A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Algerian Arabic and French

Synchronicity: Just the other day I was discussing Arabic dialects and the issue of diglossia, and in the comments to that post The Moor Next Door commented at some length on the situation in Algeria today. Algeria is a country that interests me greatly, but which I've never visited, so I was glad to have his input. Now, apparently totally unrelated to that conversation, here's a blog post by an Algerian linguist studying at SOAS (the School of Oriental and African Studies) in London, which deals with exactly the question of the roles of Arabic and French in Algeria today. (This is also a linguistics blog — the title, Jabal al-Lughat, means "The Mountain of Languages") that periodically deals with Berber/Tamazight languages as well as Arabic and some African language families. It's usually too specialized for me to link to, but this seemed right in line with something we'd been discussing.)

But by all means read his comments section too, which adds interesting perspective. And reflect for a moment that these Algerians (I take it most of them are Algerians, though some Moroccans chime in as well) are discussing French vs. Standard Arabic vs. colloquial Arabic and all of them are doing it in what appears to be excellent grammatical English.

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