Language Policies, Intercultural Antagonisms and Dialogue
Edited By Kamal Salhi
Mansour Sayah - Linguistic Issues and Policies in Tunisia 411
MANSOUR SA YAH TRANSLATED BY KAMAL SALHI AND ANNE JUDGE Linguistic Issues and Policies in Tunisia With a population of almost eight million people, 1 Tunisia is a country of complex sociolinguistic patterns characterised by Arabic-French bilin- gualism, closely linked to a diglossic situation where Arabic is concerned. The Berber language, having survived competition from Phoenician, Latin, Arabic, Turkish and French, is now only spoken by 1% of the population in the extreme south of the country. There are still some traces of Turkish in the form of prefixes and suffixes, but only in colloquial Arabic. As for French, it made its appearance in the country long before the 1881 French Protectorate and has survived Tunisian Independence. It is Arabic however, in its various forms, that remains the real language of the country. This makes for a very complex situation that, added to various political problems linked in particular with Independence, has led to various and often conflicting linguistic policies on the part of the state. This chapter will examine the different forms of Arabic in use in Tunisia, the traditional role of French and theArabisation ofTunisia, the coexistence of monolingualism, bilingualism and diglossia, the educa- tional problems resulting from the linguistic situation and the extent of present-day use of French in Tunisia. Politics naturally play a part under all of these headings. This is the oft1cial government figure, but there has been no recent census in Tunisia. 412 Mansour Sayah The Different Forms of Arabic used in Tunisia Classical...
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