Rabat – A new issue of Languages and Linguistics has been published as Morocco is battling over the language in school books.
The Languages and Linguistics journal, edited by Moha Ennaji of the International Institute for Languages and Cultures in Fez, published its Issue 41 last week.
The issue reviews scientific contributions on the structures of standard Arabic and Tamazight (Berber). It also presents research on sociolinguistic and pedagogic problems in the teaching of these languages, offering the findings of experiments in language pedagogy.
In one article, Koussaila Alik from Mouloud Maammeri University in Algeria deals with the place of word borrowing in relation to the development of the Tamazight vocabulary used in schools in Algerian and Moroccan textbooks. The article analyzes in detail, with examples, the issue of loan words and the different types of borrowing and their origins.
Also in the issue, Mohamed Yeou of Morocco, Kiyoshi Honda of Japan and Shinji Maeda of France report three experiments investigating the phonetics of the Tamazight dialect of Figuig in eastern Morocco.
For standard Arabic, Hassan Souali of Mohammed V University analyzes the different categories of complex verbs from a theoretical point of view.
In his article, Abdellatif Elmattad of the Institute for Studies and Research on Arabization studies the theoretical aspect of standard Arabic vocabulary and its development for computing purposes.
Also dealing with technology, Abdelhakeem Kaseem of Deakin University, Australia, deals primarily with how modern technology can support and enhance the learning experience of foreign language learners in general and standard Arabic learners in particular, by creating an environment rich in opportunities. He writes that technology allows learners to develop and enhance their language skills in an interactive and authentic learning environment.
In his article, Boudris Belaid of the Center for the Formation of Education Supervisors in Rabat argues that the teaching of Tamazight to primary school students is characterized by a combination of the contributions of specialists in language, education sciences, and community actors.
Debate over Darija in Morocco and Algeria
The issue comes out during a national debate on the use of Darija in classrooms.
There is tension in public opinion about whether to emphasize Arabic, Tamazight (Berber), French, or Darija (Moroccan or Algerian Arabic), a spoken dialect which is a hybrid of the three languages.
Starting in pre-school, students in Morocco and Algeria must learn more than one of the languages, which can become a real linguistic jumble.
The first official language in both countries is standard Arabic, but few children grow up speaking it. Most speak Darija as their mother tongue and are often confused on their first day at school.
The second official language is Tamazight, the tongue of about half of Moroccans and a quarter of Algerians. It was only officially recognized in 2011 by the Moroccan state and in 2016 by the Algerian government—but there is a disagreement of which alphabet to use, and no one can agree on which of its six dialects to teach.
The Moroccan and Algerian francophone elite prefer the language of Moliere, and most send their children to French schools.
The Algerian education minister, Nouria Benghebrit, advocates the introduction of a fourth language in school, Darija, which fuses the other three and is the mother tongue of most Algerians.
In Morocco, a few, like Noureddine Ayouch, have recently called for the introduction of Darija in primary schools, and the Ministry of Education allowed the insertion of Darija expressions in new school books this year.
An increasing number of anglophones in both countries even want to wipe the slate clean with English.
Most conservative people and parties have risen against the introduction of Darija in school books in Morocco. Although Moroccans love “baghrir” and “harcha” for a snack, they loathe to see the Darija words in school books.
Moroccans and Algerians also love popular culture, theater, and songs in Darija, but they prefer to read and write in standard Arabic or French.
The common argument against Darija is that it tends to vary from region to region and across North Africa and the Middle East, claiming, for example, that a Lebanese would not know what “3lash,” a word for “why,” means.
There are many communication hurdles using colloquial Arabic across the Arab world, but they may not be as large as many people think.