Moroccans are grappling with an important discourse, that of the Kingdom’s linguistic identity, and the importance of a necessary collective decision that will outline the way citizens communicate, study, work, and consume content.
At a time when greater recognition of Tamazight is being successfully defended in Morocco, and as the government debates the importance of English and somewhat digression of French’s popularity, the status of Darija, Morocco’s national dialect, is divisive.
Moroccan Arabic dialect, is used by the overwhelming majority of Moroccans, but has no official status in the country, nor is it institutionally recognized or used.
Recently, advertiser and associative actor Darija Noureddine Ayouch recently defended “the need to standardize the teaching of Darija in schools.”
The statement brought back an ongoing linguistic debate over languages in Morocco, as more foreign tongues compete for institutional and academic use.
Ayouch stated that “This linguistic obstruction is caused by a radical Arabic-speaking current that fights against the recognition of the Darija, “defending Moroccan Arabic.
Excluding the government’s brief use of Darija in COVID-19 awareness campaigns, institutions mostly communicate with citizens in Classic Arabic of French, which deepens the linguistic gap and distances citizens from institutions and services.
“In Morocco, the spoken mother tongue is not the national language, which hinders development. All the currently taught languages were once spoken languages and dialects,” said a Moroccan Twitter user reacting to the discourse.
Supporters of the official adoption of Darija claim that Morocco’s linguistic divide is causing a variety of cultural barriers.
“Darija as a national language is a very good idea; a structured and codified Darija would be ideal,” said another tweet .
The same applies for Youness Guarmouti, a young Moroccan author who recently released a Darija handbook, in an attempt to contribute to the “legitimization” of Morocco’s very peculiar dialect.
Darija guidebooks facilitate the learning process of Darija
“Speak as they speak: Darija, Moroccan Arabic” is a Moroccan handbook that offers an overview of Moroccan Darija and the culture of the nation.
At a time when Moroccans are grappling with a cultural language dilemma, initiatives that promote the adoption of Darija serve as a reminder of the necessity for local language communication tools.
“The institutional language barrier that Moroccans encounter in their daily encounters is reduced by the adoption of Darija,” Guarmouti Youness told MoroccoLatestNews in an interview.
Guarmouti stated, “I think Moroccan Arabic, or Darija, has enough elements to be regarded as a distinct language and taught to people.”
The book provides readers with a wealth of useful advice for navigating Morocco with ease. Youness Guarmouti authored the book to aid in the study of the Darija language and to promote Moroccan culture.
The 84-page book provides a summary of Moroccan Arabic and culture through basic knowledge, cultural insights, practical expressions, linguistic patterns, tourist destinations, Moroccan history, craft and architecture and art.
“Our guidebook features basic vocabulary and grammar structures, must-see locations, and cultural insights to help you decode the silent language of Moroccan culture,” according to the book’s authors.
The aspects above assist the reader in gaining a broad overview of the vast Moroccan culture through some of the fundamental components of Moroccan legacy.
Darija grammar, not so hard to learn
The book also provides readers from all backgrounds with an introduction to Darija’s fundamental grammar. They learn how to utilize words and how to pronounce the letters. A collection of typical dialogues is also included in the book to help explain how the language is used.
The guidebook’s author told MoroccoLatestNews, “We are currently working on videos and reels that teach Darija pronunciation to foreigners of the language as an extension of the book”.
Additionally, Guarmouti and his colleagues are producing a podcast in which they discuss Moroccan culture in general.
“The guidebook garnered favorable reviews and was mostly purchased by foreigners and international organizations for use as a mediating tool,” according to Guarmouti.
However, a tweet argued that “adopting Darija next to Arabic, French, Amazigh, and English will only add to the mess. Darija in Morocco differs according to the region.”
Some believe that the complexity of Darija and the diversity between the Darija dialects spoken in different parts of Morocco prevent Darija from being officially recognized as a national language.
Darija and Amazigh are the primary spoken languages in Morocco; how does Arabic fit in?
Darija is the most widely used language in Morocco, for those who favor making it an official language, this is enough of a motive to widen the adoption of Darija as an official language of the country.
“Why not ? Above all, we should not oppose Darija and classical Arabic. I even think that the Darija is a springboard to classical Arabic, it can help you learn faster,” said a tweet.
Others, however, view the maintenance of Arabic as preserving Morocco’s religious heritage and identity, which they view as vital.
The Arabic language has a significant religious significance in the cultural identity of Morocco. Islam was incorporated into the Moroccan constitution as a religious foundation for elements of Moroccan culture and identity.
Arabic is in line with the religious-linguistic identity that the Moroccan constitution adopted.
The use of Darija strengthens tourism and enhances human connections between natives and foreigners
The necessity for the guidebook was sparked by “travelers’ desire for a suitable language to converse with shopkeepers and locals given that traditional Arabic was ineffective for fostering genuine intercultural contact.”
The usage and teaching of Darija to tourists will promote genuine tourism and provide visitors a chance to engage more deeply with Moroccan culture, according to the author of the guidebook.
“We support cultural immersion tourism that encourages interaction with locals for a more genuine experience,” says the book.
Furthermore, “a greater bond is formed between tourists and the natives when they demonstrate a desire to understand and speak Darija.
It is undoubtedly difficult to resolve the linguistic intricacy of the Moroccan cultural identity. Individuals argue that the languages they speak should be officially recognized for a variety of reasons.