El-Fogaha Text I

This series of translations are based of the texts published in Paradisi (1963), they have been retranslated in english and retranscribed in a transcription that is intended to represent the phonemic system more clearly and accurately than the highly phonetic transcription of Paradisi.

The El-Fogaha language was spoken in the Oasis of El-Fogaha. At the time that Paradisi recorded these texts, there were only a few speakers left, so it is fairly safe to assume that the language is extinct. It is fairly similar to the Sokna language, although, clearly, not identical as shown quite convincinly in Paradisi’s overview and comparison of El-Fogaha with other eastern Berber languages (Paradisi 1961). We hope to gain a better understanding of the underlying relation between the Sokna and el-Fogaha languages, in order to form a view of the development of eastern Berber languages as whole.

Paradisi has written up five stories, which, seem to make up all recorded data on this language.

Žḥa, tənn-ás əmm-ís: asġ-íd tasíli.

Juha’s mother said to him: “buy me a pair of sandals!”

  • Žḥa Personal name, a legendary satirical figure, interesting topicalization of the indirect object,  to introduce Juha as the main character of the story.
  • tənn- ‘to say’ pf. 3sg.f.
  • -ás Indirect Object 3sg.
  • əmmí- ‘mother’
  • -s kinship possessive 3sg. suffix.
  • asġ- ‘to buy’ imp.sg.
  • -íd Indirect Object  1sg.
  • tasíli ‘sandal’, technically singular, but the singular refers to  ‘one pair of sandals’

Yənn-ás: “nk-ġúr-i iməllálən.”

‘He said to her “I don’t have money.”

  • Yənn- ‘to say’ pf.3sg.m.
  • -ás Indirect Object 3sg.
  • nk- negative prefix, radically different from most other Berber languages where the negative form generally looks like ur, ul, wər etc.
  • ġúr- ‘at’, this preposition technically means ‘at’, but is used to express possesion, and thus translates as the verb ‘to have’
  • -i 1sg. prepositional pronoun
  • iməllálən ‘money’, literally ‘the white ones’, pl.m. of məllál ‘white’.

Yədwə́l d yəṣḥə́ṣṣəl iməllálən.

‘He started to obtain money’

  • Yədwə́l ‘to return, to happen’ pf.3sg.m.; Paradisi mentions that this verb can have an ‘empty’ or inchoative meaning, both translations would work.
  • d The meaning of this element is unclear. Possibly it is ‘and’, but this unlikely, as Yədwə́l seems to be used as an auxiliary of yəṣḥə́ṣṣəl. Perhaps this particle is the d ‘hither’ ventive particle, common in Berber. There is little evidence that this particle is productive in El-Fogaha.
  • yəṣḥə́ṣṣəl ‘to obtain’ pf.3sg.m., this looks like a causative derivation of Ar. ḥaṣṣala ‘to obtain’, which is surprising, as the translation already implies a causative meaning.
  • iməllálən ‘money’

əmmí-s ma-bát a-tənn-ás márrat tayə́ḍ.

‘But his mother did no want to tell him (to get sandals) again’

  • əmmí- ‘mother’
  • -s kinship possessive 3sg. suffix.
  • ma-bát purely Arabic. Negative ma + 3sg.f.pf. of ba ‘to want’, thus, ‘she did not want’
  • a-tənn ‘to say’ aor.3sg.f.
  • -ás Indirect Object 3sg.
  • márrat ‘time’ < Ar. marra(t) ‘time’
  • tayə́ḍ ‘other, another’, adj. f.sg.

Yái-s yəẓrá fəll-ás amár, tiškán-nas ínniž.

‘Her son saw a man on her, her feet were (pointed) upwards’ (Quite graphically implying that the mother is having sex)

  • Yái- ‘son’
  • -s kinship possessive 3sg. suffix.
  • yəẓrá ‘to see’ pf.3sg.m.
  • fəll- ‘on’
  • -ás 3sg. prepositional pronoun
  • amár ‘man’, a similar word for  ‘man’ is attested in Sokni, but the Sokni form lacks the initial a, see Sokni Text I.
  • tiškán- ‘feet’, pl. of tiškánt
  • -nas 3sg. possessive suffix, I would expected -nəs, but would not expect Paradisi to write a /ə/ as <a> in a non-emphatic environment.
  • ínniž ‘above, up, upward’

Yənn-ás:  “már-am nk-tənnət-id asġ-íd tasíli márrat tayə́ḍ?”

He said to her:  “Why did you not tell me to buy you a sandal again?”

  • Yənn– ‘to say’ pf.3sg.m.
  • -ás Indirect Object 3sg.
  • már- ‘why’, followed by a suffixed pronoun, that expresses the subject of the sentence
  • -am 2sg.f. suffixed pronoun
  • nk- negative prefix
  • tənnət ‘to say’ pf.2sg.
  • -íd Indirect Object  1sg.
  • asġ ‘to buy’ imp.sg.
  • -íd Indirect Object  1sg.
  • tasíli ‘sandal’
  • márrat ‘time’ , cf. Ar. marra(t) ‘time’
  • tayə́ḍ ‘other, another’, adj. f.sg.

Tənn-ás: “ásġ-id tasíli.”

‘She said to him: “buy me a pair of sandals.”

  • Tənn- ‘to say’ pf.3sg.f.
  • -ás Indirect Object 3sg.
  • ásġ- ‘to buy’  imp.sg.
  • -id Indirect Object  1sg.
  • tasíli ‘sandal’

Yuġə́r y-ə́lli isákər dag tsiláw.

‘He went to the one who is making sandals’

  • Yuġə́r ‘to go’ pf.3sg.m.
  • y- dative and directional particle. Usually, in Berber languages, this particle is only used as an Indirect Object marker, but similar to Sokni, El-Fogaha Berber uses this particle in the maning  ‘to, towards’. This is a similar broad use of the indirect object marker as is found in Arabic li-.
  • ə́lli relative pronoun ‘who’, cf. LA illī.
  • isákər ‘to make’ impf.3sg.m.
  • dag ‘in’ In Tunisian Berber and Arabic the direct object is marked with a locative construction in the imperfect. (p.c. Maarten Kossmann).
  • tsiláw ‘sandals’, with the typical El-fogaha plural suffix –aw.

Yənn-ás: “əsk-íd tasíli s-ġúr əlqáġəṭ.”

‘He said to him: “make for me a sandal out of paper.”

  • Yənn- ‘to say’ pf.3sg.m.
  • -ás Indirect Object 3sg.
  • əsk- ‘to make’ imp.sg.
  • -íd Indirect Object  1sg.
  • tasíli ‘sandal’
  • s-ġúr ‘from’
  • əlqáġəṭ ‘paper’, cf. Ar.  kāġad, the final ṭ is surprising, and might indicate that this word entered the El-Fogaha and regional Arabic language through Turkish.

Yənn-ás:  “ənk-a-tús-əd.”

‘He said:  “ (a paper sandal) doesn’t work (litt. doesn’t come).”

  • Yənn- ‘to say’ pf.3sg.m.
  • -ás Indirect Object 3sg.
  • ənk- neg pref.
  • a-tús ‘to come’ aor.3sg.f.
  • -əd directional suffix. Probably petrified in this verb, similar to how it has in Aujila, as the directional suffix does not seem to be productive anymore.

Yənn-ás:  “əskí-ttət, d a-túġət iməllálən.”

‘He said:  “make it, and you will take (receive) money”

  • Yənn- ‘to say’ pf.3sg.m.
  • -ás Indirect Object 3sg.
  • əskí- ‘to do, make’ imp.sg.
  • -ttət direct object 3sg.f.
  • d ‘and, with’
  • a-túġət ‘to take’ aor.2sg.

Yəsk-ás tasíli s-ġúr əlqáġəṭ.

‘He made a sandal of paper for him’

  • Yəsk- ‘to do, make’ pf.3sg.m.
  • -ás Indirect Object 3sg.
  • tasíli ‘sandal’
  • s-ġúr ‘from’
  • əlqáġəṭ ‘paper’

Iwə́y-tət y-əmmí-s.

‘and he took it to his mother’

  • Iwə́y- ‘to take’ pf.3sg.m.
  • -tət direct object 3sg.f.
  • y- direct object particle
  • əmmí- ‘mother’
  • -s kinship possessive 3sg. suffix.

Yənn-ás: “əls-ét.”

‘He said to her: “put it on.”

  • Yənn- ‘to say’ pf.3sg.m.
  • -ás Indirect Object 3sg.
  • əls- ‘to wear’ imp.sg.
  • -ét direct object 3sg.f. Allomorph of -tət when it directly follows the verb stem. El-Fogaha shares this allomorph with Siwi.

Tənn-ás: “ta əlqáġəṭ, nk-tasíli.”

‘She said to him: “This is paper, not a sandal!”

  • Tənn- ‘to say’ pf.3sg.f.
  • -ás Indirect Object 3sg.
  • ta ‘this’, f.sg. deictic pronoun
  • əlqáġəṭ ‘paper’
  • nk- negative particle
  • tasíli ‘sandal’

Yənn-ás: “kan tiklínnəm am ayə́ḍ, əlqáġəṭ a-yəṭṭə́f-šəm lél atəmmútət.”

‘He said to her: “If your walking is like (your action during the) night, the paper will hold until you die.”

  • Yənn- ‘to say’ pf.3sg.m.
  • -ás Indirect Object 3sg.
  • kan ‘if’, from dial. Ar. kan ‘if’
  • tiklí- verbal noun ‘walking’
  • -nnəm possesive suffix 2sg.f.
  • am ‘like’
  • ayə́ḍ ‘night’
  • əlqáġəṭ ‘paper’
  • a-yəṭṭə́f- ‘to hold’ aor.3sg.m.
  • -šəm direct object 2sg.f.
  • lél ‘until’
  • a-təmmútət ‘to die’ aor.2sg.

– M. van Putten


Paradisi, U. 1961. “El-Fógǎha, Oasi Berberofona del Fezzân.” Rivista degli Studi Orientali 36: 293-302.

Paradisi, U. 1963. “Li linguaggio berbero di El-Fóğăha (Fezzân).” Istituto Universitario Orientale di Napoli. Annali. Nuova Serie 13: 93-126.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: