This is the first part of an article where I wanted to share my passion for languages. I discuss things like languages in Algeria, especially those that I speak, why and how I came to study English, what are the other languages that I studied and what are those I want to master in the future.
Those who know Algeria are aware of the mosaic of languages that we use in our daily life, so in this article, I will explain what are the languages that I already speak and how did I come to speak them.
Tamazigh/Berber: my identity
I will begin by saying that I am an Amazigh, a Berber if you prefer. Amazigh people are the original inhabitants of North Africa before the islamization of the region by the Arabs. nowadays, we consider them a minority although the overwhelming majority of the region’s inhabitants are ethnically Berbers.(1) So my mother tongue is Tamazight, which is spoken by a bunch of peoples in Algeria. although it is starting to be taught in schools, we don’t use its written form. de facto, it is a communicating language. I speak Tamazight with my family and a lot of my friend, I leave in a region in Algeria where all the population speaks Berber, we seldom speak in another language.
Arabic: the Algerian and the Classical one
the second language that I learned when I was young was actually two distinct languages: Algerian Arabic and Classical Arabic. the former is the Arabic dialect proper to the Algerian population, there are some variations in pronunciation between the different regions of Algeria and the Maghreb, but all North African peoples can understood each other even if they speak in their respective local Arabic dialect. we use this language without writing it, it plays the role of a langua franca in Algeria since everybody can speak it. the Classical Arabic is used in schools, university and public administration. when we watch news in TV, we speak Classical Arabic, when we withdraw a document from an administration, it is written in Classical Arabic (or French).
So I learned these two languages pretty much at the same time: when I was about 6-8 years old. I started learning Classical Arabic in elementary school then I began to have some Arab speaking friends, so I started speaking it since I already understood an important part of it by following TV programs. as a matter of fact, TV played a pivotal role in my language learning throughout my life, apart for the Tamazight language. I also kind of mastered Classical Arabic by watching cartoons and reproducing the dialogues when I was playing with my brothers or my friends.
Today, although I understand all we could say in Classical arabic, bu I have some difficulties speaking it. this is because I don’t use it that much in school. I stopped reading in Arabic in my second or third year in university because of the poor quality of the books that are produced in this language in my area of study (ie. International Relations). instead, I use another language for reading and writing: French.
French is by far the language that I speak the most fluently, I consider it as my second mother tongue. I have been taught French since my childhood by my mother. when I was a child, I spoke it but I stopped early and I kind of lost it. when I started to watch cartoons then some French TV programs, I recovered it without any difficulty. in fact, as far as I remember, I have always been speaking Tamazight along with French. it is my working language, I wrote my master dissertation, and I am writing my PhD thesis in this language.
Voilà, so the languages that I already speak are Tamazight and Algerian Arabic to discuss things with someone by voice ; Classical Arabic which I used in school and I am using a little in university ; and finally French which is my main language, which I speak with an Amazigh accent 😉 .
Now you know which languages I Speak, I don’t consider that I speak English since I make too many mistakes, but as I said in a prior article, I created this blog in order to improve my English, and this is what we will discuss in the next article.
(1) ideological considerations are the reason why the Algerian government present the country as an Arab country by excluding the Berber speaking minorities and launching arabization policies.