Berber placenames are prominent in much of the Beni-Thour area, particularly on the southeast (Azrou, Tizeghouine, etc.) and in the north around Dellys itself (Dellys, Takdempt, Assouaf, Zerouali, Tala-Oualdoune, Tala-Ghiyan, etc.); this could be taken to suggest that Arabic entered the countryside from the west, beginning somewhere around
Ouled-Kheddache, and expanded outwards, probably during the Turkish period. Local oral tradition has it that at least some families of Beni-Thour (including the founders of Ouled-Kheddache) originally came from the M'sila area, providing a possible clue as to the route Arabic must have taken. However, early sources provide only tantalizingly vague glimpses of the past linguistic environment. Before 1381 Ibn Khaldūn describes
the Berber tribe of Kutāma as including “other tribes in the Tedelles area, in their hills surrounding it; they are numbered among the taxpaying tribes”7, suggesting a Berberspeaking hinterland for the town. By 1842, Carette describes the Beni-Thour and Beni- Slyem in essentially their present position, asserting that the former was considered to be
of Arab origin and the latter to belong to the Aït-Ouagennoun; however, he emphasizes Beni-Thour's acculturation to Kabyle ways and vaguely states that “it speaks two languages”8. More detail on the local tribes' situation during the Ottoman era is essential if the history of language shift in the region is to be fully understood.