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The Algerian Darija

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  • The Algerian Darija


    I've been into Raï (and the Algerian Darija) for a long period of time. During this long period, I've learned lots about the Algerian Darija. I have also mixed some Moroccan Darija with the Algerian one because of the Moroccan friends that I know (in real life). I also know Algerian people but that's only on the Internet.

    So, back to the subject, the Algerian Darija. At first, I used to listen to Algerian (Raï) songs without even understanding a word. Sometimes, I could barely understand two or three words from a whole song (although my native language is Arabic, Middle Eastern Arabic [Kuwaiti Arabic to be specific]). The reasons for this - I believe - are:

    1) The fast way that Algerians talk. This has different sub-reasons:
    A) Tesskine l'7rof, or the "Sekken Tesslem" rule. For example, in Kuwaiti Arabic I'd say "7abeeb" (lover), but if I want to say the same thing in Darija, it would be "7bib". You'll notice how the vowels are removed in Darija. This makes the pronounced letters kinda mixed up, and the produced sound would be kinda complex, because the vowels make it clear and disctinct between separate words, but if using the "Tesskine" (or "Taskeen") rule, it becomes difficult to distinguish between different words (unless you know the language of course).
    B) "Kassr" the beginning of words, which means that the first letter of a word has a following 'e' rather than 'a'. I just mentioned an example in point A. "Taskeen" and "Tesskine" (Darija), or "Mafroodh" (which means "supposed") or "Mefroud" (Darija). This also makes it hard for a person who doesn't speak Darija to recognize the word.
    2) Using different prepositions than the ones used in other Arabic dialects. For example, in Kuwaiti Arabic we say "Sa'alt 3annek" (which means "I asked about you" - 3annek = 3annk) but in Darija people say "salt 3lik". You'll see two different prepositions used: "3annek" and "3lik".
    3) Borrowing and using lots of words from the French language. In Kuwait we also borrow some words from English, but English is widely spoken in Kuwait (and the whole world), while most Kuwaitis do not speak French.
    4) Using different idioms. For example, in English, "I smell a rat here" doesn't mean that there's a real rat in the room for example, it rather means that there's something wrong. It's the same with Algerian Darija (and all other languages), specific idioms are used that non-algerians wouldn't understand generally.
    5) Flipping some letters. For example, in Algeria people say "en3al" (which means "curse"), but the original Arabic word is "el3an".

    I believe that the above five points are the most important reasons that explain why non-algerians find it hard to understand Darija. When my Moroccan friends used to explain the lyrics of a specific song for me, I used to laugh so loud because of how simple the words are although I couldn't understand them before. Some "mixture" with Algerians/Moroccans would really make our languages clear to each other. Like, for example, I can understand Egyptians because there're plenty of them here (and on TV for example - damn them they're everywhere, those 'hergawa' hahahaha), but you can barely find an Algerian here.

    dork ana nahder darija meziane
    ou ghir bghit nwadde7 l'far9 (l'farq) bine hadoul lehjat

    choukran ou rani assef 3la l'e6ala.


  • #2
    What an analysis!

    It actually holds, and I now see why darja can be considered as a rather ruff language. The speed is obvious, but I didn't realise that we systematically rid the word of the short vocal, and keep only the consonant.

    Well, written Arabic was also vocal-less (absence of "Tashkeel" fatha, kasra, damma) before Islam was spread to non-Arab territories. Basically because people knew how to pronounce the word even in abscence of "Tashkeel", based on the context and syntactic position of the word in a sentence.

    As you explain it, it seems that we took a step further by abstracting not just the marking but also even the pronunciation of short vocals, relaying on the pre-supposed knowledge of the subject and the sounds by the auditor.

    Well was interesting to hear comments about algerian darja by non-Algerians.

    Take care
    Edited: syntax errors!


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