Linguistic situation of Morocco

Morocco is known among linguists as a rich landscape of sociolinguistic studies, while it has noticed concepts as Diglossia, Bilingualism, and Multilingualism. According to Ferguson (1959), Diglossia referred to the situation where two varieties of the same language play different role within a speech community. Fishman used the term broadly to refer to the situation where two separated languages overlaps different function (1971). However, most of linguists denied this definition and restated that this situation called bilingualism and adopted the Ferguson‟s Diglossia (Jamai, 2009; Bentahila, 1983; Hudson, 1975). The first time the term emerged was by Marçais (1931) in Algeria.

Ferguson‟s definition (1959; p. 34-35)

Diglossia is a relatively stable language situation in which, in addition to the primary dialects of the language (which may Diglossia include a standard or regional standards), there is a very divergent, highly codified (often grammatically more complex) superposed variety, the vehicle of a large and respected body of written literature, either of an earlier period or in another speech community, which is learned largely by formal education and is used for most written and formal spoken purposes but is not used by any sector of the community for ordinary conversation.

In Moroccan speech community, Moroccan dialect, the low variety (L) is tended to be used in everyday uses. It has no written scripts mostly exploited in oral art such folk poetry „Zajal‟ and oral tales. It is widely used in cinema, theatre, music, radio and sitcoms. The classical Arabic or standard Arabic, the high variety (H), overlaps the formal functions such as administration reports, news on television, press, royal and religious speeches. Besides, the literature, novels, books and poetry, are written by classical standard Arabic because of the “prestige” (Jamai, 2009) over the colloquial dialect. The Tamazight may share the function of the low variety (L) with Moroccan Arabic side by side on form of Triglossia (Youssi, 1995).

Linguistic situation of Morocco

In the situation of the classroom, the teacher writes the courses in standard Arabic and explains it with the Moroccan Arabic or Tamazight in certain places if the instructor knows it. In the religious speeches, the preacher “Al Faqih” also reads Quran and Al Hadith in classical Arabic and illustrates the meaning using the low variety. This process is followed in different sittings going forth and back between high variety and low variety.

The bilingualism refers to the individuals who maintain the competence of speaking two languages, while multilingualism named upon those who have the capacity of using more than languages (ennaji, 2005). The bilingual cannot achieve fully proficiency of the two languages at same level. Ennaji quoted from Spolsky (1988);

…If we count as a bilingual only someone with equal and native command of two or more languages, we exclude the vast majority of cases and are left with the least interesting. In practice, then, scholars in the field treat bilingualism as a relative rather than an absolute phenomenon, and consider anyone able to produce (or even understand) sentences in more than one language as the proper object of their study; the explanation of different levels of control of the two or more languages (or varieties) then becomes an issue of central theoretical concern.

The definition observed that individuals produce number of sentences of two or more languages is the core of the study. This means many countries notice this phenomenon of duality of usage of diverse varieties. “People who are bilingual or multilingual do not necessarily have exactly the same abilities in the languages (or varieties)” (Wardhaugh, 2006, p.96). For instance, person may acquire certain level of proficiency in French whereas speaks little of English and standard. Certainly, he would not obtain complete command of all varieties.

Moroccan population reckons mostly bilinguals and multilinguals except children and elders in isolated areas. They own the competence of one of Tamazight varieties tarifit, tashlhit and Tamazight, Moroccan Arabic and classical Arabic, in which they learn by heart verses of Quran.
There are also multilinguals who practice foreign languages such French, Spanish, English and German.

The code-switching or code mixing refers to the process where individuals alter between two or more codes in conversation among two people or a group. Code-switching may occur on the level between sentences (inter-sententially) or just use of certain words of another dialect, variety, repertoire, or register (intra-sententially) (Wardhaugh, 1986, p. 101). Moroccan code-switch between Moroccan Arabic and the three variety tarifit, tashlhit and Tamazight, Moroccan Arabic and French, standard Arabic and French, French and the varieties of Tamazight among them all at once.

People would code-switch deliberately in order to fulfill an objective of the talk, deliver an attitude to the listener. “code-switching is a conversational strategy use to establish , cross or destroy group boundaries; to create , evoke or change interpretational relations with their right and obligations” (Gal, 1988, p. 247).

The motive of code-switching differs according to gender. Because Morocco is considered a Patriarchal community, female and males behaviors reflect culturally diverse. Females tend to code-switch taking into consideration the object that they want to achieve. Usually that educated females use code-switching to fulfill the objective that they reflect modernity and openmindedness especially where they feel certain decree of the inferiority while others use it spontaneously to convey clearly the meanings in the case of code-switching among the local linguistic codes, “ as part of their overall multilingualism communication strategy” (Jamai, 2009, p.25). On the other hand, males conduct code-switching to deliver an ideology, attitude, and establish a fluent conversation or solidarity with interlocutor.


Linguistic debate in Morocco


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *