Kabyle – The language of Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane is one of the most prolific footballers who has a Kabyle heritage. The parents of the International French footballer moved from Aguemoune, a Kabyle village, to Paris in 1953. Zinedine has played for the French national team as an attacking midfielder. He captained the team at the 2006 World Cup. He was one of the prominent footballers when his country worn the World Cup in 1998 and the European Championship in 2000. Zinedine has been voted as the FIFA world player of the year on 3 different occasions. This was in 1998, 2000 and 2008.

Kabyle is spoken by approximately 8 million people all over the world. The majority of the speakers live in the northern part of Algeria. Speakers can also be found in France, Belgium, USA, among other countries. Although Kabyle is not recognized as an official language in Algeria, the language is taught in schools, in areas where the language is predominantly spoken. In addition, there are television and radio programs broadcast in the language. Kabyle students boycotted classes in 1994 for one year. They were demanding that the Berber language be taught in schools. Subsequently, the language was introduced into the school curriculum in 1995, though the language was non-compulsory. Only interested students can choose to study the language. Kabyle is a Berber language and belongs to the Afro-Asiatic family of languages. There are 4 varieties of the language,which are all mutually intelligible.

Different writing systems have been used to write the language over time. The Latin and Tifinagh alphabets were used during the 20th century. The Tifinagh alphabet has mainly been used to write periodicals. In the 18th century, the 1st French- Kabyle dictionary was compiled by a French man. The dictionary was written using Latin script. After Algeria gained independence from France, some linguists tried to re-introduce the Tifinagh alphabet. They tried to modernize it by changing the shapes of letters and adding various vowels. However, this did not catch on and Latin script still remains the main writing system. The new Tifinagh alphabet was adopted as a way of writing Berber languages in Morocco.

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