Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Arabic of the Media and the Moroccan Exception

At first glance, Moroccan TV watchers are no exception. According to local audience surveys, they love, like any other Arabs, to watch the Turkish serials dubbed into Arabic, partly, suggests movie critic Ahmed Sijilmassi, because they are perfectly suited for the cultural habits of the Moroccan housewifes.

After the previous waves of Mexican and South-American TV soap operas, the last one, with the Turkish productions, raised an unexpected linguistic issue. Before, the case was different when "local" productions, coming from Lebanon, Egypt, then Syria, used their own colloquial which was broadly understood, and accepted as a part of the whole set of shared cultural references.

There are changes in Morocco, a country where a whole range of newspapers, radio stations and even TV channels have shifted, in a unchallenged way by the rest of the Arabic speaking countries, to the local darija. For instance, 2M, the second national TV channel, has recently started the broadcasting of a new Mexican TV sopa opera, dubbed into "Moroccan" language.

It is believed that there is no political agenda behind such a decision, but only the quest for a bigger audience. Nonetheless, voices have already raised to condemn an assault on the Arabic and/or the Islamic country’s heritage.

It is a matter of fact that the Arab world, as a geopolitical concept, appeared a bit more than a century ago and that its political existence is more than ever in jeopardy. Have the peripheral states, confronted the weakness of its center, started to look for solutions elsewhere? At the Eastern end of the Arab world, the TV channels broadcast Hindi TV soap operas in country where Arabic, like in the Emirates, is already the third language after English and Urdu, and at the western one, they are more and more TV programs using colloquial Arabic…

Is the trend toward vernacular language a real threat for the Arabic language, an essential component of the political unity? For some linguists (see this post, sorry, no translation!), the extensive use of colloquial Arabic in the media remains, in the long range, the best tool for the promotion of the modern "Arabic of the media".

As usual, here is the link to the more developed post in French.

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