Derivation in Moroccan Teenage Talk

Samira Elouakili


The objective of this paper is to explore one of the most productive linguistic devices Moroccan teenagers employ extensively to create novel lexical items–namely derivation, and uncover some aspects of its innovativeness, which has widely been acknowledged to characterise youngspeak in general. The items analysed are extracted from relaxed group interviews involving six secondary school girls and recorded dyadic and triadic conversations mainly between four of them and two other female school mates. The results corroborate previous research findings that teenagers use derivational processes creatively. More specifically, Moroccan teenagers achieve innovativeness through the violation of some of the well-established derivational norms of their mother tongue, Moroccan Arabic (MA), at times, and their combination with some semantic and rhetorical tools such as unconventional metaphor, semantic shift, and hyperbole, at others. The outcome is thus a distinct language in which old words are reshaped to convey concepts that seem significant in their culture and through which, scholars claim, teenagers in general voice their distance from the world of adults on the one hand and affiliation and loyalty to their peers on the other.

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