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the national language of Morocco

the national language of Morocco

arabic language

Morocco is a land of Berbers, partially Arabized 13 centuries ago, which has also received human and cultural contributions from Spain and France ... The Moroccan linguistic landscape is a witness of these brewings:

Arabic, official language and mother tongue of nearly two-thirds of the population. It is also the language of the dominant religion, Islam. However, it is necessary to distinguish the official Arabic, that of the administration and the dialectal Arabic (the true mother tongue: the darija) that all Moroccans speak, even if more than a third of them first learned the Berber. Darija has only been used on television recently.

Article 5 of the constitution: "Arabic remains the official language of the state. The State works to protect and develop the Arabic language and to promote its use. Similarly, Amazigh is an official language of the state, as a heritage common to all Moroccans without exception ". It ranks languages: Arabic remains THE official language, Amazigh constitutes ONE official language.

Marginally, there are two other variants of Arabic: Judeo-Moroccan (a few thousand speakers in Morocco, more than 200,000 in Israel, a few tens of thousands in France) and hassania (Hassaniyya), spoken by a few dozen thousands of people in the far south (Tan Tan region) as well as in Western Sahara (this dialect is mostly spoken in Mauritania).

Amazigh (Berber language) is spoken by about 40% of the population, but has little official existence, although it is mentioned since 2011 by the constitution. Like Arabic, it is divided into several dialects, including:

- the rifain, or zenatiya, or tarifit, spoken in the Rif.

- the tamazight (or braber) spoken in the Middle Atlas, part of the High Atlas and several valleys. It has an alphabet (tifinagh) also used by the Tuaregs.

- Tachelhit practiced by the Chleuhs of the High Atlas, the Sub and the coast of southern Morocco.

In a more marginal way, these three Berber dialects are spoken in Algeria and France. There are few newspapers published in the Berber language, some books. Many who speak it do not read it (his school education is very recent and very limited in Morocco). The subject of the status of this language has long been taboo. During the 1990s, several teachers were imprisoned for seeking the adoption of Berber as an official language alongside Arabic.

The Berber question

"In 1982, a dozen academics and Berber executives were jailed for a month. In a review they had just created, they had asserted that Berber was a language, as well as Arabic. The author of this intolerable assertion spent a year behind bars, after refusing to ask thanks to Hassan II. The event does not make too much waves; we are still in the "years of lead", and the movement is, moreover, very crumbled. An embryo of unification began in 1991, when six associations came together to draft a platform called "Amazigh Charter"? But that does not go much further. Three years later, the associations multiplied and gained influence. The attempt to unite is reissued by the creation of the Coordinating Council of Amazigh Associations in Morocco. (...) Hassan II still releases the ballast by releasing the prisoners, promising that the Berber will soon be taught in the schools (promise remained to this day dead letter) and by authorizing the famous TV flashes "in dialects".

After the death of Hassan II, the Berber question revives, and the Berber militants of the insurance. On March 1, 2000, a big step was taken: a "Berber manifesto", fruit of two years of intense debates, is signed by 229 people, among the fine, flower of Moroccan Berber speaking intellectuals. Extract from an article by Ahmed R. Benchemsi, Morocco correspondent for Jeune Afrique / L'Intelligent, May 2001.

In July 2001, King Mohamed VI announced the creation of a National Institute for Berber Studies whose mission is to prepare the integration of Amazigh into Moroccan public education. The creation of such a body had already been passed by Parliament in ... 1978, without ever seeing the light of day. Under the pressure of revolt in Kabylie Algerian, the project seems this time better engaged. Berberism is becoming one of the contentious channels in Morocco where a manifesto has recently garnered more than a million signatures.

Since the advent of Mohammed VI, Tamazight (Berber) has become a full-fledged language, introduced in public programs and television programs.

Other languages

French is spoken, to varying degrees, by a large part of the population, mainly in cities and in educated communities (66% of the population literate for more than 10 years, according to a 2015 survey). Most of the Moroccan press is published in French, as well as a third of the books published in Morocco.

Spanish is still a bit spoken in what was Spanish Morocco (the North) but rather by older people.

English has become a foreign language. In Morocco, it does not threaten French, which is not really a foreign language, except in Islamist circles who have made it their language of international communication (the phenomenon is even clearer in Algeria). 18% of the population affirms speaking.


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moroccan culture             moroccan-traditions

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