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The Oath in The Moroccan Dialect: A Functional Study

Issue 59
The Oath in The Moroccan Dialect:  A Functional Study

Dr. Abdelali Ahamamou


The purpose of this study is to examine and describe the linguistic use of oaths in the Moroccan dialect. The data collection for this study extended over a period of more than four months. Its procedures included face-to-face interviews, following social networking pages, and direct questions for a sample of people of different ages, genders, and cultural and social classes. This is all, of course, in addition to cohabitation; which made it possible to record the majority of the common forms circulating among Moroccans of various classes and living conditions. 

We chose to do an in-depth functional study of oaths because they are widely used among Moroccans. The work is exploratory and descriptive in nature. It is based on using research methodologies to analyse collected texts and on observing people directly to analyse dialects. An analysis which shows, according to the study’s findings, that the oath serves several functions, including acceptance, apology, courtesy, and threat.

The type of oath varies depending on the speaker's desire and intent. For instance, it was noted that individuals employ the "wa Allah" or "I swear by Allah" oath to make a threat, convey acceptance, ask for a favour or offer an apology, greeting or exhortation.

Certainly, Moroccans believe that oath-making is undesirable and that it should be avoided. However, when examining Moroccans' speech pattern, numerous varied forms of oaths can be noted in the public discourse. Furthermore, it can also be noted that oaths are linked to Islam and, in many cases, the standard variety of the Arabic language. Although oaths are made in vernacular dialects, the use of certain letters or articles such as ‘waw’ and ‘baa’ or verbs is derived from standard Arabic language use. 

Moreover, although oaths must be made using the names or attributes of God, we noticed that Moroccans use a variety of forms to make oaths, although the practice is condemned. Nevertheless, these forms are widespread among the uneducated, people with limited incomes, and the illiterate.

The study recommends more research into oaths in the Moroccan dialect using richer data and broader texts to find other forms and rhetorical purposes. It is also recommended to conduct comparative linguistic research, in which the forms of the oath in the Moroccan dialect and other Arabic dialects are contrasted. Through such research, we would be able to explore what forms and meanings the Arabic dialects share, and what differences exist between them.

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