Language Policy, Prestige, and Stigma: A Case Study of Moroccan Amazigh Language Varieties
Quinn, Shane Dante
Language is a major part of identity in any context, but especially in situations of disenfranchisement and marginalization, in which heritage languages are often subject to repression and resultant shift and loss. One such case of potential loss of linguistic and cultural identity involves the Amazigh language groups in Morocco (and the other Maghreb countries), in the face of past Arabicization efforts in North Africa, the continuing influence of French from the colonial period, and the spread of English as a world language. In this study, I report on the results of a survey that elicited Moroccans’ views regarding the current linguistic landscape of their country, and their predictions for the future. The survey was conducted with two groups, teachers of English in Morocco and members of the Royal Institute of Amazigh Culture or Institut royale de la culture amazighe (IRCAM), a product of the recent and controversial government support for Amazigh identity and issues. Qualitative analysis of the survey open-ended response questions suggests that both of these groups believe the linguistic landscape of Morocco will remain largely the same, but with a stronger presence of English. While the scale of positive change in Amazigh’s revitalization is slower than hoped for, I conclude tentatively that the issue is entering public consciousness on a broad scale, paving the way for larger scale societal change in favor of Amazigh.
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