Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Hispanic & Luso-Brazilian Literatures & Languages


Jose Del Valle

Subject Categories

Anthropological Linguistics and Sociolinguistics | Linguistics | Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures


Language Contact, Language Policy & Planning, Linguistic Diversity in Morocco, Moroccan National Policies, Spanish Cultural Action, Status of Languages in Morocco


This dissertation aims to assess the status of languages in post-independent Morocco from two different angles: the Moroccan national policies and the Spanish cultural action. In particular, it demonstrates that the national policy in post-independent Morocco was, to a great extent, a response to the pressure exercised by the nationalist movement since 1963, the great involvement of the Francophone elite, and the carelessness and emptiness left by Spain. As a result, the Moroccan authority has had to opt for a policy of double standards: On the one hand, to fulfill the identity claims raised by the nationalist movement, Arabic was officially constitutionalized and the educational system begun to become Arabized. On the other hand, Francization has been implicitly favored in many Moroccan institutions by Moroccan officials at the expense of the other national and foreign languages. These two linguistic choices are then the two major forces that shaped the status of the various languages involved in the Moroccan sociolinguistic context, including Spanish.

However, in 1990, Moroccan authorities started recognizing the linguistic diversity existing in the country and therefore shifted from officially favoring Arabization to favoring openness toward foreign languages. In parallel to this new orientation launched by the Moroccan agency through official discourse and legislation, Spain launched its cultural project aimed to improve its foreign image, consolidate its brand, expand its culture and internationalize its language. The implications of this project in the Moroccan context have been reflected in the renovation and reactivation of the old cultural centers, the creation of many new ones and the strengthening of its cultural diplomacy towards Morocco through cultural conventions, agreements and treaties.

It is from a sociolinguistic perspective grounded on the analysis of texts that discuss, propose, criticize or implement language policies and cultural conventions that the chapters of this dissertation strive to discern the efforts of the Moroccan authorities to define the space of Spanish within the educational and societal sectors, as well as the efforts of Spain to promote it within the Moroccan society.

Chapter one describes the development of language policy as a field of inquiry in the Moroccan context. It strives to categorize the theoretical, topical and methodological developments of the field and describe and analyze the different types of linguistic planning that have been implemented from independence until today. It also strives to explore the ways in which such planning shapes the status of the different languages involved in the linguistic market in general, and Spanish in particular.

Chapter two gives a detailed description of all the sociolinguistic phenomena produced by the de facto bilingualism and multilingualism existing in the country, such as diglossia, linguistic competition, language contact and conflict, linguistic militantism, language selection, code-switching and lexical borrowing. Each of these processes has been carefully described, analyzed and approached in terms of its impact on shaping the status of Spanish.

Chapter three concisely describes the historical development of Spanish in Morocco, before, during and after independence in different parts of the country (especially the North and the South), as well as the different levels of communicative proficiency that have been developed among it its speakers (Spaniards and Moroccans). It also describes its current status in the different spheres of the Moroccan life (public and private educational institutions, media, translation, etc.) and analyzes the different historical, political and socio-economic processes and factors that contributed to such a condition.

Chapter four sheds light on the Moroccan language policies since independence and how these policies contribute to or prevent the improvement of the status of Spanish. Special attention is given to Arabization and Francization as two major policies that historically impacted the condition of Spanish. It also draws attention to the recent changes in Moroccan language policies (reflected in legislative documents and official discourse), characterized by a great level of openness toward foreign languages. The chapter describes, categorizes, analyzes and extracts conclusions from such legislation with the purpose of exploring its impact on the status of Spanish.

Chapter five pays special attention to the Spanish cultural action in Morocco, especially after the 1975 Constitution, which launched the democratization of Spain. It particularly emphasizes the ideology, objectives, actors, implications and international context of such an action and argues that the promotion of language through educational institutions is instrumentalized to improve the image of Spain, internationalize its language and culture and open new markets for its brand in Morocco.

Finally, the conclusion strives to extract the main factors that may contribute to hindering or promoting Spanish within the Moroccan lands in the future, and proposes some suggestions in this regard to researchers and policy makers aimed to help in clearly defining its status.