Nefusa Text: ‘The story of the wild animals’

I will be translating and posting some translations of Nefusa Berber texts. Nefusa Berber is spoken in the west of Libya, in the Nefusa mountains. Nefusa Berber is significantly less ‘foreign’ to a person familiar with Berber than Awjila, El-Foqaha, Sokna and Siwa Berber. It has movement of clitics, the future and imperative are marked with a single stel, the aorist.

But, similar to most other Libyan Berber languages (Zuara Berber is the exception), Nefusa does not distinguish state.

The texts that I will be posting, will be taken from the second edition of Francesco Beguinot’s Nefusi Berber grammar, published in 1942. His highly phonetic transcriptions have been adapted to a more phonemic transcription.

tikkə́lt žəml-ə́n ləwḥóš n=əddúnyət ə́kkul, mlu-n m=bəʕə́ṭ-hum bə́ʕəṭ:

One time, The wild animals of the whole world gathered, they said to eachother:

  • tikkə́lt  ‘one time’
  • žəml-ə́n pf.3pl.m. ‘to gather’
  • ləwḥóš ‘wild animals’
  • n= ‘of’
  • əddúnyət ‘world’
  • ə́kkul ‘whole’
  • mlu-n pf.3pl.m. ‘to say’
  • m= Dative particle ‘to’, the Dative particle is i in almost all Berber languages. Unusually, it is in and sometimes n in Nefusa Berber. The n variant is homophonous to the genitive particle. The n variant has assimilated to the next labial b in this sentence.
  • bəʕə́ṭ-hum bə́ʕəṭ ‘each other’, 3pl.m.; An Arabic construction: baʕaḍ-hum baʕaḍ. Note that devoices to , a common proces in Nefusa Berber.

mammó a=y-ugurú-n si-naɣ a=í-šbəḥ arrə́hṭ n=əbnádəm mámmək nit?

Who of us will go and see how to species of man is?

  • mammó ‘who’
  • a= future marker
  • y-ugurú-n aor.ptc. ‘to go’, the participle form is only used after question words, and is no longer used as a subject relative form, as we will see in the next sentence.
  • si-naɣ ‘from’ + 1pl.
  • a= future marker
  • í-šbəḥ aor.3sg.m. ‘to see’
  • arrə́hṭ ‘species’
  • n= ‘of’
  • əbnádəm ‘man, human’, literally ‘son of Adam’.
  • mámmək ‘how’
  • nit ‘he, it’

Bnádəm uh ə́lli y-ə́ɣləb əddúnyət ə́kkul s=əlḥílət.

This man who conquered the whole world with cunning.

  • Bnádəm ‘man’
  • uh ‘this’
  • ə́lli ‘relative pronoun’
  • y-ə́ɣləb pf.3sg.m. ‘to conquer, defeat’, while this is a subject relative clause, the verb simply takes a finite form.
  • əddúnyət ‘world’
  • ə́kkul ‘whole’
  • s= ‘with’
  • əlḥílət ‘cunning’

y-iml=ásən ṣə́yd əllíl: nəč ad=ugúr-əɣ a=dawnt=šə́bḥ-əɣ.

Mister porcupine said to them: I will go and see for you.

  • y-iml= pf.3sg.m. ‘to say’
  • =ásən 3pl.m. Indirect Object
  • ṣə́yd əllíl ‘Mister Porcupine’
  • nəč ‘I’
  • ad= future particle, the allomorph ad is only found in the 1sg. form of the verb, if no object suffixes follow it.
  • ugúr-əɣ aor.pf.1sg. ‘to go’
  • a= future particle
  • dawnt= fronted 2pl.f. Indirect Object marker. The future particle moves object clitics from behind the verb to the front of the verb. It is surprising that the 2pl.f. is used. This implies that Mister Porcupine is exclusively talking to women, while earlier the form =ásən implied an all male, or mixed group.
  • šə́bḥ-əɣ aor.1sg. ‘to see’

y-ugúr, y-ufú əlḥiwán rəttʕá-nət, y-ufú daləmmas=ənn-ə́snət ləfḥál i-ttbə́lbəl, y-əml=ás: šək bnádəm?

He went and he found grazing sheep, he found in the middle of them a bleating ram, he said to him: Are you a man?

  • y-ugúr pf.3sg.m. ‘to go’
  • y-ufú pf.3sg.m. ‘to find’
  • əlḥiwán ‘sheep’
  • rəttʕá-nət impf.3pl.f. ‘to graze’, a typical example of an adjoined relative clause, i.e. a relative clause with no overt marking: A finite verb is placed directly after the noun it modifies.
  • y-ufú pf.3sg.m. ‘to find’
  • daləmmas ‘in the middle’
  • =ənn-ə́snət ‘of’ + 3pl.f. suffix
  • ləfḥál ‘ram’
  • i-ttbə́lbəl impf.3sg.m. ‘to bleat’, another adjoined relative clause
  • y-əml=ás pf.3sg.m. + 3sg. Indirect Object ‘to say’
  • šək ‘you (m.)’
  • bnádəm ‘man, human’

y-əml=ás: la, bnádəm bába.

And he said to him: No, the man is my master.

  • y-əml=ás pf.3sg.m. + 3sg. Indirect Object ‘to say’
  • la ‘no’
  • bnádəm ‘man, human’
  • bába ‘master’, this word behaves like a kinship posessive, and receives kinship suffixes. To mark the 1sg., not suffix is used. Thus this should be read ‘my master’

y-əxṭə́m, i-ǧǧ=ə́t, y-ufú funás i-ttṣə́yyəḥ, y-əml=ás: šək bnádəm?

He continued, and left him, and he found a mooing bull, and he said to him: Are you a man?

  • y-əxṭə́m pf.3sg.m. ‘to continue, go on’
  • i-ǧǧ=ə́t pf.3sg.m. + 3sg.m. Direct Object ‘to leave’
  • y-ufú pf.3sg.m. ‘to find’
  • funás ‘bull’
  • i-ttṣə́yyəḥ impf.3sg.m. ‘to moo’, another adjoined relative.
  • y-əml=ás pf.3sg.m. + 3sg. Indirect Object ‘to say’
  • šək ‘you (m.)’
  • bnádəm ‘man, human’

y-əml=ás: la, bnádəm bába.

And he said to him: No, the man is my master.

  • y-əml=ás pf.3sg.m. + 3sg. Indirect Object ‘to say’
  • la ‘no’
  • bnádəm ‘man, human’
  • bába ‘master’

y-əxṭə́m,  i-ǧǧ=ə́t, y-ufú agmár i-ṣə́hhəl, y-əml=aš_šə́k bnádəm?

He continued, and left him, and he found a whinnying horse, and he said to him: Are you a man?

  • y-əxṭə́m pf.3sg.m. ‘to continue, go on’
  • i-ǧǧ=ə́t pf.3sg.m. + 3sg.m. Direct Object ‘to leave’
  • y-ufú pf.3sg.m. ‘to find’
  • agmár ‘horse’
  • i-ṣə́hhəl impf.3sg.m. ‘to whinny’, an adjoined relative clause
  • y-əml=aš_ pf.3sg.m. + 3sg. Indirect Object ‘to say’, the final s has assimilated to the following š.
  • šək ‘you (m.)’
  • bnádəm ‘man, human’

y-əml=ás: bnádəm bába, i-ttə́nni aɣf-í.

He said to him: the man is my master, he rides on me.

  • y-əml=ás pf.3sg.m. + 3sg. Indirect Object ‘to say’
  • bnádəm ‘man, human’
  • bába ‘master’
  • i-ttə́nni impf.3sg.m. ‘to ride’
  • aɣf-í ‘on’ + 1sg. suffix

y-əxṭə́m, i-ǧǧ=ə́t, y-ufú alɣə́m, y-əml=aš_šə́k bnádəm?

He continued, and left him, and he found a camel, and he said to him: Are you a man?

  • y-əxṭə́m pf.3sg.m. ‘to continue, go on’
  • i-ǧǧ=ə́t pf.3sg.m. + 3sg.m. Direct Object ‘to leave’
  • y-ufú pf.3sg.m. ‘to find’
  • alɣə́m ‘camel’
  • y-əml=aš_ pf.3sg.m. + 3sg. Indirect Object ‘to say’, the final s has assimilated to the following š.
  • šək ‘you (m.)’
  • bnádəm ‘man, human’

y-əml=ás: bnádəm bába, y-əttə́nni aɣf-í d=i-xə́ggʷa aɣf-í di=lətqál=ənn-əs, də=y-ətṣáfar aɣf-í ə́šbəḥ akrum=ə́nn-u mámmək y-ə́ḍbər si-s.

And he said to him: The man is my master, he rides on me and he loads on me his cargo, and he travels on me; look how my back is wounded by him!

  • y-əml=ás pf.3sg.m. + 3sg. Indirect Object ‘to say’
  • bnádəm ‘man, human’
  • bába ‘master’
  • i-ttə́nni impf.3sg.m. ‘to ride’
  • aɣf-í ‘on’ + 1sg. suffix
  • d= ‘and, with’. In most Berber languages, this particle is exclusively used for noun phrase coordination. Here it is used for verb clause coordination. Most Berber languages do not mark verb clause coordination. Aujila and Sokna use the Arabic particle u, w for clause coordination. Foqaha and Zuara behave similar to Nefusa.
  • i-xə́ggʷa impf.3sg.m. ‘to load’
  • aɣf-í ‘on’ + 1sg. suffix
  • di= ‘in’, in Nefusa, the imperfective usually marks the direct object with the preposition di=.
  • lətqál ‘cargo’
  • =ənn-əs ‘of’ + 3sg. suffix
  • də=  ‘and, with’
  • y-ətṣáfar impf.3sg.m. ‘to travel’
  • aɣf-í ‘on’ + 1sg. suffix
  • ə́šbəaor. (absence of suffix points to imp.2sg.) ‘to see’
  • akrum ‘back’
  • =ə́nn-u ‘of’ + 1sg. suffix
  • mámmək ‘how?’
  • y-ə́ḍbər ‘to be wounded’
  • si-s ‘from’ + 3sg. suffix

y-əml=ás: yaʕažáyb, mámmək nit bnádəm uh ə́lli y-ə́ḥkəm dí-naɣ dəd=dí-wən?

He said to him: How strange, how is it (possible) that this man rules over us and over you?

  • y-əml=ás pf.3sg.m. + 3sg. Indirect Object ‘to say’
  • yaʕažáyb ‘How strange’ from Ar. yā ʕajāʔib ‘O wondrous things
  • mámmək ‘how?’
  • nit ‘he, it’
  • bnádəm ‘man, human’
  • uh ‘this’
  • ə́lli relative pronoun
  • y-ə́ḥkəm pf.3sg.m. ‘to rule’, this word surprisingly has penultimate accent. Most verbs with three root consonants have final accent in the perfective.
  • dí-naɣ ‘in’ + 1pl. suffix, apparently y-ə́ḥkəm takes a prepositional object marker with di ‘in’.
  • dəd= ‘with, and’, a longer form of d= seen earlier.
  • dí-wən ‘in’ + 2pl.m. suffix

y-əml=ás alɣə́m ih: bárra a=t=šə́bəḥə-d, aktwí di=birg(ə)n=ə́nn-əs.

That camel said to him: Go and see him, (he is) over there in his tent.

  • y-əml=ás pf.3sg.m. + 3sg. Indirect Object ‘to say’
  • alɣə́m ‘camel’
  • ih ‘that’
  • bárra literally ‘outside’, but has become a suppletive imperative ‘go outside/away!’
  • a= future marker
  • t= fronted 3sg.m. Direct Object
  • t-šə́bəḥə-d aor.2sg. ‘to look’
  • aktwí presentative deictic ‘voi là’
  • di= ‘in’
  • birg(ə)n ‘tent’
  • =ə́nn-əs ‘of’ + 3sg. suffix

Y-ugur=ás, y-əml=ás: šək bnádəm?

He went to him, and said to him: Are you a man?

  • Y-ugur pf.3sg.m. ‘to go’
  • =ás 3sg. Indirect Object
  • y-əml=ás pf.3sg.m. + 3sg. Indirect Object ‘to say’
  • šək ‘you (m.)’
  • bnádəm ‘man, human’

Y-əml-ás: ənáʕm.

He said to him: Yes.

  • y-əml=ás pf.3sg.m. + 3sg. Indirect Object ‘to say’
  • ənáʕm ‘yes’

i-fk=ás ləḥlíb d=əžžbə́n d=aɣí, y-əsəwú d=y-əččú, y-əml=ás baʕd ə́lli y-əččú: sə=maní=s yuh ə́kkul?

He gave him milk and cheese and butter milk, he drank and ate, and he said to him after he had eaten: Where do all these (things come) from?

  • i-fk= pf.3sg.m. ‘to give’
  • =ás 3sg. Indirect Object
  • ləḥlíb ‘milk’
  • d= ‘with, and’
  • əžžbə́n ‘cheese’
  • d= ‘with, and’
  • aɣí ‘buttermilk’
  • y-əsəwú pf.3sg.m. ‘to drink’
  • d= ‘with, and’
  • y-əččú pf.3sg.m. ‘to eat’
  • y-əml=ás pf.3sg.m. + 3sg. Indirect Object ‘to say’
  • baʕd ə́lli ‘after’
  • y-əččú pf.3sg.m. ‘to eat’
  • sə=maní=s a curious doubling of the preposition s= ‘from’ with the question word maní ‘where?’. In most Berber languages the question word is in absolute initial position, therefore prepositions that modify it come after it. Later in the text we will find this same construction without the initial s=.
  • yuh ‘these’
  • ə́kkul ‘all’

Y-əml=ás: s=tɣaṭ.

He said to him: From the goat.

  • y-əml=ás pf.3sg.m. + 3sg. Indirect Object ‘to say’
  • s= ‘from’
  • tɣaṭ ‘goat’

I-kkə́r atərrás ih, y-awí=d aburšəní, y-əɣrə́s=t s-ad=as=y-ə́g məklí=nn-əs;

This man got up, and he brought a kid, and slaughtered it to make his meal;

  • I-kkə́r pf.3sg.m. ‘to get up, stand up’
  • atərrás ‘man’
  • ih ‘that’
  • y-awí=d pf.3sg.m. ‘to bring’ with the directional particle =d. While this particle is not fully productive anymore in Nefusa, it is still used to give specific differences in meaning to several verbs, for example awi ‘to carry’ awi=d ‘to bring’.
  • aburšəní ‘kid’, as in the child of a goat
  • y-əɣrə́s pf.3sg.m. ‘to slaughter’
  • =t 3sg.m. Direct Object
  • s-ad= a special extended form of the future marker ad=, there is no discernable difference in meaning.
  • as= fronted 3sg. Indirect Object
  • y-ə́g aor.3sg.m. ‘to make, do’
  • məklí ‘meal’
  • =nn-əs ‘of’ + 3sg. suffix

Si=iɣə́rrəs di-s i-šbə́h=t mámmək i-ttə́gg;

When he was slautering it, (the porcupine) saw it, how he was doing;

  • Si= ‘when, while’
  • iɣə́rrəs impf.3sg.m. ‘to slaughter’
  • di-s ‘in’ + 3sg. suffix. Once again an imperfect that uses the preposition di to mark its object.
  • i-šbə́h pf.3sg.m. ‘to see’
  • =t 3sg.m. Direct Object
  • mámmək ‘how?’
  • i-ttə́gg impf.3sg.m. ‘to do’

Baʕd ə́lli i-tɣádda s=isán ih y-əml=ás : maní=s isán uh ?

After he had eaten (some) of that meat, he said to him: Where does this meat come from?

  • baʕd ə́lli ‘after’
  • i-tɣádda pf.3sg.m. ‘to have a meal’
  • s= ‘from’, used as a partitive
  • isán ‘meat’ a plurale tantum
  • ih ‘that’
  • y-əml=ás pf.3sg.m. + 3sg. Indirect Object ‘to say’
  • maní ‘where?’
  • =s ‘from’, backed because the question word is required to be first.
  • isán ‘meat’
  • uh ‘this’

Y-əml=ás : yin tarwá n=tɣaṭ.

And he said to him: It is the child of the goat.

  • y-əml=ás pf.3sg.m. + 3sg. Indirect Object ‘to say’
  • yin ‘that’ pl.m., plural because it agrees with isán
  • tarwá ‘child’
  • n= ‘of’
  • tɣaṭ ‘goat’

Y-imlú ṣid əllíl di=lxaṭər=ənn-ə́s: mámmək tɣaṭ t-əfk=ás əlxír uh ə́kkul, d=i-wə́lla af=tarwá=nn-əs y-əɣrə́s=t?

Mister Porcupine said in his thoughts: How is it (possible) that the goat gave him all these goods and he turns to her child and slaughters it?

  • Y-imlú pf.3sg.m. ‘to say’
  • ṣid əllíl ‘Mister Porcupine’
  • di= ‘in’
  • lxaṭər ‘thought’
  • =ənn-ə́s ‘of’ + 3sg. suffix
  • mámmək ‘how?’
  • tɣaṭ ‘goat’
  • t-əfk pf.3sg.f. ‘to give’
  • =ás 3sg. Indirect Object
  • əlxír ‘goods’
  • uh ‘this’
  • ə́kkul ‘all’
  • d= ‘with, and’
  • i-wə́lla pf.3sg.m. ‘to turn to (litt. to turn on)’
  • af= ‘on’
  • tarwá ‘child’
  • =nn-əs ‘of’ + 3sg. suffix
  • y-əɣrə́s pf.3sg.m. ‘to slaughter’
  • =t 3sg.m. Direct Object

wəl=dí=š lamán, ad=aggəd-ə́ɣ af=iɣf=ə́nn-u, mámmək s-ad=rəwl-ə́ɣ?

There is no safety in here, I will (have to be) scared of my own head, how will I flee?

  • wəl= A special form of the negative marker u only found in front of this preposition.
  • ‘in’
  • postverbal negative element
  • lamán ‘safety’
  • ad= Future marker
  • aggəd-ə́ɣ aor.1sg. ‘to fear’
  • af= ‘on’
  • iɣf ‘head’
  • =ə́nn-u ‘of’ +1sg. suffix
  • mámmək ‘how?’
  • s-ad= extended future marker
  • rəwl-ə́ɣ aor.1sg. ‘to flee’

ləfžə́r bə́kri i-rwə́l, y-usə́=d in=arrfaqt=ə́nn-əs.

He fled at early daybreak, and he went back to his companions.

  • ləfžə́r ‘daybreak’
  • bə́kri ‘early’
  • i-rwə́l pf.3sg.m. ‘to flee’
  • y-usə́=d pf.3sg.m. ‘to come’
  • in= dative preposition
  • arrfaqt ‘companions’
  • =ə́nn-əs ‘of’ + 3sg. suffix

Mlu-n=ás: xəbbər=ánaɣ, t-šəb(ə)ḥə́-d bnádəm?

They said to him: Inform us! Have you seen the man?

  • Mlu-n=ás pf.3pl.m. + 3sg. Indirect Object ‘to say’
  • xəbbər aor. (imperative 2sg.) ‘to inform’
  • =ánaɣ 1pl. Indirect Object
  • t-šəb(ə)ḥə́-d pf.2sg. ‘to see’
  • bnádəm ‘man, human’

Y-əml=ásən: u=šə́kwənt=təxəbbər-ə́ɣ=ši an di=t-əḥəfra-m oqdú di=drar uh yəzə́grət yərxá.

He said to them: I will not in form you until you have dug a very deep hole for me in this mountain.

  • Y-əml=ásən pf.3sg.m. + 3pl.m. Indirect Object ‘to say’
  • u= Negative marker
  • šə́kwənt= fronted 2pl.f. Direct Object marker
  • təxəbbər-ə́ɣ impf.1sg. ‘to inform’, negation + impf. appears to express Future tense here.
  • =ši post-verbal negative marker
  • an ‘until’
  • di= fronted 1sg. Indirect Object, an causes fronting of verbal clitics.
  • t-əḥəfra-m pf.2pl.m. ‘to dig’
  • oqdú ‘hole’
  • di= ‘in’
  • drar ‘mountain’
  • uh ‘this’
  • yəzə́grət ‘deep’
  • yərxá ‘very’

ṭəbbṣ-ə́n ḥə́ffṛ-ən əkkul=ə́n-sən, gu-n=ás oqdú əll_i-ɣə́ss;

All of them started to dig, they made for him the hole that he wanted.

  • ṭəbbṣ-ə́n pf.3pl.m. ‘to start to’
  • ḥə́ffṛ-ən  impf.3pl.m. ‘to dig’
  • əkkul ‘all’
  • =ə́n-sən ‘of’ + 3pl.m. suffix
  • gu-n pf.3pl.m. ‘to do, to make’
  • =ás 3sg. Indirect Object
  • oqdú ‘hole’
  • əll_ Relative pronoun with elided final i because it precedes an i.
  • i-ɣə́ss pf.3sg.m. ‘to want’

Y-əkmú di-s, baʕd ə́lli y-əkmú i-ml=ásən: bnádəm əlḥákəm n=ayə́lli di=ddúnyət ə́kkul, u=tt=i-ɣə́lləb ḥáža s=əlḥilt=ə́nn-əs, wə́lli ʕain-ah a=y-ə́rwəl a=i-nəžžá əlʕamr=ə́nn-əs.

He went in it, after he had entered he said to them: Man is the master of everything in the whole world. Nothing will best him with its wit, he who wants to flee, he must save himself.

  • Y-əkmú pf.3sg.m. ‘to enter’
  • di-s ‘in’ + 3sg. suffix
  • baʕd ə́lli ‘after’
  • y-əkmú pf.3sg.m. ‘to enter’
  • i-ml pf.3sg.m. ‘to say’
  • =ásən 3pl.m. Indirect Object
  • bnádəm ‘man, human’
  • əlḥákəm ‘master, ruler’
  • n= ‘of’
  • ayə́lli ‘everything, everybody’
  • di= ‘in’
  • ddúnyət ‘world’
  • ə́kkul ‘whole’
  • u= Negative marker
  • tt= Fronted 3sg.m. Direct Object. The negation causes fronting, the fronted 3sg.m. Direct Object is indistinguishable from the 3sg.f. Direct Object.
  • i-ɣə́lləb impf.3sg.m. ‘to beat, best’, negated imperfectives can take a future meaning.
  • ḥáža ‘thing’
  • s= ‘with’
  • əlḥilt ‘wit’
  • =ə́nn-əs ‘of’ + 3sg. suffix
  • wə́lli Relative pronoun with incorporated m.sg. pronoun ‘he who’
  • ʕain-ah ‘to desire’, Literally ‘his intention’ an Arabic construction with an Arabic 3sg.m. suffix, combines with the aorist of the verb to function as an auxiliary.
  • a= Future marker
  • y-ə́rwəl aor.3sg.m.
  • a= Future marker
  • i-nəžžá aor.3sg.m. ‘to save’
  • əlʕamr ‘life’
  • =ə́nn-əs ‘of’ + 3sg. suffix

rəwwl-ə́n kull ḥadd d(i)=amkán, əlbə́ʕəṭ nəzl-ə́n idurár d=əlbə́ʕəṭ ḥafṛ-ə́n yəqqadíyən di=tamúrt, ftərqú-n kull ḥadd af=iɣf=ə́nn-əs.

Each one of them was fleeing to a place, some inhabited the mountains, others dug holes in the ground, each one separated itself on his own.

  • rəwwl-ə́n impf.3pl.m. ‘to flee’
  • kull ḥadd ‘each one’
  • d(i)= ‘in’, with ellided i due to the next word that starts with a vowel
  • amkán ‘place’
  • əlbə́ʕəṭ  ‘other’
  • nəzl-ə́n pf.3pl.m. ‘to inhabit’
  • idurár ‘mountain’
  • d= ‘and, with’
  • əlbə́ʕəṭ ‘other’
  • ḥafṛ-ə́n pf.3pl.m. ‘to dig’
  • yəqqadíyən ‘holes’
  • di= ‘in’
  • tamúrt ‘ground’
  • ftərqú-n pf.3pl.m. ‘to separate’
  • kull ḥadd ‘each one’
  • af= ‘on’
  • iɣf ‘head’
  • =ə́nn-əs ‘of’ + 3sg. suffix

-M. van Putten

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