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1 LACITO - LACITO - Langues et civilisations à tradition orale - UMR 7107

Abstract : The population of Nouakchott numbers around 745,000 inhabitants, and accounts for approximately one quarter of Mauritania-s total population. It is the capital city of one of the multi-ethnic countries of the Sahelo-Saharan region, and was created almost ex-nihilo in 1957, three years before the independence of Mauritania. Its growth is symptomatic of the recent transformation of the Mauritanian way of life, which particularly affected the demographically dominant Moorish ethnic group the Bīđ̣ān. This Arabic-speaking population, which was still 95 percent nomadic at the down of the twentieth century, is now 80 percent sedentary. Thus the urbanization of Mauritania is almost contemporarneous with the birth of a multi-lingual nation, the establishment of a modern state and the entry of Africa into the global world. To understand the sociolinguistic impact of these recent changes, I describe briefly pre-modern Moorish society and examine the historical factors that may account for its impressive linguistic and cultural homogeneity. I discuss the relevance of the notion of urbanity and urban spaces in the pre-modern and modern Mauritanian context and highlight some of the most recent sociolinguistic changes. The rurbanization of Mauritania raises the issue of the relationship between bedouinity and urbanity in the Arabic speaking world. It also involves the questions of diversity versus homogeneity, mixing versus boundaries, deviance versus form, and humor versus state-control.

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Keywords : sociolinguistics change dynamics bedouinity urbanity urbanization standardization Arabic Hassanya

Mots-clés : sociolinguistique changement dynamique bédouinité urbanité urbanisation standardisation arabe hassaniyya

Autor: Catherine Taine-Cheikh -



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