Language, Ethnicity and Identity

Abdelaziz Kesbi

Résumé


This article addresses the sensitive issue of the relationship between language, ethnicity and identity in
the Moroccan context. The fact that Morocco is a multilingual country imposes a reconsideration of
the way to deal with this multilingualism in relation to ethnic and national identity. The point in
question is how should language planners deal with this linguistic and ethnic diversity?
From
exploratory historical and sociolinguistic perspectives, we discuss the way the French coloniser dealt
with this issue. The strong resistance of Moroccans to the coloniser led the French to concoct a way to
divide them so that they can rule them properly and easily. Hence, in 1930 the “Amazigh decree” was
imposed by the coloniser who feared the continuous spread of Arabic and Islam, which constituted
unifying factors of the Moroccan society. Consequently, “Amazigh-French schools” were established
where Amazigh teachers would teach Amazigh students French with no intermediary language.
Moreover, the Amazigh “common law” was consolidated to counter-attack the Islamic one. All in all,
the coexistence of many languages and varieties in the Moroccan linguistic map raises identity issues
that need to be reckoned with in any future Moroccan language planning policy. Therefore, we
consider it a nationalist way of dealing with the problem through the full acknowledgement of the
Amazigh and Arab cultures and identities to foster a way to benefit from the richness of both cultures
to achieve a national unity within this cultural and ethnic diversity.

Mots-clés


Language, Ethnicity, Identity, Arabization

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