The Info List - Algerian Arabic

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Algerian Arabic, or 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
Maghrebi Arabic
language continuum and as such it is partially mutually intelligible with Tunisian and Moroccan. Like other varieties of Maghrebi Arabic, Algerian dialects have a mostly Semitic vocabulary,[4] with significant Berber and Latin (African Romance)[5] substrates and numerous loanwords from French, Ottoman Turkish and Spanish. Algerian Arabic
is the native language of 75% to 80% of Algerians,[6] and is mastered by 95% to 100% of them.[6] It is essentially a spoken language used in daily communication and entertainment, while Classical Arabic
Classical Arabic
is generally reserved for official use and education.


1 Dialects

1.1 Hilalian dialects 1.2 Pre-Hilalian dialects

2 Phonology 3 Grammar

3.1 Nouns and adjectives 3.2 Conjunctions and prepositions

3.2.1 Gender 3.2.2 Pluralisation

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

3.9.1 Personal pronouns 3.9.2 Possessive pronouns 3.9.3 Interrogative pronouns 3.9.4 Verbal pronouns

3.10 Demonstratives

4 Sample text 5 French loanwords 6 See also 7 References

Dialects[edit] Algerian Arabic
includes several distinct dialects belonging to two genetically different groups: pre-Hilalian and Hilalian dialects. Hilalian dialects[edit] Hilalian dialects of Algeria
belong to three linguistic groups:[7]

Eastern Hilal dialects:[8] spoken in Hautes Plaines
Hautes Plaines
around Sétif, M'Sila
and Djelfa; Central Hilal dialects:[9] of central and southern Algeria, south of Algiers
and Oran; Mâqil dialects:[10] 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. Pre-Hilalian dialects[edit] Pre-Hilalian Arabic dialects are generally classified in three types: urban, "village" sedentary and Jewish dialects. Several Pre-Hilalian dialects are spoken in Algeria:[7][11]

Urban dialects are in all of Algeria's big cities. Urban dialects were formerly also spoken in other cities such as Azemmour
and Mascara, 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 (fr), Rachgun (fr) 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.

Phonology[edit] IPA phonemes as transliterated in this article: 27 consonants:

/b/ /p/ /t/ /dʒ/ /ħ/ /χ/ /d/ /r/ /z/ /s/ /ʃ/ /sˤ/ /dˤ/ /tˤ/ /ʕ/ /ʁ/ /f/ /v/ /q/ /ɡ/ /k/ /l/ /m/ /n/ /h/ /w/ /j/

b p t j ḥ x d r z s š ṣ ḍ ṭ ε γ f v q g k l m n h w y

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 (fr)). Elsewhere, it is written ڨ (especially in Kabylia).

6 vowels: 3 long vowels:

/aː/ /sˤɑːħəb/ friend /iː/ (as in "ski") e.g. قريت /qriːt/ I read, in the past /uː/ (as in "flu") e.g. تِلِفون /tilifuːn/

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/.

Algerian Arabic
is particularly rich in uvular, pharyngeal, and pharyngealized ("emphatic") sounds. The uvular and emphatic sounds are generally considered to be q, x and ṣ, ḍ, and ṭ respectively. 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. Grammar[edit] Nouns and adjectives[edit]

English Pronunciation Algerian Arabic

drink shrab شراب

sky sma سما

water ma ما

woman, women mra مرا

fire nar نار

big kbir كبير

man, men rajel rjal (راجل)(رجال)

day nhâr, yoom نهار، يوم

moon Qmar قمر

night leel ليل

bread khobz خبز

small ṣghir صغير

sand rmel رمل

winter, rain shtâ , mtar شتا، مطر

ball balon بالون

napkin servieta سرڥيتة

toilet, bathroom beit el ma'; beit er-râHa ; Twâlaat بيت الماء، بيت الراحة

Conjunctions and prepositions[edit]

English Conjunctions Algerian Arabic Notes of usage

But bâṣṣâh بالصح Also used is ولكن

If ila, lakan ،إيلا، إيدا، لاكان، كون Used for impossible conditions and comes just before the verb

If loukan لوكان For possible conditions, Also used is لو, لاكون and إذا

So that, that bash باش

That beli باللي

As if ki di كي دي

Because ala khatr على خاطر

When ila الا

Before Qbel ma قبل ما Used before verbs

Without bla ma بلا ما Used before verbs

Whether kash ma كاش ما Used before verbs

under taht تحت

over, on top of فوق

after mora/Bääd بعد,مور

before Qbel قبل Used only for time

next to, beside qodam or godam قدام Also used is حدا قدام

at εend عند

with ma' مع

among, between been, beenat (plural) بين، بينات

same as, as much as A'la hsab, qed, keema, على حساب, كيما, قد amount

oh, oh so much ya, ah يا، آه

Some of them can be attached to the noun, just like in other Arabic dialects. The word for in, "fee", can be attached to a definite noun. For example, the word for house has a definite form "eddar" (الدار) but with "fee" (في), it becomes "feddar" (فالدار). Gender[edit] 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. Examples:

[ħmɑr] "a donkey", [ħmɑrɑ] "a female donkey".

Pluralisation[edit] 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. Unlike Classical Arabic's use of the suffix -un for the nominative, Algerian Arabic
uses, for all cases, the suffix -in, used in Classical Arabic
for the accusative and the genitive:

mumen مومن (believer) → mumnin مومنين

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.

Article[edit] 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. Examples:

rajel → errajel "man" (assimilation) qmar → elqmar "moon" (no assimilation)

Verbs[edit] 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.

Person Past Present

Singular Plural Singular Plural

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":

Person Past Present

Singular Plural Singular Plural

1st (m) ktebt ktebna nekteb nekketbu

2nd (m) ktebt ktebtu tekteb tekketbu

2nd (f) ktebti ktebtu tekketbi tekketbu

3rd (m) kteb ketbu yekteb yekketbu

3rd (f) ketbet ketbu tekteb yekketbu

Person Past Present Future Present continuous

Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural

1st (m) كتبت كتبنا نكتب نكتبوا رايح نكتب رايحين نكتبوا راني نكتب رانا نكتبوا

2nd (m) كتبت كتبتوا تكتب تكتبوا رايح تكتب رايحين تكتبوا راك تكتب راكم تكتبوا

2nd (f) كتبتي كتبتوا تكتبي تكتبوا رايحة تكتبي رايحين تكتبوا راكي تكتبي راكم تكتبوا

3rd (m) كتب كتبوا يكتب يكتبوا رايح يكتب رايحين يكتبوا راهو يكتب راهم يكتبوا

3rd (f) كتبت كتبوا تكتب يكتبوا رايحة تكتب رايحين يكتبوا راهي تكتب راكم تكتبوا

Future tense[edit] Speakers generally do not use the future tense above. Used instead is the present tense or present continuous. Also, as is used in all of the other Arabic
dialects, there is another way of showing active tense. The form changes the root verb into an adjective. For example, "kteb" he wrote becomes "kateb". Negation[edit] Like all North African Arabic
varieties (including Egyptian Arabic) along with some Levantine Arabic
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 lεebtši /ʃ/  » ما لعبتشي ("I didn't play") « ma tţabbaεniiš » ("Don't push me") « ma yTawlo-lekš haaðu lqaraaεi » ("Those bottles won't last you long") « ma sibtš plaaşa » ("I couldn't get a seat / parking place")

Person Past Present Future

Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural

1st (m) ماكتبتش ماكتبناش مانكتبش مانكتبواش مانيش ماشي نكتب ماناش ماشيين نكتبو

2nd (m) ماكتبتش ماكتبتوش ماتكتبش ماتكتبوهاش ماراكش ماشي تكتب ما راكمش ماشيين تكتبو

2nd (f) ماكتبتيش ماكتبتوش ماتكتبش ماتكتبوش ماراكش ماشية تكتب ماراكمش ماشيين تكتبو

3rd (m) ماكتبش ماكتبوش مايكتبش مايكتبوهاش ماراش ماشي يكتب ماراهمش ماشيين يكتبو

3rd (f) ماكتبتش ماكتبوش ماتكتبش مايكتبوش ماراكمش ماشيين تكتبو ماراهمش ماشيين يكتبو

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 qolt walu ماقلت والو ("I didn't say anything") ma šuft tta waħed ما شفت تا واحد ("I didn't see anyone")

or when two verbs are consecutively in the negative

ma šuft ma smeεt ما شفت ما سمعت ("I neither saw nor did I hear").

Verb derivation[edit] Verb derivation is done by adding suffixes or by doubling consonants, there are two types of derivation forms: causative, Passive.

Causative: is obtained by doubling consonants :

khrej "to go out" → khrrej "to make to go out" dkhel "to enter" → dkhol "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[edit] Things could be in three places hnaya (right here), hna (here) or el-hih (there). Pronouns[edit] Personal pronouns[edit] 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.

Person Singular Plural

1st ana ḥna

2nd (m) enta entum(a)

2nd (f) enti entum(a)

3rd (m) huwa huma

3rd (f) hiya huma

Example : « haTa ana. » — "Me too."

Person Algerian Arabic Pronunciation

I am راني rani

You are (m) راك rak

You are (f) راكي raki

He is راه rah

She is راهي rahi

We are رانا rana

You or Y'all are راكُ raku

You or Y'all are راكم rakum (m)and (f)

They are راهم rahum (m)and (f)

Example : « Rani hna. » — "I'm here." and « Kach rak. » "How are you." to both males and females. Possessive pronouns[edit] Dar (دار) means house.

Person Singular Plural

1st i (داري) na (دارنا)

2nd (e)k (دارك) kum (داركم)

3rd (m) u (دارو) m (دارم)

3rd (f) a (دارا) m (دارم)

Example : « dar-na. » — "Our house" (House-our) Possessives are frequently combined with « dyal (ديال)» "of, property" : « dar dyal-na » — "Our house.", « dar dial-kam » ...etc. Singular: ديالي = my or mine (pronounced dyal-i) ديالك = your or yours (m, f) (pronounced dyal-ak) ديالو = his (pronounced dyal-o) ديالا = hers (pronounced dyal-a) Plural: ديالنا = our or ours (pronounced dyal-na) ديالكم = your or yours (m, f) (pronounced dyal-kum) ديالم = their or theirs (m, f) (pronounced dya-um) "Our house" can be "Darna" (دارنا) or "Dar ta'na" (دار تاعنا), which is more like saying 'house of ours'. Ta' can be used in other ways just like in English in Spanish. You can say "Dar ta' khuya" (دار تاع خويا), which means 'house of my brother' or 'my brother's house'. Interrogative pronouns[edit]

Interrogatives Algerian Arabic Pronunciation

What? واش wesh?

When? وقتاش waqtach?

Why? علاه 3leh?

Which? اش من ach men ?

Where? وين ween?

Who? شكون shkoon?

How? كيفاش kifech?

How many? شحال/ قداش shHal / qaddech  ?

Whose? دا من /ويناه da'men /weenah  ?

Verbal pronouns[edit]

Person Singular Plural

1st ni na

2nd (m) (e)k kum

3rd (m) u (after a consonant) / h (after a vowel) / hu (before an indirect object pronoun) hum

3rd (m) ha hum


« šoft-ni. » — "You saw me." (You.saw-me) « qtlo. » — "He killed him." (He.killed-him) « kla-h. » — "He ate it." (He.ate-it)

Demonstratives[edit] Unlike Classical Arabic, Algerian Arabic
has no dual and uses the plural instead. The demonstrative (hadi) is also used for "it is".

Interrogatives Emphasized Algerian Arabic Pronunciation

This هذا (m), هذه (f), هاديا هاد (m), هادي (f) had (m), hadi (f)

That هداك (m), هديك (f) داك (m), ديك (f) dak (m), dik (f)

These هدوما هدو hadu

Those هدوك دوك duk

Sample text[edit] The text below was translated from Kabylie, in Auguste Moulieras's Les fourberies de si Djeh'a.

Buzelluf Sheep Head

Waḥed nnhar, jeḥḥa med-lu bbah frank, baš yešri buzelluf. šra-h, kla kaɛ leḥm-u. bqa γi leɛṭam, jab-u l bbah. ki šaf-u qal-lu: "smo hada?" qal-lu: "buzelluf". -A ššmata, fayan raham wednu?

-Kan trush

-Fayan rahem ɛiinih?

-Kan ɛma

-Fayan rah lsan-u?

-Kan boohali.

-U l-jalda di ras-u, warah or fayan raha?

-Kan fertas.

One day, Jehha'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?

-It was deaf.

-Where are its eyes?

-It was blind.

-Where is its tongue?

-It was dumb.

-And the skin of its head, where is it?

-It was bald.

French loanwords[edit] Algerian Arabic
contains numerous French loanwords.

Algerian Arabic French loanword English meaning

FRCHiTA fourchette fork

POR port port

FRAZ fraises strawberries

OTAL hôtel hotel

NORMALMO normalement normally

boSola Bosoule Compass

karta Carte Card

labazz Base Base

Bouja Bouge Move

Laa Taay thé Tea

Fareena farine Flour

DUNTIST Dentist Dentist

Tilifoun Téléphone Phone

shoofuR Chauffeur Driver

Valeezat Valise Suitcase

passpoR Passport Passport

traanspoR Transport Transportation

Lapeest Piste Airfield

KaaziRna Caserne Barracks

Kouzina Cuisine Cook/Kitchen

Mitra Mètre Meter

Blasa Place Place/seat

Pyasa pièce Coin

charga Charger load

Sala Salle Room

Jerdina Jardin Garden

Guirra Guerre War

Propozi Proposer To propose

Riski risqer Risk

kravata cravate Tiens

See also[edit]

portal Languages portal

Varieties of Arabic Maghrebi Arabic Moroccan Arabic Tunisian Arabic Hassaniya
Arabic Libyan Arabic Languages of Algeria

v t e

 Languages of Algeria

Official language

Standard Arabic Berber

Local languages


Algerian Algerian Saharan Hassānīya


Chenoua Kabyle Chaouïa Tachelhit Tagargrent Temacine South Oran
and Figuig Berber Tarifit Taznatit Tidikelt Mozabite Tamahaq



Other languages

French Domari Algerian Sign Language

v t e

Varieties of Arabic


Old Arabic

Modern literary

Classical Modern Standard


Egyptian Chadian Sa'idi Sudanese




Omani Shihhi Dhofari Kuwaiti



Bareqi Hejazi

Sedentary Bedouin


Baharna Yemeni

Hadhrami San'ani Ta'izzi-Adeni Tihami Judeo-Yemeni


Northwest Arabian



North Mesopotamian

Cypriot Anatolian Judeo-Iraqi

South Mesopotamian

Baghdad Koiné Khuzestani

Central Asian

Afghani Khorasani Central Asian Arabic


North Levantine

North Syrian Central Levantine

Central Syrian Lebanese

South Levantine

Jordanian Palestinian

Urban Central village

Outer southern







North-Eastern Tunisian

Eastern Village

Sahel Sfaxian Lesser Kabylia

Western Village

Traras-Msirda Mountain

Judeo-Maghrebi Arabic

Judeo-Moroccan Judeo-Tripolitanian Judeo-Tunisian



Libyan koiné

Eastern Hilal

Tunisian koiné

Central Hilal

Algerian koiné Algerian Saharan Eastern Algerian Western Algerian


Western Moroccan Eastern Moroccan Moroccan koiné Hassānīya


Sicilian Arabic
(extinct ancestor of Maltese which is not part of the Arabic






Judeo-Moroccan Judeo-Tripolitanian Judeo-Tunisian Judeo-Yemeni

Creoles and pidgins

Babalia Bimbashi Juba Nubi Maridi Turku

Italics indicate extinct languages.


^ 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.  ^ a b "Arabic, Algerian Spoken". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2016-02-25.  ^ a b 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 ^ "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: ara". 

Algerian Arabic
test of at Wikimedia Incubator

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Languages of the Maghreb




Classical Modern Standard Maltese



North-Eastern Tunisian

Eastern Village

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Western Village

Traras-Msirda Mountain


Moroccan Tripolitanian Tunisian



Libyan koiné

Eastern Hilal

Tunisian koiné

Central Hilal

Algerian koiné Central and Saharan Eastern Algerian Western Algerian


Western Moroccan Eastern Moroccan Moroccan koiné Hassānīya



Awjila Fezzan Ghadamès Kufra Nafusi Siwa



Atlas Kabyle


Eastern Middle Atlas Northern Saharan Riffian Shawiya Tunisian-Zuwara Western Algerian


Tamahaq Tamashek Tawellemmet Tayart


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Wolof Soninké Pulaar Bambara


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Proto-Berber Phoenician



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