Algeria in Others' Languages
Cornell University Press, 2002 - 246 pages
For decades the superimposition of languages in Algeria has had growing cultural and political consequences. The relations between identity and language, already complicated before independence, became all the more entangled after 1962 when the new state imposed standard Arabic as the sole national language. The vernacular brand of Arabic spoken by the majority of the population--as well as Berber, spoken by an important minority--were denied legitimacy. Moreover, French, the colonial language, continued to be important all the while that its position changed. The violence that ensued in the late 1980s cannot be fully understood without considering the politics of language. This timely book is devoted to Algeria's linguistic predicament and the underlying disagreements over notions of identity, power, and belonging.What problems arise when a new national language is adopted by a postcolonial state? How does the status of the former colonial language change? What becomes of the original "mother tongue(s)" of the populace? The authors of Algeria in Others' Languages address these questions as they explore the historical, cultural, and philosophical significance of language in Algeria, and its relation to issues of politics and gender. Their topics range from analyses of political violence to the status of the principal of evidence in the legal system to the place of "Francophonie" in the 1990s.The authors represent the fields of literature, history, sociology, sociolinguistics, and postcolonial and gender studies; some are also historical players in Algeria's linguistic debates.