Published June 25, 2019
This video was recorded by Anass Sedrati in Berlin, Germany. Tunisian Arabic, known by its speakers as Tounsi, is a set of dialects belonging to the Maghrebi continuum spoken primarily in Tunisia. Its features are similar to other Maghrebi dialects spoken in neighboring Libya and Algeria. There is little to no mutual intelligibility between Tunisian Arabic and Middle Eastern Arabic. Tunisian Arabic flourished following the period of Tunisian independence in the 1950s as literature and education were expanded. Several Tounsi novels were written in the 1990s and the language was taught by the Peace Corps from 1966 to 1993. Despite these strides, the effort for political recognition of Tunisian Arabic as a distinct language is ongoing. It was neither standardized nor officially recognized until 2011 with the launch of a Tunisian Ministry website, but this was taken down within a week due to lack of support. Subsequent efforts have met similar obstacles. The Derja Association was founded in 2016 to address the goals of standardization and official status. Tunisian Arabic is spoken by at least 9,406,900 people worldwide. It is a Maghrebi Arabic language within the Semitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family.