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In Tunisia, there are primarily three languages used: the local Tunisian dialect, Arabic and French.

Tunisians are adept at languages, and schools promote this study. Modern Standard Arabic, or Literary Arabic, is the official language of Tunisia. Important documents are written in Modern Arabic, as well as street signs, shops and restaurants.

Tunisian is also closely related to Maltese, which is not considered to be a dialect of Arabic for sociolinguistic reasons

Arabic is the language that all literate speakers of Tunisia understand and can speak some of. Classical Arabic, used in the Koran, has been considered the tree of which all spoken varieties of Arabic have branched out from, including Modern Standard Arabic. Tunisian children are taught to speak, read and write in classical Arabic. Arabic is one of the languages of commerce in Tunisia.


arabic language tunisia



The majority of Tunisians are also fluent in French. In school, French is taught to children from the age of eight. French is also used on shop signs, menus and road signs, as well as Modern Standard Arabic.


Commerce between tourists and locals is driven either in Arabic or French. Over 60% of the population of Tunisia is literate in French, and half of Tunisian newspapers are in French. French is also used in secondary education.





The third language of Tunisia is Tunisian Arabic. Known locally as Darija (meaning dialect) or Tunsi (meaning Tunisian), Tunisian Arabic is very different from Classical or Modern Standard Arabic. Considered a derivative of Classical Arabic, Tunisian Arabic has a vocabulary that is Arabic. However, many of its words are French, Turkish, Italian, Spanish and Berber – all the cultures that have influenced this great country.


Spoken by 11 million people, Darija is spoken in Tunisia. Similar dialects of Darija are spoken in parts of Algeria and Libya. Visitors to Tunisia who are fluent in Arabic may not understand Tunisian Arabic, but will be pleased that Tunisians can also communicate in Standard Arabic .While Modern Standard Arabic is the official language of Tunisia, Tunisian Arabic is its native language.


Tunisian Arabic, or Darija, is a spoken language. Darija is now being used in on-line conversation. Being more recognized, especially by the younger generation, Darija is evolving. New words in French and English have been integrated, as well as technological terms. Antiquated French and Spanish words are being replaced with Standard Arabic. Derija is a familial dialect and more of a people’s language than the formality of Modern Standard Arabic.





Now a compulsory subject, taught from the age of 10, English may soon become Tunisia’s third official language. Many of Tunisia’s official documents are now being translated into English as well as French.


There is a small minority (1%) in Tunisia that speaks Shelha, a Berber language.


European vacationers from France and Germany have long been drawn to Tunisia’s fine beaches. The German language is now spoken in Tunisia’s major cities.


Offering Modern Standard Arabic, French, Tunisian Arabic or Darija, English and German, Tunisians are able to convey all of their warmth to you in your native language. Tunisia wants you to enjoy all the pleasures and sights of their amazing country, free of barriers.

About Olivia Marsh

Olivia Marsh - Author - Professional chef and Travel enthusiast.
Culinary Institute of America (CIA) graduate. Chef Marsh has traveled the globe from France, Italy, Germany to China, Thailand, India, Tunisia and more.
Olivia lived in Tunisia for almost 10 years now.
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