Lisan al-Gharbi

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Lisan al-Gharbi
Native toFormerly, Morocco
RegionAtlantic plains
Extinct14th–16th century[1]
Official status
Official language in
Formerly, Tamesna
Language codes
ISO 639-3None (mis)

Lisan al-Gharbi (Arabic for "Western dialect") is the name given to an extinct dialect of Berber that was spoken over much of the Atlantic plains of Morocco.[2][3] It was closely related to Tashelhit.[3]

The Lisan al-Gharbi was the official language of the Barghawata Confederacy, and the idiom used in Salih ibn Tarif's "indigenous Qur'an".

The Barghawata's defeat by Almoravids in the 11th century, the settlement of several Arab and Zenata tribes in the area by Almohads and Marinids, the Portuguese invasion in the 15th century, several famines and the resulting displacement of populations made the Masmouda minoritary while Arabic became the dominant language; that led to the Arabization of the remaining Masmouda population and the extinction of the Lisan al-Gharbi.

Nowadays, several tribes and sub-tribes of Masmouda descent are still found among the Doukkala, the Chaouia, the Zaers and the Regraga. However, they are all Arabophone; the only Berber-speaking Masmouda ethnic group to be found in the Atlantic plains is the Hahha confederacy, but no direct filiation link had been established between their dialect (belonging to Tashelhit) and the Lisan al-Gharbi.


  1. ^ J. Aguadé, Peuplement et arabisation au Maghreb occidental: dialectologie et histoire (Casa de Velázquez, 1998), p.17
  2. ^ B. Frankel, History in Dispute: The Middle East since 1945. First series (St. James Press, 2003), p.206
  3. ^ a b Awal, Numéros 19 à 21 (Maison des sciences de l'homme, 1999), p.157