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Journal of Cross-Cultural and Interlanguage Communication

Ed. by Piller, Ingrid

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Text messaging in Kuwait. Is the medium the message?

Madeline Haggan1


Citation Information: Multilingua - Journal of Cross-Cultural and Interlanguage Communication. Volume 26, Issue 4, Pages 427–449, ISSN (Online) 1613-3684, ISSN (Print) 0167-8507, DOI: 10.1515/MULTI.2007.020, December 2007

Publication History

Published Online:


In Kuwait the use of the mobile phone has spread rapidly and universally and the use of text messaging has become popular among the younger members of society. One aim of the paper was (by means of a questionnaire) to elicit some basic information about users' attitudes and practices with regard to the medium in their culture. Until comparatively recently it was not technically possible to send Arabic text messages using the Arabic alphabet and they had to be sent using the English alphabet. Another aim, therefore, was to ascertain whether Kuwaitis still use the English alphabet for Arabic text messages or whether they make use of the Arabic keypad now available. It was found that while Arabic messages are sent, a substantial percentage of messages use English and a mixture of Arabic and English. Of particular interest is how users use English characters to transcribe their Arabic texts. This raises linguistic and cultural questions which are explored in the paper.

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