The Languages of Algeria

March 25th, 2016
The Languages of Algeria | One Hour Translation

Algeria is a country in North Africa with a population of around 40 million people: it has a Saharan desert interior and a Mediterranean coastline.

Algeria is a country in North Africa with a population of around 40 million people: it has a Saharan desert interior and a Mediterranean coastline. The capital of Algeria is Algiers. Neighbouring countries of Algeria are Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Mali, Western Sahara, Niger, and Mauritania.

The Official Language of Nigeria Is Arabic

The Arabic language has been Algeria’s official language since 1963 and today it’s spoken by approximately 81% of the Algerian population. All official documents are printed in Arabic, and people from non-Arabic households are taught the Arabic language in schools.

The Berber and French Languages

Since the year 2002, Berber has become recognised as one of Algeria’s national languages, which is appropriate because 99% of the population of Algeria speak either Arabic or Berber – or both. The French language, though, has no official status in Algeria, even though it was introduced during French colonial times and is still taught in schools, used in higher education and in government. It’s estimated that approximately 20% of Algeria’s population can read and write French, with even more understanding the language.

Algerian Arabic Is Different

Arabic in Algeria is quite different to the Arabic language commonly used in other parts of the world because it’s been greatly influenced by the French, Turkish and Berber languages. It has a substantially changed vocabulary and a simplified vowel system; with many new words and others borrowed from different languages. You’ll find very distinct variations of the Arabic language throughout various parts of Algeria. With the Berber language, even though there are many dialects, they’re still grouped under the same name.

In the past, the Turkish and Phoenician languages were used in Algeria, however both these languages are no longer used in Algeria. There are of course some other African languages existing in Algeria, but these account for just a small portion of the Algerian population. Should you be planning on visiting Algeria you may find it useful if you can speak the French language, because there will be many French-speaking locals for you to communicate with.

The Ethnic Make-Up of Algeria

Algeria consists of 99% Arab-Berber, with less than 1% being European. It’s important to note that most Algerians are Berber in origin – not Arab. The majority of these people who identify as Berber live mostly in the East of Algiers in the mountainous region. These Berbers are Muslim, but they identify with their Berber cultural heritage rather than the Arab cultural heritage. The Berbers have long been seeking autonomy, which is unlikely to be granted; however, the government has proposed sponsoring teaching the Berber language in schools.

Translating to and from the Languages of Algeria

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