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Northern Berber languages

From Academic Kids

The Northern Berber languages are a dialect continuum across the Maghreb that form a sub-family within the Berber languages. Their continuity is broken by the spread of Arabic, and to a lesser extent by the Zenati subgroup, which, though unmistakeably Northern Berber, shares certain innovations not found in the surrounding languages, notably a softening of k to sh or ch, and an absence of a- in certain words, such as "hand" (afus vs. fus.) They include:

The eastern boundaries of the group seem to be controversial; some sources include the Nafusi language and the Ghadames language, while others do not. Most sources agree in regarding Ghadames language as outside of Northern Berber, but the Ethnologue does not.

There is no authoritative answer to the question of which of these to describe as a "language" versus a "dialect"; some academics have seen not only Northern Berber but all the Berber languages as dialects of a single language, while others come up with much higher counts. At any rate, mutual comprehensibility among Northern Berber languages is high, though not perfect.

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