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Algerian Arabic
Darja, دارجة
Native to Algeria
Native speakers 42.5 million  (2020)e18
3 million L2 speakers in Algeria (no date)
Language family
Writing system Arabic script
Árabe argelino.png

Algerian Arabic (known as Darja in Algeria) is a dialect derived from the form of Arabic spoken in northern Algeria. It belongs to the Maghrebi Arabic language continuum and is partially mutually intelligible with Tunisian and Moroccan.

Like other varieties of Maghrebi Arabic, Algerian has a mostly Semitic vocabulary. It contains Berber and Latin (African Romance) influences and has numerous loanwords from French, Andalusian Arabic, Ottoman Turkish and Spanish.

Algerian Arabic is the native dialect of 75% to 80% of Algerians and is mastered by 85% to 100% of them. It is a spoken language used in daily communication and entertainment, while Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is generally reserved for official use and education.

Table of basic letters

Arabic letters usage in Literary Arabic
Common Maghrebian Letter

(Classical pronunciation)

name in Arabic script
Value in Literary Arabic (IPA) Closest English equivalent in pronunciation Contextual forms Isolated
ʾAbjadī Hijāʾī ʾAbjadī Hijāʾī Final Medial Initial
1. 1. 1. 1. ʾalif أَلِف ā / ʾ

(also â )

including [[Open front unrounded vowel|]], ∅
car, cat ـا ا
2. 2. 2. 2. bāʾ بَاء b barn ـب ـبـ بـ ب
22. 3. 22. 3. tāʾ تَاء t stick ـت ـتـ تـ ت
23. 4. 23. 4. thāʾ ثَاء th

(also  )

think ـث ـثـ ثـ ث
3. 5. 3. 5. jīm جِيم j

(also ǧ )

gem ـج ـجـ جـ ج
8. 6. 8. 6. ḥāʾ حَاء

(also  )

no equivalent

("guttural" h, may be approximated as heart)

ـح ـحـ حـ ح
24. 7. 24. 7. khāʾ خَاء kh

(also  )

Scottish loch ـخ ـخـ خـ خ
4. 8. 4. 8. dāl دَال d dear ـد د
25. 9. 25. 9. dhāl ذَال dh

(also  )

that ـذ ذ
20. 10. 20. 10. rāʾ رَاء r Scottish English curd, Spanish rolled r as in perro ـر ر
7. 11. 7. 11. zāy / zayn زَاي z zebra ـز ز
15. 12. 21. 24. sīn سِين s sin ـس ـسـ سـ س
21. 13. 28. 25. shīn شِين sh

(also š )

shin ـش ـشـ شـ ش
18. 14. 15. 18. ṣād صَاد

(also ş )

no equivalent

(can be approximated with sauce, but with the throat constricted)

ـص ـصـ صـ ص
26. 15. 18. 19. ḍād ضَاد

(also  )

no equivalent

(can be approximated with dawn, but with the throat constricted)

ـض ـضـ ضـ ض
9. 16. 9. 12. ṭāʾ طَاء

(also ţ )

no equivalent

(can be approximated with stall, but with the throat constricted)

ـط ـطـ طـ ط
27. 17. 26. 13. ẓāʾ ظَاء

(also  )

no equivalent

(can be approximated with father, but with the throat constricted)

ـظ ـظـ ظـ ظ
16. 18. 16. 20. ʿayn عَيْن ʿ no equivalent

("guttural" voiced h; similar to ḥāʾ above)

ـع ـعـ عـ ع
28. 19. 27. 21. ghayn غَيْن gh

(also ġ )

no equivalent

French Paris

ـغ ـغـ غـ غ
17. 20. 17. 22. fāʾ فَاء f far ـف ـفـ فـ ف
19. 21. 19. 23. qāf قَاف q no equivalent

(similar to caught, but pronounced further back in the mouth.)

ـق ـقـ قـ ق
11. 22. 11. 14. kāf كَاف k cap ـك ـكـ كـ ك
12. 23. 12. 15. lām لاَم l lamp ـل ـلـ لـ ل
13. 24. 13. 16. mīm مِيم m me ـم ـمـ مـ م
14. 25. 14. 17. nūn نُون n nun ـن ـنـ نـ ن
5. 26. 5. 26. hāʾ هَاء h hat ـه ـهـ هـ ه
6. 27. 6. 27. wāw وَاو w / ū / ∅ wet, pool ـو و
10. 28. 10. 28. yāʾ يَاء y / ī Yoshi, meet ـي ـيـ يـ ي

(not counted as a letter in the alphabet but plays an important role in Arabic spelling)

[denoting most irregular female nouns]

hamzah هَمْزة ʾ  uhoh

(aka "glottal stop")


(used mainly in medial and final position, which is an unlinked letter)

ʾalif hamzah أَلِف هَمْزة ـأ أ
ـإ إ
wāw hamzah وَاو هَمْزة ـؤ ؤ
yāʾ hamzah يَاء هَمْزة ـئ ـئـ ئـ ئ
ʾalif maddah أَلِف مَدَّة ʾā // ـآ آ
(not counted as a letter in the alphabet but plays an important role in Arabic grammar and lexicon, including indication [denoting most female nouns] and spelling) An alternative form of ت ("bound tāʼ " / تاء مربوطة) is used at the end of words to mark feminine gender for nouns and adjectives. It denotes the final sound /-h/ or /-t/. Standard tāʼ, to distinguish it from tāʼ marbūṭah, is referred to as tāʼ maftūḥah (تاء مفتوحة, "open tāʼ "). Tāʼ marbūṭah تاء مربوطة ـة (end only) ة
(not counted as a letter in the alphabet but plays an important role in Arabic grammar and lexicon, including indication [denotes verbs] and spelling). It is used at the end of words with the sound of /aː/ in Modern Standard Arabic that are not categorized in the use of tāʼ marbūṭah (ة) [mainly some verbs tenses and Arabic masculine names]. 'alif maqsoura الف مقصورة ـى (end only)


  • See the article Romanization of Arabic for details on various transliteration schemes; however, Arabic language speakers may usually not follow a standardized scheme when transcribing names. Also names are regularly transcribed as pronounced locally, not as pronounced in Literary Arabic (if they were of Arabic origin).
  • Regarding pronunciation, the phonemic values given are those of Modern Standard Arabic, which is taught in schools and universities. In practice, pronunciation may vary considerably from region to region. For more details concerning the pronunciation of Arabic, consult the articles Arabic phonology and varieties of Arabic.
  • The names of the Arabic letters can be thought of as abstractions of an older version where they were meaningful words in the Proto-Semitic language. Names of Arabic letters may have quite different names popularly.
  • Six letters (و ز ر ذ د ا) do not have a distinct medial form and have to be written with their final form without being connected to the next letter. Their initial form matches the isolated form. The following letter is written in its initial form, or isolated form if it is the final letter in the word.
  • The letter alif originated in the Phoenician alphabet as a consonant-sign indicating a glottal stop. Today it has lost its function as a consonant, and, together with ya’ and wāw, is a mater lectionis, a consonant sign standing in for a long vowel (see below), or as support for certain diacritics (maddah and hamzah).
  • Arabic currently uses a diacritic sign, ء, called hamzah, to denote the glottal stop written alone or with a carrier:
    • alone: ء
    • with a carrier: إ أ (above or under an alif), ؤ (above a wāw), ئ (above a dotless yā’ or yā’ hamzah).
In academic work, the hamzah (ء) is transliterated with the modifier letter right half ring (ʾ), while the modifier letter left half ring (ʿ) transliterates the letter ‘ayn (ع), which represents a different sound, not found in English.
The hamzah has a single form, since it is never linked to a preceding or following letter. However, it is sometimes combined with a wāw, yā’, or alif, and in that case the carrier behaves like an ordinary wāw, yā’, or alif.
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