Alternate History

Berber language (Of Lions and Falcons)

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طامازيگهت‎ / Tamazight
Spoken in Maghreb, Al-Andalus and Eternal Islands
Ethnicity Berbers
Language family
  • Berber
Standard forms
Tashelhit (Tacelḥit)
Kabyle (Taqbaylit)
Atlas Tamazight (Tamaziɣt)
Riffian Tarifit)
Shawi (Tacawit)
Tuareg (Tamahaq/Tamaceq)
Writing system Arabic script (standard), Maghrebi script (a modified Arabic script) and Tifinagh (only in Tuareg)
Language codes
ISO 639-3

The Berber language or Amazigh languages (Berber name: طامازيگهت, Tamazight), are a family of similar and closely related languages and dialects indigenous to North Africa. Berber is spoken by large populations in Maghreb and Al-Andalus.

Berber is one of languages officially used by several Berber dynasties that emerged during the Middle Ages in the Maghreb. It spread outside the Maghreb by soldiers of the armies that invaded Al-Andalus in 711. In times of the Emirate and Caliphate of Córdoba it become associated with the Berber armies. Although most of them were Arabized. Berber later it gained wider official use by the Almoravids and the Almohads were it became along with Arabic one of the languages used in the administration, justice and armies.

Around 90 percent of the Berber-speaking population speak one of six major varieties of Berber. They are, in the order of demographic weight: Tashelhit (Tacelḥit), Kabyle (Taqbaylit), Atlas Tamazight (Tamaziɣt), Riffian (Tarifit), Shawi (Tacawit) and Tuareg (Tamahaq/Tamaceq). Additionally, Guanche language spoken on the Eternal Islands[1] by the Guanches.

Berber languages exist in a form of diglossia in relation to Arabic. Berber has a low prestige and is use in everyday language in relation to Arabic that as high prestige and is the official literary standard. The Tashelhit (Tacelḥit) is the literary standard and the prestigious register so it is the most develop and with a large literary corpus and written in a form of the Arabic script.

The Berber languages and dialects have had a written tradition, on and off, for over 2,200 years, although the tradition has been frequently disrupted by invasions. They were first written in the Tifinagh alphabet, still used by the Tuareg. Later, after about 1000 CE are written in the Arabic script.

See also


  1. Jaza'ir al-Khalidat, Arabic for the Canary Islands

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