On yesterday – The municipal elections of Beirut

– I listened to an opponent volunteer tell me how he wished he could help us out, that he was here against his free will and for money.
– I met amazing people from all ages, different ideas both men and women.
– The volunteers with me carried people in wheelchairs in order for them to vote; defeating the lack of electricity, social justice and infrastructure.
– I heard endless hopeful wishes from the Lebanese army and security forces that Beirut Madinati would win; they were begging for change, begging for cultural respect and justice.
– I saw corruption with my own bare eyes knowing I could do nothing about it but stand there; and I stood.
– I saw bullets in the sky because of results that weren’t even official – one more proof of how corrupted this is.
– I saw bullets, not hugs. Bombarding sounds and not laughs.
– I found happiness helping hungry, poor people with the rest of our food; giving our balloons to kids regardless of their family’s political views, they understood politics better than we ever did.
– I found hope in children’s eyes and elderly’s hearts.
– I found people who think the same way I do; who accepted different political views and respected them fully.
– I saw the politicians who were once enemies’ team up for a common enemy; and yet they can’t seem to do so over basic civil rights (or a president).
– Yesterday I saw a bigger hypocrisy from the citizens, and not from the candidates.
– I saw the biggest diffusion of responsibility amongst the people I respected most.

Yesterday I witnessed sadness, frustration and anger. Then again, haven’t we been witnessing these things ever since we were born? Aren’t we immune to this?
The only difference about yesterday is that hope was born. A hope that wasn’t there before and that just tops all of the above and made me smile, dream and have a good time.
I believe in hope, I believe in Lebanon and I refuse to give up. Six years won’t change my mind nor will 12 or 24. I understand why people leave and I can’t blame them. But I have decided to be among the few who stay and fight. I’m not doing this for my own sake; I’d be long gone by then, but for the sake of my children, and yours.
I will respect the war, I will respect the martyrs, I will still hang out with a “Byerteh” and have lunch with whatever color a person’s wearing.

Beirut madinati, Jounieh madinati, Jbeil madinati even Saida, Akkar, Trablos and all the cities I haven’t visited yet madinati.
Lebnen baladi; and I will stay, I will stay, I will stay.

Reflection – Maps

Map showcasing my data (Green dots – 78 records) vs. the Class’s data (Blue dots)


Gathering my data did encounter various difficulties, the first being timing.
I had classes all day till 5 PM and meetings/Group studying till 8 PM. As a young woman in Beirut, walking around in the evening alone to take pictures didn’t seem very safe. Therefore, I had to wait for my friend to walk with me, and most of my pictures were taken in the dark.
Also, I knew I’d want to work on an area-based project where we had a high amount of data, and I live in Jounieh during the weekends. This is why I waited for the weekdays in order to take pictures of my data.

Second of all, tagging seemed complicated, especially when configuring my map (the order mattered, and a lot had to be taken into consideration). I’d suggest an addition of categories for the features, so that the sub-features would be narrowed down.

Concerning my data, it was mostly taken around Ashrafieh. The one night I took a lot of pictures, I had focused on the old signage in Mar Mikhael – Gemmayze – Monot. It was clear that old signage had a kind of type in the font, colors and languages used (mostly french and arabic). Hence my first idea for my final project which was Old VS. New. However, the lack of a tag for this didn’t let me go through it. Ergo a second suggestion of adding a “Old/New” tag.

Overall, data collecting and map configuration were a whole new experience to me I’d never think I’d encounter in an English course. This activity shed the light on things we had internalized as Lebanese citizens, and now I can’t stop looking at signs and trying to analyze them.

Wildcard -WhatsApp Linguistics

As a Lebanese young adult, 50% to 70% of my time I spend on my cellphone. More specifically – On WhatsApp.

Not that I am proud of it or anything, but spending that much time on this peculiar mean of instant communication has shed the light on the complex distribution of language by my interlocutors upon their texts.

In order to share my observation (that I find fascinating) with you, I have picked 2 WhatsApp Groups in which all members with no exception follow the below criteria:
– Lebanese
– Live in Lebanon
– Fluently speak (Oral and Written): French, Arabic and English
– Mother language: Arabic/French

Next, I skimmed through a total of 100 texts and chose them to try and find a pattern of how we use English French and Arabic.
To make it clearer, I started taking note of the emotion/purpose intended in the text and then attributed to it the language used.
Below are the final charts I got as a result :


Results for Group 1 – A = Arabic, F = French, E = English – Data Collected May 2nd 2016


Results for Group 2 – A = Arabic, F = French, E = English – Data Collected May 2nd 2016

In the “First Words” category, I have picked Time, Space and Food; the three fields in which we first learn/listen to lexicography as toddlers. We could also add to it Anger and Excitement, but I stuck with the evolutionary perspective on things, in which Food and the ability to situate oneself in Space and Time are primary.
Indeed, it is clear that concerning Time, French is highly dominating – in Food (alongside Arabic) too.

What could explain the domination of English in situating actions in Group 2? Or even, the complete absence of French in Group 1 ?
If we were to consider the types of groups I studied (one being just for fun, the other including people that work together), we could say that English is highly used as a formal language in scheduling (ergo the upcoming chart in which I divided formal and informal writing). Also, one could consider that according to the criteria, we all live in Lebanon, which automatically gives a preference to Arabic in referring to places.

Our negative feelings are divided into two parts : Anger and Sadness.
Anger is mostly expressed in Arabic; it’s the language with which we are most familiar, and that’s not only a mother tongue language, but also one that almost no one in Lebanon wouldn’t understand (unlike French which is rarely spoken in Beirut areas and towards the South). Expressing our anger in Arabic would thus (as I’d conclude) guarantee a universality to our speech. I’d also say the same in regards to Humor.
What about the excessive use of English in expressing Sadness ?
I have tried to come up with an explanation for this one, and all I could find and decided to stick to, was blaming the Media.
In fact, most of the highly emotional/romantic/sad/makes-your-eyes-cry-like-a-waterfall movies/books/TV shows the members of these two groups watch are all in English.  Could this mean that as we grew up, exposed to highly emotional art, we internalized a certain English – the Special Sad Edition – vocabulary?
I’d also conclude similarly concerning the Excitement category.
Also, most of the news we watch and Universities we attend are English-based; hence the high amount of written English in the Persuasion category.

Before I wrap up, let’s take a look at (my attempt of building) a Formal V.S Informal Speech Chart :

Formal Language : Time, Space and Persuasion V.S Informal Language : Anger, Sadness, Humor and Excitement

Looking at the charts, one could conclude that we Lebanese young adults are indeed quite fluent in the three languages. The French did have a mandate for a few years here, and the use of French could be explained by WWI History.
But what about English?

Could this be a proof of the strong Westernization  in the Middle East? Or could it be displaying a result of the large Lebanese Diaspora? Or even, of the high exposure to English Media and Entertainment?
Does this mean that in WhatsApp Linguistics, we could be talking about a Lebanese English among other “Englishes” ?

You can find below some samples of the data I used

This slideshow requires JavaScript.