Lingüística Forense | Pericia Caligráfica

DIALECTS IN ARABOPHONE COUNTRIES III: CHARACTERISTICS OF WESTERN DIALECTS

There is an Arab saying that goes like this: “The Arabs do not agree or agree”

يوافق العرب على عدم الاتفاق

To end the cycle of previously published posts on the subject of dialect Arabic and its different classification. In this judgment post the different classifications and characteristics of the so-called “Western Dialects” will be exposed.

As mentioned in the previous post, according to the chronological principle of classification according to Ould Mohamed Baba (2010: 257-258): A first dialectal dualism; Pre-Hilali and Hilali and the second between ancient and modern dialects.

In this first one, it coincides with the Arabization of the Maghreb that is carried out in two stages. The first (s. VII) and the second with the invasion of the Banu Hilal (s. X-XI) and according to other authors such as Lévy (1998: 12) point out that it occurred in the 12th and 13th centuries.

The western or North African dialects have a border to the east that goes from Sallum to Lake Chad and its areas are: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania outside the Arab world and within this group would be the Maltese and Andalusi dialect.

The characteristics of western dialects:

  • The first person singular of the imperfective is distinguished from the first person of plural by the suffix / -u /. And the prefix / n- / is added in the first singular. For example, in the verb / kataba / the first singular would be /nuktubu /.
  • Loss of short vowels / i / and / u / and because in Western dialects it falls on an unstressed open syllable, disyllabic words become monosyllabic
  • The most widely used masdar is the / f, il / form.
  • To express the resulting value, a verbal theme derived from/ f, al/ has been created.
  • The use of the number “one” / wahed / (/ wahi /, / wah /, / ha / followed by the definite article / l- /, or by construct state to create a true indeterminate article.
  • Direct annexation has been replaced by indirect annexation, by means of a binding particle.

Among the dialects of Morocco are urban, mountain and Bedouin (they correspond to the Atlantic plains from Arzila to Mogador, the eastern plateau and the Sahara region).


Libyan dialects
are heavily influenced by Bedouin dialects: The dialect of the Cyrenaic zone; the dialect of Benghazi and the Libyan desert; That of the Tripoli and Misurata region: Dialects of the Fezán region, in the southeast of the country.

In Tunisia there are three classes of dialects: Urban, rural and Bedouin.

The urban ones are spoken in (Tunisia, Qairaruán, Susa, Bizerte, Nabeul, Enfida and Sfax. The rural ones are spoken on the country’s coast and the Bedouins belong to the semi-bi-nationals and those from the northeast of the country.

The Mauritanian dialect, also called Hassaniyya, shares all the Bedouin features, although it has unique features according to (Ould Mohamed Baba, 2010: 260-278).

Today and throughout its history, Arabs have migrated to other countries, especially Europe, although America also has a large community. This situation has produced two phenomena due to the linguistic contact of Arabic with the language known as code mixing or code switching and bilingualism.

In order to be able to make a study of the current situation of Arab dialects, it would be necessary to include a study of the development of these dialects in countries where Arab-speaking immigrants have settled.

To make this sociolinguistic, it is necessary to analyze the difference that occurs in the use of the language or dialect in men or women, since this differentiation occurs in the countries of origin and the same phenomenon has probably been transferred in the countries to which they have migrated.

For example, these mixtures of linguistic codes are given:

  • The car, sûfta men d -dar

     –    “I have seen the car from home”


All this information is very relevant in order to carry out a forensic linguistic analysis when locating the speaker geographically and locating the nationality of the same, because they are identifying and proper signs of the individual.


In Arabic, although the written language is Fusha or modern Arabic, colloquial speech or dialect interferes in it at the written level, since it is the language with which they communicate in their countries of origin and the one they use the most.

The same phenomenon will occur the first and second generation of Arabic-speaking migrants settled in other countries, but in this case, it would be a mixture of linguistic elements by contact of the languages ​​in question (French-dialect), (Spanish-dialect), etc. …

For those who make inroads in this matter, there is an Arabic saying that says:

Through repetition, even the donkey learns”

                                                                            “يتعلم التكرار حتى الحمار”

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