Tracing the Geographic Distribution of the Tamazight Language in North Africa
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The history of the Tamazight language in North Africa cites different factors which caused the shift of the Tamazight language over time. Using archives and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as a methodology, this paper examines language patterns in North Africa in order to trace the prominence and the historical distribution of the Tamazight language in North Africa throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth century, and to determine what factors may have been associated with its decline and redistribution. It was hypothesized that the population exhibited clustering from west Egypt to Morocco and from Mediterranean Sea to Sahara desert throughout centuries and that increasing Arab populations led to a shift in its distribution. It was also hypothesized that the decline of the Tamazight language in North Africa began well before the French Colonialism. The main conclusion of this research is that the decline of the Tamazight language in North Africa during the nineteenth century was not caused by only the colonialism but that it was the combined influence of social, political and cultural pressures in North Africa. This paper concluded that the distribution of the Tamazight language exhibited clustering in the North of Africa throughout the mid nineteenth century. Though the number of Tamazight speakers did decline to around 14 % of the total population in the twentieth century, the largest population of Tamazight speaking remained in the North. Although colonialism did have an effect on the sustainability of the Tamazight language, due to the steady nature of decline, the colonialism cannot be cited as the cause of the near extinction of the Tamazight language by the beginning of the twentieth century.
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