Shawiya Language

Shawiya Language

Shawiya Berber, or Chaouïa (native name: Tachawit) is the Zenati variety of the Berber language. Shawiya Berber is spoken by the Shawi Berbers of the Awras region of eastern Algeria and surrounding areas including Batna, Khenchela, Sétif, Oum El Bouaghi, Souk Ahras, Tébessa and the north part of Biskra. The Shawiyas call their language, also known as Numidian Berber, Tacawit ( or ). Estimates of number of speakers range from 1.4 to 3 million speakers.

The French spelling of Chaouïa is commonly found, due to the influence of French literature on the language. Other spellings are "Chaoui", "Shawia", "Tachawit", "Thachawith", "Tachaouith", and "Thchèwith". In Shawiya, the leading /t/ - pronounced in that phonetic environment - is often reduced to an /h/, so the native name is often heard as Hašawiθ.

Shawiya Berber was, until recently, an unwritten language and rarely taught at school. As the Shawiya people were predominantly rural and secluded, they often code-switch to Algerian Arabic, French or even English to discuss non-traditional technology and sociological concerns.

Recently the Shawiya Berber language, together with Kabyle language, has began to achieve some cultural prominence thanks to the Berber cultural and political movements in Algeria.

Read more about Shawiya Language:  Bibliography

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