In recent years he's been a little silent, being the sort of person (though I only know him online) who gets distracted from blogging by distracting stuff like writing and defending a doctoral dissertation, getting married, moving from England to France, starting a teaching career, writing books, and so on. Anyway, he seems to be back with a vengeance. Lately he's been posting frequently, and in fact his last four posts all should have relevance to those with an interest in the Maghreb. Links to each with a few comments;
Learn Tamezret Berber with Cartoons. Tamezret is a small Tamazight (Berber)-speaking town in southern Tunisia, and a center of the Amazigh revival in that country. There are now several sites devoted to its local dialect, including one using cartoons.
The Language of Academia: Algeria and France. Despite a quarter century of Arabization in the primary and secondary schools, half the courses in Algerian universities are still taught in French.
Review: La question linguistique en Algérie. Review of a book by Chafia Yamina Benmayouf (also quoted in the above post). She apparently is an unapologetic Francophone, disdainful of Arabization, and equating French with "modernity." Lameen disagrees:
As for her vision of the future, I would consider it close to a worst-case scenario. Her tactical and qualified support for Algerian Arabic does not entail actually using it for anything important; while rather hostile to Standard Arabic as a medium for university education, she takes it for granted that French is appropriate in that context, and indeed is the perfect vehicle for anything related to modernity. But, frankly, I do not want a French-language-mediated "transfer of modernity from the north shore to the south shore of the Mediterranean" (p. 118); I want an Algeria with the self-confidence and self-awareness to learn from a variety of examples and choose its own path, not mechanically follow in France's footsteps. Nor do I believe that relegating "modernity" to a foreign language is likely to help Algeria achieve it!
Nonetheless, I'm glad I read the book. It's fascinating – if sad – to discover that there exists an Algerian intellectual prepared to take a position this extreme in favour specifically of French; I don't believe I've ever met one. Could one find a corresponding phenomenon in France, I wonder – some professor eagerly advocating for more English in the bureaucracy and the universities, and condemning supporters of French as narrow-minded nationalists?Didn't they kick the French out 51 years ago? But this is still a controversy in Algeria, were many senor officials still aren't that comfortable in literary Arabic.
Ethnologue Update Comments. There's a new version online of the standard Ethnologue reference on world languages, itself a controversial issue at times; Lameen assesses the improvements (and flaws) of their coverage of North African and Saharan languages. including one Mauritanian language, Imeraguen, which apparently may not even exist.