Qualitative Analysis of Algerians’ Use of Codes and Modes to Communicate Meaning on Facebook

  • Firdous Abdelhamid


Motivated by the multilingual situation of the Algerian speech community, this study is interested in how such multilinguality is reflected on social media practices of Algerians, namely on Facebook, and how it is combined with other online modes, namely photos and videos, to express different meanings.

Algeria constitutes a multilingual speech community because of historical and educational reasons. Most Algerians speak Algerian-Arabic (AA), which is a non-standard spoken dialect, as their mother tongue. They learn Modern-standard Arabic (MSA), which is the official standard language, at school and they use it for writing and formal occasions. In addition, they learn French and English as first and second foreign languages respectively. Because of this multilingual repertoire, the literature shows that Algerians tend to switch between AA and French when they speak (Ahmed-Sid, 2008; Bagui, 2014).

Intrigued by whether this practice is also carried out on Facebook, a preliminary study of a quantitative design was conducted (Abdelhamid, 2018). Results show that Algerians’ posts and comments on Facebook are also multilingual. In that, Algerians use a variety of codes across their comments and they even use more than one code in single comments (Abdelhamid, 2018). Informed by these results, the present study is a qualitative enquiry of how Algerians use these codes to communicate intended meanings. The study is not limited to language use, but it also incorporates the use of different modes.