Languages in Morocco




Dialectal Arabic


The Arabic language was introduced into Morocco through successive stages: in the 7th century with the arrival of the troops of Oqba Ben Nafi; in the 9th century thanks to the new education centres namely the famous Karaouyine Mosque-university in Fez; in the 12th and 13th centuries, marked by the settlement in Morocco of the Hilalian and mâaquilian tribes; and in the 14th century when Andalusians were chased away by Spain during the Christian Reconquista. Dialectal Arabic includes four dialects: the first is urban (mdini); it is influenced by the Andalusian language and spoken in old cities such as Fez, Rabat, Sale and Tetouan; the mountain dialect (jebli) is used in the northwest region and draws its origins from the amazigh; the Bedouin dialect (aroubi) evolves in the communities of the Atlantic plains (Gharb. Chaouïa, Doukkala, etc.). It is also used in internal plains like the Haouz of Marrakesh, Tadla and Souss; finally, the hassani dialect is practiced in some regions of the sahara. Dialectal Arabic is used both at home and in the street. It is not a written language except in the form of free unfixed codes. It is the mother tongue of Arabic-speaking people, the one through which they acquire education and popular culture. Spoken throughout all the Moroccan territory, it unites the various communities which are themselves subdivided by the variety of dialects. Communication with the Arabs of other countries is achieved through classical Arabic.


Classical Arabic



Classical Arabic is the language of the Quran. It is used in the religious, political, administrative, legal and cultural spheres. It is the language of education, media and all other intellectual activities. The Arabic language is a rich and complex language on which the sacred book confers an almost incantatory dimension.


Amazighe, the language of Berbers:


Amazighe is the most ancient language of the Maghreb. The coming of Amazighs to Morocco goes back to the Neolithic era. For historians, their origin remains a subject of controversy. We think that they are natives, came from the north shore of the Mediterranean, or natives of the south of the Arab Peninsula. Archaeological documents of the ancient Egypt give evidence of the existence of the amazighe script at least 3000 years BC. Today, we speak Amazighe in the rural regions and in cities, particularly since the rural exodus of the 1970s. The Berber language includes three dialects: tarifit in the northeast; tamazight, in the Middle Atlas, in the northerly part of the High Atlas and in the southeast region; and tachelhit, in the southern part of the High Atlas and southwest region.




In 1912, under the protectorate, French was proclaimed as the official language of the colonial institutions. Today, the French language remains very wide-spread in Morocco, mainly in the administration and education sectors.

It is also the language which politicians use abroad, except in the Arab countries where exchanges are made in classical Arabic. The public schools include French courses in their program. Recreational services and activities (cinemas,…) or cultural (museums,…) are offered both in classical Arabic and French. Likewise, television and radio news are presented in both languages.





The first Spaniards, Andalusians, came to Morocco in the15th century. In 1885, colonists settled in the provinces of the South, then in 1912 in the provinces of the North. The recovery of Ifni and the Saharan provinces during the Independence of Morocco brought about the end of the ascendancy of the Spanish language which is widely practiced in the regions of the North and in Sahara.

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