|27 million (2012)|
3 million L2 speakers in Algeria (no date)
|Arabic script, Latin script|
Algerian Arabic language, or simply Algerian (known as Darja or Dziria in Algeria), is a language derived from a variety of the Arabic languages spoken in northern Algeria. It belongs to the Maghrebi Arabic language continuum and as such it is partially mutually intelligible with Tunisian and Moroccan.
Like other varieties of Maghrebi Arabic, Algerian language have a mostly Semitic vocabulary, with significant Berber and Latin (African Romance) substrates and numerous loanwords from French, Ottoman Turkish and Spanish.
Algerian is the native language of 75% to 80% of Algerians, and is mastered by 95% to 100% of them. It is essentially a spoken language used in daily communication and entertainment, while Classical Arabic is generally reserved for official use and education.
- 1 Dialects
- 2 Phonology
- 3 Grammar
- 3.1 Nouns and adjectives
- 3.2 Conjunctions and prepositions
- 3.3 Article
- 3.4 Verbs
- 3.5 Future tense
- 3.6 Negation
- 3.7 Verb derivation
- 3.8 The adverbs of location
- 3.9 Pronouns
- 3.10 Demonstratives
- 4 Sample text
- 5 French loanwords
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- Eastern Hilal dialects: spoken in Hautes Plaines around Sétif, M'Sila and Djelfa;
- Central Hilal dialects: of central and southern Algeria, south of Algiers and Oran;
- Mâqil dialects: spoken in the western part of Oranais (noted for the third singular masculine accusative pronoun h, for example, /ʃʊfteh/ (I saw him) that would be /ʃʊftʊ/ in the other dialects).
Modern koine languages, urban and national, are based mainly on Hilalian dialects.
- Urban dialects are in all of Algeria's big cities. Urban dialects were formerly also spoken in other cities such as Azemmour and Mascara, Algeria, where they are no longer spoken.
- Lesser Kabylia dialect (or Jijel Arabic) is spoken in the triangular area north of Constantine, including Collo and Jijel (it is noteworthy for its pronunciation of [q] as [k] and [t] as [ts] and characterised, such as other Eastern pre-Hilalian dialects, by the preservation of the three short vowels).
- Traras-Msirda dialect is spoken in the area north of Tlemcen, including the eastern Traras, Rachgun and Honaine (it is noted for its pronunciation of [q] as [ʔ]) ;
- Judeo-Algerian Arabic is no longer spoken after Jews left Algeria in 1962, following its independence.
IPA phonemes as transliterated in this article:
|ب||پ||ت||ج||ح||خ||د||ر||ز||س||ش||ص||ض/ظ||ط||ع||غ||ف||ڥ||غ/ق 1||ݣ/ڨ 2||ک/ك||ل||م||ن||ه||و||ی/ي|
- ^1 The letter Ghayn (غ) is only pronounced /q/ in some Berber loanwords.
- ^2 The letter ݣ is only used in western Algeria, near the Morocco border (especially in Oranie). Elsewhere, it is written ڨ (especially in Kabylia).
The voice "Ch" (t͡ʃ) is used in some words in the Algerian dialect like "تشينا" /t͡ʃina:/ (orange) or "تشاراك" /t͡ʃa:ra:k/ (A kind of Algerian sweets) but remains rare.
6 vowels: 3 long vowels:
- /aː/ /sˤɑːħəb/ friend
- /iː/ (as in "ski") e.g. قريت /qri;t/ I read, in the past
- /uː/ (as in "flu") e.g. تِلِفون /tilifuːn/ phone
3 short vowels:
- /a/ (as in "man") [æ], e.g. سامح /sæməħ/ forgave, [e] (as in "men") e.g. قَهوَة, or a shorter version of a as in father [ɑ], e.g. /rɑbbi/ my God
- /i/ (as in sit) e.g. هِيَ /hijjɑ/ she
- /u/ (as in foot) e.g. قُبَّة /qub:ɑ/ dome
plus the schwa, which replaces /e/ in some positions e.g. انتَ /ənte/
Arguably, one of the most notable features of Maghrebi Arabic dialects, including Algerian Arabic, is the collapse of short vowels in some positions: Standard Arabic كِتاب kitab (book) is /ktæb/
- kalam كَلام (speech) is /klæm/
The feature is also sometimes present in Levantine Arabic. Standard Arabic words containing three syllables are simplified:
- /ħɑdʒɑrɑ/ حَجَرة is /ħɑdʒrɑ/.
Non-emphatic /r/ and emphatic /rˤ/ are two entirely separate phonemes, almost never contrasting in related forms of a word.
- /ərrɑmle/ الرَّملة (sand), as in arrive
- /jədʒri/ يجري (he runs), as in free
Original /q/ splits lexically into /q/ and /ɡ/ in most dialects but /q/ is preserved all the time in all of the big cities such as Algiers, Oran, Constantine, etc. and all of the montagneious regions; for all words, both alternatives exist.
Nouns and adjectives
|woman / women||mra / nsa|
|man / men||rajel / rjal|
|day||nhar / yum|
|winter / rain||šta / mṭar|
|toilet / bathroom||bit-el-ma / bit-er-raḥa / Twalat|
Conjunctions and prepositions
|English||Algerian Arabic||Notes of usage|
|But||beṣṣaḥ||is also used "wa lakin"|
|If||ila, ida, lakan, kun||Used for impossible conditions and comes just before the verb|
|If||lukan||For possible conditions, Also used is "ida" and "kan"|
|So that, that||baš|
|As if||ki šγul, tquši, tqul|
|Before||qbel ma||Used before verbs|
|Without||bla ma||Used before verbs|
|Whether||kaš ma||Used before verbs|
|over, on top of||fuq or fug|
|after||mur / mura / Baεd / wra|
|before||qbel||Used only for time|
|next to, beside||quddam or guddam||is also used "ḥda"|
|among, between||bin, binat (plural)|
|same as, as much as||εla ḥsab, qed, kima,||amount|
|oh, oh so much||ya, ah|
Some of them can be attached to the noun, just like in other Arabic dialects. The word for in, "fi", can be attached to a definite noun. For example, the word for house has a definite form "ed-dar" but with "fi" , it becomes "fed-dar".
There is the masculine and the feminine. Masculine nouns and adjectives generally end with a consonant while the feminine nouns generally end with an a.
- [ħmɑr] "a donkey", [ħmɑrɑ] "a female donkey".
Hilalian dialects, on which the modern koine is based, often use regular plural while the wider use of the broken plural is characteristic to pre-Hilalian dialects.
- mumen (believer) → mumnin
For feminine nouns, the regular plural is obtained by suffixing -at:
- Classical Arabic: bint (girl) → banat
- Algerian Arabic: bent → bnat
The broken plural can be found for some plurals in Hilalian dialects, but it is mainly used, for the same words, in pre-Hilalian dialects:
- Broken plural: ṭabla → ṭwabəl.
The article el is indeclinable and expresses definite state of a noun of any gender and number. It is also prefixed to each of that noun's modifying adjectives.
It follows the solar letters and lunar letters rules of Classical Arabic: if the word starts with one of these consonants, el is assimilated and replaced by the first consonant:
t, d, r, z, s, š, ṣ, ḍ, ṭ, l, n.
- rajel → er-rajel "man" (assimilation)
- qeṭṭ → el-qeṭṭ "cat" (no assimilation)
- When it is after lunar letters consonant we add the article le-.
- qmer → le-qmer "moon"
- ḥjer → le-ḥjer "stone"
- We always use the article el with the words that begin with vowels.
- alf → el-alf "thousand"
Conjugation is done by adding affixes (prefixes, postfixes, both or none) that change according to the tense.
In all Algerian Arabic dialects, there is no gender differentiation of the 2nd and 3rd person in the plural forms. However, there is also no gender differentiation of the 2nd person in the singular form in pre-Hilalian dialects unlike Hilalian ones where it has been preserved.
|1st||- t||- na||n -||n(e) - u|
|2nd (m)||- t||- tu||t -||t - u|
|2nd (f)||- ti||- tu||t - i||t - u|
|3rd (m)||-||- u||i/y(e) -||i/y(e) - u|
|3rd (f)||- t||- u||t(e) -||i/y(e) - u|
- Example with the verb kteb "To write":
|1st (m)||ktebt||ktebna||nekteb||nekketbu||Rayeḥ nekteb||Rayḥin nekketbu||Rani nekteb||Rana nekketbu|
|2st (f)||ktebt||ktebna||nekteb||nekketbu||Rayḥa nekteb||Rayḥin nekketbu||Rani nekteb||Rana nekketbu|
|2nd (m)||ketbt||ktebtu||tekteb||tekketbu||Rayeḥ tekteb||Rayḥin tekketbu||Rak tekteb||Rakum tekketbu|
|2rd (f)||ktebti||ktebtu||tekketbi||tekketbu||Rayḥa tekketbi||Rayḥin tekketbu||Raki tekketbi||Rakum tekketbu|
|3rd (m)||kteb||ketbu||yekteb||yekketbu||Rayeḥ yekteb||Rayḥin yekketbu||Rah yekteb||Rahum yekketbu|
|3rd (f)||ketbet||ketbu||tekteb||yekketbu||Rayḥa tekteb||Rayḥin yekketbu||Raha tekteb||Rahum yekketbu|
Like all North African Arabic varieties (including Egyptian Arabic) along with some Levantine Arabic varieties, verbal expressions are negated by enclosing the verb with all its affixes, along with any adjacent pronoun-suffixed preposition, within the circumfix ma ...-š (/ʃ/):
- « lεebt » ("I played") → « ma lεebt-ši /ʃ/ » ("I didn't play")
- « ma tṭabbaεni-š » ("Don't push me")
- « ma yṭawlu-l-ek-š hadu le-qraεi » ("Those bottles won't last you long")
- « ma sibt-š plaṣa » ("I couldn't get a seat / parking place")
|1st (m)||ma ktebt-š||ma ktebna-š||ma nekteb-š||ma nekketbu-š||ma Rayeḥ-š nekteb||ma Rayḥin-š nekketbu||ma Rani-š nekteb||ma Rana-š nekketbu|
|2st (f)||ma ktebt-š||ma ktebna-š||ma nekteb-š||ma nekketbu-š||ma Rayḥa-š nekteb||ma Rayḥin-š nekketbu||ma Rani-š nekteb||ma Rana-š nekketbu|
|2nd (m)||ma ketbt-š||ma ktebtu-š||ma tekteb-š||ma tekketbu-š||ma Rayeḥ-š tekteb||ma Rayḥin-š tekketbu||ma Rak-š tekteb||ma Rakum-š tekketbu|
|2rd (f)||ma ktebti-š||ma ktebtu-š||ma tekketbi-š||ma tekketbu-š||ma Rayḥa-š tekketbi||ma Rayḥin-š tekketbu||ma Raki-š tekketbi||ma Rakum-š tekketbu|
|3rd (m)||ma kteb-š||ma ketbu-š||ma yekteb-š||ma yekketbu-š||ma Rayeḥ-š yekteb||ma Rayḥin-š yekketbu||ma Rah-š yekteb||ma Rahum-š yekketbu|
|3rd (f)||ma ketbet-š||ma ketbu-š||ma tekteb-š||ma yekketbu-š||ma Rayḥa-š tekteb||ma Rayḥin-š yekketbu||ma Raha-š tekteb||ma Rahum-š yekketbu|
Other negative words (walu, etc.) are used in combination with ma to express more complex types of negation. ʃ is not used when other negative words are used
- ma qult walu ("I didn't say anything")
- ma šuft tta waḥed ("I didn't see anyone")
or when two verbs are consecutively in the negative
- ma šuft ma smeεt ("I neither saw nor did I hear").
- Causative: is obtained by doubling consonants :
- xrej "to go out" → xerrej "to make to go out"
- dxel "to enter" → dexxel "to make to enter, to introduce".
- Passive:It is obtained by prefixing the verb with t- / tt- / tn- / n- :
- qtel "to kill" → tneqtel "to be killed"
- šreb "to drink" → ttešreb "to be drunk".
The adverbs of location
Things could be in three places hnaya (right here), hna (here) or el-hih (there).
Most Algerian Arabic dialects have 8 personal pronouns since they no longer have gender differentiation of the 2nd and 3rd person in the plural forms. However, pre-Hilalian dialects retain 7 personal pronouns since gender differentiation of the 2nd person in the singular form is absent as well.
Example : « ḥatta ana. » — "Me too."
|You are (m)||rak|
|You are (f)||raki|
|He is||rah or rahu|
|She is||rahi or raha|
|You or Y'all are||raku or rakum (m)and (f)|
|They are||rahum (m)and (f)|
Example : « Rani hna. » — "I'm here." and « Waš rak. » "How are you." to both males and females.
Dar means house.
|1st||i (Dari)||na (Darna)|
|2nd||(e)k (Dar(e)k)||kum (Darkum)|
|3rd (m)||u (Daru)||(h)um (Dar(h)um)|
|3rd (f)||ha (Darha)||(hum) (Dar(h)um)|
« dar-na. » — "Our house" (House-our) Possessives are frequently combined with dyal "of, property" : dar dyal-na — "Our house.", dar dyal-kum ...etc.
dyal-i = my or mine
syal-ek = your or yours (m, f)
dyal-u = his
dyal-ha = hers
dyal-na = our or ours
dyal-kum = your or yours (m, f)
dyal-hum = their or theirs (m, f)
"Our house" can be Darna or Dar taε-na, which is more like saying 'house of ours'. Taε can be used in other ways just like in English in Spanish. You can say Dar taε khuya, which means 'house of my brother' or 'my brother's house'.
|What ?||waš ?|
|When ?||waqtaš ?|
|Why?||3lah ? / 3laš ?|
|Which ?||aš-men ? / ama ?|
|Where ?||win ?|
|Who ?||škun ?|
|How ?||kifaš ?|
|How many ?||šḥal ? / qeddaš ?|
|Whose ?||taε-men ?|
|3rd (m)||u (after a consonant) / h (after a vowel)
/ hu (before an indirect object pronoun)
- « šuft-ni. » — "You saw me." (You.saw-me)
- « qetl-u. » — "He killed him." (He.killed-him)
- « kla-h. » — "He ate it." (He.ate-it)
Unlike Classical Arabic, Algerian Arabic has no dual and uses the plural instead. The demonstrative (hadi) is also used for "it is".
|This||had (m), hadi (f)||hada , hadaya (m), hadiyya (f)|
|That||dak (m), dik (f)||hadak (m), hadik (f)|
The text below was translated from Kabylie, in Auguste Moulieras's Les fourberies de si Djeh'a.
|Waḥed en-nhar, jḥa med-lu baba-h frank, baš yešri buzelluf. šra-h, kla gaɛ leḥm-u. bqa γir leɛdem, jab-u l baba-h. ki šaf-u qal-lu: "waš hada?" qal-lu: "buzelluf".
-A šmata, win rahi wedn-u?
-win rahum ɛini-h?
-win rah lsan-u?
- U el-jelda taɛ ras-u, win rahi
|One day, Jha's father gave him one cent so he buys a sheep head. He bought it and ate all of its meat. Only an empty carcass was left. He brought it to his father. Then, when he saw it, he said: "what is that?" Jehha said: "a sheep head".
-You vile, where are its ears?
-Where are its eyes?
-Where is its tongue?
-And the skin of its head, where is it?
Algerian Arabic contains numerous French loanwords.
|Algerian Arabic||French loanword||English meaning||Algerian Arabic||French loanword||English meaning|
|Buja (v)||Bouger (v)||Move (v)||Tay||Thé||Tea|
|Pyasa||Pièce||Coin||Šarja (v)||Charger (v)||Load (v)|
|Girra||Guerre||war||Riska (v)||Risquer (v)||Risk (v)|
- Varieties of Arabic
- Maghrebi Arabic
- Moroccan Arabic
- Tunisian Arabic
- Hassaniya Arabic
- Libyan Arabic
- Languages of Algeria
- Algerian Arabic at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
- Algerian Arabic at Ethnologue (15th ed., 2005)
- Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Algerian Arabic". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
- Elimam, Abdou (2009). Du Punique au Maghribi :Trajectoires d’une langue sémito-méditerranéenne (PDF). Synergies Tunisie.
- Martin Haspelmath; Uri Tadmor (22 December 2009). Loanwords in the World's Languages: A Comparative Handbook. Walter de Gruyter. p. 195. ISBN 978-3-11-021844-2.
- "Arabic, Algerian Spoken". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
- K. Versteegh, Dialects of Arabic: Maghreb Dialects, hteachmideast.org
- The Eastern Hilal also includes central Tunisian Bedouin dialects.
- The Central Hilal also includes Algerian Saharan Arabic.
- The Mâqil family of dialects also includes Moroccan Bedouin Arabic dialects and Hassaniya. Those of the Oranais are similar to those of eastern Morocco (Oujda area)
- D. Caubet, Questionnaire de dialectologie du Maghreb, in: EDNA vol.5 (2000-2001), pp.73-92
|Algerian Arabic test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|