|Pronunciation||[tu:nsi] ( listen)|
|Native to||Tunisia, North-eastern Algeria|
|11.2 million (2014 census)|
|Arabic alphabet, Latin script|
|Tunisian Sign Language|
Official language in
National Language in:
Tunisian Arabic, or Tunisian, is the dialect of Maghrebi Arabic spoken in Tunisia. It is known by its 11 million speakers as Derja, "colloquial dialect", to distinguish it from Standard Arabic, the official language of Tunisia, or as Tounsi [ˈtuːnsi] ( listen) "Tunisian".
At the borders of the country, Tunisian merges into Algerian Arabic and Libyan Arabic as part of a dialect continuum. Its morphology, syntax, pronunciation and vocabulary are quite different from Standard or Classical Arabic. Tunisian Arabic, like other Maghrebi dialects, has a vocabulary that is mostly Arabic with a significant Berber substratum. Tunisian also has a significant Latin component, as well as many loanwords from French, Turkish, Italian and Spanish. Tunisian Arabic is mostly intelligible to speakers of other Maghrebi dialects, but is hard to understand for speakers of Middle Eastern Arabic. Due to multilingualism within Tunisia and in the Tunisian diaspora, it is not uncommon for Tunisians to code-switch, mixing Tunisian, French, English, Standard Arabic, and other languages into their daily speech. Within some circles, Tunisian Arabic has thereby integrated new French and English words, notably in technical fields, or replaced old French and Spanish loans with Standard Arabic words. However, code-switching between Tunisian Arabic and Modern Standard Arabic that is mainly made by more educated and upper-class people had not negatively affected the use of more new French and Spanish loanwords in Tunisian.
- 1 Classification
- 2 History
- 3 Distinctive features
- 4 Dialects
- 5 Use and Geographical Distribution
- 6 Scripts
- 7 Vocabulary
- 8 Phonology
- 9 Morphology
- 10 Semantics and Pragmatics
- 11 Influences
- 12 See also
- 13 References
- 14 External links
Tunisian Arabic is a dialect of Arabic language and is involved by that in the Afroasiatic family. It belongs particularly to the Semitic languages branch. It is part of the Maghrebi Arabic dialects that are not very intelligible to Standard Arabic just like Moroccan Arabic and Algerian Arabic. Also it is considered to be a Hilalian dialect because it had been affected by the immigration of Banu Hilal in the 11th Century, as were other Maghrebi dialects.
As a part of the Arabic dialect continuum, it has been reported that Tunisian Arabic is partially intelligible to speakers of Algerian Arabic, Libyan Arabic and Maltese. However, it is not intelligible to the speakers of Moroccan Arabic, Egyptian Arabic, Levantine Arabic, Iraqi Arabic, and Gulf Arabic.
Linguistic Situation of Pre-Islamic Tunisia
During the Antiquity, Tunisia's population spoke an old form of Tamazight language, close to Numidian. However, these languages progressively lost their function as main languages of Tunisia since the 12th century BC and their usage became restricted mainly to the western regions of the country until their disappearance or evolution into other languages.
Indeed, migrants from Phoenicia settled Tunisia during the 12th to the 2th century BC and progressively mixed with the local population. These migrants brought with them their culture and language that progressively spread from Tunisia's coastal areas to the rest of the coastal areas of North Africa, Hispania and Mediterranean Islands along the Carthaginian Empire. From the 8th century BC most of Tunisia's inhabitants spoke the Punic language, a variant of the Phoenician language, influenced by the local Numidian language. During this period and up to the 3rd century BC, the Berber Tifinagh alphabet developed from the Phoenician alphabet. At the arrival of Romans, following the fall of Carthage in 146 BC, the coastal population spoke mainly Punic, though this influence decreased away from the coast. From Roman period until the Arab conquest, Latin, Ancient Greek and Numidian further influenced the language, called Neo-Punic to differentiate it from its older version. Punic probably survived the Arabic conquest of the Maghreb: the geographer al-Bakrī describes people speaking a language that was not Berber, Latin or Coptic in Ifriqiya, a region where spoken Punic survived well past written use. It may be that the existence of Punic facilitated the spread of Arabic in the region, as Punic and Arabic are both Semitic languages and share many common roots.
Classical Arabic began to be installed as a governmental and administrative language in Tunisia that had been called then as Ifriqiya when it became an Umayyad territory in 673 . The people of several urban cities had been progressively influenced by Arabic. By the XIth Century, by contact of local dialects with Classical Arabic, some urban dialects had appeared in the main cities of coastal Tunisia. These dialects were slightly and characteristically influenced by several common Berber structures and vocabulary like negation because Tamazight was the language of contact for the citizens of that period. It had also been significantly influenced by other historical languages. In fact, many Tunisian and Maghrebi words like qarnīṭ have a Latin ethymology. These dialects were called later Pre-Hilalian Dialects and were used together with Classical Arabic in Communication in Tunisia. Separately, another dialect has been created in the Xth Century through the dialect contact of Classical Arabic with several European Languages that is Sicilian Arabic. This dialect was spoken in several islands near Tunisia like Sicily and has entered in contact with the Pre-Hilalian Arabic Dialects of Tunisia. Consequently, this had ameliorated the divergence in grammar and structures of these dialects from Classical Arabic. By the mid XIth Century, the Banu Hilal had immigrated to Northern and Central Tunisia and Banu Sulaym had immigrated to Southern Tunisia. These immigrants had a main role in spread the use of Tunisian Arabic in an important part of the country. However, they had brought to it some of the characteristics of their local Arabic dialects. In fact, Central Tunisian Arabic speakers became using the voiced velar plosive [ɡ] instead of the voiceless uvular plosive [q] in words such as qāl "he said". Some linguists supposed that even the replacement of the diphthongs /aw/ and /aj/ respectively by /uː/ and /iː/ vowels was a Hilalian influence. Furthermore, the phonologies brought to the new towns speaking Tunisian Arabic is the one of the immigrants and not the Tunisian one. The Sulaym had even spread a new dialect in Southern Tunisia that will be called later Libyan Arabic. Although, some dialects had avoided the Hilalian influence, these dialects were the Judeo-Tunisian Arabic that is a vernacular spoken by Tunisian Jews and that is known for the conservation of foreign phonemes in Loanwords and that is slightly influenced by Hebrew Phonology, the Sfax dialect and the Tunisian Urban Woman Dialect.
By the 15th century and after the decline of Arabic-speaking Andalusia, many Andalusian people immigrated to the Tunisian main coastal cities and brought some of the characteristics of their dialect to the sedentary Urban dialects spoken there like Speech simplification and the use of the voiceless uvular plosive [q] letting the use of the voiced velar plosive [ɡ] a characteristic for the nomadic Bedouin dialects of Tunisian Arabic only. This had made of Tunisian Arabic a set of dialects that are significantly different from Standard Arabic and not a unique dialect. This had been recognized by the Hafsid scholar Ibn Khaldun in his Muqaddimah in 1377 when saying that language contact between Classical Arabic and local languages caused the creation of many Arabic varieties that are very distinct from Formal Arabic
In the 17th and 18th centuries, Tunisia came under Spanish and Ottoman rule and had hosted Moriscos immigrants since 1609 and later several Italian immigrants. This had made a language contact between Tunisian Arabic and respectively Spanish, Italian and Turkish languages. During this language contact, Tunisian had acquired many new loanwords from Spanish and Turkish and even some structures like the Turkish -jī suffix added to several nouns to mean professions like kawwāṛjī, qahwājī... During the mid XIXth Century, Tunisian Arabic had been described by several European scientists. In 1893, the first linguistic work had been made by the German Linguist Hans Stumme notifying of the beginning of the research trends about Tunisian that are still existing.
During the French protectorate of Tunisia, Tunisia became in contact with Standard French Language. This contact had affected a lot its structure as new loanwords, meanings and structures were inspired from French. These changes had worsened a lot the intelligibility of Tunisian to Arabic speakers of the Middle East.
The same period was characterized by the rise of interest in Tunisian Arabic through the beginning of its common use for various purposes mainly by Taht Essour and the research about it mainly by French and German Linguists. Tunisian Arabic had even been taught in High Schools as an optional language.
By the Tunisian independence, Tunisian Arabic is spoken only in coastal Tunisia while the other regions were speaking Algerian Arabic, Libyan Arabic and several Berber dialects and even that Tunisian Arabic was a series of intelligible but different dialects. That is why Tunisian Leader Habib Bourguiba had begun a trial of Arabization and Tunisification in Tunisia and had spread free Basic Education all over Tunisia. This had contributed to the progressive and partial minimization of code-switching to European Languages in Tunisian and the use of the Code-Switching to Modern Standard Arabic. Furthermore, The establishment of ERTT in 1966 and the nationwide spread of Television as well the dialect contact in Tunisia resulted in the establishment of a dialect levelling by the 1980s. Tunisian Arabic became spoken in all Tunisia and became composed of six slightly different dialects: Tunis Dialect that is considered as the reference Tunisian dialect, Sahil Dialect, Sfax Dialect, Southwestern Dialect, Southeastern Dialect and Northwestern dialect. Consequently, it became the main and prestige language of communication and interaction within the Tunisian Community and Berber dialects and Libyan and Algerian Arabic and even several Tunisian dialects like the traditional Urban Woman Dialect and the Judeo-Tunisian Arabic and several Tunisian structures like lā noun+š had quite disappeared from Tunisia.
This period of after the Tunisian independence was also known by a rise in the consideration of the value and the importance of Tunisian Arabic in Literature and Education. In fact, Tunisian Arabic was taught by Peace Corps from 1966 until 1993 and more researches on it that are using new methods like Computing operations and the creation of several automatic Corpus had been done by several linguists from Tunisia and abroad about its morphology, its morphology, its pragmatics and its semantics. The language was also used to write several romans since 1990s and even a Swadesh list in 2012 and it is taught now by many institutions like the INALCO (located in Paris and giving courses in Tunisian Arabic since 1916) and the IBLV (located in Tunis and giving courses in Tunisian Arabic since 1990). As well, Tunisian Arabic is also taught in High Schools of France as an optional language. In fact, 1878 students had sat for the Tunisian Arabic examination in the 1999 French Baccalaureate. Nowadays, the tendency in France is to implement Maghrebi Arabic dialects and mainly Tunisian Arabic more in Basic Education and mainly in its third, fourth and fifth years.
But, this is not the only trials of Tunisian Arabic in Education. More effectively, a project to teach Basic Education for the elderly people using Tunisian Arabic had been proposed in 1977 by Tunisian Linguist Mohamed Maamouri in order to better the literacy rate of Tunisia by ameliorating the quality and intelligibility of Basic courses for the elderly people who cannot understand very well Standard Arabic as they did not learn it before. But, it was not recognized and adopted.
Nowadays, the linguistic classification of Tunisian Arabic causes controversies between interested people. This problem is caused due to the fact that Tunisian Arabic exists in the Arabic dialect continuum. Several people consider it as an independent language and several others consider it as a divergent dialect of Arabic that is still dependent of Arabic morphology and structures.
Moreover, its recognition is still limited as it is only recognized in France as a minority language and one of the varieties of Maghrebi Arabic according to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages edited in 7 May 1999 and even this charter has not been agreed by the Constitutional Council of France due to its inadaptability to the Article 2 of French Constitution of 1958. As well, no official recognition and standardization in Tunisia was provided for Tunisian Arabic until 2015.
Tunisian Arabic is a spoken variety of Arabic, and as such shares many features with other modern varieties, especially North African ones. Some of its distinctive (from other Arabic dialects) are listed here.
- A conservative consonantal phonology (due to Berber substrates), with the pre-hilalian /q/ and interdental fricatives maintained.
- The use of إنتِي [ˈʔɪnti] in urban varieties meaning "you" when addressing both men and women, and a concomitant loss of this gender distinction in the verbal morphology. This distinction is still maintained in rural varieties by using إنتَا /ʔinta/ for male and إنتِي /ʔinti/ for female.
- The lack of an indicative prefix in the verbal system, resulting in no distinction between indicative and subjunctive moods.
- The innovation of a progressive aspect by means of the participle قاعد [ˈqɑːʕɪd], originally meaning "sitting"; and the preposition في ['fi] "in" in transitive clauses.
- The distinctive usage of future tense by using the prefixes ماش [ˈmɛːʃ] or باش [ˈbɛːʃ] or ْبِش [ˈbəʃ] + verb that is nearly equivalent to "will" + verb.
- Some vocabulary such as فيسع [ˈfiːsɑʕ] "fast", باهي [ˈbɛːhi] "good" and برشه [ˈbɛrʃæ] "very much". (e.g.: [ˈbɛːhi ˈbɛrʃæ]="very good")
- Unlike most of the other Muslim countries, the greeting as-salamu alaykum is not used as the common greeting expression in Tunisia. Tunisians use the expression عـ السلامه [ʕæsːˈlɛːmæ] (formal) or أهلا [ˈʔɛhlæ] (informal) for greeting. Also, بـ السلامه [bɪsːˈlɛːmæ] (formal) or the Italian ciao (informal) or more rarely the Italian arrivederci are used as the Tunisian "goodbye" expression. يعيشك [jʕɛjːʃɪk] is used as "thank you", in lieu of شكرا [ˈʃʊkræn]. However, Tunisian people still use some expressions from Standard Arabic such as بارك الله فيك [ˈbɑːræk ɑlˤˈlˤɑːhu ˈfiːk] and أحسنت [ʔæħˈsɛnt] for thank you. But, these expressions are used only as loan structures from Standard Arabic and are not used as they are used in Standard Arabic.
- The passive derivation of verbs is influenced by Berber and is different from the one of Classical Arabic. It is obtained by prefixing the verb with /t-/, /tt-/, /tn-/ or /n-/ and the choice of one of the four prefixes depends on the used verb (ex: /ʃrab/ "to drink" → /ttaʃrab/ "to be drunk").
- Nearly all educated Tunisians can communicate in French that is widely used in business and as the main language of communication with foreigners. That is why code switching into French expressions and vocabulary is common in Tunisian.
- Tunisian Arabic is an SVO language and it is most of the time a Null-subject language. In fact, the subject is only written in order to avoid meaning ambiguity.
Dozens of dialects are spoken in Tunisia. The profusion is due to many factors, including the length of time the country has been inhabited, its long history as a migration land, the profusion of cultures that have inhabited it as well as the geographical length and diversification of the country, divided between mountain, forest, plain, coastal, island and desert areas. However, Tunisia is also the most linguistically homogeneous state of the Maghreb and apart from Tunisian Shilha that is a set of Tamazight dialects, the dialects in Tunisia are part of Tunisian Arabic and are mutually intelligible.
The main dialects of Tunisian Arabic are Northwestern Tunisian, Southwestern Tunisian, Tunis Dialect, Sahil Dialect, Sfax Dialect and Southeastern Tunisian. Furthermore, Tunis, Sousse and Sfax dialects (considered as sedentary dialects) use the voiceless uvular plosive [q] in words such as /qaːl/ "he said", while Southeastern, Northwestern and Southwestern varieties (considered as nomadic dialects) substitute it by the voiced velar plosive [ɡ] as in /ɡaːl/. Moreover, only Tunis, Sfax and Sousse dialects do use the Tunisian phonology. However, Northwestern and Southwestern Tunisian speak Tunisian with the Algerian Arabic phonology which tends to simplify short vowels as short schwas and Southeastern Tunisian speak Tunisian with the Libyan Arabic phonology. As well, Tunis, Sfax and Sahil varieties are known for not marking gender in the second person. The otherwise feminine /ʔinti/ is used to address men and women, while in the verb no feminine marking is used (inti mšīt). However, Northwestern, Southeastern and Southwestern dialects maintain the usual distinctions found in Arabic, whether standard or spoken (inta mšīt, inti mšītī).
The Tunis dialect is considered by several scientists as the standard form of Tunisian Arabic. However, it has some characteristics which are not shared in some other dialects of Tunisian Arabic. In fact, Tunis dialect distinguishes between the three short vowels and tends to pronounce [æ] as [ɛ].
The Sahil dialect is known for the use of the singular first person ānī instead of ānā. It is also known for the pronunciation of wā as [wɑː] and the pronunciation ū and ī as respectively [oː] and [eː] when it is a substitution of the common Classical Arabic diphthongs /aw/ and /aj/. For example, jwāb is pronounced as [ʒwɑːb] and lūn is pronounced as [lɔːn]. Furthermore, when ā is at the end of the indefinite or "il-" definite word, this final ā is pronounced as [iː]. For example, smā is pronounced as [smiː]. Moroever, If a word begins with /θ/ or /ð/, these letters are pronounced respectively as [t] and [d]. For example, /θlaːθa/ is pronounced as [tlɛːθæ]. As well, Sahil Dialect is known for using miš instead of mūš to mean the negation of future predicted action. Similarly, the conjugation of miš as a modal verb uses mišnī instead of mānīš, mišk instead of mākš, miššū instead of mūš and mēhūš, mišhā instead of māhīš, mišnā instead of mānāš, miškum instead of mākumš and mišhum instead of māhumš.
The Sfax dialect is mostly known for its conservation of the Arabic diphthongs /aj/ and /aw/ and of the short /a/ between two consonants and its use of wḥīd instead of wḥūd to mean the plural of someone. Other dialects have substituted them respectively by /iː/ and /uː/ and dropped the short /a/ between the first and second consonant of the word. It is also known by the substitution of short /u/ by short /i/ when it comes in the beginning of the word or just after the first consonant. For example, /χubz/ is pronounced as [χibz]. It is also known for the use of specific words like baṛmaqnī meaning Window. Furthermore, it is known for the substitution of [ʒ] by [z] when it comes in the beginning of a word and when that word contains [s] or [z] in its middle or end. For example, /ʒazzaːrˤ/ is pronounced as [zæzzɑːrˤ] and /ʒarʒiːs/ is pronounced as [zærzi:s]. Unlike other Tunisian dialects, Sfax dialect does not simplify the last long vowel at the end of a word. It is also known, for some specific verbs like aṛā (to see) and the use of the demonstrative articles hākuma for those and hāka (m.) and hākī (f.) for that respectively instead of hāđūkum and hāđāka (m.) and hāđākī (f.) determinants. Finally, the conjugation of mūš as a modal verb uses māhūwāš instead of māhūš, māhīyāš instead of māhīš, māḥnāš instead of mānāš and māhūmāš instead of māhumš.
The Northwestern Dialect is known by pronouncing r as [rˤ] when it is written before an ā or ū. Furthermore, it is known for the substitution of [ʒ] by [z] when it comes at the beginning of a word and when that word contains [s] or [z] in its middle or end. As well, Northwestern Dialect is known for using miš that is pronounced as [məʃ] instead of mānīš to mean the negation of future predicted action. Similarly, the conjugation of miš as a modal verb uses mišnī instead of mānīš, mišk instead of mākš, miššū instead of mūš and māhūš, mišhā instead of māhīš, mišnā instead of mānāš, miškum instead of mākumš and mišhum instead of māhumš. Moreover, Northwestern dialect is known for the use of naḥnā instead of aḥnā as a plural second person personal pronoun.
The Southeastern dialect is known for a different conjugation of verbs ending with ā in the third person in plural. In fact, people who are speaking this variety of Tunisian Arabic do not add the regular ū suffix after the vowel ā but they used to drop the ā and then add the ū. For example, mšā is conjugated as mšū instead of mšāw with the third person in plural. Furthermore, it is known for the substitution of [ʒ] by [z] when it comes at the beginning of a word and when that word contains [s] or [z] in its middle or end. Moreover, it is known like the Sahil dialect for the pronunciation /uː/ and /iː/ as respectively [oː] and [eː] when it is a substitution of the common Classical Arabic diphthongs /aw/ and /aj/. Furthermore, this dialect is also known for the use of anā instead of ānā (meaning I), the use of intumm (masc.) and intinn (fem.) instead of intūma (meaning you in plural) and the use of humm (masc.) and hinn (fem.) instead of hūma (meaning they).
The Southwestern dialect is known, like the Southeastern dialect, for a different conjugation of verbs ending with ā in the third person in plural. In fact, people who are speaking this variety of Tunisian Arabic do not add the regular ū suffix after the vowel ā but they used to drop the ā and then add the ū. For example, mšā is conjugated as mšū with the third person of plural. Furthermore, this dialect is also known for the use of nā instead of ānā (meaning I), the use of ḥnī instead of aḥnā (meaning we), the use of intumm (masc.) and intinn (fem.) instead of intūma (meaning you in plural) and the use of humm (masc.) and hinn (fem.) instead of hūma (meaning they).
Use and Geographical Distribution
Tunisian Arabic is the mother tongue of the Arabic-speaking population in Tunisia. It is also the second language of the Berber minority living in the country, particularly in Djerba. However, Tunisian Arabic has the role of the low variety in an example of classic diglossia, where Standard Arabic is the high variety. As such, the use of Tunisian Arabic is mainly restricted to spoken domains. as its written and cultural use began in the 17th Century and had regularly developed since the 20th Century only. Nowadays, it is used for a wide range of purposes including Communication, Literature, Theatre, Music...
Tunisian Arabic is the mother tongue of the Arabic-speaking population in Tunisia. It is also the second language of the Berber minority living in the country, particularly in Djerba. However, only Standard Arabic and French are taught at school. Tunisian Arabic has the role of the low variety in an example of classic diglossia, where Standard Arabic is the high variety. As such, the use of Tunisian Arabic is restricted to spoken domains even if it can be used for different purposes like political ones.
From the 1990s, Tunisians began to write in Tunisian Arabic when communicating on the Internet, especially on social networking sites, and in text messages. This trend accelerated during the 2011 street protests that brought down the regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, in which text messaging and social networking played a major role.
In religion, the use of Tunisian Arabic in promoting Islam is limited, although there are some trial efforts. In Christianity, the use of Tunisian Arabic is significant, beginning with a 1903 New Testament translation. Nowadays, a full version of the new testament is available online.
Before Tunisian independence, there was a large body of folk tales and folk poems in Tunisian Arabic. This was mainly an oral tradition, told by wandering storytellers and bards at marketplaces and festivals. The most important of these folktales are "il-jāzya il-hlālīya" and "ḥkāyat ummī sīsī w il-đīb". A few years after independence, the most famous of them had been recorded for ERTT broadcast, in Tunisian Arabic by Abdelaziz El Aroui, or translated mainly to French and Standard Arabic by other authors. These recorded Tunisian folktales had been transcribed in Tunisian Arabic using Arabic Script only in the 2010s thanks to the work of the Kelemti Association of the promotion of Tunisian Arabic in 2013 and the work of Karen McNeil of 2014.
As for novels and short stories, most authors who fluently know Tunisian Arabic prefer to write in standard Arabic or in French. In some cases and since the initiative by the Taht Essour and particularly Ali Douagi in the period between 1929 and 1959 to use Tunisian Arabic in various purposes like transcribing dialogues in novels and writing some newspapers, the dialogue in a novel or roman can be written in Tunisian Arabic using the Arabic Script, with the main narrative in Standard Arabic.
However, since the early 1990s, Hedi Balegh had led a new trend in Tunisian Literature. He was the first to translate a Novel in Tunisian Arabic in 1997 and to make some collections of Tunisian idioms and proverbs in 1994 using Arabic Script. Some authors and more particularly Tahar Fazaa (mainly in Tšanšīnāt Tūnsīya) and Taoufik Ben Brik (mainly when writing Kalb Bin Kalb and Kawāzākī) followed him and used Tunisian Arabic in order to write novels, plays and books in Tunisian Arabic.
As for plays in Tunisian Arabic, the first ones were made by the Tunisian – Egyptian Company just after World War I. At that period, they had faced several objections. However, it acquired general recognition in Tunisia by the end of World War II. After the Tunisian independence, the government had encouraged the development of theater in Tunisian Arabic through the creation of supporting institutions. This resulted in the creation of notable plays in Tunisian Arabic that followed the trends of world literature during the period between 1965 and 2005. The main authors of these plays were Jalila Baccar and Fadhel Jaibi and some members of the National Theature Troupes of the Medina of Tunis, El Kef and Gafsa.
Nowadays, plays are almost always written in Tunisian Arabic, except when they are placed in a historical setting and these plays written in Tunisian Arabic are widely considered as meaningful and valuable ones.
Before 1700, lyrics of songs were not written in Tunisian Arabic. However, Sheykh Abu al-Hassan al-Karray, who died in 1693 in the medina quarter of Sfax, had written a poem in Tunisian Arabic during his youth:
عَدِّيت فـ الصُّغر عَدِّيت
ɛaddīt fi- il-ṣuġr ɛaddīt,
Moreover, another Tunisian Arabic poem was written later in the 17th century to cite the qualities of Karray:
خموسي يا كراي قاصد ليك بـ نية
xmūsī yā karrāy qāṣid līk b- niyya
But the effective beginning of Tunisian Arabic song came in the early 19th century, when Tunisian Jews in the Beylik of Tunis began writing songs in Tunisian Arabic about love, betrayal and other libertine subjects. This current strengthened at the beginning of the 20th century and affected the Tunisian ma'luf and folklore. Judeo-Tunisian song flowered in the 1930s, with such Jewish artists as Cheikh El Afrit and Habiba Msika.
This tendency was promoted by the creation of Radio Tunis in 1938, which allowed many musicians to better disseminate their works and helped spread the use of Tunisian Arabic in songs. The pioneers of Tunisian Arabic song between 1930 and 1950 drew most of their inspiration from traditional Tunisian music, oriental or to occidental colors were Kaddour Srarfi, Hedi Jouini, Saliha, Salah El Mahdi, Hassiba Rochdi, Fethia Khaïri, Hassiba Rochdi, Mohamed Triki, Mohamed Jamoussi, Sadok Thraya and Ali Riahi.
Following the creation of the ERTT broadcasting organization in 1966, there emerged a generation of composers and interpreters, mostly working in the ERTT orchestra. In this wave, the range occupies a prominent place. Kalaï Ridha, Salah El Mahdi (regarded as a disciple of Tarnane), Kaddour Srarfi, Ali Shalgham, Chedly Anwar, Abdelhamid Sassi and others helped to train several singers, including Naâma, Oulaya, Zouheïra Salem, Soulef, Safia Chamia, Youssef Temimi, Mustapha Charfi, Hana Rached, Choubeila Rached, Ezzeddine Idir and many others. Tahar Gharsa (another disciple of Tarnane) worked to promote the characteristically modal and rhythmic traditional music written with Tunisian Arabic lyrics. The director Raoul Journo, in the same line, is a Judeo-Tunisian singer, distinguished by his interpretation of taâlila (traditional songs associated with birth, circumcision, marriage and other rites). This kind of music developed under the National Troupe of Music, created in the early 1980s.
At the same time, popular music had developed in the early 19th century, using Tunisian Arabic poems accompanied by Tunisian musical instruments like the mizwad. This kind of music was promoted by the National Troupe of the Popular Arts, created in 1962. Later adaptation and promotion of popular songs, especially by Ahmed Hamza and later Kacem Kefi, further developed Tunisian music. Natives of Sfax, they were both influenced by Mohamed Ennouri and Mohamed Boudaya, leading masters of popular music in that city. Nowadays, this kind of music is very popular.
In 1993, underground music entered Tunisia. This consisted of rap in the 1990s, and was not successful because of the lack of media coverage. Tunisian Underground music became successful in the 2000s thanks to its spread over the Internet, and came to involve other alternative genres like reggae and rock. Underground music reached a height of popularity during and just after the Tunisian Revolution of 2011, as it spoke to the dire social matters faced by people in Tunisia.
Cinema and mass media
Of the few domestic movies produced since 1966, many tried to reflect new social dynamics, development, identity research and modernity shock, and were done in Tunisian Arabic. Some of them achieved relative success outside Tunisia, such as La Goulette (ḥalq il-wād, 1996), Halfaouine: Child of the Terraces (ɛaṣfūr il-sṭaḥ, 1990), and The Ambassadors (il-sufaṛā, 1975).
Television and radio programmes in Tunisian Arabic began officially in 1966 with the creation of the Établissement de la Radiodiffusion-Télévision Tunisienne has been created. Tunisian Arabic is now used in all television and radio programmes, excepting news, religious programmes and historical dramas. There were even several translations of Cartoon Series in Tunisian Arabic during the 1980s like Qrīnaṭ il-šalwāš and Mufattiš kaɛbūṛa. Some Tunisian Arabic works acquired some honors in the broader Arab world like the ASBU Festival First Prize in 2015. and the Festival of Arab Media Creation Prize in 2008.
Moreover, since the 1990s, advertisements published in mass media increasingly use Tunisian Arabic and many advertising boards have their slogans and the original or alternative company name written in Tunisian.
However, the main and important journals in Tunisia are not written in Tunisian Arabic even if there were a journal in Tunisian Arabic entitled kull šay b- il-makšūf that was directed by Hedi Saidi and Hechmi Bouaziz and mainly lead by Ali Douagi and that was issued quite regularly from 23 April 1937 to 22 October 1959. The leading journals are still written either in Modern Standard Arabic or in Standard French, even if cartoons in most of them can be written in Tunisian.
The first known use of Arabic script for Tunisian was recorded in the 17th century when Sheykh Karray wrote several poems in Tunisian Arabic for mystic purposes. However, the transcription of Tunisian Arabic was not common until 1903 when the Gospel of John was transcribed in Tunisian Arabic using Arabic script. After the World War I, the use of Arabic script to Tunisian Arabic became very common with the works of Taht Essour. Nowadays, it has become the main script used for Tunisian Arabic, even in published books, even though the writing method doesn't follow a single convention and is subject to change from a book to another.
Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft Umschrift
In 1845, the Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft had been created in Leipzig, Germany as a scientific association dedicated to the studies and the languages of the Orient. After that, the organization had begun to develop its system of transcription of Arabic in Latin script. This system is based on a phonemic transcription of Arabic using an Extended Latin alphabet such as the use of a macron on a given vowel means that this vowel is long... It is just after the establishment of the French Protectorate of Tunisia when the Latin script was used for the first time for Tunisian for linguistic purposes using Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft Transcription or rather DMG Transcription. In fact, the first linguistic study about Tunisian Arabic that had been done by German Linguist Hans Stumme from 1893 to 1896 was transcribing Tunisian Arabic using DMG Transcription. Since 1897 till 1935, a series of linguistics works were conducted mainly by several French members of the Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft like William Marçais, Philippe Marçais, David Cohen and Alfred Nicolas. These works invclved Corpuses, Grammar Books, Studies, Dictionaries... In 1935, the DMG transcription involves many letters and diacritics that are not mainly used in Arabic and main Arabic dialects For example, à, è, ù and ì are used for accentuated and short vowels. However, it seems that these letters are the unique vowels used in the end of a word in Standard Arabic and Arabic dialects and that they do not exist in the middle or the beginning of a word. So, they can be transcribed as short vowels... That is why the XIXth International Congress of Orientalists held in Rome, Italy from 23 to 29 September 1935 created a modified version of the DMG transcription that is accurate to Arabic dialects and that had been adopted later. Purely phonemic, this transcription had been used and supported by quite all the linguists working on Tunisian Arabic during the period between 1935 to 1985 like Gilbert Boris, Hans Rudolf Singer, Lucienne Saada and other interested linguists and is used right now in writing corpuses and several linguistic books in Tunisian Arabic by some institutions like SIL International and the University of Vienna.
Even if DMG transcription was used in linguistic research about Tunisian, some trials had been made in order to create some alternative writing methods in Latin script for Tunisian Arabic for linguistic use and even for some other purposes like communication and education. All these alternative systems tried to solve the problem of the lack of inter convertibility of scripts due to the fact that the transcription of Tunisian Arabic using the DMG method is phonetic and not syntactic and even the problem of the existence of additional Latin letters within DMG layout.
The first trial to create a specific Latin script writing method for Tunisian, Practical Orthography of Tunisian Arabic, was created by Joseph Jourdan in 1913. The principle is to use French consonant and vowel digraphs and phonology to transcribe non-Latin sounds. In fact, kh is used to transcribe /χ/, ch to transcribe /ʃ/, th to transcribe /θ/, gh to transcribe /ʁ/, dh to transcribe /ð/ or /ðˤ/ and ou to transcribe /u:/, a to transcribe /a:/ and /ɛː/, i to transcribe /i:/ and e to transcribe the short vowels. This layout was successful because it does not involve some additional Latin letters and can be transcribed efficiently. It was used in the later linguistic works of Joseph Jourdan about Tunisian Arabic until 1956. Moreover, it is commonly used till now in French books in order to transcribe Tunisian Arabic. This method had been used in 1995 to create Tunisian Arabizi by converting consonant digraphs into digits. In fact, it uses 2 in order to transcribe a glottal stop, 3 to transcribe /ʕ/, 5 to transcribe /χ/, 6 to transcribe /tˤ/, 7 to transcribe /ħ/, 8 to transcribe /θ/ and 9 to transcribe /q/. The ch, dh and gh digraphs are kept in Tunisian Arabizi. Like all other Arabic Chat Alphabets, it had spread a lot in the 1990s and was used mainly by Tunisian young people and it is used by users mainly in the Social Networks and Mobile Phones as a Chat Alphabet right now... The Tunisian Arabizi was the most important script used in transcribing messages in Social Networks during the Tunisian Revolution of 2011. After 2011, more interest had been given to Tunisian Arabizi and in 2013, a concise grammar book about Tunisian that was written with Tunisian Arabizi had been issued. However, this chat alphabet is widely seen as informal as the Arabic digits are transcribed as numbers and letters in the same time and as it is purely phonetic and unfortunately not standardized.
Although this first trial had became successful, the Practical Transcription involves some problems like the possibility of ambiguity between digraphs, the absolute certainty of having a rate of graphs per phoneme that is significantly superior to the conventional value of 1 and independent consonants having the same transliteration as the digraphs and the lack of disambiguation between /ð/ and /ðˤ/. Moroever, the use of digits as numerals and letters in the same time made transcribing Tunisian difficult to users and did not linguistically solve the matters that had been faced by the Practical Transcription.
That is why a new Latin script transcription method was created by the Robert J. Scholes and his team constituted of several linguists from Peace Corps Tunisia and Indiana University in 1966. Letters in this method can be written in small letters only and even T and S are not equivalent to t and s as T is used to transcribe /tˤ/ and S is used to transcribe /sˤ/. Moreover, three Additional Latin Letters are used in this writing method that are 3 (/ʕ/), ø (/ð/) and ħ (/ħ/). Four common English digraphs are used that are dh (/ðˤ/), gh (/ʁ/), th (/tˤ/) and sh (/ʃ/). In order to distinguish the digraphs from the independent letters written like the digraphs, the digraphs are underlined. As for the vowels, they are written as å (glottal stop or /ʔ/), ā (/æ/), ā: (/ɛ:/), a (Short an or /a/), a: (long an or /a:/), i (short i or /i/), i: (long i or /i:/), u (short u or /u/), u: (Long u or /u:/). This method had been used in the Peace Corps books about Tunisian Arabic until 1993 when Peace Corps Tunisia had become inactive.
After years of works on a phonetic transliteration of Tunisian, linguists had decided that the transliteration should be mainly syntactic. In fact, Timothy Buckwalter had created an orthography-based transcription of Arabic texts during his work for Xerox. Buckwalter transcription was made in order to avoid the effect of Phoneme simplification while daily speaking Arabic on the morphological analysis of the language. In 2004, Tunisian linguist Mohamed Maamouri had proposed to use the same transliteration for Arabic dialects and mainly Tunisian. In 2013, a complete work about the regulations of the use of the Buckwalter transliteration for Tunisian was issued by Ines Zribi and her team from the University of Sfax A morphological analysis and a conventional orthography of Tunisian using this method were posted by 2014 as a development of the generalized work of Columbia University Professor Nizar Habash about the use of Buckwalter transcription for analyzing and standardizing the orthography of main Arabic dialects. However, this method is currently used for computer operations only and it is unfortunately not used by people as it involves some ASCII non-alphanumeric graphs as letters and as S, D and T does not correspond respectively to the same phonemes as s, d and t. Furthermore, p does not correspond to /p/ but to ﺓ. That is why this method has not been adapted for daily use in writing Arabic dialects and mainly for Tunisian. Although the Latin Script is widely used in Tunisia, it had been not widely recognized as an official script for Tunisian because of the lack of standardization of Tunisian Orthography as many writing methods using the Latin Letters are currently used for Tunisian.
The most immediately apparent difference between Tunisian and standard Arabic is the extensive use of words borrowed from Italian, Spanish, French, Berber and Turkish. For example, Electricity is /kahrabaːʔ/ in standard Arabic. It is trīsītī in Tunisian Arabic (a word mainly used by older people), from the French électricité. Other loans from French include buṛtmān (flat), and byāsa (coin). Furthermore, there are words and structures that came from Turkish, such as bālik (perhaps), gawrī (European) (Gavur); as well as the suffix of occupation /-ʒi/ as in būṣṭājī (Post Officer) and kawwāṛjī (Football Player). Some more words derived from French, Italian, Turkish, Berber or Spanish are below:
|Tunisian Arabic||Standard Arabic||English||Etymology of Tunisian Arabic|
|بابور ḅāḅūr||سفينة /safiːna/||ship||Turkish: vapur meaning "steamboat"|
|باكو bākū||صندوق /sˤundu:q/||package||Italian: pacco|
|بانكه ḅānka||بنك /bank/||bank||Italian: banca|
|بلاصه bḷāṣa||مكان /makaːn/||place||Spanish:plaza|
|بوسطه būsṭa||مكتب البريد /maktab albari:d/||post office||French: poste|
|داكردو dakūrdū||حسنا /ħasanan/||okay||Italian: d'accordo|
|فيشته fišta||عيد /ʕiːd/||holiday||Italian: festa|
|كرّوسه kaṛṛūsa||عربة /ʕaraba/||carriage||Italian: carrozza|
|كوجينه kūjīna||مطبخ /matˤbax/||kitchen||Italian: cucina|
|كسكسي kusksī||كسكسي /kuskusi/||couscous||Berber: seksu|
|ماكينه mākīna||آلة /ʔaːla/||machine||Italian: machina|
|صبّاط ṣabbāṭ||حذاء /ħiðaːʔ/||shoes||Spanish: zapatos|
|قلسيطه qalsīta||جورب /jawrab/||sock||Spanish: calcetín|
|قطّوس qaṭṭūs||قط /qitˤː/||cat||Latin: cattus|
|سبيطار sbīṭāṛ||مستشفى /mustaʃfa/||hospital||Italian: ospedale|
|سفناريه sfinnarya||جزر /jazar/||carrot||Greek: σταφυλῖνος ἄγριος|
These loans are not to be confused with the actual use of French words or sentences in everyday speech by Tunisians (codeswitching), which is common in everyday language and business environments. However, many French words are used within Tunisian Arabic discourse, without being adapted to Tunisian phonology, apart from the French r [ʁ] that is often replaced, especially by men, with [r]. For example, many Tunisians, when asking "How are you?" will use the French "ça va?" instead of, and in addition to the Tunisian šnīya aḥwālik. It is difficult in this case to establish whether this is an example of using French or borrowing.
In general, the loanwords are adapted to Tunisian phonology for years until they become pronounced with Basic Tunisian Arabic Sounds only. For example, The French Word apartement became buṛtmān and the Italian word ospedale had become sbīṭāṛ.
Shift in meanings
The greatest number of differences between Tunisian and Standard Arabic are not due to borrowing from another language, but due to shift in meaning of an Arabic root. For example, /x-d-m/ means "serve" in Standard Arabic but "work" in Tunisian Arabic, as opposed to /ʕ-m-l/ means "work" in Standard Arabic but was narrowed to "do" in Tunisian Arabic; and /m-ʃ-j/ meaning in Tunisian Arabic has broadened to "go" from "walk".
In general, meaning shift happens when there is a lexical implication of the society speaking the language. This means that the Social situation and thoughts of the speakers of the languages had obliged them to change the meaning of some words so that their language could be adapted to their situation and this is just what happened in Tunisia. In fact, the borrowing of rhetoric and semantic structures from other languages of contact like French helped the meaning shift in Tunisian.
In Tunisian, some new words and structures had been created through the fusion of two words or more. Almost all question words fall into the latter category. The question words are noticeable by their beginning or ending with the sound š or āš and are not to be confused with the negation mark, that is š which accords the verbs as in mā mšītš (I didn't go).
|Tunisian Arabic||Construction||Standard Arabic||English|
|škūn||āš + kūn||من /man/||who|
|āš + n + (h)ūwa
āš + n + (h)īya
|waqtāš||waqt + āš||متى /mata/||when|
|lwāš||l- + āš||لماذا /limaːða/||for what reason|
|ɛlāš||ɛlā + āš||لماذا /limaːða/||why|
|kīfāš||kīf + āš||كيف /kajfa/||how|
|qaddāš||qadd + āš||كم /kam/||how much|
|mnāš||min + āš||من أين /man ʔajna/||from what|
|fāš||fī + āš||في من /fi man/||in what, what|
|wīn||w + ayn||أين /ʔajna/||where|
Some of these question words, can be merged with other structures such as the prepositions and object pronouns. For example, "who are you" becomes škūnik intī or simply škūnik and "how much is this" becomes b- qaddāš.
Another example of word fusion in Tunisian is the spelling of numerals between 11 and 19 which are pronounced as one word composed of the name of the digit obtained by subtracting 10 to the number and the suffix ṭāš derived from the Standard Arabic word عَشَرَ /ʕaʃara/, those numbers are in order: aḥdāš, ŧṇāš, ŧlaṭṭāš, aṛbaɛṭāš, xmasṭāš, sitṭāš, sbaɛṭāš, ŧmanṭāš and tsaɛṭāš.
Pattern and Root based creation of new words
As in Standard Arabic and other Arabic dialects, the creation of new words is based on Root and Pattern system. This means that new words can be created through the association of a root that is composed most of the time of three letters that have a meaning with a rhythm or pattern that informs about the position of the object in the fact. For example, K-T-B is a root meaning to write and mafɛūl is a pattern meaning that the object has submitted the fact. So, the combination of the root and the given pattern render maKTūB that means something that was written.
There are several differences in pronunciation between Standard and Tunisian Arabic. In fact, nunation does not exist in Tunisian Arabic and short vowels are frequently omitted, especially where they would occur as the final element of an open syllable. This was probably encouraged by the Berber substratum.
Metathesis is the phenomenon of shift of position of the first vowel of the word. It occurs when the unconjugated verb or unsuffixed noun begins with CCVC where C is an unstressed consonant and V is a short vowel. When a suffix is added to this kind of noun or when the verb is conjugated, the first vowel changes of position and the verb becomes beginning with CVCC.
- (he) wrote in Tunisian Arabic becomes ktib and (she) wrote in Tunisian Arabic becomes kitbit.
- several stuffs in Tunisian Arabic becomes dbaš and my stuffs in Tunisian Arabic becomes dabšī.
Stress is not phonologically distinctive and it is determined by the word's syllable structure. Hence, it falls on the ultimate syllable if it is doubly closed, for example sirwāl (trousers). Otherwise, if falls on the penultimate syllable, if there is one, for example jarīda (newspaper). Otherwise, the stress falls on the only syllable, for example mṛā (woman). Affixes are treated as part of the word, for example niktbūlkum (we write to you).
|tṭ > ṭṭ||ṭt > ṭṭ||xh > xx||xġ > xx|
|tg > dg||fd > vd||ḥh > ḥḥ||nl > ll|
|sd > zd||td > dd||dt > tt||ln > nn|
|hɛ > ḥḥ||tđ > dđ||hḥ > ḥḥ||nr > rr|
|nf > mf||qk > qq||kq > qq||lr > rr|
|ndn > nn||ḥɛ > ḥḥ||ġh > xx||ɛh > ḥḥ|
|šd > jd||fC1 > vC1||bC2 > pC2||nb > mb|
|ɛḥ > ḥḥ||tz > dz||tj > dj|
Standard Arabic qāf has both [q] and [ɡ] as reflexes in both sedentary and nomadic varieties, with [q] predominating in sedentary varieties and [ɡ] in nomadics ones (e.g. He said is [qɑːl] vs. [ɡɑːl]). But some words have the same form whatever the dialect: cow is always [baɡra] and I study [naqra]. Interdental fricatives are also maintained, except in Sahil Dialect for several situations. Furthermore, Tunisian Arabic has merged /dˤ/ ض with /ðˤ/ ظ.
|Nasal||m m||(mˤ)1 ṃ||n n||(nˤ)1 ṇ|
|Plosive||voiceless||(p)2 p||t t||tˤ ṭ||k k||q q||(ʔ)4 '|
|voiced||b b||(bˤ)1 ḅ||d d||ɡ g|
|Fricative||sibilant||voiceless||s s||sˤ ṣ||ʃ š|
|voiced||z z||(zˤ)1 ẓ||ʒ j|
|non-sibilant||voiceless||f f||θ ŧ||χ x||ħ ḥ||h h|
|voiced||(v)2 v||ð đ||ðˤ ḑ||ʁ ġ||ʕ ɛ|
|Approximant||w w||l l||lˤ ḷ||j y|
|Trill||r r||rˤ ṛ|
- ^1 These emphatic consonants rarely occur, and most of them are found in borrowed words. Minimal pairs are not always easy to find for these contrasts, but there are nonetheless examples showing that these marginal forms do not represent allophones of other phonemes. For example:
- These emphatic consonants occur before or after the vowels /a/ and /aː/. A different analysis is that the posited allophones of /a/ and /aː/ are phonemically distinct, and it is the marginal emphatic consonants that are allophonic.
- ^2 /p/ and /v/ are found in borrowed words and they are usually replaced by /b/, like in ḅāḅūr and ḅāla. However, they are preserved in some words, like pīsīn and talvza.
- ^3 Rarely used, for example tšīša, dzīṛa and dzāyir.
- ^4 Usually dropped but tends to occur in the learned register, in loans from Standard Arabic, often in maṣdar (verbal noun) forms at the onset of the word, but also in other words like /biːʔa/ "environment" and /jisʔal/ "he asks", though many (mainly less educated) speakers substitute /h/ for /ʔ/ in the latter word.
There are two primary analyses of Tunisian vowels:
- Three vowel qualities, /a, i, u/ and a large number of emphatic consonants, namely /tˤ, sˤ, ðˤ, rˤ, lˤ, zˤ, nˤ, mˤ, bˤ/. /a/ has distinct allophones after guttural (emphatic, uvular and pharyngeal) consonants and after non-guttural consonants. Many of the emphatics only occur adjacent to /a/.
- four vowel qualities, /æ, ɑ, i, u/, and only the three phonemic emphatic consonants /tˤ, sˤ, ðˤ/. The other emphatic consonants are allophones found in the environment of /ɑ/.
Regardless of the analysis, Hilalian influence had provided the additional vowels /eː/ and /oː/ to the Sahil and Southeastern dialects. These two long vowels are are reflexes of the diphthongs /aj/ and /aw/.
|Close||ɪ i||iː ī||(yː) ü||u u||uː ū|
|Open-mid||oral||ɛː ā||(œː) ë||(ɔː) o|
|nasal||(ɛ̃) iñ||(ɔ̃) uñ|
|oral||æ a||ɑ a||ɑː ā|
- Assuming that pharyngealisation is a property of consonants, most dialects have three vowel qualities /a, i, u/, all also distinguished for length, as in Standard Arabic.
- The length distinction is suspended word finally: A final vowel is realised long in accent-bearing words of one syllable (For example, jā [ʒɛː] he came), otherwise short.
- In non-pharyngealised environments, the open vowel /a/ is [ɛ] in stressed syllables and [æ] in unstressed syllables. In pharyngealized environments, the open vowel is [ɑ].
- /ɔ:/ and nasal vowels are rare in native words like mañqūba and lañgār and mainly occur in French loans. As for /y:/ and /œː/, they are only existing in French loanwords.
Syllables and Pronunciation Simplification
Tunisian Arabic has a very different syllable structure from Standard Arabic like all other North African varieties. While Standard Arabic can have only one consonant at the beginning of a syllable, after which a vowel must follow, Tunisian Arabic commonly has two consonants in the onset. For example, Standard Arabic book is /kitaːb/, while in Tunisian Arabic it is ktāb.
The nucleus may contain a short or long vowel, and at the end of the syllable, in the coda, it may have up to three consonants, e.g. /ma dxaltʃ/ I did not enter; Standard Arabic can have no more than two consonants in this position.
Non-final syllables composed of just a consonant and a short vowel (i.e. light syllables) are very rare, and are generally loans from Standard Arabic: short vowels in this position have generally been lost, resulting in the many initial CC clusters. For example, /ʒawaːb/ reply is a loan from Standard Arabic, but the same word has the natural development /ʒwaːb/, which is the usual word for letter.
Further than these characteristics, Tunisian Arabic is also known for a different pronunciation of words according to their orthography and position within a text. This phenomenon is known as Pronunciation simplification and is constituted of four rules:
- If they are in the end of a word, [i:] and [ɪ] are pronounced as [i], [u:] and [u] are pronounced as [u], and [a:], [ɛː], [a] and [æ] are pronounced as [æ]. For example, yibdē is practically pronounced as /yibdæ/...
- If a word finishes with a vowel and the next word begins with a short vowel, this short vowel and the space between the two words are not pronounced. This phenomenon is seen clearly when comparing Arabic texts to their Latin phonemic transliteration in several works.
- If a word begins with two successive consonants, an [ɪ] is pronounced in its beginning.
- If there is a CCC which is not written before a vowel within a word, it is pronounced as CCiC. For example: yiktib, yiktbū.
Nouns and adjectives in Tunisian Arabic are classified into nouns having a regular plural and ones having an irregular plural. Several nouns in Tunisian Arabic have even duals. These irregular or broken plurals are quite the same as the ones of Standard Arabic. Gender shift is achieved for singular nouns and adjectives by adding an -a suffix. However, this fact cannot occur for the most of the plural nouns.
Tunisian Arabic has five types of pronouns: Personal, Possessive, Demonstrative, Indirect Object and Indefinite Pronouns. Unlike in Standard Arabic, they is a unique pronoun for the second person in singular and a unique pronoun for the second person in Plural. Furthermore, this variety has three types of articles: Definite, Demonstrative and Possessive articles. The most of them can be written before or after the noun.
As for verbs, they are conjugated in five tenses: Perfective, Imperfective, Future, Imperative, Conditional Present and Conditional Past Tenses and in four forms: Affirmative, Exclamative, Interrogative and Negative Forms. They can be preceded by Modal Verbs to mean a particular intention, situation, belief or obligation when they are conjugated in Perfective or Imperfective Tenses. Tunisian Arabic questions could be āš (wh question) or īh/lā (Yes/No question).
Like in Standard Arabic, There are three types of nouns that can be derived from verbs which are Present Participle, Past Participle and Verbal Noun and there are even nouns that are derived from the simple verbs having the root fɛal or faɛlil. Tunisian Arabic also involves several prepositions and conjunctions. These structures are derived from the ones of Standard Arabic even if they became absolutely different due to the influence of Berber and European languages on Tunisian. 
Semantics and Pragmatics
Discourses in Tunisian Arabic are likely to use some rhetorical styles like Metaphors. Furthermore, Tunisian Arabic styles and tenses hold several figurative meaning. For example, the use of past tense can mean that the situation is uncontrollable. As well, the use of the third person pronouns can be figurative to mean saints and subhuman creatures and the use of demonstrative can have figurative meanings like underestimation. Moreover, the name of some parts of the body can be used in several expressions in order to get figurative meanings. This phenomenon is entitled the embodiment. Furthermore, some nouns and verbs have their figurative meanings and the use of these figurative meanings depends of the circumstances of the dealt discourse like the political situation of the country and the ages of the people participating in the discussion.
Several Tunisian words had been used in the lyrics of some famous Arabic songs and poems like ɛa- il-slāma of Majda Al Roumi. Furthermore, some famous Arabic singers had been known of singing several old Tunisian Arabic songs like Hussain Al Jassmi and Dina Hayek. Tunisian Arabic had even influenced several Berber dialects by transferring to them several Arabic structures and words. It was as well the origin of Maltese and some of its words like Brīk and frīkasāy had been inspired by French as loanwords. The Il-Ţalyānī Tunisian Arabic word meaning "the Italian" had even been used as a title of a roman in Standard Arabic which had received the Booker Prize for Arabic Literature in 2015 and even several prestigious television series from other Arabic Countries like the Lebanese Cello Series involved a character talking in Tunisian Arabic.
- Tunisian Arabic at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
- (French) Caubet, D. (2004). La" darja", langue de culture en France. Hommes et migrations, 34-44.
- (French) Barontini, A. (2007). Valorisation des langues vivantes en France: le cas de l'arabe maghrébin. Le Français aujourd'hui, 158(3), 20-27.
- Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Tunisian Arabic". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
- Like the other Maghrebi dialects that are called Derja by all their Native Speakers
- Gibson, M. (2009). Tunis Arabic. Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics, 4, 563–71.
- Written in Arabic script as تونسي or in Latin script (Arabizi) as Tounsi
- Sayahi, Lotfi (24 April 2014). Diglossia and Language Contact: Language Variation and Change in North Africa. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781139867078.
- (French) Tilmatine Mohand, Substrat et convergences: Le berbére et l'arabe nord-africain (1999), in Estudios de dialectologia norteafricana y andalusi 4, pp 99–119
- (Spanish) Corriente, F. (1992). Árabe andalusí y lenguas romances. Fundación MAPFRE.
- Zribi, I., Boujelbane, R., Masmoudi, A., Ellouze, M., Belguith, L., & Habash, N. (2014). A Conventional Orthography for Tunisian Arabic. In Proceedings of the Language Resources and Evaluation Conference (LREC), Reykjavik, Iceland.
- Daoud, M. (2001). The language situation in Tunisia. Current Issues in Language Planning, 2(1), 1–52.
- Borg and Azzopardi-Alexander Maltese (1997:xiii) "The immediate source for the Arabic vernacular spoken in Malta was Muslim Sicily, but its ultimate origin appears to have been Tunisia. In fact Maltese displays some areal traits typical of Maghrebine Arabic, although during the past eight hundred years of independent evolution it has drifted apart from Tunisian Arabic".
- Borg, Albert J.; Azzopardi-Alexander, Marie (1997). Maltese. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-02243-6.
- (French) Vanhove, M. (1998). De quelques traits préhilaliens en maltais. Aguade et al., ed, 97-108.
- Ritt-Benmimoum, V. (2014). The Tunisian Hilal and Sulaym Dialects: A Preliminary Comparative Study. Proceedings of the IXth Conference of AIDA. pp. 351-360
- S'hiri, S. (2002). Speak Arabic please! Tunisian Arabic speakers' linguistic accommodation to Middle Easterners. Language contact and lantahguage conflict in Arabic, 149-174.
- Mughal, M. (2012). Tunisia. in Danver, S. (ed.). Native Peoples of the World: An Encyclopedia of Groups, Cultures, and Contemporary Issues, Vol. 3. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, pp. 688–689.
- Gabsi, Z. (2003). An outline of the Shilha (Berber) vernacular of Douiret (Southern Tunisia) (Doctoral dissertation, Univ. of Western Sydney Sydney).
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|Tunisian Arabic test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|
|Tunisian Arabic test of Wiktionary at Wikimedia Incubator|
- Tunisian Arabic Arabizi Dictionary
- McNeil Tunisian Arabic Corpus
- Tunisian Arabic VICAV Dictionary
- Tunisian Arabic Swadesh list (from Wiktionary's Swadesh-list appendix)