Casablanca - If you stroll the streets of Morocco’s economic hub Casablanca, you may be puzzled by the diversity of languages displayed in public places.
Casablanca – If you stroll the streets of Morocco’s economic hub Casablanca, you may be puzzled by the diversity of languages displayed in public places.
Here is a private clinic displaying Amazigh scriptures on the Façade using the Amazigh alphabet script Tifinagh that only handful of Berbers can decipher.
Billboards planted off the most congested roads display a great variety of slogans and captions written in Morroccan Arabic or Darija, a strategy that was totally excluded by advertisers a decade ago.
Moroccan Arabic has noticeably gained momentum in media, especially as an acceptable medium for communication and in broadcasting a wide range of programs. A new generation of TV and Radio presenters is incrementally relinquishing their assortment of eloquent Arabic expressions for a less conventional speech using the Darija.
Despite the meager legacy in literature and research and the restrained lexis repertoire of Darija, many liberal intellectuals and linguists advocate a full refurbishing of Moroccan Arabic.
Many would like to see Darija become as a prestigious variety as Modern Standard Arabic. Nonetheless, the appeal of Arabic and French as a highly esteemed medium of communication seems to be engraved in the subliminal cultural consciousness of the bulk of Moroccans.
It is noteworthy that language is not a mere a channel of ideas or an outward manifestation of intentions. It is mainly a revealing mirror that reflects a broader picture of interlocutors. Language has the capacity to expose more than what the speakers want to disclose.
A part from their semantic value and their functional aspect, verbal utterances can be loaded with manifold nuances and clues about the speakers’ identity, affiliation and social status.
Speakers can also use language in a utilitarian manner. The refinement of language through the selection of the mostly accepted words in the immediate context is a conversational strategy used by speakers to reflect a “brighter” image that is not always congruent with the truth.
For instance, Many Moroccans would switch to French whenever they encounter a situation that depreciates the use of Darija. French and standard Arabic have always been associated with prestige and distinction while Darija bears a social stigma particularly in contexts that call for formality or polished discourse.
To elude its supposedly demeaning impact on interlocutors, Moroccan speakers would opt for a less costly strategy. To sound relevant, speakers would do some cherry picking and assort a bouquet of elegant expressions from Arabic and Moroccan Arabic that would guarantee them acceptance.
While the claim to adopt Amazigh as an official language has serious political underpinnings, the desire to adopt Moroccan Arabic as an official language in its written form is less peculiar for many Moroccans.
Across the political spectrum, the most conservative factions rule out this possibility. They fear that the adoption of Moroccan Arabic may dethrone Standard Arabic , a language fiercely defended both for its religious connotation as a language of the holy book and for its geopolitical significance as a crucial binding factor among Arab nations.
The status of Arabic as a linguafranca among Arab countries is incrementally disputed with the growing appeal of Moroccan Arabic. On the other hand, the legitimacy of Amazigh as an official language is not longer a wishful dream but a constitutional reality.
To add a layer of complexity to the Moroccan linguistic landscape, French remains irreplaceable as the most treasured language in the job market. The linguistic diversity in Morocco is undoubtedly a rich legacy, but it has enough ramifications to sow confusion in the minds of many Moroccans, more acutely in education.
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