Edited by Amel Khalfaoui and Youssef A. Haddad
[Studies in Arabic Linguistics 8] 2019
► pp. 135–158
The Tunisian community of Mazara del Vallo (Sicily) is the oldest Tunisian community in Italy, its first immigrants arriving at the end of the 1960s. The linguistic dynamics of the community differ from those observed in other Arab communities in the European and American diaspora. Many second-generation speakers are still Arabic-dominant, and active competence is also demonstrated by third-generation speakers. This situation provides a rare opportunity to study dialect contact outside of mainland Tunisia, where the phenomena of leveling and accommodation have already been studied by Gibson (1998, 2002). The demographic structure of the Tunisian community of Mazara del Vallo shows a clear prevalence of speakers from the town of Mahdiyya, followed by Chebba and other Tunisian towns. This paper focuses on Tunisian speakers hailing from Chebba (in the governorate of Mahdiyya), whose village dialect is distinguished from the varieties spoken in both Mahdiyya and Tunis by a set of clearly recognizable isoglosses. The analysis focuses on the realization of the uvular /q/, the interdentals /θ, ð, ðˤ/ and the diphthongs /ay, aw/. The results are compared with Gibson’s (2002) findings concerning dialect leveling in Tunisian Arabic to ascertain whether language change in mainland Tunisia and in the diaspora follows similar trends.