Per ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA: It has been seen that language is much more than the external expression and communication of internal thoughts formulated independently of their verbalization. In demonstrating the inadequacy and inappropriateness of such a view of language, attention has already been drawn to the ways in which one’s native language is intimately and in all sorts of details related to the rest of one’s life in a community and to smaller groups within that community. This is true of all peoples and all languages; it is a universal fact about language. This essay of our friend Kadour Naimi elaborates on the many current issues confronting the Algerian people. His wise counsel would be a language: from conflict to cooperation.
A very interesting article has just been published, entitled “Nationalisms and languages, the Balkan experience” (1). It reflects a recent historical case: the appalling wars that have bloodied the peoples of the former Yugoslavia.
The interest of this text is to show how these tragedies were prepared and accompanied by linguistic conflicts all concerned by the idioms spoken by the various “ethnic groups” composing that country. “Ethnic cleansing” had as a substrate and consequence of “linguistic purifications”. The Serbian dominant party emphasized the Serbian language to the detriment of the idioms of the other “ethnic” components of the country. The latter, by reaction, claimed their language as a factor of resistance and affirmation of the value of their own historical-cultural-religious identity.
One reads: The intention is quite simple: to prove at all costs, using not only “ethnic cleansing”, but also “linguistic cleansing”, the thesis that living together is impossible.
The author adds: “Ljubisa Rajic remarked, as a means of communication, the language became a means of national identification, then a symbol of the nation and finally a means of secession.”
In Algeria (and North Africa generally), language conflicts are not characterized by a situation like that of the former Yugoslavia.
However, in this country, social agents, who are currently a minority but a very active one, and with foreign support, are working in a special way.
Some want to ensure oligarchic domination over the whole society, relying on the classical Arabic language and its corollary the Koran, as unilaterally interpreted by themselves and with the support of some Middle Eastern Arab States.
On the other side, other agents aim at a similar oligarchic domination on the Algerian Amazigh parties; for purposes of advancing the “Amazighe identity; they claim the independence and formation of a sovereign State (2).
And behind these two ideological tendencies are, of course, the various imperialisms, including that of the hegemonic USA.
These two internal Algerian forces are characterized by the so-called “superiority” of their own “ethnic group” (thus its “culture”, whose language is the expression), to the detriment and exclusion of the other “ethnic group” (hence of its culture and language). Reciprocal contempt and hatred, on the pursuit of exclusive dominating power.
Between these two forces pretending to caste supremacy, lies the people, in its two parts, linguistically Arabic and Amazighophone.
The popular component Amazighophone claims the legitimate right to the use of its language, however in a democratic way. As for the Arabic popular component, it remains indifferent about the right to promote its popular mother tongue, the Dziriya, as in the case of the Amazigh Countrymen’s claim for their mother tongue.
Above this situation, the holders of the State (3), the main political parties as well as most of the intellectuals, of various tendencies, ensure, however, to avoid that the linguistic problem is transformed into a separatist ethnic confrontation. As in any conflict or war, the party that pays the price in blood and in tears is the down below people, whatever its “ethnicity”. And the party that benefits from it is a caste, regardless of its “ethnicity”.
Confucius had said, that in essence: “Learning from the mistakes of others is useful; but it’s even better to learn from one’s own mistakes.”
To avert any peril in the “Yugoslav” way, it is indispensable that in Algeria as in any other geographical area of North Africa where there might be a problem of language or idiomatic instrument as well as all related inherent culture and history of each other becomes a means of living together in a harmonious way, that is in total freedom and solidarity to one another.
(1) Bozidar Jaksic, Nationalisms and languages, the Balkan experience, December 19, 2017, review the possible, No. 15 winter 2017. The author provides a very interesting presentation on the problem. The text is freely available here: Https://france.attac.org/nos-publications/les-possibles/numero-15-automne-2017/dossier-nationalites-et-frontieres/article/nationalismes-et-langues-l-experience-balkanique?pk_campaign=Infolettre-1205&pk_kwd=nationalismes-et-langues-l
(2) In this regard, an extremely interesting statement illuminates the question: “The right to self-determination is conquered”, by Nils Anderson, 19 December 2017, Revue “Les Possibles”, No. 15, autumn 2017. Notably the chapter: “Right of secession and right of separation”. Freely accessible here: Https://france.attac.org/nos-publications/les-possibles/numero-15-automne-2017/dossier-nationalites-et-frontieres/article/le-droit-a-l-autodetermination-se-conquiert?pk_campaign=Infolettre-1205&pk_kwd=le-droit-a-l-autodetermination-se
(3) See the December 2017 measures in favor of the Tamazight language, and the recognition of Yennayer, Amazigh New Year, as a national, nonworking and paid holiday.