In what language they speak Tunisia

In which tunisians communicate in each other? Will English and Russian know? With the knowledge of which foreign language in Tunisia will be most comfortable? What phrasebook take with you or what application-translator for smartphone install? Read the answers in our article.

The official language of Tunisia

The only official language of the Republic of Tunisia is MSA (Modern Standard Arabic) is a modern generally accepted version of Arabic.

MSA is official in all Arab countries. And as in most Arab countries, in Tunisia in the official language, do not communicate in everyday life.

And in what language they usually say?

On the Tunisian version of "Holding".

Holding is a family of dialects of Arabic in North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Mauritania, Western Sahara). As part of the language group "Holding": six relatively common dialects and about hundreds of low-prostrated.

Tunisian dialect can be confidently called the most colorful and interesting in the "Holding" group. It has words from: neo-Punic, African Latin, Berber, Spanish, Turkish, Italian and French languages.

What is the difference between Arab dialects and MSA?

The difference is mainly in words. If the Arabs from Tunisia and the Arab Emirates begin to talk on their dialects, then each other will understand, but only in general terms. In order to normally understand each other, they will have to express each other the meanings of words in their dialects.

To understand each other, MSA adopted in the Arab world, who know in all Arab countries, although they do not speak him in everyday life. Such a common communication language for several countries is called "Lingva Frank".

If tunisian and algae will be touched, they will understand each other perfectly. Their dialects are very close, both dialects from the "Holding" group.

French in Tunisia

According to the latest statistics, 63% of the population speak French. French is not the official language of Tunisia, but it is very common in the scientific and technical spheres.

All instructions and manuals for use for technology are written in French. All dashboard machines, machines, devices are decorated in French. All scientific works are written in French, except the sphere of humanitarian sciences. Even counters in Tunisian taxi in French, what we were told in detail in the article "Taxi in Tunisia".

All children in schools teach French from the first class. In high school, many disciplines are taught only in French. Finishing high school, Tunisian says, reads and writes in French free.

This is the legacy of the Epoch of the French Protectorate, when Tunisia was actually the colony of France. Read our article "The History of Tunisia". Until now, the most strong economic and cultural connections at Tunisia precisely with France.

What’s in what language

Casual speech Tunisian dialect
Newspapers and magazines Arab MSA
TV and radio: news, religious programs, classic Arab works Arab MSA
TV and radio: other programs Tunisian dialect, MSA, French
Laws and Official Documents MSA + French
Private documents: contracts, testaments and others MSA and at will french
Technical Documents, Instructions, Dashboards French
The names of the buttons on the portable anti-aircraft complex 9k32 Arrow-2 (in service of the Tunisian army) Russian. We should have mentioned at least something that in Tunisia is written exclusively in Russian

Does well know Russian?

Until 2015, Tunisians did not even strive to learn Russian, as tourists from Russia were not so much as the British or Germans. Most tourists had to talk with employees of hotels through their hotel guide. It was uncomfortable, but tolerant.

In 2015, the Russians "closed" Egypt and Turkey, and tourists from Russia increased several times. Tunisians began to actively learn Russian and even achieved some success.

This article was actualized in early 2020. Now in large hotels in Tunisia there is at least one employee who speaks Russian. In small hotels and "tricks", such a person may not be, then the calling of the hotel guide for any reason. This is one of the reasons why we recommend buying a local SIM, then you can be in touch with the hotel guide. Read our article "Tunisian SIM".

Taxi drivers and merchants know the numbers in Russian and several "duty" phrases: "Jumpet", "like Dala", "Horusha", "Cuppe doshovo" and the like. Talk often just unpleasant.

Guides on excursions speak Russian excellent. It is not surprising, because they are all graduates of the tourist universities, where students are in-depth studying several languages.

Higher education in Tunisia is the best among all Arab countries, and the percentage of people with higher education is the largest among Islamic countries and will still grow. Now about a third of graduates of Tunisian schools come to study in universities.

Does English know English?

Now English is learning all schoolchildren from 10 years. Finishing school, the middle tunisian speaks in English. The quality of knowledge is growing every year, and it is quite likely to be English in Tunisia even more common than French.

In what language they speak Tunisia

Of course, do not expect from them linguistic sizes of English: use of the times of Perfect and Continuous, the correct use of the subjunctive inclination and the like. They speak a simplified American-like version of English. And this is quite enough.

In tourist zones, everyone has a minimum stock of about 200-300 words. This is enough to agree on any important issue for a tourist. With knowledge of English in the resort zones "not disappear" and you can solve any of your problem.

Outside the resort zones english know no longer so good. Many Tunisians studied in schools even when English was not taught in obligatory. In the Sfax or the capital – the city of Tunisia Taxi drivers and English dealers do not usually speak.


Berber Language – the indigenous population of Tunisia, the Arabs call this language "Shell". It is about 0.3% of the population on it in Tunisia. These are residents of Berber villages in the south of the country – Shenney, Duire, Matmatat, Tamasonat. Also on the island of Djerba – in Guelllala, Agima, Ikalalalen, Seduykchech, Wirssenty, Azazuch.

Berber language in pure form is now almost no longer found. Only elderly people speak Pure Berber. Younger Berbers speak already on the Mix of Berber and Arabic.

Most likely, by 2040 Berber will disappear as a conversational language. Now Tunisian scientists conduct a language salvation operation. They go through Berber villages, actively communicate with the old men, write down their speech on the dictaphones.

Smartphone to help

Many tourists download applications for smartphones in advance. This is a very useful thing in a journey, but in the case of Tunisia there is one important point. Always use this application only with French.

Another interesting thing about Tunisians

– Tunisians consider themselves as Arabs, and from a cultural point of view it really is so. However, an interesting point – from a genetic point of view, they are not at all Arabs. Details in our article "Who are such tunisians genetically";

– inheritance from the French Protector Tunisians received not only the widespread dissemination of French, but also a French outlet format. Details in our article "Electrical outlets in Tunisia";

– Migration card of the Tunisian Republic looks a bit frightening, as decorated immediately in Arabic, French and English. As she looks like, look in our article "Tunisia Migration Card".

Have a good holiday in Tunisia, and read our interesting articles about this country (List of articles below).

In what language they speak Tunisia

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