This thesis investigates aspects of English usage in Egypt, including any possible linguistic projection of solidarity or power with other Egyptians, and the degree, if any, of linguistic ownership of English. As in many other Expanding Circle contexts, English realizes its role in Egypt as lingua franca in order to fulfill educational and business transactions. English is used to such a degree in the Egyptian context that it could at some point become its own variety of World English. Yet, it is possible that a speaker could produce either English or Arabic in different situations in reaction to perceived social cleavages between him- or herself and the interlocutor. The research presented here is interested in the possible degrees of linguistic projection, the effect a speaker intends language choice to have on the hearer, and linguistic ownership, the degree to which a speaker of a language believes that he or she owns the language, that Egyptians may possess as they use English. The data was collected in an English-medium university environment in the greater Cairo area. Undergraduate participants completed a questionnaire, and a limited number also participated in a follow-up interview. Data suggest that participants use English to project solidarity with other English-speaking Egyptians. Participants are aware of how others may use English to project power, yet no one admitted to projecting power. In line with other research, participants also demonstrated a weak sense of ownership of the language at best, however through the use of English mixed with Arabic, Egyptians do use an endonormative form of English that may demonstrate ownership. Finally, there is little evidence to demonstrate a relationship between linguistic projection and ownership, but the investigator speculates that a linguistic projection of solidarity, which implies mixing of Arabic and English, would encourage a greater sense of ownership of English. Classroom implications are also discussed, including encouraging greater use of Arabic in the classroom, supporting Egyptian influences in English speech, and managing relations between English speakers of different perceived proficiencies.

Degree Name

MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Graduation Date


Submission Date

May 2012

First Advisor

Wachob, Phyllis

Second Advisor

Fredricks, Lori



Document Type

Master's Thesis

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

English language -- Study and teaching -- Egypt.

Library of Congress Subject Heading 2

English language -- Usage -- Egypt.


The author retains all rights with regard to copyright. The author certifies that written permission from the owner(s) of third-party copyrighted matter included in the thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study has been obtained. The author further certifies that IRB approval has been obtained for this thesis, or that IRB approval is not necessary for this thesis. Insofar as this thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study is an educational record as defined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 USC 1232g), the author has granted consent to disclosure of it to anyone who requests a copy.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Approval has been obtained for this item


I would like to start by thanking Dr. Phyllis Wachob to agree to be the First Reader of this thesis. Her many suggestions and detailed review of the drafts of this work were of great importance to me. Dr. Lori Fredricks and Dr. Robert Williams provided valuable suggestions that significantly impacted the study. I would also like to thank Dr. Atta Gebril for encouraging me from the beginning to undertake this work. Elizabeth Arrigoni identified people important to talk to as I developed this study. Sophie Farag, the coorditor of the Intensive English Program, introduced me to the students of the IEP and gave me valuable suggestions for questions to ask participants. George Marquis was kind enough to ask instructors in the Department of Rhetoric and Composition to request their students to complete the questionire. Ola Anwar, Mager of Institutiol Surveys at the AUC Institutiol Research office, facilitated the process needed to send the questionire to the undergraduate student population. Maida Torossian always kept me up-to-date on all matters regarding the thesis. Howaida Omar, a colleague and friend, gave much of her valuable time to discuss the data with me in her capacity as peer reviewer. I thank my parents, Judith and Walter Lewko, as well as Katelynn, Brittany, Kelsey, Laury, and Gary Saunders for their love and support throughout this process. Filly, I would like to thank my loving wife Erika. Without her love and encouragement, this project would not have been possible.