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Tunisian Arabic, or Tunisian (written in Tunisian as تونسي (Arabic Script) or Tounsi (Tunisian Arabizi) local pronunciation: [ˈtuːnsi]), is a Maghrebi dialect of the Arabic language or Derja, spoken by some 11 million people in all Tunisia. That is why it is usually known by its own speakers as Derja, which means dialect, to distinguish it from Standard Arabic, or as Tounsi, which means "Tunisian". In the interior of the country it merges, as part of a dialect continuum, into Algerian Arabic and Libyan Arabic. Its morphology, syntax, pronunciation and vocabulary are quite different from Standard or Classical Arabic. Tunisian Arabic, like other Maghrebi dialects, has a vocabulary mostly Arabic, with significant Berber and Punic substrates, as well as many words and loanwords borrowed from Berber, French, Turkish, Italian and Spanish. As a Derja, Tunisian Arabic is intelligible to the speakers of Maghrebi Arabic, but it is hard to understand for middle eastern Arabic speakers.
Due to multilingualism within Tunisia and due to all the different linguistic influences present in Tunisian Arabic as well as the Tunisian diaspora, it is not uncommon for Tunisian people to code-switch, mixing Tunisian, French, English, Arabic, and other languages into their daily speech. Within some circles therefore Tunisian Arabic has integrated new French or English words, notably in technical fields, or replaced old French and Spanish ones with Standard Arabic words; more educated and upper-class people who make code-switching between Maghrebi Arabic and Modern Standard Arabic also have more French and Spanish loanwords.
Moreover, Tunisian Arabic is also closely related to Maltese, which is not considered to be a dialect of Arabic for sociolinguistic reasons.
Tunisian Arabic had been always a field of research in Linguistics since 1893. That is why Houcemeddine Turki and Emad Adel proposed a Latin Standard Transcription Method and Software and a standard Arabic Script Tunisian Orthography based on the linguistic works of Al-Toma in 2015.
↑Borg and Azzopardi-Alexander Maltese (1997:xiii) "The immediate source for the Arabic vernacular spoken in Malta was Muslim Sicily, but its ultimate origin appears to have been Tunisia. In fact Maltese displays some areal traits typical of Maghrebine Arabic, although during the past eight hundred years of independent evolution it has drifted apart from Tunisian Arabic".