Berber (Tamazight) in Spain
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http://www.uoc.es/euromosaic/web/document/berber/an/i1/i1.html
Institut de Sociolingüística Catalana
Version française
Berber (Tamazight) in Spain
  1. Introduction
  2. The language in the country
    1. General information on the language community
    2. Geographical and language background
    3. General history and history of the language
    4. Legal status and official policies
  3. The use of the language in various fields
    1. Education
    2. Judicial Authorities
    3. Public Authorities and services
    4. Mass media and Information technology
    5. The Arts
    6. The business world
    7. Family and social use of the language
    8. Transnational exchanges
  4. Conclusion


1. Introduction

There is no dat for this topic.

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2. The language in the country

2.1. General information on the language community

There is no dat for this topic.

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2.2. Geographical and language background

The Berber language known as Tamazight is spoken in northern Africa (Morocco and Algeria). The two towns under Spanish sovereignty in that region, Ceuta and Melilla, belong to the European Union.

Statistics from 1985 put the population of Melilla at 84,041. Ceuta only has a minority of Berber speakers, most of its inhabitants being Arabic speakers, although the fact that new residents arriving from Morocco mainly speak Tamazight is strengthening the position of that language. There are, however, no statistics on linguistic demography, although the use of Tamazight does seem to diminish in the second and third generations.

Commerce dominates the economic life of the town of Melilla and is at the root of a flow of contraband goods into Morocco. The economy influences the linguistic situation in so far as a command of Spanish and/or Arabic is absolutely essential for commercial activities.

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2.3. General history and history of the language

Tamazight was first spoken in North Africa about 10,000 years ago and seems to be the original language of the present-day Berbers (Imagzighen).

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2.4. Legal status and official policies

Tamazight has no legal status locally or nationally. Spanish is the only official and administrative language.

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3. The use of the language in various fields

3.1. Education

There have been no attempts to teach or use Tamazight within the official education system. A pilot scheme to teach adult Tamazight speakers to read and write in Spanish was recently established.

The Spanish Government does not appear to have taken any measures at all to teach the culture and history of the Berbers.

We have no information on teacher training, and the Spanish Government has not created any inspectorate or controlling body in relation to the teaching of Tamazight.

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3.2. Judicial authorities

Tamazight has no legal status in the municipal courts. We have no data relating to the use of Tamazight in court.

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3.3. Public authorities and services

We know of no measure taken by central government or by the municipal authorities in respect of the public services under their authority and of the other people who act on their behalf within the territory. There are no data relating to the language used by the various services or to the possibility of making submissions and being dealt with in Tamazight.

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3.4. Mass media and information technology

There is no relevant legislation, but there are no mass media in Tamazight in any case.

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3.5. The Arts

Over the past few years there have apparently been no books published in Tamazight.

There are numerous traditional music groups of Moroccan origin. The group Ithri, which performs Flamenco-Berber music, is quite active and has produced two discs.

One film, on video cassette, has been dubbed in Tamazight and has enjoyed unprecedented success among Berber households.

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3.6. The business world

Spanish and Arabic are the main languages of commerce.

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3.7. Family and social use of the language

It seems that the oral tradition of Tamazight is guaranteed to the extent that the majority of parents use it to talk to their children. The very high percentage of marriages between Berbers reinforces this state of affairs.

As for the social status of Tamazight speakers, they generally seem to be regarded as socially inferior.

With regard to the vitality of the language, most Tamazight speakers believe that their language will decline in future as a medium of communication within society. They also consider that young people have less knowledge of Tamazight than their parents' generation.

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3.8. Transnational exchanges

We have no information about exchanges in recent years with any other groups speaking the same language, mainly because of the lack of recognition accorded to the Berbers in the neighbouring countries.

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4. Conclusion

Tamazight is in a fraught situation. The absence of an institutional and official presence, of the means of social reproduction of the language (education, mass media) and the lack of a solid network of local cultural associations that could use Tamazight and bolster its position within the community mean that its survival is in jeopardy. In addition, mention must be made of the language's total lack of prestige in the business world.

The presence of a large number of Berbers in the areas close to the town has done nothing to improve the situation, because the Berbers are in a precarious situation wherever they live (no schools, no mass media, no official recognition of their language, etc.).

The only factor in favour of Tamazight is the fact that families are still passing on the language to their children.

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