Languages in Morocco

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Languages in Morocco

Moroccan Arabic a dialect of Maghreb Arabic, also known as Moroccan Darija. The language is extremely different from Standard Arabic and is also slightly influenced by French or Spanish, depending on where in the country you are, so don't expect to understand a word of what the locals say to each other even if you are competent in Standard Arabic, or any non-Moroccan dialect. However, all Moroccans learn standard Arabic in school, so while not the first language of choice, speakers of standard Arabic should not have any problems communicating. Officially about half the population cannot read or write so there are always translators around and people to assist filling in forms (for a small fee) around most places where such forms are required such as ports etc.

Berber, or the Amazigh language, is spoken by Morocco's Berber population. In the mountainous regions of the north the dialect is Tarifit, the central region the dialect is Tamazight, and in the south of the country the dialect is Tachelheet.

French is widely understood and spoken in Morocco due to its history as a French protectorate, and is taught in schools from relatively early grades, making it by far the most useful non-Arabic language to know. Most urban locals (especially young people) you meet will be trilingual in Moroccan Arabic, Standard Arabic and French. In the north and southern part of the country, many people also speak Spanish instead or alongside French.

While knowledge of the English language is increasing amongst the younger generations, most Moroccans don't speak a word, and even those that do will most likely speak better French. Although you will find a few people who speak English among the most educated people, in urban areas most of them are touts and faux guides. Some shop owners and hotel managers in urban centers also speak English. 

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