The official languages of Algeria are Modern Standard Arabic and the Tamazight languages, also known as Berber, and both of these are recognised in the Constitution of Algeria. The style of Arabic spoken in the country has a distinctive Algerian sound, but this method of speech is also compatible with Modern Standard Arabic. The Berber language was made an official language of the country after a constitutional amendment in 2016 and Modern Standard Arabic has been the official tongue since the original constitution of 1963. Although French does not have formal status in Algeria, a decent percent of the nation's culture, education, government proceedings, and media takes place in the French language.

Algerian Arabic and Berber are the native languages of 99% of the Algerian population of 40.6 million. Algerian Arabic is spoken by roughly 72% of citizens while Berber is the native tongue of approximately 27%. Non-native Arabic speakers in Algeria learn the language at school, and almost the entire population has an understanding of Arabic. Over 50% of the population can also read or understand French as a second language, and it is the most widely studied foreign language in Algeria.

Arabic is not a straightforward language to master, but many simple phrases can be picked up rather quickly. "As-salaam alaykum" is a common Arabic phrase meaning “peace be unto you”, this phrase can be used as a greeting in any scenario. The correct response to this phrase is “wa alaykum as-salam” which means, “and unto you, peace”. The phrase “shuk-ran”, means thank-you, and excuse me is pronounced "af-wan". French can also be used in some parts of the country where the language is still prevalent.

Minority languages in Algeria include English which is spoken by around 15% of the population, and it is usually a third language that highly educated Algerians learn. The Korandje language, also known as Kwarandzyey, is spoken by a tiny minority. Although the Berber languages would be considered minority dialects in many other countries, the languages have spread across the nation, and it is likely to be heard almost anywhere in Algeria.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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