Arabic—Tunisian Dialect

Cultural resources for learners of Tunisian colloquial Arabic


Those interested in learning Tounsi will certainly be interested in the history that has shaped the modern state of Tunisia. Fortunately, in the past few years, there has been renewed interest in Tunisia. This is largely because Tunis was the birth place of the Arab spring, and is now the only fully democratic country in the Arab world.

Masri, Safwan M. Tunisia: An Arab Anomaly. United States: Columbia University Press, 2017.

In this book, Masri examines why Tunisia was the only Arab state to transition to democracy following the Arab spring. It is a very interesting text for those interested in the unique social and political conditions of Tunisia.

Perkins, Kenneth. A History of Modern Tunisia. Second edition. United States: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Although originally published in 2004, this book has been updated to reflect dramatic changes that took place in Tunisia following the Arab Spring. It covers the history of Tunisia from Carthage (during the time of the Roman Empire) to the present day, with a focus on the colonial era. For this reason, this is a great volume for those interested in the history and legacy of colonialism in Tunisia.

Wolf, Anne M. Political Islam in Tunisia: The History of Ennahda. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2017.

Ennahda, although one of the most powerful political actors in Tunisia, was banned until the Arab Spring. This is the first book to investigate the Islamist political movement. An excellent read for those interested in the politics of Tunisia.


Tunisia has a very rich literary history, though most Tunisian literature is written in Modern Standard Arabic or French. Beginning students of Tounsi will enjoy reading Tunisian literature in translation. Unfortunately, very few works of Tunisian literature have been translated into English, but here are two excellent works to begin with.

Mosbahi, Hassouna. A Tunisian Tale. Translated by Max Weiss. Egypt: American University in Cairo Press, 2011.

Told from the perspective of a sociopath on death row, this novel explores the taboos of Tunisian society. Mosbahi is considered one of the greatest writers in Tunisia, and this is an excellent introduction to his work.

Selmi, Habib. The Scents of Marie-Claire. Translated by Fadwa Al Qasem. American University in Cairo Press, 2010.

This novel explores the failed romance between an Arab man and French woman. Shortlisted for the Arab Booker award, it is a very interesting exploration of the meeting of two cultures.

Online sources:

Quick introductory article on Tunisian cuisine. It includes recipes too!

“My Tunisia” series by Al Jazeera.

This series has not been updated in awhile, but it provides  a number of interesting short documentaries on interesting topics and people in Tunisia.

Zeynalova, Farida. “Breaking bread: coastal cuisine and family feasts in Tunisia.” National Geographic, Aug 19, 2019.

Another quick article on Tunisian cuisine, this one includes excellent photos!


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