Published September 6, 2018
This video was recorded in Algeria by Kristen Tcherneshoff and features Kabyle speaker Ghiles Melahnouche. Kabyle was spoken by around 5,000,000 in Algeria as of 2012, and approximately 5,586,000 internationally. Kabyle is a northern Berber language belonging to the Afro-Asiatic family and is believed to have split from proto-Berber very early on. Approximately one third of Algerians are Berber speakers, concentrated mostly around Algiers (where it coexists with Algerian Arabic and French), but speakers also reside in pockets of eastern, western, and southern Algeria, and even France and Canada. Ancient Berber used to be written in an alphabet called Tifinagh until the seventh century when Latin became the official administrative language in North Africa. Beginning with Algerian independence in 1962, progress was made in reviving the old Tifinagh script into a new form known as Neo-Tifinagh, which is now an official script of Berber languages in Morocco. However, most Kabyle literature remains in the Latin script. Since the Berber Spring of 1980, the Kabyle people have been leaders in the movement for official recognition of Berber languages in Algeria.