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Arabic is the official language of Algeria and Berber has the status of a national language. Standard Arabic, spoken and written in the media and by the government, is very different from Algerian Arabic, which a large part of the population speaks in daily life. A number of other Arabic dialects are spoken in the Sahara regions. Algerian Arabic belongs to the group of Arabic dialects known as the Western (Maghreb) dialects, which also include Tunisian and Moroccan Arabic. There is no official writing system of Algerian Arabic. The official name of the Democratic People's Republic of Algeria in Arabic is al-Gumhuriyya al-Gaza'iriyya ad-Dimuqratiyya as-Sa'biyya.

Different variants of Berber are also spoken, of which the Kabyle is the most common. French is still taught in school and spoken by many Algerians, especially in the cities.

Before the Arab invasion, Berber was spoken in some form in Algeria. Arabic slowly but surely spread all over the country, but Berber remained the native language of most Algerians for a long time. Later, when France ruled Algeria, French became the official language, but as a form of protest, Arabic and Berber were still spoken in Algerians' living rooms.

French is still widely spoken. used as a kind of 'lingua franca', as it were a common means of communication between people of different mother tongues.

Berber (there are several Berber languages) or 'Tamazight' is a branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family and is spoken in nine other countries of North Africa in addition to Algeria, most of them in Morocco, Algeria and Libya. Berber can be divided into northern Berber, Tuareg and a number of other isolated languages, which are considerably influenced by Arabic. Berber speakers call themselves Imazighen, 'free people'.

Berber, spoken by about a third of the population in Algeria, is a national language in Algeria, but has no official status. The northern Berbers in Algeria and Morocco can be divided into four main languages:

-Tarifit, spoken by Riffians (Rif mountains) and mother tongue of most Imazighen.

-Tamazight of the Middle Atlas
-Tashelhiyt, around Marrakech in Morocco
-Kabylian (Taqbaylit), spoken in Northern Algeria, east of the capital Algiers, by approx. 8 million Kabyles.

College signage with top to bottom text in Arabic, Kabyle and French.College signage with top to bottom text in Arabic, Kabyle and FrenchPhoto: Vermondo CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Tamahaq is the only known northern Tuareg language still spoken in Algeria, Western Libya and Northern Niger. Northern Tamahaq is not very different from the southern Tuareg languages, only the sounds are quite different. There are three varieties of Tamahaq:

-Tahaggart, which is spoken in the region of the Ahaggar mountains in

Southern Algeria through the Kel Ahaggar tribal association

-Ajjer, spoken by the Kel Ajjer tribal alliance
-Ghat, spoken around Djanet in southeastern Algeria

Arabic keyboardArabic keyboardPhoto: Public domain

The Arabic script is written from right to left and consists of 28 consonants. Vowels are not written and this creates different Latin spellings for n-and-the same word. Arabic numerals are written from left to right.

Below are some words and expressions in Algerians Arabic, Kabylia Berbers and Tamahaq (Tuareg)

EnglishAlgerian ArabicKabyli BerbersTamahaq (Tuareg)
goodbyeebkaw ala khirnedjayawen lahnaar sarret
nolalakhatikala kala
pleasemem fedlekthey lanayekfadlik erha
what's your name?wasmek?ismim?minek isem ennek?
coffeekahwakahwael qahwa
one hundredm'yam'yatémédé


Agada, Birgit / Algerien : Kultur und Natur zwischen Mittelmeer und Sahara

BBC - Country Profiles 

Beker, Michel / Algerije
KIT Publishers/Oxfam Novib

CIA - World Factbook 

Elmar Landeninformatie

Ham, Anthony / Algeria
Lonely Planet

Kagda, Falaq / Algeria
Marshall Cavendish

Oakes, Jonathan / Algeria
Bradt Travel Guides

Last updated April 2024
Copyright: Team The World of Info