Maghrebi Arabic (Western Arabic; as opposed to Eastern or Mashriqi Arabic) is a vernacular Arabic dialect continuum spoken in the Maghreb region, in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Western Sahara, and Mauritania. It includes Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian, Libyan, and Hassaniya Arabic. Speakers of Maghrebi Arabic are primarily Arab-Berbers who call their language Derdja, Derja, Derija or Darija ( ar|الدارجة; meaning "common or everyday language"). This serves to differentiate the spoken vernacular from Standard Arabic. The Maltese language is believed to be derived from Siculo-Arabic and ultimately from Tunisian Arabic, as it contains some typical Maghrebi Arabic areal characteristics.


* Varieties of Arabic * Pre-Hilalian Arabic dialects * Hilalian dialects * Koinés: ** Algerian Arabic ** Moroccan Arabic ** Tunisian Arabic ** Libyan Arabic ** Jebli Arabic ** Jijel Arabic ** Andalusian Arabic (extinct) ** Siculo-Arabic (extinct) *** Maltese language (descended from Sicilian Arabic, but influenced lexically by Tunisian, Libyan, Sicilian, Italian, French, and more recently, English) * Western Bedouin: ** Hassaniya Arabic ** Saharan Arabic


''Darija'', ''Derija'' or ''Delja'' ( ar|الدارجة) means "everyday/colloquial language"; it is also rendered as ', ''derija'' or ''darja''. It refers to any of the varieties of colloquial Maghrebi Arabic. Although it is also common in Algeria and Tunisia to refer to the Maghrebi Arabic varieties directly as languages, similarly it is also common in Egypt and Lebanon to refer to the Mashriqi Arabic varieties directly as languages. For instance, Algerian Arabic would be referred as ''Dzayri'' (Algerian) and Tunisian Arabic as ''Tounsi'' (Tunisian), and Egyptian Arabic would be referred as ''Masri'' (Egyptian) and Lebanese Arabic as ''Lubnani'' (Lebanese). In contrast, the colloquial dialects of more eastern Arab countries, such as Egypt, Jordan and Sudan, are usually known as ' (), though Egyptians may also refer to their dialects as ''al-logha-d-darga''.


The varieties of Maghrebi Arabic (Darija) have a significant degree of mutual intelligibility, especially between geographically adjacent ones (such as local dialects spoken in Eastern Morocco and Western Algeria or Eastern Algeria and North Tunisia or South Tunisia and Western Libya), but to a lesser degree between Moroccan and Tunisian Darija. Conversely, Moroccan Darija and particularly Algerian Derja cannot be easily understood by Eastern Arabic speakers (from Egypt, Sudan, Levant, Iraq, and Arabian peninsula) in general. However, the dialects are far from fully aligned with country borders, and some countries, such as Egypt, have several widely spoken Arabic dialects. Maghrebi Arabic continues to evolve by integrating new French or English words, notably in technical fields, or by replacing old French and Italian/Spanish ones with Modern Standard Arabic words within some circles; more educated and upper-class people who code-switch between Maghrebi Arabic and Modern Standard Arabic have more French and Italian/Spanish loanwords, especially the latter came from the time of al-Andalus. Maghrebi dialects all use ''n-'' as the first-person singular prefix on verbs, distinguishing them from Levantine dialects and Modern Standard Arabic.

Relationship with Modern Standard Arabic and Berber languages

Modern Standard Arabic ( ''al-Fusḥā'') is the primary language used in the government, legislation and judiciary of countries in the Maghreb. Maghrebi Arabic is mainly a spoken and vernacular language, although it occasionally appears in entertainment and advertising in urban areas of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. In Algeria, where Maghrebi Arabic was taught as a separate subject under French colonization, some textbooks in the language exist but they are no longer officially endorsed by the Algerian authorities. Maghrebi Arabic contains a Berber substratum, which represents the languages originally spoken by the native populations of the Maghreb prior to their adoption of Arabic.Tilmatine Mohand, « Substrat et convergences : Le berbère et l'arabe nord-africain », ''Estudios de dialectologia norteaafricana y andalusi'', n°4, 1999, pp. 99-119 The dialect may also possess a Punic substrate. Additionally, Maghrebi Arabic has a Latin substratum, which may have been derived from the African Romance that was used as an urban lingua franca during the Byzantine Empire period.

Relationship with other languages

Maghrebi Arabic speakers frequently borrow words from French (in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia), Spanish (in northern Morocco) and Italian (in Libya and Tunisia) and conjugate them according to the rules of their dialects with some exceptions (like passive voice for example). Since it is not always written, there is no standard and it is free to change quickly and to pick up new vocabulary from neighbouring languages. This is somewhat similar to what happened to Middle English after the Norman conquest.

See also

* Varieties of Arabic * Moroccan Arabic * Languages of Africa


Further reading

* Singer, Hans-Rudolf (1980) “Das Westarabische oder Maghribinische” in Wolfdietrich Fischer and Otto Jastrow (eds.) ''Handbuch der arabischen Dialekte''. Otto Harrassowitz: Wiesbaden. 249-76. {{Authority control Category:Arabic languages Category:Languages of Gibraltar Category:Languages of Sicily Category:Languages of Spain