Shenwa (Haqbaylit̠)

Shenwa is a Northern Berber language spoken in northern Algeria, mainly in the Mount Chenoua (Jebel Chenoua) area of Tipaza province, in the Mount Bissa area of Chlef province, and in Ain Defla province. In 2004 there were about 15,300 speakers of Shenwa, which is also known as Chenoua or Chenoui. It is spoken more in rural areas by older people, although some children do learn it. In larger towns and cities there is a shift towards speaking Algerian Arabic.

Shenwa is mutually intelligible with Beni Menacer (Chleuh, Tachelhit, Tamenracit), which is spoken in the south and west of Tipaza province, and Beni Haoua (Djebel Bissa), which is spoken in the towns of Tacheta and Beni Haoua. These forms of speech are considered dialects of Shenwa, and have a total of 76,300 speakers, including 61,000 speakers of Beni Menacer.

Shenwa is written with a version of the Latin alphabet. There are some radio and TV programmes in Shenwa, and some literature.

Shenwa alphabet

Shenwa alphabet


The letters é, o, p are only used in loanwords (mostly from French) and names.

Download an alphabet chart for Shenwa (Excel)

Information about the Shenwa alphabet supplied by Wolfram Siegel

Sample text (Uccen aked̠ waḥzaw)

Iğ wuccen iroḥ iggur lami g ufa iğ waḥzaw iţellem i hezra. Innas uccen i warrac enni: "Maţa hellid̠ hegared̠." Arrac enni innas: "Ţellemeγ d̠i hezra." Innas uccen: "Ad̠el ay hirkasin." Arrac enni iţxiyeḍ as iḍaren nes. Lami iqaḍa innas: "Roḥ, aεd̠el iḍaren ennek̠ γer fwit̠."

Iroḥ uccen yaεd̠el iman es γer fwit̠ lami eqqoren iḍaren u iğim ec ayuwr.

Ikk ed sin iğ wumcic; innas uccen: "Sellek ay u c eţţγec." Iks as umcic hazra seg ḍarennes. Iroḥ uccen iwalla γer waḥzaw ič as elkul iγeṭṭen.

Translation (The Jackal and the Child)

A jackal went and met a child plaiting a rope. The jackal asked the child: "What are you doing?" This child replied: "I'm plaiting a rope." The jackal said: "Make me some shoes." This child tied up his feet. When he was done he told him: "Go show your feet in the sun."

The jackal went and showed his own feet in the sun, and his feet dried and he couldn't walk.

A cat arrived and the jackal told it: "Help me, I won't eat you." The cat took the rope off his feet. The jackal went back to the child, and ate all his goats.


Sample videos in Shenwa


Information about Shenwa

Berber languages

Ancient Berber, Ghadamès, Ghomara, Guanche, Kabyle, Riffian, Shilha (Tashelhit), Shawiya, Shenwa, Siwi, Tamahaq, Tamasheq, Tamazight, Tawallammat Tamajaq, Tayart Tamajeq, Zenaga, Zuwara Berber

Languages written with the Latin alphabet

Page last modified: 23.04.21


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