Culture, Identity and Language Use in Morocco


Author: Monica Malamud (Cañada College, U.S.A.)
Speaker: Monica Malamud
Topic: General Sociolinguistics
COMELA 2021 General Session


Abstract

From a functional perspective, language is human beings’ most important means of communication.  In societies in which more than one language is used, and in which individuals themselves are multilingual, an interesting research question is:  How do individuals and communities decide which language(s) to use for communication?  In Morocco, although language choices have been heavily influenced by its history, nowadays, the situation is far more complex and nuanced.  Currently, Arabic and Berber are official languages, while French, Spanish and English are also spoken by sizable proportions of the population and taught in schools and language institutes.  However, there are varying degrees of proficiency and acceptance of these languages within Moroccan society.  Through sociolinguistic interviews with informants from different socio-economic, geographical, religious and educational backgrounds, my research aims to tease out the reasons that lead them to prefer certain language(s) over others, for themselves, their families and their communities.  My paper also reviews language policy within the educational context, and the different approaches that are used in second and foreign language teaching methodology, depending on the language.  My analysis shows how the intersection of languages and education is yet another reflection of cultural values and attitudes.  Language use of Moroccans today is shaped by a complex web of factors, both internal and external to the country, personal and societal, real and perceived.  Ultimately, language and culture are intricately interconnected, and language choice in Morocco is an important expression of personal identity and group membership.

Keywords: language use, language education, multilingualism, language and culture, identity