Riffian, Rif
Berber or Riffian Berber (native local name: Tmaziɣt; external name: Tarifit) is a Zenati Northern Berber language. It is spoken natively by some 1.4 million Riffians
of Morocco
and Algeria, primarily in the Rif
provinces of Al Hoceima, Nador, Driouch, Berkane and as a minority language in Tangier, Oujda and Tetouan. In addition, Riffian expatriate communities also speak the language.


1 Classification 2 Geographic distribution 3 Dialects 4 Morocco 5 Algeria 6 Sounds 7 Writing system 8 References 9 Sources 10 External links

Classification[edit] Riffian is a Zenati Berber language[1] which consists of various sub-dialects specific to each clan and of which a majority are spoken in the Rif
region, a large mountainous area of Northern Morocco, and a minority spoken in the western part of neighbouring Algeria. Geographic distribution[edit]

Percent of Rif-Berber speakers in Morocco
by census 2004 Based on data found Here [1]

Riffian is spoken mainly in the Moroccan Rif
on the Mediterranean coast and in the Rif
mountains, with a large minority in the Spanish autonomous city of Melilla.[3] There are also speakers of Riffian in Morocco
outside the Rif
region, notably in the rest of Moroccan cities where they compose a minority. The neighbour state of Algeria
is also home to Rif
minorities. A Riffian-speaking community exists in the Netherlands
and Belgium
as well as to a lesser extent other European countries. Its own speakers simply call it "Tamazight", a term also often applied in a broader sense to the Berber language
Berber language
across North Africa in general. Dialects[edit]

Distribution of Riffian dialects

Dialects include West-Riffian (Al Hoceima), Central-Riffian (Nador) and East-Riffian (Berkan). Iznasen (Iznacen, Beni Snassen) is counted as a dialect in Kossman (1999), but Blench (2006) classifies it as one of the closely related Mzab–Wargla languages. Morocco[edit] There is a large amount of dialectal variation in Riffian Berber; this can easily be seen using the dialect Atlas (Lafkioui, 1997), however Riffian compose a single language with its own phonetical innovations distinct from other Berber languages. Majority of them are spoken in Northern Morocco, this includes the varieties of Al Hoceima, Temsamane, Nador, Ikbadene (including Iznasen) and the more southernly variety in the Taza
province. Besides Riffian, two other unrelated and smaller Berber languages
Berber languages
are spoken in North Morocco : the Sanhaja de Srair and the Ghomara languages. Algeria[edit]

Linguistic map of western Algeria
showing Berber-speaking areas, including Riffian cluster of Bettioua, Marsa Ben-Mhidi, Aït Snous and Aït Bousaïd

A few Rifian dialects are or used to be in the western part of Algeria, notably by the Beni Snouss tribe of the Tlemcen, as well in Bethioua
but also in various colonial districts Rifians started to emigrate to since the 19th century. Sounds[edit] Riffian's most noticeable differences from other Berber dialects are that:

/l/ in other dialects corresponds to ⟨ř⟩ in Riffian (example: ul (heart) → uř )

/ll/ (geminate /lː/) in other dialects corresponds to ⟨ǧǧ⟩ (/dː͡ʒ/) in Riffian (example: yelli (my daughter) → yeǧǧi ). /lt/ in other dialects corresponds to ⟨č⟩ (/t͡ʃ/) in Riffian (example: weltma (my sister) → wečma ).

These variations do not occur in the Riffian dialects of Ikebdanen and Iznasen.

Riffian letter Riffian word The word in other Berber dialects meaning in English

Ř ř uř ul heart

aɣyuř aɣyul donkey

awař awal speech / talk

Ǧ ǧ azeǧǧif / azedjif azellif head

yeǧǧa / yedja yella (he) is / (he) exists

ajeǧǧid / Ajedjid ajellid king

Č č wečma weltma my sister

tacemřač tacemlalt blonde / white

taɣyuč taɣyult female donkey (jenny)

postvocalic /r/ preceding a consonantal coda is dropped, as in taddart (house/home) → taddaat. Thus in tamara the /r/ is conserved because it precedes a vowel. Additionally, the initial masculine a- prefix is dropped in certain words, e.g., afus (hand) becomes fus, and afighar (snake) becomes fighar. This change, characteristic of Zenati Berber varieties, further distances Riffian from neighbouring dialects such as Atlas-Tamazight and Shilha.

"Tarifit" or "Tarifiyt" is by some tribes pronounced as [Tharifesht].

Writing system[edit]

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Like other Berber languages, Riffian has been written with several different systems over the years. Most recently (since 2003), Tifinagh has become official throughout Morocco. The Arabic script
Arabic script
is not used anymore for writing Riffian Berber. The Berber Latin alphabet continues to be used unofficially online and in most publications in Morocco
and abroad. However, unlike the nearby Tashelhit
(Shilha), Riffian Berber has little written literature before the twentieth century. References[edit]

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^ a b Riffian at Ethnologue
(18th ed., 2015) ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Tarifit". Glottolog
3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.  ^ "CpM moción regular Tamazight Melilla
tomando ejemplo Bable Asturias". 2010-04-14. Archived from the original on 2010-04-14. Retrieved 2017-03-07. CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)


Biarnay, Samuel. 1911. Etude sur le dialecte des Bet't'ioua du Vieil-Arzeu. Alger: Carbonel. Biarnay, Samuel. 1917. Etude sur les dialectes berbères du Rif. Paris: Leroux. Cadi, Kaddour. 1987. Système verbal rifain. Forme et sens. Paris: Peeters. Colin, Georges Séraphin. 1929. "Le parler berbère des Gmara." Hespéris 9: 43-58. Kossmann, Maarten. 2000. Esquisse grammaticale du rifain oriental. Paris: Peeters. Lafkioui, Mena. 2007. Atlas linguistique des variétés berbères du Rif. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe. McClelland, Clive. The Interrelations of Syntax, Narrative Structure, and Prosody in a Berber Language (Studies in Linguistics and Semiotics, V. 8). Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2000. (ISBN 0-7734-7740-3)*Renisio, A. 1932. Etude sur les dialectes berbères des Beni Iznassen, du Rif
et des Senhaja de Sraïr. Paris: Leroux.

External links[edit]

Riffian language
Riffian language
test of at Wikimedia Incubator

portal Languages portal

Tarifiyt Berber Vocabulary List (from the World Loanword Database) INALCO report on Tarifit (fr)

v t e

Berber languages







Awjila Fezzan

Foqaha Sokna Tmessa

Ghadamès Jaghbub† Kufra Nafusi

Jadu Nalut Wazzin Yefren




Eastern Middle AtlasTA

Seghrouchen Warayn

Northern Saharan

Gurara Mozabite South Oranie and Figuig Tidikelt Tuwat Wad Righ Wargla


Central Riffian Eastern Moroccan Iznasen Snouss Western Riffian

Shawiya Tunisian-ZuwaraTE

Jerba Matmata Sened† Tataouine Zuwara

Western Algerian

Gouraya Shelif Shenwa


Atlas languages

Central Atlas Gharb† Ghomara Judeo-Berber Sanhaja de Srayr Shilha


Central-Eastern Central-Western Eastern Western


Moroccan Berber


Tamahaq Tamashek Tawellemmet Tayart


Tetserret Zenaga


Tifinagh Berber Arabic
alphabet Judeo-Berber alphabet Berber Latin alphabet



AAAL (Algeria) HCA (Algeria) IRCAM (Morocco) DNAFLA (Mali) CRB (France)


Berber Academy World Amazigh Congress

TE Transitional to Eastern · TA Transitional to Atlas · † Extinct · R Reconstructed

v t e

Languages of Morocco

Official languages

Arabic1 Berber

Native vernaculars



Northern Judeo-Moroccan Old Urban


Western Eastern Hassaniya





Central Atlas Tashelhit Judeo-Berber Sanhaja de Srair Ghomara Gharbi†


Tarifit Tabeldit Eastern Middle Atlas Eastern Morocco



Sabir† Haketia Spanish†,4


African Latin†

Main liturgical languages

Arabic1 2 Hebrew3

Main foreign languages

French Spanish4 English

1 Modern Standard Arabic 2 Classical Arabic 3 Medieval Hebrew 4 Formerly native to Moriscos, extinct as native in Morocco † Extinct

Authority control

LCCN: sh85114051 GND: 4178142-9 BNF: