Moroccan Arabic (Darija) Language Request

I know that there is going to be a MSA course released on Duolingo, but if native Arabic speakers don't use Modern Standard Arabic in their daily lives, what is the point of learning it? What they do use though are dialects. This is why I'm requesting the Arabic dialect spoken in the north of Africa. Darija is a beautiful language that has been heavily influenced by Berber, French, and Spanish. It is mainly used in Morocco (amazing country), however it is mutually intelligible with the dialect spoken in Algeria and to a lesser extent with Tunisian Arabic.

It is also the language of the remarkable singer and actor Saad Lamjarred ;). So if you are interested in this marvelous language leave a comment and rate it up! Let's see if we can catch the Duolingo team's attention!

July 20, 2017


I know that there is going to be a MSA course released on Duolingo

Well, it's been promised "eventually." We'll hope it's soon. I certainly hope they also add Arabic "dialects," among which Moroccan certainly ought to feature, being so divergent from other varieties.

July 20, 2017

Ana m3k akhoya! drs derija f duolingo gha tkoun haja wa3ra bzzzaff!

I don't have my Arabic keyboard on me at the moment but when typing in Maghrebi Dialect instead of MSA there are people use both the adapted Arabic script and an adapted Romanized script. If Duo does a Derija course I'd much prefer it be in Arabic script =)

Anyhow, Moroccan Arabic and Tunisian Arabic are my FAVORITE dialects of Arabic. The feeling of speaking Moroccan Derija feels so amazing because of the result of the Berber influence removing all of the short vowels from words. Some Berber dialects have many words that include zero vowels, which is a very rare linguistic trait. So when these Berber peoples learned Arabic from the incoming Arabs, they removed almost all the unnecessary short vowels and just kept the more necessary long vowels. That's how "Mar7aba" became "mr7ba", which is so much more fun to say! or "kntklm" instead of "atakalamu". After getting the hang of Derija and saying long stretches of speech full of intense consonant clusters with absolutely no vowels it feels like a superpower! And that's why I love Derija Mghribiya! It feels so liberating in the mouth!

July 21, 2017
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I find Darija to be quite an elegant dialect because it usually pronounces the words just as they are written in the Arabic abjad - even if they are only made up of consonants - removing the need to guess additional short vowels that are not written!

July 21, 2017

My username is actually from Moroccan Derija =) It was my nickname in Morocco.

July 21, 2017

I tried to find where I saw this, but I couldn't. Duolingo said that they were only going to do standard Arabic.

July 20, 2017

The official course request thread has entries for different "dialects" of Arabic. Years ago the CEO said he didn't want to have separate courses for different varieties of Spanish. The from-Arabic courses, obviously enough, teach using MSA. From what I can tell these two facts have combined to take on something of a life of their own, appearing whenever discussions of "dialects" come up, despite the completely different linguistic realities in play. Duolingo has courses for both Norwegian and Swedish; it can certainly have courses for more than one variety of Arabic.

July 20, 2017

Agreed. Norwegian and Swedish are mutually intelligible- languages like Maghrebi and Moroccan Arabic are not, and you won't be able to understand much of what you hear anywhere in the Arabic-speaking world if MSA is all you learn.

July 20, 2017

Moroccan Arabic is a subdialect of Maghrebi Arabic, and the Maghrebi dialects are mostly mutually intelligible, so saying that "Maghrebi and Moroccan Arabic are not" mutually intelligible isn't the best example of the lack of mutual intelligibility across Arabic. Maybe "Maghrebi and Hejazi are not" or "Maghrebi and Levantine are not" would be better.

July 20, 2017

Wow I had no idea that was just a rumour that Luis said there would be no Arabic dialects. I've seen that posted so many times that I thought that was for real, but I have been holding onto hope that they would change their minds a year or two after releasing MSA (if they ever "eventually" do...)

July 21, 2017

Here's the famous Luis comment. Why people think this is relevant to discussions of Arabic varieties I really don't know, but it gets referenced.

There is the mention in the course request page about MSA being "Duolingo's variety of Arabic." Thing is, I think I may have seen a comment from Luis or a staff member actually addressing Arabic, but it was only about what variety of Arabic is used in the from-Arabic courses. I'm no Arabic expert, but from what I know MSA is just the obvious choice there, so it'd be far from informative on what varieties might eventually be taught as target languages.

Furthermore, it seems like Duolingo has "no plans" to develop any language until approximately the day it lands in the incubator — all the more so for languages that are probably on the back burner until the script-teaching facilities being developed for Japanese are finally available on the web. Of course, somebody could well come along and point me to some statement I'm not aware of, at which point I would change my tune.

July 21, 2017

Wow, thanks for the info!

Hmmm. Yes of course.

I think that MSA is definitely the best way to come closest pleasing the most people if only one course is done, so MSA should be the first Arabic as a target language course that Duolingo should do. But if they move on to dialect courses after MSA those will be the most exciting to me. =)

July 21, 2017

me too . i agree : )

December 19, 2017

Just so you know, I actually saw something on a forum or discussion put out by admin that said they had no plans on ever doing anything besides standard Arabic. I never heard about the Spanish thing until I read it from your comment.

July 21, 2017

I suspect you're referring to the course request discussion, which isn't actually from admin and says "no plan," not "no plan ever." If you pay attention to Duo "PR" and what actually happens long enough, things for which there is "no plan" today have a way of happening tomorrow. I'm sure it's true there is no plan for Arabic dialects; I bet there's no "plan" for MSA in Duo-think. They've merely promised to add it.

July 21, 2017

Who said that native Arabic speakers do not use MSA? :)

That is not the case at all! I am a native speaker of Arabic who lived in various parts of the Arab world and currently teach Arabic as a foreign language outside the Arab world.

The standard variety of Arabic (commonly referred to as MSA, or fus'ha in Arabic) is used across more than 21 countries in the Middle East and north Africa and in various domains such as news broadcasts, books, novels, most political sermons, religious sermons, documentaries, brochures, street signs, some TV programs and interviews, children cartoons, some films and TV series etc. The standard variety is the variety we study at school from a young age so everyone across the Arab world is familiar with it.

When it comes to learning the language by non-native speakers (e.g. westerners) my personal experience as a teacher is that students find it easier to first learn the standard variety and then learn the dialect(s) they're interested in (if any). Standard Arabic is a good base to start and acquiring a foundation and a level of competency in it is necessary for the learner of the language.

One important issue to bear in mind when one suggests teaching a colloquial/local variety is: What variety are you going to teach? You might be interested in Darija/Moroccan, as the above post states, but others may be interested in Egyptian, which is a lot more popular throughout the Arab world predominantly due to the popularity of Egyptian media. Others may be interested in the Levant dialects, or the Khaliji ones, or perhaps the Iraqi dialect etc! So which one are you going to offer?

For all the above reasons it is always good to start with MSA, the standard and literary variety. Any Arabic language program outside the Arab world usually offers MSA as a start and may later have openings for local dialects. I think it would wise of Duolingo to follow suit.

It is important to point out here that the variations between MSA and colloquial dialects are not as vast as one may think! They mainly lie in pronunciation and vocabulary. These are easily learnt and picked up once one becomes familiar with standard Arabic.

September 25, 2018

When it comes to learning the language by non-native speakers (e.g. westerners) my personal experience as a teacher is that students find it easier to first learn the standard variety

Well, there aren't too many opportunities to do it any other way (as you indirectly mention in your penultimate paragraph). Sure, MSA has much to commend it, but there are also those for whom it isn't the best fit.

What variety are you going to teach?

I understand why a university language department or language school could be limited by this, but Duolingo isn't. "All the big ones" would be a perfectly reasonable option. It doesn't take anything like Duolingo's scale or resources to go in this direction. uTalk has Egyptian, Gulf, Lebanese, MSA, and Moroccan.

My understanding is that the dialects have simpler grammar than MSA. Given a more feasible choice, there are probably a lot more students who would pick them over MSA to start with than do currently for this and any number of other reasons. It's just that there's not really much of a choice.

September 25, 2018

Yes, I agree that Duolingo should not be limited to only one variety. However, the discussion here was on whether to have MSA or a colloquial dialect as a starting point (since this is where we are at this point in time). I suggested MSA as a necessary foundation for the aforementioned reasons.

In addition, the reality is that (despite the overwhelming demand and for unknown reasons) it has clearly taken so many years for an Arabic Duolingo course to emerge. We do not know if more Arabic courses will come out and when. This makes the question of 'which variety' quite relevant.

In relation to grammar, I don't know what makes you think that the colloquial varieties have 'simpler' grammar than MSA...? In what ways do you find them 'simpler'?

As a language learner myself, simple grammar to me means a clear and logical grammar system with the least amount of peculiarities and exceptions. That pretty much describes the Grammar and Morphology systems of (standard) Arabic which learners highly enjoy and find intellectually stimulating.

Colloquial dialects have their own systems of syntax and grammar of course. However, with these you will find a lot less resources (including textbooks, grammar guides etc) perhaps due to the fact that they are not widely used in written material and are generally perceived unfavourably by the native speakers (pls. research Diglossia for Ferguson, Fishman and others).

September 26, 2018

Far from an expert, of course, but two of the big things I've read about are no cases and no dual number. Also, simplified verb conjugation beyond that (no separate conjugations for different gendered plurals?).

September 27, 2018

Yes. When Arabs talk in their dialects, they neglect the dual, and plural verb conjugations have no gender, as you correctly pointed out. But you can always do that when you talk in MSA!

In fact, some people do so (very common in formal TV interviews). This is documented in the literature and labelled by some sociolinguists as 'Educated Arabic' which falls somewhere between MSA and Colloquial Arabic.

I think the point here is not about which language or language variety has less rules. As an experienced language learner yourself, you probably know that the more 'sophisticated' or 'packed' a word is the more information it communicates and therefore the more concise the sentence would be.

The main issue you need to ask yourself, piguy3, before you embark on an Arabic language course, is why do you want to learn the language? Each variety gives you access to different material and functions.

September 28, 2018

I know what I want to do. There may be feasibility issues.

Thanks for mentioning "Educated Arabic"; I hadn't heard that term before.

Concision isn't really a criterion I'm interested in for its own sake ;) Latin's by far the most concise language of those I have a certain level of familiarity with (and the only one obviously more concise than English). I like Latin a lot, but the features that allow it to be so concise don't make the learning of it any easier.

September 28, 2018


Please note that 'Educated Arabic' is a term you may only find in the literature. It is not a 'variety' of Arabic you would expect to be offered by language programs.

This is simply a practice or decision made by speakers of Arabic (native and otherwise) who choose to strike a balance (if you like) between Standard Arabic and their colloquial dialects. They 'tone down' their speech by removing some of the features of both varieties (e.g. removing the case markers from MSA).

Two glaring contexts where you would observe such practice are Arabic TV channels, such as Al Jazeera, where interviewees resort to this 'strategy', and when Arabic-speaking people from different countries (e.g. Tunisia and Kuwait) talk to each other.

Sociologists observed the above practice and documented it in the literature. However, the average Arab wouldn't relate to this term (not even to MSA for this matter).

As far as the general public is concerned, there are only two varieties of Arabic, fus'ha and 'ammiyyah. The first is referred to in English as MSA and Classical Arabic (they are not the same) and the second as Colloquial Arabic.

October 6, 2018

I really wish they would create a Moroccan arabic lesson! It is so hard to find a good language course online for this and I love the teaching style of Duolingo.

February 23, 2018

Still no reaction from the dev team?

February 28, 2019

Completely agreed, lets hope this gets done eventually!

December 8, 2018

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