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Fusha, Darija and Tamazight, oh my!

1 September, 2010

Azull (hello) friends and family,

By this time next week, I will have had my first day of orientation in Morocco’s capital of Rabat.  While we haven’t received much information on what exactly we’ll be doing for our three weeks of orientation, I do know that the bulk of the period focuses on language training.

The thought of all of these languages, and learning them, makes my head spin!

It was recommended to me that over the summer, I focus on French, because it will be assumed that I speak it due to my ethnicity.  Last week, I successfully completed the 101 level course at Alliance Française, and while I feel like I have a decent understanding of the language, I still have much to learn before I’ll be able to communicate effectively.

At our in-country language training, I don’t expect to learn any Tamazight (or Tam, for short), which is a dialect spoken by the Amazigh people.  They are the indigenous people who you may have heard called the Berbers.  This term seems to be somewhat derogatory though, so I will be referring to them as the Amazigh.  My post city is in an area with a high Amazigh population, and I am hoping to be able to study their language in some of my free time.  I’ve been communicating with an Amazigh university student, and he has been letting a few words in his dialect drop, so I’m already learning, little by little.

I do expect orientation to cover both Fusha (Modern Standard Arabic) and Darija, and I feel like the emphasis will be on Darija because it is what most people will be speaking.  Darija, or Moroccan Arabic, is different from Fusha in both its pronunciation and its vocabulary, which uses many loanwords from French, Spanish, Turkish and Tamazight.

Regardless of which direction our training goes, I know I have my work cut out for me.

Tanmirt (thanks) and goodbye.

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