“A female jackal is holding my leg”

21 03 2009

The title of this post refers to an Amazigh proverb for calf muscle cramps. It was one of many examples Mena Lafkioui gave during yesterday’s DiO workshop to illustrate how Amazigh identity is (re)constructed online in Dutch and Tarifit (an Amazigh language of North Morocco).

Dr. Mena Lafkioui in action

Mena showed how folk narratives, riddles and expressions are ‘passed on’ in a number of Dutch-based Amazigh websites and how bilingual forum chats recontextualize ‘traditional’ Amazigh group identities. One of my takeaways from this workshop, apart from Mena’s jaw-dropping language skills – she speaks Arabic, Berber, Dutch, English, German, Hebrew, French and Italian – was the almost language-universal currency spelling has in computer-mediated communication. There is something about chat forum interaction that turns people into language police officers.

Read up on it:

Identity construction through bilingual Amazigh-Dutch “digital” discourse. In: M. Lafkioui & V. Brugnatelli (eds), Berber in contac: linguistic and sociolinguistic perspectives, Köln, Rüdiger Köppe Verlag (in Berber Studies, 22), 2008: 217-231.

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