Sokna Text II: The Deaf Family

This is the second of the transcribed texts in Sokni Berber (Sarnelli 1925: 32). It is an absurd story about a family, all members of whom are deaf. Needless to say, they don’t understand each other, and this leads to some humorous confusion.

This text sheds further light on Sokni grammar: there are some interesting parallels with (and divergences from) both Awjili and el-Fogaha Berber, more Arabic words, whole phrases completely in arabic, and a few examples of syntax that parallels dialectal Arabic. I still have no idea what the asterisks (**) that Sarnelli keeps inserting are supposed to mean, so I’ve left them in. Thanks to Marijn for his help in identifying difficult forms. There are still some difficult bits, however, so comments are welcome.

Text II

ténnen zëmân ellân mār ingî isél dë lahl-énnes am nẹ́tta dě lállas am nẹ́tta dě yíllis am nẹ́tta etsuġí-nnes am nẹtta.

They say (that) once there was a man. He did not hear, and his wife (was) like him and his mother (was) like him and his daughter (was) like him and his slave-girl (was) like him.

  • ténnen impf.3pl.m. of itẹ̣́n ‘they say’
  • zëmân n. ‘a time, once’ < Ar. zǝmān
  • ellân 3pl.m.pf. ‘(there) were’
  • ingî isél negative pf.3sg.m. ‘he did not hear’. Compare Fogaha negative particle nk.
  • lahl-énnes n. + 3sg.m. possessive pronoun
  • nẹ́tta 3sg.m. pronoun ‘he’
  • lálla-s n. lallâ ‘mother’ + kinship possessive 3sg. ‘his mother’
  • yílli-s n. + kinship possessive 3sg. ‘his daughter’
  • etsuġí-nnes n.f. etsuġî + 3sg.m. possessive pronoun ‘his slave-girl’

tuṭâ fell-âsen íǧǧet n tafunnâst dállah; yiqqím iḥé̱rret fěll-âs.

A lost cow happened upon them; (and the man) began to plow with it.

  •  tuṭâ pf.3sg.f. ‘it fell’
  • fell-âsen ‘on/to them’ (i.e. ‘it happened to them, it happened upon them’)
  • íǧǧet n tafunnâst numerative construction ‘one cow’
  • dállah ‘lost’. Sarnelle suggests Ar. ð̣āl ‘to get lost, stray’, but more probable is an antecedent form of ḍalla. Perhaps the fem. active participle ḍāll-ah, though that still doesn’t explain the h [Lameen].
  • yiqqím inchoative pf.3sg.m.
  • iḥé̱rret 3sg.m.impf. < Ar. ḥarraṯa ‘to plow’, adapted into Sokn. impf. with geminated C2. Note the inchoative form with auxiliary verb yiqqím, exactly like Awjili.
  • fěll-âs ‘with it’

yusâzed íǧǧẹn ne mmār wu yěnn-âs: allâh i‘âǔnak

A man came to him and said to him “May God assist you!”

  •  yusâzed pf.3sg.m. + 3sg. indirect object pronoun -ās- + ventive particle -d. The s of the object pronoun has assimilated to z, which also occurs in Aujili yuš-iz-d [Marijn].
  • íǧǧẹn ne mmār ‘a man, one man’
  • yěnn-âs pf.3sg.m. + 3sg. indirect object pronoun ‘to him’
  • allâh i‘âǔnak Ar. phrase الله يعاونك ‘may God assist you’

iǧǧẹn itén yěnn-âs: ẖaṭṭên wu ẖûd-hā d iǧǧẹn itẹ́n yěnn-âs: téḥlif an-hā elbúgra búgrětek?

One says (that) [i.e. according to one] he said to him: “Two lines and take it” and one says (that) [i.e. according to another(?)] he said to him: “Do you swear that the cow is your cow?”

  •  itén impf.3sg.m. ‘he says’
  • ẖaṭṭên n. Ar. dual xǝṭṭēn ‘two lines’
  • ẖûd-hā n. Ar. impv.2sg.m. xūð (note WLA /ð/ > /d/) + -hā Ar. 3sg.f.obj.pron. ‘take it (f.)’ (the whole phrase is a codeswitch).
  • téḥlif anhā elbúgra búgrětek codeswitch to the Ar. phrase تحلف انها البقرة بقرتك : ‘you swear that the cow (is) your cow’

wu yẹkkẹ́m i-lahl-énnes yěnn-âs: bāb n tafunâst yugẹ́z-t

And he went in to his wife (and) said to her: “The owner of the cow recognized it.”

  •  yẹkkẹ́m impf.3sg.m. of kẹ́m ‘he entered, went in’
  • i-lahl-énnes directional particle ‘to’ + n.f.sg. ‘wife’ + 3sg.m. possessive pronoun
  • bāb n gen.poss. construction ‘owner of’
  • tafunâst n.f.sg. ‘cow’
  • yugẹ́z-t pf.3sg.m. ‘he recognized’ + 3sg. direct object pronoun ‘it’

tenn-âs: šẹk dîma tsukâret dgī; imîra ezzarri‘āt ěddâ tlā bā tā adituâker?

She said to him: “You always accuse me of stealing; now do these seeds have something to be stolen?”

  •  tenn-âs pf.3sg.f. + 3sg. indirect object suffix. ‘she said to him’
  • šẹk 2sg. pronoun ‘you’
  • dîma adv. < dial. Ar. dīma ‘always’
  • tsukâret impf.2sg.m. of causative of uker ‘to steal’. The causative apparently has the meaning ‘to accuse of stealing’ rather than ‘to make steal’. A similar semantic development happened in Zuara Berber: yǝxnǝ́b ‘to steal’, causative ysǝ̣xnǝb ‘to accuse of theft’ [Marijn].
  • dg-ī ‘in’ 1sg. As in El-Fogaha, the imperfective direct object is marked with the particle dag-/deg-/dg- [Marijn].
  • imîra adv. ‘now’
  • ezzarri‘āt n. < Ar.f.pl. الزريعات ‘seeds’
  • ěddâ demonstrative adj., invariable in gender/number
  • tlā ‘to have’
  • bā tā ‘something’
  • adituâker aor.3sg.m.pass. ‘to be stolen’

wu tẻmmádda i-yillī-s tenn-âs: 

And she went to his/her daughter (and) she said to her:

  •  tẻmmádda pf.3sg.f. of mád ‘she went’
  • i-yillī-s ‘to his/her daughter’
  • tennâ-s impf.3sg.f. with 3sg.indir.obj.suff. ‘she said to her’

bâbā-m yěffâṭěn iyi-l-ḥabṭện n tuġwâu illî tuaréfnet sāl ězzarrî‘āt.

“Your father noticed the two grains of glîa which were roasted from the seeds.”

  • bâbā-m n. + -m kinship possessive ‘your father’
  • yěffâṭěn pf.3sg.m  ‘became aware, noticed’ (to judge from Sarnelli’s tr.), plus iyi- ‘of’
  • iyi-l-ḥabṭện prep + n. < dial. Ar. ḥǝbbtēn ‘two grains’
  • n tuġwâu Sarnelli translates this word as “glîa (vivanda composta di semi tritti nel grasso)”.
  • illî < dial. Ar. relative pronoun illī
  • tuaréf-net pf.3sg.f. passive ‘ with 3pl.f. direct object suffix. The passive form with an object is rather odd.
  • sāl ‘from’
  • ězzarrî‘āt ‘the seeds’ < dial. Ar. ez-zarī‘āt

těnnâ tmâẓiyět iyi-lálla-s: nīš ġûri, ām errâ‘î

The daughter said to her mother: “I, for me, as (is) the shepherd,”

  •  těnnâ pf.3sg.f. ‘she said’
  • tmâẓiyět n.f. ‘girl, daughter’ (Sarnelli gives tmîzět in glossary; I don’t understand the difference in form.)
  • iyi- directional particle marking indirect object
  • lálla-s n.f. ‘mother’ + 3sg. possessive suffix
  • nīš 1sg.pron. ‘I’
  • ġûri ‘for me’
  • ām ‘like, as’
  • errâ‘î n. < Ar. er-rā‘ī ‘the shepherd’

ām uggít ẖlâf; ílli ayittūġîm, bā**hi!

“as (is) someone else; whomever you marry me off to, fine!”

  •  ām ‘like, as’
  • uggít ‘someone
  • ẖlâf  ‘other’ < Ar. xilāf
  • ílli rel.pron. ‘(he) who’ < dial. Ar. rel.pron. illī اللي
  • ayittūġîm 1sg.DO-impf.2pl.m.:marry off + 1sg. direct object pronoun ‘me’
  • bāhi ‘fine, ok, good’ < dial. Ar. bāhī ‘id.’

wu temmádda tmẹ́zziyet i-ḥánnā-s, tẖâbr-as, těnnâ-s: ‘abân ayûgī-n errâ‘î.

And the girl went to her grandmother, informed her, and said to her: “They want the shepherd to take me (in marriage).”

  • temmádda 3sg.f.pf. of mád ‘she went’
  • tmẹ́zziyet n.f. ‘girl, daughter’ (why does this differ from above tmîzět ??)
  • i- dir.part. ‘to’
  • ḥánnā-s n.f. < dial. Ar. ḥennā حنى ‘grandmother’ + kinship suffix 3sg.
  • tẖâbr-as impf.3sg.f. ‘she informed, told’ < dial.Ar. (i)txābǝr ?? (one wouldn’t expect an Arabic form III here, but instead form II) + -as 3sg.indir.obj.suff.
  • těnnâ-s impf.3sg.f. + -(ā)s 3sg.indir.obj.suff. ‘she said to her’
  • ‘abân pf.3pl.m. ‘they want’
  • ayûgī-n aor.3sg. of stem ‘to carry away (in marriage)’, with -n ‘thither’ particle [Marijn].
  • errâ‘î Ar. الراعي ‘shepherd’

tennâ-s: mā ġā atgîm amekl-ínnuen tíüži de-ddâna assâ dě nīš izûmaẖ?

(The grandmother) said to her: “For what reason are you going to make your lunch with polenta and fat today, and I am fasting?”

  • mā ġā ‘what for, why’
  • atgîm aor.2pl. ‘why are you doing…’
  • amekl-ínnuen n. ‘lunch, food’ (< dial. Ar. mākla?) + 2pl.m.poss.suff. ‘your’
  • tíüži Not sure about this. Sarnelli translates ‘polenta’.
  • de-ddâna conj. ‘with’ + tadẹ́nt n.f. ‘fat’ (tadâna > tdâna > ddâna)
  • assâ ‘today’ (cf. Awjili ašfa ‘today’ with assim. šf > ss)
  • conj. ‘and’
  • nīš 1sg. pronoun ‘I’
  • izûmaẖ pf.1sg. ‘I am fasting’

bā tā elẖlâf eddâ?

“What difference is that?” [i.e. “What difference does that make?”]

  • bā tā interrogative ‘what?’
  • elẖlâf n. ‘difference’ < Ar. xilāf ‘id.’
  • eddâ demonstrative adjective, invariable ‘this’

ettaussā*rt tenn-âs awǎl ěddâ iyi-tsûġī.

The old woman said these words to the servant-girl.

  • ettaussārt n.f. ‘old woman’
  • tenn-âs pf.3sg.f. ‘she said’ + 3sg. indir.obj. pronoun ‘to her’
  • awǎl n. ‘word’
  • ěddâ demonstrative adj. ‘these’
  • iyi- directional particle ‘to’
  • tsûġī n. ‘servant’

těffọ́ġ tsûġǐ tzâġǎraṭ.

The servant-girl went out to ululate.

  • těffọ́ġ pf.3sg.f. ‘she went out’
  • tsûġǐ n.f. ‘servant-girl’
  • tzâġǎraṭ Arabic verb in the 3sg.f.impf. ‘she ululates’ < Ar. تزغرط . The sentence structure parallels dialectal Arabic, with intention expressed by a conjugated perfect verb ‘to go’ followed by a conjugated imperfect verb. In Berber though, one would expect an aorist/future [p.c. Marijn].

innân-ās: mâi ttufîd?

They said to her: “What have you found?”

  • innân-ās pf.3pl.m. + 3sg. indir.obj. pronoun
  • mâi  interrogative ‘what’
  • ttufîd pf.2sg.f. ‘you found’ (usual vowel change from â to î in 2sg.; different from Awjili which has â in the 2sg.)

tenn-âsen: ídbi ataqǎnâyed, tẖabběrâyed tawessā*rt-ēnnaẖ!

(The servant-girl) said to them: “My masters have freed me, our old woman informed me!”

  • tenn-âsen pf.3sg.f. with 3pl.m. indir.obj. pronoun
  • ídbi n.pl. ídb(ā)- ‘masters’ + -i ‘my’ [Lameen].
  • ataqǎn-âyed pf.3pl.m. ‘to free’ + 1sg. indir.obj. pronoun ‘me’
  • tẖabběr-âyed Arabic 3sg.f.impf. ‘she tells, informs’ + 1sg. indir.obj. pronoun ‘me’
  • tawẹssārt-ēnnaẖ n.f.sg. ‘old woman’ + 1pl. possessive suffix

-A. Benkato

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3 Responses to Sokna Text II: The Deaf Family

  1. Lameen Souag says:

    Good stuff.

    dállah: probably the (Arabic) feminine participle ḍāll-ah < ḍalla, yaḍillu (but again, why the h?)

    which it was roasted the seeds: ? which were roasted with the seeds (makes more sense of the passive, but then I would expect s not sal…)

    uggit is "someone", xlaf "other".

    ayûgīn: surely ayuɣin?

    mā ġā a-t-g-îm: what for Aor-2Pl-do-2Pl "why are you doing?"

    Interrogative mâi is pretty widespread in Berber; not necessarily an Arabic loan.

    idbi: id- pl., b- for *ba "master", -i "my"

    • Marijn says:

      ayûgīn: surely ayuɣin?

      Wouldn’t that be great! But having checked the source files myself, it really does say ayûgīn.

    • kato says:

      thanks! i just noticed though that Sarnelli has ídb- as ‘family’, with 1sg. kinship suffix -î. of course, the verb is pl. so the analysis as ‘masters’ agrees better…

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