Awjila Text I

This series of articles are (re)translations, and revised transcriptions of the Aujila Texts presented in Paradisi (1960b), lexical data is drawn from Paradisi (1960a).

These texts were collected by Umberto Paradisi from October 1959 until May 1960. Four informants helped him with the collection of these texts. These same four informants were his main informants for the collection of his vocabulary. The texts vary in length and content, from historical stories, wise lessons, jokes and fairy tales.

This first text presented here is an example of a story whose main goal os to form a wise lesson.

The translation aims to give a word-per-word gloss of the text, and the transcription aims to be a phonemic transcription. Sometimes it will not be completely possible to retrieve the phonemic quality of a word, and several options will be given.

These texts are revised versions of those published on my personal blog.


Márra gan amə́dən aməqqərán u qəríb a-yəmmút

‘There once was an old (litt. large) man and he was about to die’

  • márra ‘once’, cf. Ar. marra(t-an) ‘id.’
  • gan‘there is, there are’, perhaps this is the participle of the root G* ‘to do’.
  • amə́dən[1] ‘man’, an analogous singular formation based on the common Berber plural noun míddən ‘people’.
  • aməqqərán ‘large’, definite adj.
  • u ‘and’ cf. Ar. wa- ‘id.’
  • qəríb ‘near’ adj. cf. Ar. qarīb ‘id.’
  • a-yəmmút[2] ‘to die’ fut.3sg.m.

w-iwín n išf illúm aməẓẓín-nəs w-ifk-ísin əlḥə́zmət n təġariwín w-in-isín:

‘and one day he gathered his sons and gave them a bundle of sticks and he said to them:’

  • w- ‘and’, variant in front of vowels.
  • iwín ‘one’, usually combines with genitive particle if uses attributively with a noun. As is the case here. There is also a lengthened variant of this word, iwínan, as of yet it is unclear what the conditioning is of this variant, they seem to appear in similar contexts.
  • n ‘of’ genitive particle.
  • išf  ‘day’, this word surprisingly lacks an accent. Perhaps because the common phrase iwín n išf has become an accentual unit.
  • illúm ‘to gather’ pf.3sg.m. cf. Ar. lamma ‘id.’ Arabic C2=C3 verbs are always found as C1C1uC2(C2) in Aujila.
  • w- ‘and’
  • ifk- ‘to give’ pf.3sg.m., usually found with the final vowel -a, this is lost when followed by an indirect object suffix.
  • -ísin 3pl.m. Indirect Object suffix. Note the place of the accent, which is the same place where it would have been, had the word ifká not been suffixed.
  • əlḥə́zmət ‘bundle’, cf. Ar. ḥuzma(t) ‘id.’
  • n ‘of’ genitive particle.
  • təġariwín ‘sticks’ plural of təġarit[3], the plural suffix attracts the accent to the final syllable.
  • w- ‘and’.
  • in- ‘to say’ pf.3sg.m. This word always takes a indirect object suffix, regardless if there is an actual object or not. The default object is -is.
  • -isín 3pl.m. Indirect Object suffix. Note the difference in accentuation to the earlier attestation of this suffix. The reason for this discrepancy is unclear.

“yaxát arẓát-tət.”

“take (and) break it”

  • yaxát ‘to take’, the imperative of the root , the singular imperative is yax, with devoicing of ġ in final position, this final devoicing sprad to the plural forms.
  • arẓát- ‘to break’.
  • -tət 3sg.f. Direct Object suffix.

U yuġí-tət kull iwinán s-ġar-sín iġə́lli a-irẓí-tət, yəzmər-ká,

‘And each one of them took it, and wanted to break it, (but) could not’

  • u ‘and’.
  • yuġí- ‘to take’ pf.3sg.m.
  • -tət 3sg.f. Direct Object suffix.
  • kull ‘all, each’ cf. Ar. kull ‘id.’
  • iwinán ‘one’, the accent in this text is different from the form listed in Paradisi (1960a) which has iwínan. The reason for this is unclear. Perhaps because it is used nominally, rather than adjectivally.
  • s-ġar- ‘from’ This preposition also occurs as simply s-, the exact conditioning when one or the other is used, is unclear. The form s-ġar-  (litt. ‘from at’) probably came to be to distinguish this preposition from the instrumental preposition s-.
  • -sín 3pl.m. post-prepositional pronoun.
  • iġə́lli ‘to want’ pf.3sg.m.
  • a-irẓí- ‘to break’ fut.3sg.m.
  • -tət 3sg.f. Direct Object suffix.
  • yəzmər ‘to be able’ pf.3sg.m.
  • -ká Negative particle. Always accented.

bəʕədén yuġí-tət ššárəf u yufukkí-tət u yəfká kull iwín təġarít.

‘afterwards, the old man took it, and untied it and gave each one a stick.’

  • bəʕədén ‘afterwards’  cf. Ar. baʕda an ‘after’.
  • yuġí- ‘to take’ pf.3sg.m.
  • -tət 3sg.f. Direct Object suffix.
  • ššárəf ‘old man’ cf. Ar. šārif ‘old (camel mare)’
  • u ‘and’.
  • yufukkí- ‘to untie’ cf. Ar. fakka ‘to separate, disjoin, disconnect, sever, sunder’
  • -tət 3sg.f. Direct Object suffix.
  • u ‘and’.
  • yəfká ‘to give’ pf.3sg.m.
  • kull ‘all, each’.
  • iwín ‘one’, here we find iwín, while in the previous sentence we found iwinán in almost the exact same context. This is an indication that these words can be freely used instead of one another.
  • təġarít ‘stick’.

Bəʕədén kull iwín yuġá təġarít u yərẓí-tə́t físa físa.

‘Afterwards, each one took a stick and broke it easily.’

  • bəʕədén ‘afterwards’.
  • kull ‘all, each’.
  • iwín ‘one’.
  • yuġá ‘to take’ pf.3sg.m.
  • təġarít ‘stick’.
  • u ‘and’.
  • yərẓí- ‘to break’ pf.3sg.m.
  • -tət 3sg.f. Direct Object suffix.
  • físa físa ‘easily’ cf. Dial. Ar. fissaʕ ‘quickly’ from fī (a)s-sāʕa(t) ‘in the hour’, curious loss of ʕ, this does not usually happen.

Bəʕədén in-isín: “akká, kəmmím am təġariwin-íyək,”

‘Afterwards he said to them: “Here, you are like these sticks,”

  • bəʕədén ‘afterwards’.
  • in- ‘to say’ pf.3sg.m.
  • -isín 3pl.m. Indirect Object suffix.
  • akká ‘here’, similar in usage to French voilà.
  • kəmmím 2pl.m. personal pronoun.
  • am ‘like’.
  • təġariwin ‘stick’, lost the accent because of the following suffix that attracts the accent.
  • -íyək demonstrative suffix ‘this, these’.

“ə́ndu təllummám iman-nəkím məʕá bəʕə́ḍkum a-ttəqqímam am təġariwin-íyək,”

“If you gather yourselves, you will stay together like these sticks”

  • ə́ndu[4] ‘if’.
  • təllummám ‘to gather’ pf.2pl.m.
  • iman- ‘oneself’, reflexive pronoun, followed by a pronominal suffix that agrees with the subject.
  • -nəkím 2pl.m. pronoun suffix.
  • məʕá bəʕə́ḍkum ‘with each other’, complete phrase is from Arabic: maʕa baʕadkum ‘id.’
  • a-ttəqqímam ‘to stay, reside, remain’ fut.2pl.m.
  • am ‘like’.
  • təġariwin ‘sticks’.
  • -íyək demonstrative suffix ‘this, these’.

“təllumám-ká iman-nəkím a-ttəqímam am iwatán n təġarít izmíra kull iwín a-yərẓi-tət bišwáš.”

“(If) you don’t gather yourselves, you will remain like one stick, everyone will be able to break it easily”

  • təllummám ‘to gather’ pf.2pl.m.
  • -ká Negative particle. Note that the accentuation did not remove the accent in the previous word.
  • iman- ‘oneself’, reflexive pronoun.
  • -nəkím 2pl.m. pronoun suffix.
  • a-ttəqqímam ‘to stay, reside, remain’ fut.2pl.m.
  • am ‘like’.
  • iwatán ‘one’ in the feminine form of iwínan.
  • n ‘of’ genitive particle.
  • təġarít ‘stick’.
  • izmíra ‘to be able’ res.3sg.m. [5]
  • kull ‘all, each’.
  • iwín ‘one’.
  • a-yərẓi- ‘to break’ fut.3sg.m. Interesting difference in vocalization compared to the earlier a-irẓí-. The realization of the 3sg.m. prefix as i- or yə- seems to in free variation.
  • -tət 3sg.f. Direct Object suffix.
  • bišwáš ‘easily’ cf. Egyptian Ar. bi-šweš ‘a little’.

U in-isín: “llummát iman-nəkím, a-issəʕəd-kím ṛəbbi.”

‘And he said to them: “gather yourselves, and god will help you.”

  • u ‘and’.
  • in- ‘to say’ pf.3sg.m.
  • -isín 3pl.m. Indirect Object suffix.
  • llummát ‘to gather’
  • iman- ‘oneself’, reflexive pronoun.
  • -nəkím 2pl.m. pronoun suffix.
  • a-issaʕəd- [6] ‘to help’ fut.3sg.m.m cf. Ar. sāʕada ‘to help’.
  • -kím 2pl.m. Direct Object suffix.
  • ṛəbbi ‘god’.

-M. van Putten


[1] Perhaps amédən.
[2] Unlike other Berber languages, the stem of the imperative and the aorist are distinct. Functionally, it is better designated as a future tense, similar to Lanfry’s futur in Ghadamès (Lanfry 1968: 333-334). Therefore, I have decided to stick to the terminology future rather than aorist.
[3] Perhaps taġarit.
[4] Perhaps úndu.
[5] The tense indicated as res. refers to resultative, this tense indicated an action that was finished in the past whose result affects the present. It is formed by placing an -a behind the verbal in the perfect, and after any object suffixes that may follow it. If there is a ə in the syllable before the -a clitic, it is raised to i. This form is Shared with Siwa Berber, albeit, with a slightly different function (Souag 2010: 389-392).
[6] Perhaps a-issəʕəd, indistinguishable in Paradisi’s transcription, and perhaps indistinguishable phonetically. Considering the Arabic origin with a long vowel in the first syllable of the root, Aujila probably has this too.


Lanfry, Jacques. 1968. Ghadamès. Etude Linguistique Et Ethnographique. I. Textes; Notes Philologiques Et Ethnographiques. Algérie: Fort-National.

Paradisi, Umberto. 1960a. “Il Berbero Di Augila. Materiale Lessicale.” Rivista Degli Studi Orientali 35: 157–177.

Paradisi, Umberto. 1960b. “Testi Berberi Di Augila (Cirenaica)” Annali. Nuova Serie 10: 43–91.

Souag, Lameen. 2010.  Grammatical Contact in the Sahara. Arabic, Berber, and Songhay in Tabelbala and Siwa. PhD Thesis.


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