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Despite its small size (63,170 sq miles) and a rather small population with a stable growth rate,2 Tunisia represents a rich sociolinguistic laboratory with a long history of bilingualism and language contact. The delicate position of Berber, the diglossic situation of Arabic and the increasing efforts for Arabization, the regional and social variation in Tunisian Arabic, the presence of French, and the gradual spread of English, among other closely-related topics, constitute the core themes of research within Tunisian sociolinguistics. Since the publication of R. M. Payne’s Language in Tunisia in 1983, no attempt has been made to reassess the situation from all its angles, except for some overview articles now and then (Laroussi 1999; Daoud 2001; Walters 2003; among others). This special issue aims at introducing the readers to these different themes and how they play out in shaping the present and the future of the language situation in the country. In the wider sense, findings about the sociolinguistic situation of Tunisia can complement what we already know about the other countries in the Maghreb and open the door for comparative research on common issues for a more complete understanding of the linguistic situation in the region.


Publisher Acknowledgment:

This is the Publisher’s PDF of the following article made available by De Gruyter © 2011: Sayahi, Lotfi. (2011). Introduction: current perspectives on Tunisian sociolinguistics. International Journal of the Sociology of Language. 2011 (211): 1–8. Available at:



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