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Tamazight language resources

Tamazight is spoken on a daily basis in: Morocco Tamazight--> --> --> -->

Additional background on Tamazight

The Berber languages (or Tamazight) are a group of closely related languages mainly spoken in Morocco and Algeria. A very sparse population extends into the whole Sahara and the northern part of the Sahel. They belong to the Afro-Asiatic languages phylum. There is a strong movement among Berbers to unify the closely related northern Berber languages into a single standard, Tamazight.

Among the Berber languages are Tarifit or Riffi (northern Morocco), Kabyle (Algeria) and Tachelhit (central Morocco). Tamazight has been a written language, on and off, for almost 3000 years; however, this tradition has been frequently disrupted by various invasions. It was first written in the Tifinagh alphabet, still used by the Tuareg; the oldest dated inscription is from about 200 BC. Later between about 1000 AD and 1500 AD, it was written in the Arabic alphabet (particularly by the Shilha of Morocco); in this century, it is often written in the Latin alphabet, especially among the Kabyle. A variant of the Tifinagh alphabet was recently made official in Morocco, while the Latin alphabet is official in Algeria, Mali, and Niger; however, both Tifinagh and Arabic are still widely used in Mali and Niger, while Latin and Arabic are still widely used in Morocco.

After independence, all the Maghreb countries to varying degrees pursued a policy of "Arabization", aimed primarily at displacing French from its colonial position as the dominant language of education and literacy, but under which teaching, and use in certain highly public spheres, of both Berber languages and Maghrebi Arabic dialect have been suppressed as well. This state of affairs was protested by Berbers in Morocco and Algeria - especially Kabylie - and is now being addressed in both countries by introducing Berber language education and by recognizing Berber as a "national language", though not necessarily an official one. No such measures have been taken in the other Maghreb countries, whose Berber populations are much smaller. In Mali and Niger, there are a few schools that teach partially in Tamasheq.


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