'Langues, Modernité et Mondialisation en Tunisie: Les Impératifs Du XXIe Siècle', in Revue d’aménagement linguistique [formerly ‘Terminogramme’] – Office québécois de la langue française (special issue on the Maghreb), 2004
Written for the final issue of the current series of the prestigious Canadian Revue d’aménagement linguistique, a periodical specializing in Francophone language policy, my contribution assessed the many issues affecting Tunisia, particularly the state of French speaking and teaching in that country. The significance of my research was underlined by its place in a special issue devoted to the state of language policy in North Africa, its depth enhanced considerably through unique access to the unpublished Boissinot Report which addressed Tunisian concerns. In the Brighton research context my work addresses a number of concerns embraced in the work of fellow researchers: globalization, national identity, cultural history and gender.
Whilst the state of French is a main concern, the article takes a broad approach to the state of languages in Tunisia, tackling the issue in the context of the country’s own diglossia (dialectal/modern Arabic) and the evolving status of English, as well as of the differing literacy rates for both men and women there and in other Arabic-speaking countries. Its scope was broadened through surveying all languages involved, gender attitudes to languages, the social context of teaching (such as opportunities to visit France or Britain or access to modern teaching approaches), the imperatives of globalization and modernization (language literacy in relation to computer and technological literacy), and political background (state arabization policies, democratic deficit, and the impact of French, British and American foreign policies). A complex picture emerges, with shifting roles for different languages: French still playing a key role in social promotion, functional English becoming more widespread’ and a tendency for local Arabic to move closer to Standard Arabic. Finally, consideration is given to the dimension of language as one of many life skills, needing to take its place along with technology, initiative and collaborative skills.