Where the Ocean Meets the Desert Spring 2017
Time: 10:50- 11:20
Language in Casablanca: A Study of Social Closeness and Solidarity
“I mean different social classes speak different languages.” - Fatima
«Si tu parles à quelqu’un tu peux dire que celui là vient d’un certain niveau social.» - Saida
[“If you speak with someone you can tell that they come from a certain social level.”]1
These two quotes, pulled from two interviews, highlight the sometimes overt nature of language and socio-economic class affiliations within Morocco. Since socio-economic differences can result in differences of speech in a monolingual setting, how does this manifest itself in a multilingual setting? Using the framework of Carlos Decena’s sujeto tácito (tacit subject), this study aims to provide a tentative answer through the examination of the speech of two Casablancan women in order to reveal how socio-economic status interacts with language attitudes and practices in Morocco. Living in a multilingual country, Moroccans negotiate choices of language use and code-switching on a daily basis. The most commonly spoken languages are Moroccan Arabic, Standard Arabic (MSA), French, Tamazight (Berber) and Spanish. Therefore average Moroccan has at least partial access to two or three of these varieties. The choice of which language to use at a given time involves social and practical considerations that shape the interviewee’s relationships with their fellow city residents.
Aaron Graybill has a BA in Anthropology from American University in Washington, DC and is currently a graduate student in the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Arizona. His research interests include language planning and policy, Arabic dialectology, diglossia, Amazigh languages, critical discourse analysis, and Maghreb studies.