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Language Variation in Algeria


    In Algeria, today, about 60% of the total population speak Algerian Arabic (or Darja)) that is used as a lingua franca, but in writing, Algerians use classical Arabic. Algerian Arabic dialect is originated from the classical Arabic and it has been mixed with Berber and French and is spoken throughout the country with slight differences according to the region. An accent of speaking Darja differs from one region to another. For instance, an Annabi (person from Annaba province) may have more difficulty in understanding an Orani (person from Oran province) and vice versa. However, this is usually not a barrier to communication since the accent is more often used to recognize the regional origin of the speaker. El Darja is mainly spoken in Constantine, Annaba, and Oran... The classical Arabic is the official language in Algeria. It is practiced by public administrations and all public institutions of a cultural and educational nature. However, administrations use French as their working language in their dealings with investors. 

    Nearly one-third of Algerians speak one of the Berber forms; Kabyle, Tamazight, Chaouiya,Thamzabith, Thashelhith, Thaterguith, etc. 

  Kabyle (or Thaqbaylith) is the second Berber speech most used with six million speakers. It is spoken in the provinces of Bejaia, Tizi-Ouzou, Bouira, Boumerdes and in some communes like Setif and Bordj-Bou-Arreridj. Also, a significant number of Kabyles live in other major Algerian cities such as Algiers, Blida, Annaba or Oran, and the Algerian diaspora in France and Canada must be taken into account. In addition to Thasahlite which is generally regarded as a Kabyle dialect.It is a Berber variant distinct from eastern Kabylia and in the Babors massif that is more or less influenced by the kabyle and the chaoui dialects according to the geographical proximity with these two variants. These speakers are thus found in the eastern communes of the province of Bejaia (Aokas, Ait Smail, Taskhriout Melbou, Tizi N'Berber), the western communes of the province of Jijel (Ziama-Mansouriah, Erraguene) and the northern province of Setif (Babor, Oued El-Bared, Ait Tizi).

   The Chaoui (Thashawith) dialect is spoken by about two and half million people in the east of the country, especially in the province of  Batna(Aures), Khenchela, Oum-El-Bouaghi, Tebessa, Souk Ahras, Part of the province of Guelma, and Biskra. It is the second most spoken Berber language in Algeria. It forms a linguistic continuum between the kabyle and the chaoui.

  The Chenoui dialect is present in the province of Tipaza,  Ain Defla, and the coastline of the province of Chlef in the west of Algiers (180,000 speakers).

  The languages of the North Algerian Sahara and the Sahara include Mozabite (Thamzabith) which is the vernacular language in the valley of the Mzab (South of the Saharan Atlas), spoken by more than 200,000 speakers, Tuareg (the Tamasheq) which is spoken in southern Algeria like Hoggar, Tamanrasset…

   In addition to other languages such as French that is practiced by many Algerians. It is taught as a first foreign language. It is particularly used in economic circles where it is essentially the language of work. Besides English that is taught as a second foreign language and used in  economic and tourist circles, but to a lesser extent than French.


Language Variation in Algeria (Written by ARAB Sabrina)

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