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Languages of the Maghrib


Admission requirements

BA degree. Knowledge of Arabic and/or linguistics. Reading abilities in French are assumed.


In this course, the history and modern life of the (spoken) languages of the Maghrib (including parts of the Sahara) will be studied. The course focuses on Berber on the one hand and on dialectal Arabic on the other.

Course objectives

The main objectives of the course are to provide the students with a thorough knowledge of and insight in the language situation in the Maghrib, its history, linguistic entities and its political consequences. The student should become aware of the intricate problems associated with questions of language and develop a critical mind towards generalizations and their underlying political claims.


September 6. No class1. September 13
Overview of the languages of the Maghrib. Languages of the Maghrib in Prehistory.
2. September 20
Languages of the Maghrib in Antiquity. Script, Inscriptions, Problems.
3. 27 september
Tifinagh. Guanche
- October 4. No class
4. October 11
Berber between 700-1900. Sources, script…
5. October 18
Berber languages nowadays.
- October 25. No class
6. November 1
Arabic “dialects” of the Maghrib: Historical overview.
7. November 8
Arabic “dialects” of the Maghrib: the Pre-Hilalian stratum
8. November 15
Arabic “dialects” of the Maghrib: the Hilalian stratum
9. November 22
Arabic and Berber: mutual influences
10. November 29
Standard Arabic and French in the Maghrib.
11. December 6
Language politics and language ideology in the Maghrib
12. December 13
Code-switching. Maghribinian languages in emigration contexts.


Mode of instruction


Assessment method

  • Oral presentation and participation (50%)

  • Oral exam (50%)



Reading list

To be announced during course


Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website
for information on how to apply.

Contact information

Dr. M.G. Kossmann


For students in the MA program “African Linguistics – Berber track” this course comes in place of the course “Introduction to Berber Studies”.