Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Kabyle-Arabic code-switching

One of the great understudied subjects in North African linguistics is Berber-Arabic codeswitching (unlike French-Arabic and French-Berber codeswitching, which are massively overstudied); among the few references available are Kossmann 2014, for a central Moroccan community, and Hamza 2007, for Tunisia. A video from "Nass Bejaia" that's been circulating on social media might seem to provide a promising data source for this: in an eloquent plea against efforts to divide and conquer by setting ethnic groups against each other, the speaker alternates fluent Darja [Algerian Arabic] and Kabyle [Berber] to convey his message to both groups. What better context for code-switching? But, surprisingly enough, there is almost no insertional code-switching, almost no embedded language islands. About the only example is (Kabyle in bold, Arabic underlined):
makanš la d aqbayli, la d aɛeṛbi, la d amẓabi, la d annayli, la d attargi, ula ma... yji waħəd məlkamrun ysəggəm ldzayər nqululu mərħba bik.

There is no Kabyle, no Arab, no Mozabite, no Naili, no Tuareg, even if... there comes someone from Cameroon who would fix Algeria, we'll tell him welcome!

Even here, the second shift comes after an audible pause, and it's probably no coincidence that all the Kabyle elements of this sentence except ula ma are immediately comprehensible to Arabic speakers; even copular d is widely used in Jijel and Bejaia, though unfamiliar elsewhere (and la is ambiguous, used in both languages, which probably facilitates the first shift). Otherwise, the language shifts are rather consistently at phrase boundaries, as in the sentence that follows the previous:

yji waħəd mənnižir, waħəd məḷḷalmạn, lɛaslama

Someone comes from Niger, someone from Germany, welcome.

or as in this later sentence (French in red):

Anda ara aɣ terrem? Wac, ad ɛawdeɣ? Lukan par exemple - Ya xawti, ya xawti, had əlmisaž muhimm židdan məbjaya, makanš əljihawiyya.

Where are you taking us? What, should I say it again? If for example - Brothers, brothers, this message is extremely important from Bejaia: No regionalism!

Sometimes the same content is repeated in both languages successively, sometimes it's left in only one language, but in general, any one phrase should be perfectly comprehensible to a monolingual. It remains to be studied whether this is typical of Kabyle-Arabic code-switching, or just a fact about this short clip.


Whygh said...

əlmisaž is fully nativized, I take it.

Lameen Souag الأمين سواق said...

Well, not quite fully - ž is not found in native words in this dialect of Arabic. But it takes the prefixed Arabic definite article.