Wednesday, July 22, 2015

New Road Signs Spark Debate

While there has been a heated debate about replacing French with English as the second language in Morocco, the Amazigh have, at least in one area, stolen the spotlight. New road signs have appeared, replacing French with Tifinagh.

As one Amazigh speaker posted on Facebook,  “It makes us happy just to look at it, and enjoy its beauty!”

Not everyone is happy, but as an English speaking resident of Fez, told The View From Fez, "It is an even greater incentive to learn Arabic script - and one of the Amazigh languages!"

Of course there has been a fair bit of discussion about the effect on tourists, many of whom don't speak Arabic, or French. Happily, we can report that signs to major destinations are still in French and Arabic, but hopefully will soon also be in English and Tifinagh!

“We should use Arabic, Amazigh and English. No need for French,” one Moroccan man told Morocco World News.

Still another said, “Its written form is being taught. It needs time.”

Yet another added, “Removing latin alphabet is a BAD move. However, adding Amazigh script is the wisest move ever made.”

As Morocco World News pointed out, in the end, the language change on the signs turned out to be a non-issue, because it appears that there are separate signs close by, in all cases, in Latin alphabet letters that tourists and foreigners can read. One European commenter pointed out, “With the advent of GPS nobody cares about road signs anymore. From a pure cultural standpoint it makes sense to have Arabic and Berber in Morocco. Tourists are either with drivers or have GPS for the most part today. Foreign residents probably can find their way regardless of signs even if they don’t have a GPS and they can learn to read Arabic or Berber. Remember that there are almost no signs in cities and we still manage to find our ways.”

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