The official language of Tunisia is Standard Arabic, which belongs to the Afro-Asiatic language family. Standard Arabic, also known as Modern or Literary Arabic, is written in the Arabic alphabet, a cursive script that runs from right to left across the page. The nationally recognized language, however, is Tunisian Arabic. This language, sometimes referred to as Darija, is used for daily purposes. It is considered a dialect of Arabic, most closely related to the Maghrebi Arabic dialect, although linguists also believed it has been influenced by Turkish, French, Spanish, and Italian over the years.

The entire population of Tunisia is estimated at 10.982 million. Of these individuals, nearly 100% speak Tunisian Arabic, while only around 88% speak or understand Standard Arabic. Another major language spoken in Tunisia is French, which is a remnant of the colonial era. It is utilized by around 5.89 million individuals and is sometimes considered a language of the elite. Its use and importance, however, is thought to be decreasing as government regulation dictates increased use of the Arabic language in public institutions of education.

Because Tunisian Arabic is the most widely spoken language in this country, learning a few phrases and expressions in this language is a good idea for anybody considering visiting here. Typical greetings include: “hello” (marhaban), “good morning” (sabar al khayr), and “goodbye” (ma’assalama). In order to be polite with the local community, the following expressions are useful as well: “please” (min fadlik), “sorry” (aasef), “thank you” (shukran), and “you’re welcome” (a’afwan).

In addition to Standard Arabic, Tunisian Arabic, and French, the residents and citizens of Tunisia speak a number of other tongues that are considered minority languages. Immigrant languages in use here include: English, Italian, and Turkish. In the southern regions of Tunisia, a number of Berber languages can be heard. These languages and dialects, native to the Berbers indigenous people, are very similar and often mutually intelligible. In addition to the southern regions, Berber languages can also be heard on Djerba, a 198-square mile island off the coast of Tunisia.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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