This introductory chapter begins by explaining what sociolinguistics is and why Arabic is important. It then sets out the purpose of the book, which is to provide an up-to-date account of major themes in Arabic sociolinguistics. It discusses trends in research on diglossia, code-switching, gendered discourse, language variation and change, and language policies in relation to Arabic. In doing so, it introduces and evaluates the various theoretical approaches, and illustrates the usefulness and the limitations of these approaches with empirical data. An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.
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