The Berber language - one word for a language with many distinct dialects
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The Berber language is actually an umbrella term for a plethora of dialects. Linguists specify around 30 different Berber dialects spoken in the entire Berber language realm. The approximate 45,000 speakers can mostly be found in Algeria and Morocco, as well as in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Mali, and Niger. Berber is recognized as an official national language in Algeria, Mali, and Niger. It should be noted, however, that wherever Berber is spoken, another official language exists alongside it.
Berber is mainly used for oral language purposes.
A special characteristic of the Berber language is the fact that it’s primarily used for spoken language, while the written form has virtually no use. There is, however, a written form called "Tifinagh." This is a type of Runic alphabet, which historically was used to engrave short texts into slabs of rock.
Today, it’s used for things like inscriptions and other decorative purposes. However, there is no literary tradition. Efforts to develop a single written form for this language have only been made since the 1980’s with the trend of reverting to the Latin alphabet.
The result of these efforts is the formulation of a standardized form of the Berber language with consistent grammar and vocabulary. The efforts to promote and protect the Berber language in Algeria, where the confidence of the Berber population has been strengthened by compulsory education under French colonial rule, are especially noteworthy. This can best be seen in their concentrated attempts to differentiate themselves from Arabic-oriented. As a result, there are Berber television and radio stations, and the Berber language is taught in schools.
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