Matmata Berber

Matmata Berber is a Zenati Berber dialect spoken around the town of Matmâta in southern Tunisia, and in the villages of Taoujjout, Tamezret and Zrawa. According to Ben Mamou's lexicon,[2] its speakers call it Tmaziɣṯ or Eddwi nna, meaning "our speech", while it is called Shelha or Jbali (جبالي) in local Tunisian Arabic dialects. The total population speaking this variety was estimated at 3,726 in 1975.[3]

Matmata Berber
Eddwi nna
Native toTunisia
RegionMatmata, Tunisia
Native speakers
(3,700 cited 1975)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3None (mis)
Glottologjbal1238  Jbali-Tamezret
tame1243  Tamezret – duplicate entry
Berber-speaking areas belonging to Kossmann's "Tunisian-Zuwara" dialectal group

Documentation of Matmata Berber is limited. A collection of fairy tales in this variety was published by Stumme in 1900.[4] Basset (1950)[5] provides a few dialect maps of Tunisian Berber including this region, showing lexical variation, while Penchoen (1968)[6] offers a general discussion of Tunisian Berber and the effects of schooling. Collins (1981)[7] discusses its verbal morphology along with that of other Tunisian Berber varieties. The only general grammatical sketch and vocabulary available is the website put together by Larbi Ben Mamou, a native speaker of the language.[8]

Ethnologue treats it as part of the Nafusi language spoken in northwestern Libya, although the two belong to different subgroups of Berber according to Kossmann (1999).[9]


  1. Sahli 1983
  2. Tamezret (Tunisie) et son dialecte berbère
  3. Sadok Sahli, 1983, "La population berbère devant les problèmes modernes en Tunisie", Démographie et destin des sous-populations: colloque de Liège, 21-23 septembre 1981 no. 1, Association internationale des démographes de langue française, INED, p. 373
  4. Hans Stumme, 1900, Märchen der Berbern von Tamzratt im Süd-Tünisien, Leipzig: J.C. Hinrichs Buchhandlung.
  5. André Basset, 1950, "Les parlers berbères". Initiation à la Tunisie. Paris: Adrien-Maisonneuve, pp. 220-226.
  6. Thomas Penchoen, 1968, "La langue berbère en Tunisie et la scolarisation des enfants berbérophones", Revue Tunisienne des Sciences Sociales, pp. 173-186.
  7. Ridwan Collins, 1981, " Un microcosme berbère. Système verbal et satellites dans trois parlers tunisiens ". Institut des Belles Lettres Arabes nos. 148, 149, pp. 287-303, pp. 113-129.
  8. Tamezret (Tunisie) et son dialecte berbère
  9. A separate language code in Ethnologue 13, [duh], was retired and reassigned to a Bhil language in India.

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