|Native to||Morocco, Melilla (Spain), Algeria|
|1.5 million (2004 census)|
|Arabic, Tifinagh and Latin|
Riffian, Rif Berber, or Riffian Berber (native name: Tarifit) is a Northern Zenata variety of the Berber language spoken by about 2.5 million Moroccans, mainly in the Rif provinces Al Hoceima, Nador, Driouch, Berkane, a minority language in Tangier, Oujda, Tetouan, and among Riffian migrant communities in western Europe.
Riffian is a Zenati Berber dialect 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.
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. 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 across North Africa in general.
Dialects include Arzew (Old Arzeu), Urrighel, and Igzennaian.
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 are spoken in North Morocco : the Sanhaja de Srair and the Ghomara languages.
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.
Riffian's most noticeable differences from other Berber dialects are that:
- /l/ in other dialects corresponds to ⟨ř⟩ in Riffian (example: ul (heart) → uř )
These variations don't occur in the Riffian dialects of Ikebdanen and Iznasen.
|Riffian letter||Riffian word||The word in other Berber dialects||meaning in English|
|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.
- /k/ usually becomes /ʃ/, while in some local sub-accents it is merely softened.
- 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 often pronounced as [Tharifesht].
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 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.
- 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.
|Riffian language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|
- Tarifiyt Berber Vocabulary List (from the World Loanword Database)
- INALCO report on Tarifit (fr)
- Site 100% in Tarifit