Exploring the Sociolinguistic Landscape of ‘Touaregs’ as Endangered Community in Southern Algeria

Author: Hind Amel Mostari (Djilali Liabés University of Sidi Bel Abbés, Algeria)
Speaker: Hind Amel Mostari
Topic: Linguistic Landscapes
The GLOCAL AFALA 2023 General Session


Algeria represents a wonderful sociolinguistic mosaic, characterized by the existence of panoply of languages and varieties of languages namely Modern Standard Arabic, Algerian Arabic and Tamazight. The Amazigh/Berber population represents 27.5 % of the total population and their variety called ‘Berber’ or ‘Tamazight’ encompasses many dialects among them : Chaouia, Taznatit , Tamashaq and the most powerful variety called ‘Kabylian’ that became an official language in 2016. Other varieties essentially Tamashaq and Tewellemet used in southern Algeria, are ignored and politically stigmatized by the Algerian government.

The Touareg society is found in the central Sahara in Algeria, Libya and on the borders of Sahel, Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso , reaching a total of over 04 million people today . Their Berber culture is confirmed by the use of the Tifinagh alphabet , engraved on the rocks in Hoggar and Tassili mountains in Algeria.

This communication will present the outcomes of one year sociolinguistic investigation (March 2022 – May 2023) in the nearest city of Elhoggar mountains called ‘Tamanrasset’. The aim is to highlight Touaregs culture and language;  ‘Tamashaq’ as essential components of the Algerian sociolinguistic and cultural landscape, in addition to the roles played by natives,  school, local authorities and decision makers in order to maintain or on the contrary, threaten this Berber variety. Ergo, we will attempt to scrutinize the Touaregs community issues ; the project aim is twofold:

– To highlight the actual sociolinguistic and cultural situation of Touaregs in the Algerian south.
– To think about some political measures as well as sociolinguistic solutions on how to promote the status of Tamashaq as one of Algeria’s main sociolinguistic and cultural components.

In this investigation, I have used  research mixed methods composed of some observations, a questionnaire in addition to face to face interviews with Touaregs from both genders and socio-economic backgrounds . The research main findings will be used in order to sustain Touaregs linguistic and cultural heritage, with Touaregs as a vivid  community and Tamashaq as an essential element in the Algerian sociolinguistic landscape.


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Keywords: Lanscape, Algeria, Berber, Tamashaq, Touaregs, culture, language.