Berber & Arabic Language Contact
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SourceThe Semitic Languages. an Internatinal Handbook
Languages spoken in North Africa, both Arabic as well as Berber, are characterized by a great diversity. Internal differences within the Berber linguistic group make it difficult to speak from an all-encompassing common language perspective which is sufficiently representative. In reality, we are dealing with regional varieties still insufficiently studied from both intradialectal and interdialectal points of view. The differences between the northern languages and those of the south and/or those called peripheral varieties are quite important. This internal differentiation can be also found, although less marked, between the various Arab dialects in North Africa, with extreme examples such as those of Djidjeli (Algeria) or those from the Hassa:niya in the Western Sahara and in Mauritania. The nature of the contacts between Arabic and Berber obliges us, therefore, to take into account historical contexts, dialectal dispersion, heterogeneity of speech, or the superposition of certain features through time. Moreover, the proximity between Arabic and Berber will appear within a regional configuration. Thus, the proximity and borrowings from a Berber dialect such as Kabyle will be more notable in the Algerian Arabic dialect of Algiers, and those of Zenaga will be much closer to the assa:niya than to Arab dialects of the north.