Algeria , french and other languages

History, education, past & future

Education in Algeria might have been (and still) a struggle , perfectly depicted in this blog post by my friend Zoubir AMEUR.

In this equation languages play a major role : As an algerian you grow up in a house speaking “Daridja” which is the algerian arabic dialect, a thousand and one scents of orient, occident and mother africa, then arabic enters the bal when school’s music start playing and unitll now everything is fine,official books are already in arabic and you barely -and almost never- use external materials ( i was born before the intenet though). You study french, then english , just enough to get good grade and that’s it.

Then you get your baccalaureate and go to university, yeaaah the ivy league that would open the doors for a bright future… but this bright future is not taught in arabic anymore! What the hell! why does everything is in french?

One simple reason, it’s the language our teachers masters the best.
What about english then? Well if you are not an average student that use only internal materials, you’ll have to do some translation my son…
This language schyzophrenia reflects another deeper discomfort in the Algerian society, where everyone got a point of view, with nothing less then five teams:

  • The arabic supporters.
  • The french supporters.
  • The english supporters.
  • The berber language supporters.
  • And the ones that don’t really care (me among them).

And these teams have all legitimate reasons to support their “champion” language and burn the others, let’s have a look at that:

Arabic:

Pros:

It’s our religion’s language, so it’s our duty to learn it.
It’ our national official language so it’s our duty to enhance it.

Cons:

No major scientific studies are written in arabic, and a thin portion that are translated into it so we can’t rely on it in our development process.

French:

Pros:

It’s our wars bounty, we struggeled to have it so it’s our duty to master it in order to wave it like a trophy in our ex invaders face.
It’s a language that we already master with more publication than arabic so it’s easier to use than english for us.

Cons:

It’s the invaders language and it’s a shame to use it.
It’ a language that is more and more outdated since even the french top universities publish in english.

English:

Pros:

It’s the major language, mastering english is an opened door on the world.
It will allow us to fully understand the last scientific studies and publications from all around the world.

Cons:

It is not wide spread among the intellectual class of the country.
It will take years and cost millions to switch everything and educate people to adopt english.

Berber:

Pros:

It’s the country’ mother language .
It’s our past and our cultural exception, so it’s our duty to revive it and assure the transmission among generations.

Cons:

Nobody really use the “tifinagh” which is the berber language with alphabet and rules, but people use dialect that are as divers as the diversity and the immense territory of the country.
We can’t build a country on dialects in this era.

Well all these arguments are in a certain way accurate and even legitimate but it doesn’t mean that they are opposite.

Let’s see it that way:

English won the game of languages thrones, and we can be sure to have it in this position for a while. Thus doing nothing to take a leading position -or allow our children to do so- is a crime.

French is language mastered by our elder’s elits so we need it to ensure full knowledge and knowhow transmision among the generation.
It’s also a way to communicate efficiently with all our non-arabic speaking neighbours.

Arabic is our language and we may love it or hate it but it’s a truth that transcend politics and rules, for one simple fact it is the language we adopted through ages as our own and the best proof is that our dialect Daridja is composed of 75 to 85% by arabic words and even the modern berber dialect contains tons of arabic daridja words.

Ok but is it a reason to promote it?

Yes!

With two simple principles, translation and simplification, it would bring up to date knowledge to the masses, and by masses i means us.

Now for Berber let’s be realistic we won’t make it a major language no matter the billions we could spend in promotion, but still, this promotion is far from being useless and don’t require billions.

It’s something unique about us and about this land we live on that should be cherished and promoted, maybe not as we do for language but more for ancestral arts.

Not use it -and that’s only my intimate vision- for the usefull but for the beautifull.

Avoiding the regional dialects and going back to the roots of the language is maybe the way to gather the majority around it.

Ok, you may see me as a manichean blogger that want to solve the unsolvable and satisfy parts with oposite interests, but my view is that interest shouldn’t be opposite.
No matter what your “champion” language is, don’t build its promotion among other languages failure.

Stop the bullshit and the critics (especially the endless social networks debate like “mine is bigger than yours”!) and use this precious time to promote your champion, read, write, inform, tranlate, share and promote.

And don’t forget that diversity is a treasure, especially if it serves a common goal, Algeria.

Raouf REMIDAN

www.remidan.com

Note: this article was originally published on my personal blog.

To request the french / arab translation please do it in comment !

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