Languages of Libya
|Languages of Libya|
Ethnic composition of the Libyan population in 1974 (CIA map)
|Official languages||Standard Arabic|
|Vernaculars||Libyan Arabic, other varieties of Arabic;
various Berber languages
|Minority languages||Domari, Tedaga|
|Main foreign languages||English (mainly), Italian, French|
|Sign languages||Libyan Sign Language|
The official language of Libya is Modern Standard Arabic. Most residents speak one of the varieties of Arabic as a first language, most prominently Libyan Arabic, but also Egyptian Arabic and Tunisian Arabic.
Berber speakers number around 305,000 individuals. Of these, the most significant group, the Nafusi and Zuwara, is concentrated in the Tripolitanian region. Berber languages are also spoken in some oases, inluding Ghadamès, Awjilah, Sawknah. Tamahaq is spoken by the Tuareg.
Libya's former Head of State Muammar Gaddafi denied the existence of Berbers as a separate ethnicity, and called Berbers a "product of colonialism" created by the West to divide Libya. The Berber language was not recognized or taught in schools, and it was forbidden in Libya to give children Berber names.
After recent uprisings in Libya, the National Transitional Council (Revolutionaries) has shown an openness towards the Berber language. The independent Revolutionaries "Libya TV", has included the Berber language and its Tifinagh alphabet in some of its programming.
Foreign and minority languages
Various foreign and minority languages are also spoken in Libya. Among these is Domari, an Indo-Iranian language spoken by the Dom people (ca. 33,000 speakers). The Nilo-Saharan Tedaga language is also spoken by a few thousand Teda people.
English is the most notable foreign language in business and for economical purposes and also spoken by the young generation. Moreover, there are thousands of young Libyan professionals who were educated in universities in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Italian is still known to some degree by some old people, mainly in the form of Libyan Italian. After the Libyan Civil War and the help coming from France, the French language started for the first time to be popular among the young generation. For that reason France will encourage the teaching of the French language in Libya.
- "Libya". CIA. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
- David Levinson. Ethnic Groups Worldwide: A Ready Reference Handbook. p. 145.
- "Libya: Gaddafi Rails Against 'No Fly' Attacks and Berbers". allAfrica.com. 20 March 2011.
- "Libyan rebels seize western border crossing, as fighting in mountains intensifies". The Washington Post. 21 April 2011.
- Libya TV – News in Berber http://blip.tv/play/AYK4hyEC
- Languages of Libya, Ethnologue
- French FM Acknowledges Youths as Hope for the Future of Libya