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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 6 Empowerment and social and political recognition of Moroccan Arabic

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6.1 Introduction

Some of the first questions that should be asked are: How was an empowerment and social recognition of the importance of Moroccan Arabic made possible? What were the supporting or opposing factors that might have played an important role in this process? and in what new social, political and ideological context did this recognition come about? Before proceeding to answer these questions it is worth giving a small theoretical outline of what we are calling empowerment.

One of the definitions to be used as a starting point is that given by Cummins (1996), according to whom empowerment is a practice whose aim is to address historical processes of disempowerment of minority communities or speakers of languages institutionally minoritised. If we apply the Cummins’ notion of empowerment to the Moroccan sociolinguistic regime, two language communities fall into the category he would identify as disempowered: those who speak popular Moroccan Arabic, i.e. Darija12, and the Amazigh speaking population.

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