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Sociolinguistics Symposium 19: Language and the City

Sociolinguistics Symposium 19

Freie Universität Berlin | August 21-24, 2012

Programme: accepted abstracts

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Abstract ID: 486

Part of Session 120: Sociolinguists on Facebook on the Indigenous Languages in the City (Other abstracts in this session)

Tamahaq: A Vulnerable Algerian Language in the City

Authors: Romy, Daphné Laure (1); Abid-Houcine, Samira (2)
Submitted by: Romy, Daphné Laure (Département de l'Instruction Publique, Switzerland)

Tamahaq, a variant of Berber, is the ancestral language of the Tuareg who live in the south west of Algeria. For years, the geographical isolation of this speech community provided a propitious context to preserve the native language.

However, urbanization and modernization have brought the Tuareg adopt the dominant language to the detriment of Tamahaq to meet the needs of daily communication. Indeed, because of unfavourable environmental and economic conditions the Tuareg leave their native villages to join bigger urbanized cities in search of jobs.

Language contact makes native speakers neglect their language and disrupts the intergenerational transmission. Despite the UNESCO programme that aimed at reviving Tamahaq and its script (Tifinagh), this language remains vulnerable and its use is progressively but irremediably declining.

The first part of the present paper will be devoted to the presentation of the various berber languages in Algeria and will focus more specifically on the Tamahaq language and to the shift in its use. An assessment of the vitality of Tamahaq will then confirm the urgent need to promote this language. Finally, potential ways to fortify and maintain the Tuareg’s language will be presented, examined and discussed in the light of other “indigenous” languages both in Algeria, North Africa or in other part of the world such as Peru or Indonesia. It will be an opportunity to revisit the issue of language education and preservation within the much debated context of indigenous languages.

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