The dilemma of mother tongue among Algerians

31 May 2024
Room F1

The dilemma of mother tongue among Algerians

In Algeria, while Arabic serves as the official language, the colloquial Algerian dialect, known as Algerian Darija, is used in daily communication (Harrat et al.,2016). The Algerian Darija is part of the Maghreb dialects, that are spoken in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, and Mauritania (Bougrine & Abdelali,2018). The dialect is a mixture of a diverse range of languages. This can be explained due to Algeria’s historical experiences, including invasions and colonization by different countries (Harrat et al.,2016). The Algerian linguistic system is complex, due to the language mixing, which includes words from Turkish, Spanish, Italian, and French. The Algerian dialect is the predominant native language in Algeria, but the country also has a significant Berber-speaking population, constituting approximately 25 to 30 % (Saadane & Habash, 2015). The Tamazight language encompasses various distinct varieties spoken in different regions of Algeria. Algeria’s linguistic diversity, including variations in the Algerian dialect, raises the question of whether Algerians experience confusion about their mother tongue—whether it is the Arabic language, or the colloquial Algerian dialect. To investigate Algerians’ attitudes towards their mother tongue, a mixed-methods approach is employed, including semi-structured interviews and questionnaires with 20 participants from Eastern Algeria. Moreover, a matched guise technique is utilized in the interviews, where participants listen to recordings in both the Arabic language and the Algerian dialect, followed by completing a questionnaire. This method allows for a nuanced exploration of participants’ attitudes and perceptions. It is hypothesized that Algerians have diverse attitudes towards their mother tongue, with some considering both the Algerian dialect and the Arabic language, while others choose only one. The findings of this study shed insight on the complex dynamics of language identity and cultural diversity in Algeria, as well as make important contributions to the field of Intercultural, Cross-cultural, and Societal Aspects of Pragmatics.



Bougrine, H. C. S., & Abdelali, A. (2018, April). Spoken Arabic Algerian Dialect Identification. In 2018 2nd International Conference on Natural Language and Speech Processing (ICNLSP) (pp. 1-6). IEEE.

Harrat, S., Meftouh, K., Abbas, M., Hidouci, W. K., & Smaili, K. (2016). An Algerian Dialect: Study and Resources. International Journal of Advanced Computer Science and Applications (IJACSA), 7(3), 384-396.

Saadane, H., & Habash, N. (2015). A Conventional Orthography for Algerian Arabic. In Second Workshop on Arabic Natural Language Processing (pp. 69-79).