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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 7 Writing in Moroccan Arabic (MA) as a linguistic practice: diversity and linguistic heterogeneity


7.1 Introduction

The latest research on the ethnography of writing, multimodal communication and Linguistic Landscape perfectly demonstrates that writing is a complex process and a series of socio-communicative practices, independently of its semiotic dimension (Blommaert 2013). Similarly, studies on literacy have revealed that writing is relevant for sociolinguistics as an analytical discipline.

Nevertheless, in sociolinguistic studies, the emphasis placed thus far on oral communications and interactions has rather excluded the analysis of writing practices. This fact is true not only of sociolinguistics in the west, but also in Morocco, where most essays on the sociology of language or linguistic anthropology have tended to look at aspects of oral discourses and linguistic practices. In an excellent monograph on the sociolinguistics of writing, and as a way of justifying the need to pay close sociolinguistic attention to writing, Lillis and Mackinney (2013:417) state:

“we signal some of the consequences of failing to engage with the phenomenon of writing in a more nuanced and careful way – both for the discipline of sociolinguistics and broader public understanding: writing is a pervasive and highly consequential social phenomenon, resulting not least from the increasing bureaucratization of working life […] We see our argument for attention to be paid to the phenomenon of writing as part of a larger argument for a sociolinguistics of language and communication that takes account of all modes, materialities and technologies without being bound by a priori assumptions about how these are played out...

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