin and Kay's hypothesis and Core Value theory. A total of 20 participants were asked to complete a single task in which they had to name 12 colors in Arabic writing. Participants were evenly divided between male and female and rural vs. urban region. The data was analyzed through descriptive multiple t-tests. The results had interesting implications for how color terms are currently being used by Saudi Arabic speakers, and what that usage might indicate about their background. In the case of the variable of gender, women displayed a significantly higher usage of newly borrowed color terms (33%) compared to men (18%). These findings were in keeping with similar results from other studies, although such studies were somewhat dated. In the case of region, participants from urban areas also displayed a statistically higher usage of newly borrowed color terms (32%) compared to those from rural areas (18%). This may have been due to people living in cities being exposed to, and therefore tending to use, a larger variety of color terms from different languages, such as English, Turkish and French. The newly borrowed color term used by participants the most was beige, while the traditional Arabic color term that was used the most was azraq 'blue' and ahmar 'red'. This was likely because these are considered more basic or fundamental colors and would therefore be less likely to be exchanged with a foreign word than a color that was not as commonly used in everyday life. These results could also have practical implications in areas where using such terms are prominent, such as business, trade, and education. In the area of business in particular, could be relevant to advertising, especially in the case of decoration, which deals with the labeling of colors.

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