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March 23, 2018 | 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Category: Lecture
Location: 5057 Woodward #10302 | Map
5057 Woodward
Detroit, MI 48202
Cost: Free

A Linguistics Program colloquium presentation by Dris Soulaimani, University of Michigan

Abstract. In recent years, multiple groups in Morocco with opposing views and complex affiliations have engaged in heated debates about Arabic or Latin as viable scripts to codify Amazigh/Berber. The Arabic choice was based on historical and religious factors, including the importance of Arabic in Islam, while the Latin option was connected to the status of French as a language that indexes power, modernity and social prestige. A government committee, however, selected a third script, Tifinagh. Based on extensive fieldwork, this study examines the political motivations and social implications for the Tifinagh choice, and offers a cross-disciplinary analysis of the sociolinguistic situation in Morocco. Different criteria affect the selection of a particular script, and these include usefulness and practicality, often defined in terms of accessibility to the population and the spread of literacy. These criteria, however, become secondary when compared to political and ideological considerations. The results of this study are significant for interpreting language ideologies and script practices, and for understanding linguistic hierarchies in Morocco and beyond, where writing systems interact and compete.

Dris Soulaimani is Coordinator of the Arabic program and lecturer at the University of Michigan. He received his MA in Linguistics from Wayne State University and his PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Dris’s research interests center on the field of sociolinguistics, including theories of language ideologies and discourse analysis. His most recent publications include, “Becoming Amazigh: Standardization, purity, and the question of identity” (2016, The Journal of North African Studies) and “Embodiment in Moroccan Arabic storytelling: Language, stance and discourse analysis" (2017, Text & Talk). 


For more information about this event, please contact Haiyong Liu at 313-577-9937 or