Jebli Arabic

Jebli (Jebelia) is a pre-Hilalian Arabic dialect spoken in the mountains of northwestern Morocco.

Native toMorocco
EthnicityJbalas, Ghomaras, Sanhajas de Srayr
Language codes
ISO 639-3(included in ary)
Ethnolinguistic map of northern Morocco: purple represents Jebli-speaking areas, blue represents other pre-Hilalian Arabic-speaking areas (old Urban, Zerhoun and Sefrou area)

The historical development of this Moroccan dialect is unclear.

The word jebli means "of/from the mountain". It is mainly spoken in the western and southern Rif by tribes of Sherifian, Berber and Morisco descent over the past ten centuries.

  • Jbalas: all its 44 tribes speak Jebli Arabic;
  • Ghomaras: out of nine tribes, seven are fully Jebli-speaking, the two remaining are partially Jebli-speaking, with a significant Ghomara Berber-speaking community;
  • Sanhajas de Srayr: two Jebli-speaking tribes – Ketama and Aït Seddat – out of ten tribes, the remaining (eight) speak Sanhaja Berber;
  • Riffians: out of twenty tribes, six are fully or partially Arabophone; among them, five speak Mountain Arabic − Targuist, Aït Itteftf, Aït Boufrah, Mestasa and Metioua − while the last one (Settout) speak Hilalian Arabic;
  • Ghiatas, Maghraouas and Meknassas: the three tribes –that aren't part of any larger confederacy– are fully Jebli-speaking;
  • Tribes of Zerhoun (Zerahnas) and the neighborhood of Sefrou (Kechtala, Behalil and Yazgha): although not belonging to the same ethno-linguistic group than Jebalas, their pre-Hilalian dialects are sometimes classified as belonging to the same macro-family (westernmost pre-Hilalian village dialects) as Jebli.

Jebli is heavily influenced by Berber; the grammar of Jebli is almost Berber while most of the words are Arabic. The vocabulary is highly influenced by Spanish.

Examples of Jebli

JebliEnglish translationSource language/etymology
trawzezblue jeanstrousers (English)
assallasdarknessasellas "darkness" (Berber)
karretēracar roadcarretera "paved road/highway" (Spanish)
ntinayou(Classical Arabic)
âyyəl, ṭfelboyعائلة "family" (Classical Arabic); cf. Egyptian Arabic: ˤayyel "child"
ħamiwarmحام "feverish" (Classical Arabic); cf. Iraqi Arabic: ħɑ̄mi "warm"
qaylasunقائلة "resting" (spec. at noon time); due to the time of rest when the sun was at its highest point at noon (Classical Arabic)
jjrodogjaru "puppy" (Classical Arabic)

See also


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