Oran Arabic in Theatre: Reallocated Possessive Constructions

Author: Zohra LABED

Keywords: Reallocation, Arabic, dialect, theatre


The era of the twenties witnessed the first appearance of theatrical performance in Algeria. The visit of Egyptian troops left its mark on a number of Algerian scholars who were, even though, a minor group. This elite started to mount plays in literary Arabic without plain success among the general public: During the French invasion, the Algerians were majorly illiterate and unable to comprehend theatrical plays in the above academic version of Arabic. Their mother tongue, dialectal Arabic, could gain the theatre stage however through Djeha play by Allalou in the mid-twenties, a fact which changed the attitudes towards theatre and enlarged the Algerian audience circle. Dialectal Arabic is typologically bedouin or sedentary. Through internal migration, Algerian post-independence cities
like Oran have known contact between mutually intelligible dialects which are genealogically different. Oran koine, which is in the making, is a dialect contact outcome. As regards grammar, the constructions of possessive relationship, analytic and synthetic, prevail in today’s Oran spoken Arabic. They have been reallocated distinct functional roles in the sense that the sedentary analytic structure is retained to formal tasks while informal activities are expressed via the bedouin synthetic genitive. Theatrical performers use both grammatical features on the stage with accordance to their actual scene language requirements.