You might be surprised to learn that French isn’t the most widely spoken second language in Morocco. The language(s) that is/are the Amazigh languages of Tamazight, Tashelheit, and Riffian. These languages were once outlawed but were made official again in the Moroccan constitution in 2001. Tashelheit is widely spoken around the Marrakech area, in fact in my neighborhood, knowing a few words in Tashelheit will go further than French. If you plan to visit rural Morocco, it might be helpful to learn a few words. I’ve asked one of our friends who is a native speaker to translate a few things that might come in handy.
- Hello : azul flak (Said to one person) or azul flawn (to many people) although It is not used by the majority, more used are salam,salam alaicom, akkiaawn rabbi agma (may God help you brother) etc.
- Thank you: tanmmirt nak or tanmmirt nrabbi (Allah yirham lwalidin) may God have mercy on your parents is more common and is an Arabie expression.
- You’re welcome: assourf, walo makhef, we also say marhaba
- Good bye: artufat, Allah ihannikon, abrid n ighudayn (Nice trip or safe road) though everybody would say bessalam or Allah yisahal (may God make It easy)
- Please: ir astoufit (you’ll hear as well aafak coming from the arabic word aafwan)
- Can you help me?: gad affous (give a hand) or aawnyi irabbi (help me for god’s sake)
- I am sorry: samhiyi (we use ssurfi to mean the same)
- Excuse me: ssurfi, ssurfid
- Nice to meet you: s waddour tusnank,
- My name is …..: nikki gikh ……,or isminou …….
- 1 yan
- 2 sin
- 3 krad
- 4 koz
- 5 smous
- 6 sdis
- 7 sa
- 8 tam
- 9 tza
- 10 mraw
These are just a few words that can help you make your way in places where Tashelheit are spoken. I’ve found that Berber women (especially those over 40) rarely speak more than a few words in Arabic and usually speak no French. Being able to at least give a greeting and say a few words has gone a long way in breaking the ice!
Sunday 12th of June 2022
Thank you this was most helpful! As I am French & visit many times Morroco , I currently travels with USA friends & they really appreciated your advises / & myself discover Berbères world ! Thanks again
Sunday 5th of January 2020
I'm just begining to learn about the Amazigh people for a short story that I'm writing. I just want to make sure I do them justice. Would it be correct to say a family that was NOT Muslim would still say Salam to one another in their home or would it be more likely for them to say the traditional azul flak/flawn you stated at the top?
Thank you for making this site, it is a wonderful resource.
Monday 6th of January 2020
It would be very unusual for a family to not be Muslim if they were Moroccan Amazigh - there are some Jewish tribes however salaam is pretty widely used.
Monday 25th of March 2019
how do you pronounce each of these wonderful sayings?
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Saturday 16th of February 2019
[…] abundant agriculture, and villages steeped in Berber culture. Locals are more likely to speak Tashelheit (a Berber language) than French or Arabic although most prove well-versed in multiple languages. Immerse yourself in […]
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[…] 10 Words You Should Know: Tashelheit […]