Published May 15, 2020
Tachelhit is spoken by at least four million people, primarily Berbers in the North African nation of Morocco, where it is officially recognized as a dialect of a single ‘Berber language’. It is also spoken by diaspora communities throughout Europe and the Middle East. A literary language since at least the 16th century CE, Tachelhit speakers have employed writing systems in the transcription of their language, one of the oldest being the Arabic alphabet, which arrived in Morocco during the period of Islamic expansion. Toward the nineteenth century, the Latin alphabet was introduced under European colonial rule. Today, a modern variant of traditional Berber writing known as Tifinagh is promoted by the government. Tachelhit is the mother tongue of Morocco’s Shilha community, and is therefore also referred to as the Shilha language.