Diglossia and the normalization of the vernacular

Focus on Tunisia

Authored by: Lotfi Sayahi

The Routledge Handbook of Arabic Sociolinguistics

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138853966
eBook ISBN: 9781315722450
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter discusses the sociolinguistic situation in Tunisia with a special focus on the implications of the 2011 Revolution for the normalization of the use of Tunisian Arabic in official domains. It examines major structural features that are divergent from Standard Arabic but which are retained in scripted and unscripted discourse produced by government officials. The features analyzed include verb morphology, future expression, negation and the expression of possession. At the lexical level, the chapter argues that, in official domains, there is a realignment of the lexicon of Tunisian Arabic with that of Standard Arabic whereby speakers avoid insertions from French.

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