Cal Interpreting & Translations (CIT) offers Berber interpreters and translators with legal, medical and specialty experience, including criminal and civil matters, employee meetings, engineering, patent cases, labor disputes, immigration and more.

Although based in Los Angeles, CIT offers comprehensive Berber language services including interpretation, translation and transcription, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, worldwide. Our interpreters and translators are native speakers who have been screened, certified, have provided credentials, field tested, and kept up to date with developments in both English and the Berber language through means such as lectures, conferences, and travel. CIT’s Berber language interpreters and translators possess in depth knowledge of the Berber language, as well as of the culture and history of the Berber people, allowing them to provide informed and complete interpretation and translation.

Berber Language

The Berber languages, which are also known as Amazigh languages, are part of the Afro-Asiatic languages. The largest amount of Berber speakers are found in Morocco, particularly spoken by the mountain people, followed closely by Algeria. Other countries in the world known for speaking Berber include Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, France and Israel. Approximately 14 million people speak Berber and are mostly found in northern Africa in a region called Maghrib.

Some of the Berber languages include Tashelhit (Tashelhiyt, Tashelhait, Shilha), Tarifit, Kabyle, Tamazight and Tamahaq. Some other Berber languages that are no longer alive include Guanche languages from the Canary Islands, Old Libyan languages and Old Mauretanian languages.

Berber languages are not tone languages, unlike other Afro-Asiatic languages. There are many loanwords from Arabic, as several countries that speak Berber are Arab countries. Like other Afro-Asiatic languages, the Berber languages follow the root and pattern system, where the meaning of a word manifests in the consonants. The consonants are known as the root. Other languages, such as Semitic languages, have specific nouns that follow either masculine or feminine gender and Berber nouns follow the same style.  The standard word order of Berber is VSO  (verb-subject-object, and in this order). However, subject-verb-object is usually the most commonly used patter.

It is common that the Berber languages are rarely written; rather they are passed down from generation to generation orally. The Berber languages are thought to have survived for so long since they are always spoken at home, taught primarily from mother to child. Ever since many nations in North African were granted independence, the Berber people and their languages have often been rejected or thought of lowly. However, in both Algeria and Morocco, the presence of the Berber people is quite strong, even having political parties dedicated and comprised solely of Berber people.

About the Berber People

The Berber people typically live in rural environments and avoid busy city life. They can be found in the mountains, plateaus or in the Sahara. One may think of Tuareg, which are camel nomads that roam the Sahara when they think of these areas. However, Berber are actually more sedentary and more focused on their agriculture. Some Berbers are nomadic during specific parts of years to maintain their flock, particularly in the Aures mountains and the southern part of the Middle Atlas. These Berbers live in villages and live quite poorly. Most of their diet depends on small gardens, dry cereal, plants and small flocks of sheet or goats with the occasional cow or two. Most of the Berber men work manual labor, especially between the ages of 16 to 40. Most Berber cultures stay within the same are they were born and raised. Among the Tuareg Berbers, there is an alphabet, known as tifnagh, which is derived from the Libyan alphabet and has several Arabic similarities. The alphabet can be written from right to left, left to right or even vertically and is typically used for brief writings on rocks to record stories, documents or history. There are current several attempts to recognize and preserve the Berber culture, however, there is only limited success.

The Berber people are known for wonderful art. They are most known for their architecture, pottery, silvery jewelry and textiles. Another great contribution of the Berber people to society is their literature, which includes many tradition stories and tales of animals, ogres, monsters, kings and princess, and legends. The poetry of the Berber people is synonymous with music and constantly regenerated.

Fun Facts about Berber

  • The Berber people are the indigenous people of Africa
  • The term berber is a variation of a Greek word meaning “barbarians.”
  • The language has 38 consonants and only 3 vowels
  • Many Berbers used to live as Jews and Christians until Arabs of Islamic faith came to inhabit north Africa, to which then the Berbers followed the Islamic faith.