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Sociolinguistics of Moroccan Arabic

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Adil Moustaoui Srhir

This book focuses on Moroccan sociolinguistic dynamics of change. Its aim is to analyse the changing contemporary situation of Moroccan Arabic as a local language and linguistic resource. Starting with a critical sociolinguistic overview of language policy in Morocco, the book aims to respond to the following questions: How do new linguistic practices in Morocco contribute to a restructuring of the Moroccan linguistic field? Will the new local multilingual practices, specifically the use of Moroccan Arabic in writing and other communicative modalities, play an important role in the social and political empowerment as well as the standardisation of this linguistic variety? Finally, the book examines current attempts to achieve a standardisation of the written variety of Moroccan Arabic, and how these attempts are influenced by a number of factors, including political, ideological and obviously sociolinguistic dynamics of change.

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Chapter 2 Sociolinguistic of Morocco: The multilingual situation


2.1 Moroccan Arabic

The linguistic variety known as Darija, which in this book we call Moroccan Arabic (MA), is a variety of Arabic. Moroccan Arabic is the last variety of the Arabic linguistic contiuum (El Hassan 1978) and is located at the western end of this continuum. In fact, it is one the one showing more differences compared to what is called the Classical or Standard Arabic. Moroccan linguists agree that this same Moroccan has or is divided into several varieties which according to Moroccan dialectological tradition were called urban variety, bedouin variety and mountain variety. This division is based in ethnic and not in sociolinguistic considerations. Youssi (1998) has used the notion of multidialectalism to refer to the linguistic variation that Moroccan Arabic presents. Youssi also insists on the need to take into consideration this variety in this survey, in addition to the geo-linguistic factors and ethnic and community ones. According to Boukous (1995) and Laghouat (1995), there exist five sub-varieties of Moroccan Arabic: i) the urban employed in imperial cities, including Casablanca and other big cities, ii) the mountain (Yebli) is spoken in the north-west area of Morocco, iii) the Bedouin variety (‘arubi) is spoken by the inhabitants of the region located in the middle of Atlantic Coast, iv) the eastern Bedouin variety used in the eastern area of Morocco, and v) The Hassaniya spoken in the Sahara. Each sub-variety of Moroccan Arabic is identified with a region or a big city; all the...

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