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About Me:Hi I’m Nadege and I study French at the University of Leeds, and I have just completed my third year abroad in Montpellier studying literature and enjoying the sunshine! I love art; painting and being creative, as well as photography and baking. Travelling is my favourite hobby at the moment; experiencing the French language and culture. I hope you enjoy reading some of my articles!
The previous article discussed the language variety Tamazight, and how it is a clear example of how the indigenous languages are being ignored, while Arabic is imposed on the nation with a higher status as the national language. This suggests that in Algeria, the national language will not unify the country as it disregards other language vernaculars. However, it has to be noted that Tamazight has no established written form, and would therefore not be able to be used in institutions. Consequently, it would need to be developed if it were to become of higher status or have an official recognition as a language.
The ‘Arabisation’ policy has enabled the country to develop to a certain extent, with all public and administrative institutions using Arabic as the official language since 5 July 1998. However, since colonisation, the fact that the French colonisers were representing their language as a link to modernity is a “perception” which derives from colonisation. France, the dominant power, influenced a negative image onto the Arab and Berber people, whilst portraying themselves in a positive light. Consequently, French was perceived as the ‘best’ language for the expression of modern ideas. This also stems from racial perceptions, which present white Europeans more culturally superior than Arab or Berber people. As a result, the fact that Algeria has moved away from the French language, and the process of ‘Arabisation’ has taken place, does not mean that the country is moving away from modernity. ‘Arabisation’ has in fact enabled the country to develop as previously mentioned, therefore the French language is not necessary for development, it was simply an idea imposed on the country by the French colonisers who aimed to spread their culture and language.
The situation in Algeria is improving as Arabic has proved to be of some importance to the country’s development. Yet, as Tamazight is discouraged and regarded to be of little use politically, it means that an idea has also been imposed on the language of Arabic, and it is seen as the language of social promotion. Other language varieties are therefore looked upon as the language of the uneducated. The status of languages is of great significance, as one language is favored over others, meaning that the Berber heritage language speakers have to undergo a process of self-positioning within a multicultural community. For those of you who are unsure what the term ‘Berber’ signifies, it is the ethnicity of the people. Consequently, Berber people who live in North Africa, mainly in Morocco and Algeria, speak different dialects of Berber. Tamazight is the variety of closely-related Berber languages spoken in these countries and other parts of northern Africa such as Libya.
Consequently, language produces a symbolic power because it legitimises the use of the majority language and devalues the minority ones. It is evident that in Algeria, the country struggles to define itself in opposition to the colonial power as the French language is still used by the elite, particularly in literature, and the ‘Arabisaiton’ policy, though developing the country, does not provide strong national unity.