#Trending: 'French no longer a la mode' say Algerians

#Trending: 'French no longer a la mode' say Algerians
3 min read
28 May, 2016
Algerian social media has said a resounding no to the "language of Moliere" and called for Arabic to be the country's modern language of the future.
Two-thirds of Algerians speak French [Twitter]
Algerians have spoken out against the widespread use of the French language in public life, demanding that people take more pride in the country's official language: Arabic.

Algerians have taken to social media this week in an attempt to promote the use of Arabic and discourage speaking the "language of the colonisers".

French has been widely spoken and studied in schools and universities in Algeria since the French colonisation of the country in 1827, which lasted over 100 years.

Since Algerian independence there have been intermittent calls to do away with French in favour of Arabic, however, the language continues to dominate the education and business sectors.

Two-thirds of Algerians speak French, which also serves as the common language between the country's Arab and Berber communities, who make up a fourth of the population.

It was only last year that the Berber language became the co-official language of Algeria.

Algerian linguist Lameen Souag told The New Arab that many Algerians look at French as a "humiliating relic of colonialism" and "a symbol of elite disconnection".

"Others see it as the key to success and the language of science and modernity. Most people combine a bit of all these attitudes, often rather schizophrenically. To complicate matters further the many of the Tamazight-speaking minority look at Arabic with resentment," Souag said.

"Arabic is used in education through high school, and in university within humanities and law; French in university for science subjects, including medicine. Language use there mainly reflects state policy, which in turn reflects a complicated mix of political pressures,"

"Private education often makes French a selling point, promising to give children better French than the public sector does. You see a lot of private kindergartens offering French these days,"

He added that large business mostly operate in French and that is no obvious prospects of a shift towards Arabic in this context.

The Arabic-language hashtag #FrenchIsNotASymbolofModernity has recently gained traction on Twitter shortly after it was introduced.

Translation: "We are only moving backwards, giving priority to the language of the country that colonised us and killed our ancestors, tarnishing everything that is Algerian."

Translation: "Abandoning your language and the language of your religion to speak another one because you think it is civilised is such stupidity and ignorance."

Translation: "If all of us took into consideration what happened to us during the colonisation we would stop speaking a word of French."

Translation: "We are Arabs and our language is Arabic, the French language is for the French."

Other users called for English to replace French as the language of education and communication with the outside world.