Arabic or Latin: Language Contact and Script Practices

  • Dris Soulaimani San Diego State University
Keywords: Writing systems, Language contact, Language ideologies, French, Arabic, Amazigh/Berber


This study discusses the social aspects of script reforms and the hierarchies attached to languages and scripts in contact. In Morocco, Arabic, French, and Berber/Amazigh compete for similar social domains. In recent years, intense debates took place surrounding the official adoption of Tifinagh to codify Amazigh; however less focus has been placed on the unofficial selection of the French-based Latin characters to write both Arabic and Amazigh. This study argues that, besides practicality, preference of the Latin script in Morocco is ideologically connected to the status of French as a language that indexes power, modernity and social prestige.

Author Biography

Dris Soulaimani, San Diego State University

Dris Soulaimani is Assistant Professor of Arabic and Linguistics at San Diego State University. He received his Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from UCLA. His research interests include discourse analysis, language ideologies, and sociolinguistic issues of identity. His recent publications include “Becoming Amazigh: Standardization, purity and questions of identity” (2016, The Journal of North African Studies) and “Embodiment in Moroccan Arabic storytelling: Language, stance and discourse analysis” (2017, Text & Talk). He is book review editor of Al-‘Arabiyya Journal ( alarabiyya).

How to Cite
Soulaimani, D. “Arabic or Latin: Language Contact and Script Practices”. Middle East - Topics & Arguments, Vol. 13, Dec. 2019, pp. 13-20, doi:10.17192/meta.2019.13.8080.