Gurara language

Gurara (Gourara) is a Zenati Berber language spoken in the Gourara (Tigurarin) region, an archipelago of oases surrounding the town of Timimoun in southwestern Algeria. Ethnologue gives it the generic name Taznatit ("Zenati"), along with Tuwat spoken to its south; however, Blench (2006) classifies Gurara as a dialect of Mzab–Wargla and Tuwat as a dialect of the Riff languages.

تازناتيت (Taznatit) / ⵜⴰⵣⵏⴰⵜⵉⵜ
Native toAlgeria
RegionGourara (wilaya of Adrar)
Native speakers
11,000, including Tuwat (2014)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3grr (included)
Map of the ksour of Gourara by spoken language


Gurara and Tuwat are the only Berber languages to change r in certain coda positions to a laryngeal ħ;[2] in other contexts it drops r, turning a preceding schwa into a,[3] and this latter phenomenon exists also in Zenata Rif-Berber in the far northern Morocco.

There is inconclusive evidence for Songhay influence on Gurara.[4]


The local tradition of ahellil poetry and music in Gurara, described in Mouloud Mammeri's L'Ahellil du Gourara,[5] has been listed as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.


  1. Gurara at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. René Basset, "Notes de lexicographie berbère", Journal Asiatique, ser. 8, vol. X, 1887: p. 390.
  3. Maarten Kossmann, "Cinq notes de linguistique historique berbère", Études et Documents Berbères, 17, 1999 : pp. 131–152
  4. Maarten Kossmann, "Is there a Songhay substratum in Gourara Berber?", in ed. Maarten Kossmann, Rainer Vossen, Dymitr Ibriszimow, Nouvelles études berbères: Le verbe et autres articles, Rüdiger Köppe: Köln 2004, pp. 51–66.
  5. Mouloud Mammeri, L ‘Ahellil du Gourara, M.S.H.:Paris 1984.

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