Personae of Bahrain: The Survival of a Dialect through Social Media


ACLS Fellowship Program


Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures


In Bahrain, the dialects of the Shiite Baharna have survived, despite previous observations that their stigmatized features were merging toward those of the competing, socially dominant Sunni, Bahrainis. “Personae of Bahrain” illustrates how language evolution reflects the very process of its survival: Focusing on language on social media, this project explores how the sociolinguistic processes of enregisterment and persona creation promote relevance among community members, contributing to the survival of the Baharna’s dialects. It posits that social media provides unconventional, inexhaustible venues through which these dialects can be attached to influential profiles and remain in constant circulation. This project moves forward the traditional concept of a linguistic social network and redefines the manner in which these networks can drive linguistic change.