Jebli Arabic

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Native to Morocco
Ethnicity Jbalas, Ghomaras, Sanhajas de Srayr
Language codes
ISO 639-3 (included in ary)
Glottolog jebl1238[1]
Nord du Maroc, carte ethno-linguistique.PNG
Ethnolinguistic map of northern Morocco: purple represents Jebli-speaking areas, blue represents other pre-Hilalian Arabic-speaking areas (old Urban, Zerhoun and Sefrou area)

Jebli (Jebelia) is a pre-Hilalian Arabic dialect spoken in the mountains of the north of Morocco.

The word jebli means "of/from the mountain". It is mainly spoken in the western and southern Rif by tribes of Moriscos, Sherifian and Berber descent that were Arabicized from the 9th to the 15th centuries:

  • Jbalas: all the forty-four tribes speak Jebli Arabic ;
  • Ghomaras: out of nine tribes, seven are fully Jebli-speaking, the two remaining are partially Jebli-speaking with a significant Ghomara Berber-speaking community ;
  • Sanhajas de Srayr: one Jebli-speaking tribe –Ketama– out of ten tribes, the remaining (nine) speak Sanhaja Berber ;
  • Riffians: out of twenty tribes, six are fully or partially Arabophone; among them, five speak Mountain Arabic −Targuist, Aït Itteftf, Aït Boufrah, Mestasa and Metioua− while the last one –Settout– speak Hilalian Arabic ;
  • Ghiatas, Maghraouas and Meknassas: the three tribes –that aren't part of any larger confederacy– are fully Jebli-speaking ;
  • Tribes of Zerhoun (Zerahnas) and the neighborhood of Sefrou (Kechtala, Behalil and Yazgha): although not belonging to the same ethno-linguistic group than Jebalas, their pre-Hilalian dialects are sometimes classified as belonging to the same macro-family (westernmost pre-Hilalian village dialects) than Jebli.

Jebli is heavily influenced by Berber; the grammar of Jebli is almost Berber while most the words are Arabic.

From the Moorish migration into northern Morocco to the present, Jebli has been influenced by the Arabic language. Through this period Jebli evolved from an Amazigh language to a rich admixture. Jebli includes multiple dialects, although they are mutually comprehensible.[citation needed]

Examples of Jebli

Jebli English translation Same word in an other language
trawzez blue jeans trowsers (English)
assallas darkness Berber)
carretera car road (Spanish)
ntina you
Eayel, tfel boy
stito little (Berber)
ħami warm
qayla sun
jjro dog (Arabic)
yemma mom (Berber)

See also


  1. Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Jebli". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>