Postcolonial Bilingualism in Tunisia

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 16:00
Oral Presentation
Mahmoud DHAOUADI, University of Tunis, Tunisia
  1. Tunisians hardly have normal relationship with Arabic, their native/national language. Normal means here the use only of Arabic in speaking and writting. Plain and participant observations show that Tunisians use mainly two languages: Arabic and French, the colonial language. This creates two types of bilingualism: A- a bilingualsm which accepts the use of French instead of Arabic among Tunisians. This is the most widespread linguistic Tunisian behavior today. One example makes the point: more than 90% of Tunisians write their bank cheques in French. B- a bilingualism that uses Arabic and avoids French among Tunisians. This is practiced only by a very tiny minority. Bilingualisms A and B are associated with two forms of the so-called " Arabization": 1- the wide social use of Arabic in the various sectors of the Tunisian society. 2- "Psychological Arabization": having close relationship with Arabic. Research has not found a positive relation between type A of bilingualism and forms 1+2 of " Arabization". In contrast, bilingualism B is strongly in favor of the promotion of the two forms of "Arabization".Analysis of the Tunisian linguistic behaviors show that bilingualism A's continuing heavy presence is the outcome of three major factors: 1- the spread use of French during the French colonization (1881-1956). 2- Many Tunisians went or go to schools where French had/has dominant use in high schools and university levels.3- After independence, most graduates of these educational institutions have had the upper hand on governing the country.Theoretically, Bourdieu's concept of Reproduction fits well to explain the Tunisian postcolonial bilingualism which may be called : Conspiring Bilngualism, because it often prefers the use of French instead of Arabic: the Tunisian national language. As such, Tunisian bilingualism illustrates the unbalance of power between the colonizer and the colonizer, as Memmi would put it.