Algerian Arabic (known as Darja in Algeria) is a dialect derived from the form of Arabic spoken in northern Algeria. It belongs to the Maghrebi Arabic language continuum and is partially mutually intelligible with Tunisian and Moroccan.
Like other varieties of Maghrebi Arabic, Algerian has a mostly Semitic vocabulary. It contains Berber and Latin (African Romance) influences and has numerous loanwords from French, Andalusian Arabic, Ottoman Turkish and Spanish.
Algerian Arabic is the native dialect of 75% to 80% of Algerians and is mastered by 85% to 100% of them. It is a spoken language used in daily communication and entertainment, while Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is generally reserved for official use and education.
Modern koine languages, urban and national, are based mainly on Hilalian dialects.
In comparison to other Maghrebi dialects, Algerian Arabic has retained numerous phonetic elements of Classical Arabic lost by its relatives; In Algiers dialect, the letters /ðˤ/ ذ ,ظ /ð/ and ث /θ/ are not used, they are in most cases pronounced as the graphemes د ,ضand ت respectively. This conservatism concerning pronunciation is in contrast to Algerian Arabic grammar which has shifted noticeably. In terms of differences from Classical Arabic, the previous /r/ and /z/ phonemes have developed contrastive glottalized forms and split into /r/ and /rˤ/; and /z/ and /zˤ/. Additionally /q/ from Classical Arabic has split into /q/ and /ɡ/ in most dialects. The phonemes /v/ and /p/ which are not common in Arabic dialects arise almost exclusively from (predominantly French) loanwords
^1 The voiceless "Ch" (t͡ʃ) is used in some words in the Algerian dialect like "تشينا" /t͡ʃinaː/ (orange) or "تشاراك" /t͡ʃaːraːk/ (A kind of Algerian sweet) but remains rare.
A study of Northwestern Algerian Arabic (specifically around Oran) showed that laterals /l/ or /ɫ/ or the nasal consonant /n/ would be dissimilated into either /n/ in the case of /l/ or /ɫ/; or /l/ or /ɫ/ in the case of n when closely preceding a corresponding lateral or nasal consonant. Thus /zəlzla/ (earthquake) has become /zənzla/, conversely /lʁənmi/ "mutton" becomes /lʁəlmi/.
The same study also noted numerous examples of assimilation in Northwestern Algerian Arabic, due to the large consonant clusters created from all of the historical vowel deletion: examples include /dəd͡ʒaːd͡ʒ/ "chicken", becoming /d͡ʒaːd͡ʒ/ and /mliːħ/ "good", becoming /mniːħ/. An example of assimilation that occurs after the short vowel deletion is the historical /dərˤwŭk/ "now" becoming /drˤuːk/ and then being assimilated to /duːk/, illustrating the order in which the rules of Algerian Arabic may operate.
The phonemic vowel inventory of Algerian Arabic consists of three long vowels: /iː/, /uː/, and /aː/ contrasted with two short vowels: /u/ and /ə/. Algerian Arabic Vowels retains a great deal of features in relation to Classical Arabic Arabic phonology, namely the continued existence of 3 long vowels: /iː/, /uː/, and /aː/, Algerian Arabic also retains the short close back vowel /u/ in speech, however the short equivalents of /iː/ and /aː/ have fused in modern Algerian Arabic, creating a single phoneme /ə/. Also notable among the differences between Classical Arabic and Algerian Arabic is the deletion of short vowels entirely from open syllables and thus word final positions, which creates a stark distinction between written Classical Arabic, and casually written Algerian Arabic. One point of interest in Algerian Arabic that sets it apart from other conservative Arabic dialects is its preservation of phonemes in (specifically French) loanwords that would otherwise not be found in the language: /[[Nasal vowel|ɔ̃]]/, /y/, and /ɛ/ are all preserved in French loanwords such as /syʁ/ (sure) or /kɔnɛksiɔ̃/ (connection).
Some of them can be attached to the noun, just like in other Arabic dialects. The word for in, "fi", can be attached to a definite noun. For example, the word for a house has a definite form "ed-dar" but with "fi", it becomes "fed-dar".
Algerian Arabic uses two genders for words: masculine and feminine. Masculine nouns and adjectives generally end with a consonant while the feminine nouns generally end with an a.
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.
The regular masculine plural is formed with the suffix -in, which derives from the Classical Arabic genitive and accusative ending -īna rather than the nominative -ūna:
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:
The article el is indeclinable and expresses a 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:
Verbs are conjugated 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 second and third person in the plural forms, nor is there gender differentiation of the second person in the singular form in pre-Hilalian dialects. Hilalian dialects preserve the gender differentiation of the singular second person.
Like all North African Arabic varieties (including Egyptian Arabic) along with some 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/):
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
Things could be in three places hnaya (right here), hna (here) or el-hih (there).
Most Algerian Arabic dialects have eight personal pronouns since they no longer have gender differentiation of the second and third person in the plural forms. However, pre-Hilalian dialects retain seven personal pronouns since gender differentiation of the second person in the singular form is absent as well.
Example: « Rani hna. » — "I'm here." and « Waš rak. » "How are you." to both males and females.
Example : « dar-na. » — "Our house" (House-our) Possessives are frequently combined with taε "of, property" : dar taε-na — "Our house.", dar taε-kum ...etc.
"Our house" can be Darna or Dar taε-na, which is more like saying 'house of ours'. Taε can be used in other ways just like in English in Spanish. You can say Dar taε khuya, which means 'house of my brother' or 'my brother's house'.
Unlike Classical Arabic, Algerian Arabic has no dual and uses the plural instead. The demonstrative (Hadi) is also used for "it is".
The text below was translated from Kabylie, in Auguste Moulieras's Les fourberies de si Djeh'a.