Hilalian dialects

The Hilalian dialects are a continuum of Arabic dialects native to the Maghreb.


The term Hilalian dialects refer to the Banu Hilal, a confederation of Arab nomadic tribes who invaded North Africa in the eleventh century.

Along with the pre-existing sedentary pre-Hilalian Arabic dialects, they constitute the larger Maghrebi Arabic family.

Varieties and distribution

Hilalian dialects are found across North Africa, from the western plains of Morocco and the Mauritanian desert to western Egypt, including Libya, the Algerian Hauts-Plateaux and coast, and Tunisia.

Nevertheless, there are several enclaves of Pre-Hilalian Arabic dialects in this area, including old urban dialect-speaking cities (such as Fez, Rabat, Tlemcen, Constantine, Tunis) and four major sedentary rural dialects speaking areas as well as several Berber speaking areas.

Hilalian Arabic has four major varieties:[1][2]

Hassaniya Arabic, spoken in Mauritania, Western Sahara, southern Morocco and parts of northern Mali, is also classified as Maqil.

Hilalian dialects strongly influenced some old urban dialects, such as those of Tripoli and Marrakesh. They also represent the bulk of modern urban dialects (koiné languages) such as those of Casablanca, Oran and Algiers.

See also


  1. Kees Versteegh, Dialects of Arabic : Maghreb Dialects, TeachMideast.org
  2. Mélissa Barkat, « Les dialectes Maghrébins » (lien), dans: Détermination d'indices acoustiques robustes pour l'identification automatique des parlers arabes, Thèse, Université Lumière Lyon 2 (2000)
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