A quarterly specialized journal
The Message Of Folklore from Bahrain To The World

The language of the Moroccan Zajal: Theoretical and textual contemplations

Issue 32
The language of the Moroccan Zajal: Theoretical and textual contemplations

Abdullah bin Attu

We cannot deny that disorder and confusion have affected both individuals and communities on more than one level. Our spiritual and moral values are now unbalanced. In the human sciences, we note that literature is the most highly impacted component of our daily lives; as a result, a large part of our identity and cultural, historical, ideological and moral constituents has been lost. In academic research, we are aware of the seriousness of the absence of such constituents in people’s daily lives. Hence, there is a dire need for a return to folk culture, folklore and universal heritage.

Morocco has a rich written and oral folk culture in both literature and the arts. We cannot continue to neglect this important cultural sector because it belongs to the lower classes or the poor, vulnerable and illiterate.

With this awareness and understanding in mind, in this paper we address some aspects of the language of the Zajal, the popular Moroccan art of singing improvised poems. However, we must avoid applying the rules of standard Arabic to the language of the Zajal, given the number of vernacular dialects and their geographic, dialectic and semantic dissimilarities.

I studied three examples of Zajal by renowned Moroccan Zajalists Mohammad Alrashiq, Ahmaida Bilbali and Hassan Amili. By studying certain texts by these Zajalists, we can observe that there are common features in the fixed structure of these Zajals, and gain insights into the mentality and traditions of Moroccan Zajalists and Moroccans in general.

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