Orthographies and Language Ideologies: Selecting a Script for Berber in Morocco
Author: Dris Soulaimani Date: 2012 Institution: University of California, Los Angeles 221 Subject:Linguistics
Abstract: This dissertation explores how orthographies are decided based on social, cultural, and ideological factors rather than linguistic and scientific grounds, and it shows that the development of an orthography is not a neutral activity. This dissertation also addresses the views of both Berber activists and non-activist students and professors concerning Berber language issues in Morocco such as the language standardization and the Berber script selection. In 2003, a Moroccan government committee was appointed to make a choice between the Latin script, the Arabic script, or Tifinagh to codify Berber. Tifinagh was officially selected, but the debate over its choice is still ongoing, involving different groups with opposing views and complex affiliations. Researchers in language ideology suggest that orthography is a sign that represents identity and a particular ideology, and that it can serve as a tool for showing differentiation, or affiliation to a certain group, community or nation. In most societies, the manifestation of more than one ideology is considered the norm, and competing ideologies are presented as logical justifications. Informed by theories of language ideologies and discourse analysis, this study examines the ideological motivations for the Berber script selection in Morocco, and it investigates the social implications of the language codification. The data that informs this study is based on fieldwork in Morocco, which includes observation, language questionnaires, individual interviews, group interviews, and videotaped natural conversations. This research shows that the script debate is far from settled, and that the script issue is deeply connected to questions of identity and linguistic differentiation. The data also reveals a great opinion divide between the activists and the non-activists concerning the Amazigh language issues in Morocco. The outcome of this study is relevant not only to Morocco, but also to other groups, communities and nations facing similar decisions and competing choices.