Riffian, Rif Berber or Riffian Berber (native local name: Tmaziɣt; external name: Tarifit) is a Zenati Northern Berber language. It is spoken natively by some 1.4 million Riffians of Morocco and Algeria, primarily in the Rif provinces of Al Hoceima, Nador, Driouch, Berkane and as a minority language in Tangier, Oujda and Tetouan. In addition, Riffian expatriate communities also speak the language.
Riffian is a Zenati Berber language 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 West-Riffian (Al Hoceima), Central-Riffian (Nador) and East-Riffian (Berkan).
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:
These variations do not 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)|
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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.
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|Riffian language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|