Ait Seghrouchen Berber

Ait Seghrouchen Berber, or Seghroucheni (Seghrusheni), is a Zenati Berber language of the Eastern Middle Atlas Berber cluster. It is spoken by the Ait Seghrouchen tribe inhabiting east-central Morocco.

Ait Seghrouchen Berber
Tmaziġt, Tamaziġt
Native toMorocco
RegionCentral Morocco – Middle Atlas
Tifinagh, Latin
Language codes
ISO 639-3None (mis)
tzm-cen (Seghrušen of Mzab-Wargla)


Ait Seghrouchen Berber is commonly classed as Central Atlas Tamazight. It is reported to be mutually intelligible with the neighbouring Berber dialect of Ait Ayache.[1] Genetically, however, it belongs to the Zenati subgroup of Northern Berber, rather than to the Atlas subgroup to which the rest of Central Atlas Tamazight belongs,[2] and are therefore excluded by some sources from Central Atlas Tamazight.[3]

Ait Seghrouchen is part of the Eastern Middle Atlas Berber cluster of Zenati dialects, which is spoken in the eastern Middle Atlas.



Ayt Seghrouchen is notable for having the lateral fricative [ɬ] as an allophone of the sequence /lt/.[4] /k, g/ are pronounced as stops, unlike the closely related Ayt Ayache dialect in which they are fricatives.[5]

In the table below, when consonants appear in pairs, the one on the left is voiceless.

Ayt Seghrouchen consonants (Ayt Ayache)[5][6]
Labial Dental/
Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyn-
Nasal m nˤ
Plosive voiceless tˤ4 k
voiced b3 dˤ ɡ
Fricative zˤ ʒ ʁ ʕ
voiceless f sˤ ʃ χ ħ h
lateral (ɬ)2
Approximant lˤ j w
Flap/Trill[nb 1] rˤ

Phonetic notes:

  1. mainly in Arabic borrowings
  2. realization of the sequence /lt/ for some speakers, e.g. ultma 'sister', altu 'not yet'
  3. For a small number of speakers, /b/ is sometimes lenited to [β][7]
  4. /t/ is aspirated [tʰ][7]


Ait Seghrouchen Berber has a typical phonemic three-vowel system, similarly to Classical Arabic:

Tamazight vowel phonemes[8]
Front Central Back
Close iu
Open a

These phonemes have numerous allophones, conditioned by the following environments:

(# denotes word boundary, X denotes C[−flat −/χ//ʁ/], C̣ denotes C[+flat], G denotes C, /χ/, and /ʁ/)

Tamazight vowel allophony[9]
Phoneme Realization Environment Example Gloss
/i/ [i] #_X /ili/ 'to exist'
[ɨ] #_Xː / Xː_ /idːa/ 'he went'
[ɪ] [e] _G / G_ /dˤːiqs/ 'to burst out'
[ɪj] X_# /isːfrˤħi/ 'he made me happy'
/u/ [u] #_X / X(ː)_X /umsʁ/ 'I painted'
[ʊ] [o] _G / G_ /idˤurˤ/ 'he turned'
[ʊw] X(ː)_# /bdu/ 'to begin'
[ʉ] _ / ɡː_ /lːajɡːur/ 'he goes'
/a/ [æ] #_X(ː) / X(ː)_X /azn/ 'to send'
[ɐ] X(ː)_# /da/ 'here'
[ɑ] _C̣ / C̣_ adˤr/ 'to be present'

Phonetic Schwa

There is a predictable non-phonemic vowel inserted into consonant clusters, realized as [ɪ̈] before front consonants (e.g. /b t d .../) and [ə] before back consonants (e.g. /k χ .../).[10] These are some of the rules governing the occurrence of [ə]:

(# denotes word boundary, L denotes /l r m n/, H denotes /h ħ ʕ w j/)

Tamazight schwa epenthesis[11]
Environment Realization Example Pronunciation Gloss
#C(ː)# əC(ː) /ɡ/ [əɡ] 'to be, to do'
#LC# əLC or LəC /ns/ [əns] ~ [nəs] 'to spend the night'
#CC# CəC /tˤsˤ/ [tˤəsˤ] 'to laugh'
#CːC# əCːəC /fːr/ [əfːər] 'to hide'
#CCC# CCəC / C1C2 are not {L H} /χdm/ [χdəm] 'to work'
/zʕf/ [zʕəf] 'to get mad'
#CCC# əCCəC or #CəCəC# / {C1 C3} is {L H} /hdm/ [əhdəm] ~ [hədəm] 'to demolish'
#CCC# CəCəC / C2C3 = {L H} /dˤmn/ [dˤəmən] 'to guarantee'


Word stress is non-contrastive and predictable — it falls on the last vowel in a word (including schwa).[12]


  1. Abdel-Massih refers to this as a "flap" produced with "vibration" of the tongue.


  1. Abdel-Massih (1971b:xiii)
  2. Edmond Destaing, "Essai de classification des dialectes berbères du Maroc", Etudes et Documents Berbère, 19-20, 2001-2002 (1915)
  3. Augustin Bernard and Paul Moussard, Arabophones et berbérophones au Maroc, Annales de Géographie 1924, Volume 33 Numéro 183, pp. 267-282.
  4. Abdel-Massih (1971b:19–20)
  5. Abdel-Massih (1971b:4, 6, 19–20)
  6. Abdel-Massih (1968:16)
  7. Abdel-Massih (1971b:5)
  8. Abdel-Massih (1971b:11)
  9. Abdel-Massih (1971b:13–15, 20)
  10. Abdel-Massih (1971b:15)
  11. Abdel-Massih (1971b:15–17)
  12. Abdel-Massih (1971b:17–18)


  • Abdel-Massih, Ernest T. (1971a). A Course in Spoken Tamazight. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan. ISBN 0-932098-04-5.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Abdel-Massih, Ernest T. (1971b). A Reference Grammar of Tamazight. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan. ISBN 0-932098-05-3.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Destaing, Edmond. "Essai de classification des dialectes berbères du Maroc." (Etudes et Documents Berbères, 19-20, 2001-2002 (1915)
  • Kossmann, Maarten G. "Les verbes à i final en zénète"
  • Kossman, Maarten G. Essai sur la phonologie du proto-berbère. Koppe Verlag, 1999.
  • "Le Tamazight (Maroc central) – Tamaziɣt."
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