THE LINGUISTIC LANDSCAPE IN TUNISIA

Abstract.The present paper aims to consider the issue of diversity as “cultural richness” that takes into account the linguistic
landscape in Tunisia. Our objective is not to define the statusof
our mother tongue, considered by purists as a dialect and by
modernists as a language, nor to define that of French, believed
to be a preferred foreign language as several linguistics and socio-linguistics studies have examined this subject. One can cite
the studies of Salah Mejri et al. published in the journal «Synergies du Gerflint», published online on January 25th, 2010, in an
issue dedicated to the linguistic landscape in Tunisia. Yet subsequent to the 2011 revolution, the issue became so pressing that
politicians became involved to show that “the choice of a language is not neutral”. The transition from literal Arabic to dialectal Arabic (diglossia), or from the Tunisian dialect to French (bilingualism) can be interpreted as a sign of identity and/or openness.
The present contribution aims to show how the Tunisian citizen
has evolved from a cultural point of view, through the use of
languages as different as they are, such as Arabic with its two
slopes and French. For the purpose, I will examine the case of
signs and poster ads in both languages. For the purpose, I will
first determine the presence of Arabic (source language) in the
translation (target language) by trying to classify the examples
according to phonological, morpho-syntactic and lexical criteria.
Second, I will try to display the reasons behind the coexitenceof
two languages in certain signs, where the standards of two codes
are resprected compared to other cases in which coexistence may
seem difficult and complex. This will raise our awareness of the
linguistic situation outside educational structures, where both
French and literal Arabic are used unequally compared to the
dialect. Contrary to Hubert Tullon (2009: 35) who thinks there is
«a discourse […] that opposes […] the national language to foreign languages in the way Authenticity is opposed to Alienation», the present paper argues that, at the present time, the trend
is towards promoting foreign languages while giving priority to
the mother tongue especially in public places.
Keywords : bilinguism, diglossia, interculural

Houda Melaouhia Ben Hamadi
Institut Supérieur des Langues de Tunis
University of Carthage
Tunis, Tunisia
e-mail: houda.benhamadi@islt.rnu.tn

Ferguson, Charles A. 1959. Diglossia. Word15: 325-340.
Fishman, J. 1967. Bilingualism with and without diglossia, diglossia with and without bilingualism, Journal of social issues,
23/2: 29-38.
Humboldt, W., 2000 [1828], trad. fr. Bilingue, Sur le caractère
national des langues et autres écrits sur le langage.Points Seuil,
Paris :140-157.
Laroussi, F. 2002. La diglossie arabe revisitée. Quelques réflexions à propos de la situation. In Langues et société- Langues et
discours, Insaniyat, revue algérienne d’anthropologie et de sciences sociales 17/18:129-153.
Lombart, C. et Louis D. 2012. La personnalité de l’enseigne : un
outil de marketing relationnel. Management et avenir51: 15.
Wittgenstein, 1961. Tractatus-logico-philosophicus, suivi de
Investigations philosophiques.Paris, Gallimard, p.27.