Diversity of Judeo-Arabic dialects in North Africa: Eqa:l, Wqal, kjal and ?al Dialects

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This study presents the diversity of North African Judeo-Arabic dialects documented in an extensive course of fieldwork concerning some one hundred and thirty Moroccan Jewish dialects, both urban and rural. Dozens of additional dialects from Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria complete the global repartitioning of these dialects into four distinct groups: Eqa:l, Wqal, kjal, and ?al dialects. The different dialects in each set share common phonetic, phonological, morphological, and grammatical features. All of them preserve the unvoiced realization of the stop /q/ and articulate it as a uvular [q] (Eqa:l and Wqal), a palato-velar [kj] (kjal), or a glottal [?] (?al). Eqa:l dialects developed in Libya, Tunisia, and Eastern Algeria; they distinguish between long and short vowels. Wqal dialects developed in Western Morocco. Kjal dialects developed in northwestern Algeria and in southeastern Morocco. ?al dialects developed in Moroccan cities, where Jews expelled from Spain and Portugal settled among native Jews.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Jewish Languages
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2015.


  • ?al dialects
  • Common dialectal area
  • Common grammatical features
  • Common phonetic and phonological features
  • Eqa:l dialects
  • Kal dialects
  • North African Judeo-Arabic dialects
  • Wqal dialects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • History
  • Linguistics and Language


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