The official language is Arabic, however the Arabic spoken in the Maghreb Region (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia) differs significantly from Arabic spoken elsewhere in the Arab World, so don’t be shocked if you don’t understand anything spoken to you, even if you are fluent in standard Arabic. Many French terms may be found in Algerian Arabic.
All Algerians who have attended school will be able to speak standard Arabic, although it is not the primary communication language; if you don’t understand someone, ask them to speak standard Arabic (al-arabiyya al-fus’ha). Because of the popularity of Egyptian film, Egyptian Arabic is very widely understood.
The colonial language, French, is still extensively spoken, and nearly every educated native you encounter will be fluent in both Arabic and French.
Berber is also widely spoken in Algeria, mostly in rural regions, the biggest of which being the ancient Kabylie region, which encompasses much of central and northeast Algeria, close to the city.
In general, only the younger generations in Algeria can comprehend and speak some English (some kids can speak and understand English quite well as early as the first year of high school), but the majority of people can converse in French.
Some popular Algerian Arabic phrases:
- Washrak— How are you ?
- Mlih — Good
- Shukran — Thank you
- Y’Semoni or wasamni …. — My Name is ….
- Shehal — How much ? or how much it cost ?