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Language Conflict in Algeria From Colonialism to Post-Independence Author: Mohamed Benrabah

Hardback - 216 pages
16 May 2013
Multilingual Matters
210 x 148


This is a book about the use of languages as a proxy for conflict. It traces the history of Algeria from colonization by the French in 1830 to the celebration of 50 years of independence in 2012, and examines the linguistic issues that have accompanied this turbulent period. The book begins with an examination of 'language conflict' and related concepts, and then applies them to both the French colonists' language policies and the Arabization campaigns which followed independence. This is followed by an analysis of the rivalry between the English and French languages in independent Algeria. The book concludes with a study of the language choices made by Algerian writers and the complex tensions which arose from these choices among intellectuals in the colonial and post-colonial periods.


By thoroughly analyzing the Frenchification, followed by the de-Frenchification and finally the Arabization of Algeria's educational system, which occurred during an important transition period, Benrabah has advanced our understanding of how language, identity, education, politics, and religion are intertwined in North Africa. Benrabah's use of a blend of sociolinguistics, anthropology, politics, and history is a model for future studies that may investigate other North African regions or sub-Saharan countries.

- French Review, 87.3, 2014
- Ali Alalou, University of Delaware, USA

The author provides a compelling documented analysis of language conflict in Algeria, tracing the situation from French colonisation in 1830. Language and cultural identities in Algeria are marked by the use of standard Arabic, Algerian Arabic, Berber and French, which makes for complex language policy...Benrabah’s book provides a convenient overview of the language situation in Algeria and illustrates the rich potential for further investigation.

- Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 2013
- Abderrahman Zouhir, Wayne State University, USA

Mohamad Benrabah commands an impressive knowledge of the Algerian linguistic and literary scene, and writes in an engaging way while il1ustrating his points with crisp and lively details. In this brilliant book, which sociolinguists and historians will equally appreciate, he offers a panoramic intellectual and political history of modern Algeria.

- Journal of French Language Studies, July 2014, Volume 24, Number 2
- Heather J. Sharkey, University of Pennsylvania, USA

Benrabah has a deep personal involvement with this research. It is both accessible and exciting thanks to new sources and contemporary literary analysis for the more informed reader. His plea for unencumbered linguistic eclecticism and embracing language diversity in Algeria as a way of promoting peaceful social dialogue is compelling and his contribution to such an evolutionary stance is significant at the current juncture in Algerian history.

- The Journal of North African Studies, Vol. 19, No. 5, 857–873
- Sami Everett, SOAS, University of London, UK

Author Biography:

Mohamed Benrabah is Professor of English Linguistics and Sociolinguistics at Université Grenoble 3, France. The author's research interests include applied phonetics/phonology, sociolinguistics, and language management with a particular interest in the Anglophone, Arabophone and Francophone worlds. He has published two books (Langue et Pouvoir en Algérie. Histoire d’un Traumatisme Linguistique, Séguier, 1999; Devenir Langue Dominante Mondiale. Un Défi pour l'Arabe, Librairie Droz, 2009), a monograph, and more than fifty articles in journals and chapters in books.

Readership Level:

Postgraduate, Research / Professional

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