Date on Senior Honors Thesis


Document Type

Senior Honors Thesis

Degree Name

B.A., B.S.


Classical and Modern Languages

Author's Keywords

Algeria; Arabic; French; online news media; Colonialism; language


A French colony for over a century, Algeria gained independence in 1962, yet its identity remains chained to its traumatic history. During the colonial period, French officials enacted laws to subvert the native population and its culture by discouraging the teaching of Arabic and, in its place, emphasizing French language and culture. Seeking to reclaim their national identity, leaders in post-independent Algeria created Arabization policies, which favored the use of Arabic and discouraged the use of French. Algerian society has therefore long been the target of linguistic control. As a result, language preferences of Algerians can be linked to the relative success and failure of subsequent governments to propagate either French or Arabic.

This paper sets out to explore the co-existence of French and Arabic in modern Algerian society through the lens of online news media. First, it examines Algerian history in terms of language, culture, and education to provide context for the subsequent research findings. Second, it presents quantified information on the popularity and prevalence of 58 websites categorized by principal language of publication. General-interest, sports, and business Algerian news sites are analyzed separately to lead to a more nuanced understanding of language preference in different contexts. The conclusions obtained from these research findings indicate both the long-term effects produced by forced imposition of a language and the resilience of language and culture in the face of steady suppression.

Lay Summary

Why do we learn and use the languages that we do? For Algerians, the answer to this question is complicated. For well over a century, Algeria’s leaders have treated language as a political issue. Under French rule, colonial policies suppressed Arabic and favored French, but following independence, the new government stigmatized French and brought Arabic to the forefront of Algerian society. By examining the use of Arabic and French in Algeria’s online news media, this paper aims to explore the effects of linguistic engineering on modern Algerian society.