Modern Standard Arabic and Tamazight – also called Berber – are the two official languages in Algeria. Around 73% of the country’s population speaks Algerian Arabic, while 27% speak Berber. French is also used by the Algerian government, media and schools.

Arabic was established as the official language of Algeria by the 1963 constitution. Algerian Arabic, spoken by 73% of the population, is derived from the various Arabic languages used in northern Algeria. It encompasses different dialects spoken by two different groups: Hilalian and pre-Hilalian dialects. Algerian Arabic is mostly used for the purposes of daily communication, while Modern Standard Arabic is used for official purposes. Berber, on the other hand, is regarded as Algeria’s native language. There are five primary dialects of the Berber languages which are spoken mainly in the Algerian Sahara desert, the Awras, and in Kabylia. Berber is a language which has been spoken since medieval times in Algeria and which has remained popular despite the latter introduction of Latin and Arabic. Berber was made Algeria’s second official language in 2016.

Regional languages in Algeria include Hassaniya and Korandje. Hassaniya is a variety of Maghrebi Arabic native to Algeria as well as Morocco, Senegal, Mauritania, Western Sahara, Niger and Libya. There are several dialects of the Hassaniya which are used by its speakers. Korandje, a Northern Songhay language, is another regional language spoken in Algeria.This language is mostly spoken in the Saharan oasis of Tabelbala by the communities living there. The number of native speakers of this language, which is heavily influenced by both Arabic and Berber, is estimated at 3,000.

Algerian Arabic has many borrowed words from Berber, French, and Turkish languages, as well as a more simplified vowel system than standard Arabic. Native Berbers of Algeria speak Algerian Berber. Some of the dialects of the Berber language used in Algeria include Kabyle and Chaouia. French, in combination with Algerian Arabic, is also widely spoken in the large cities. The majority of the population of Algeria understands French, and it is widely represented in the media, schools and in governmental affairs. French was brought in the country during the French occupation, and despite the government’s attempts to stop the language, French it is still widely used. In fact, Algeria is the second largest Francophone nation in the world when it comes to the number of speakers. Apart from French, English is also taught in Algerian schools. English is considered to be the ‘language of science’, which is why there have been calls to replace French with English in the education curriculum.


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