Young Pioneer Tours

Language in Algeria

Introduction

Algeria has two official languages, the first being Arabic, which has been recognized as the country’s official language since 1963 and the other Berber, which has had national language status since 2016. These two languages are the native tongue of over 99% of the population of Algeria.

Tying into the countries Colonial history, French is also widely spoken, and, despite having no official government, status is widely used in government, media and education facilities.

Linguists have described Algeria’s language situation as a melting pot of different languages, with all three of the above being used interchangeably in daily conversation.

In this article, we look at the three most widely spoken languages in Algeria as well as the prevalence of English in the country

Arabic in Algeria

Arabic and, more specifically, Algerian Arabic is known as Derja, or simply “Algerian” is thought to be spoken by more than 70% of Algeria’s population.

While at its core the language is Arabic in all reality due to Algeria’s vast size and diverse makeup, spoken Arabic in Algeria also relies heavily on loan words from french and the Berber language, making it somewhat like its own unique language and depending on where you are in the country can be totally different from the dialect spoken somewhere else.

Berber Languages in Algeria

The Berber languages are considered the historical languages of Algeria, being spoken for generations. Various Berber dialects are spoken in different parts of the country, especially in more remote regions outside of major cities and trading hubs.

Despite Berber languages having a significant role in Algeria’s past and contemporary history, the language was not recognized in the countries 1963 or 1976 constitution. In 2002 the language was formally recognized as a national language and in 2016 was made an official second language of the country.

French in Algeria

The French language has often been described as the “Lingua Franca” of Algeria, and despite the government’s efforts to remove the language from society, it is estimated that Algeria is home to the second-largest French language speaking population in the world at over 11 million speakers.

English in Algeria

While not widely spoken by the general population in Algeria, businesses and establishments related to the tourism sector will often have services available in basic English.

While not widely spoken by the general population in Algeria, businesses and establishments related to the tourism sector will often have services available in basic English.

That is a quick introduction to the various spoken languages in Algeria, but in order to truly understand the scope and reality of language in Algeria, why not visit for yourself.

Click here to return to our Algeria guide.

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