Awəssu

Umberto Paradisi is known best for the work he did on the several understudied dialects of Awjila and El-Foqaha. However, he has also published one text on Zwara Berber. I have rerecorded this story and discussed it with a native speaker, below you find the translation.

My informant told me that this ritual is still celebrated today.

tə́lt iyyám n uwə́ssu á ytəmm di-s əlmizán g užənná.

“During the three days of Awəssu, Libra will appear fully in the sky.”

  • tə́lt iyyám ‘three days’
  • n ‘of’, Paradisi records an m here as an assimlation of the n plus a following u. When I recorded this story, my informant would consistently pronounce it without the assimilation, despite the original text that I showed him having a translation. This seems to be an indication that for the speaker this rule is not active, or at least not in this context.
  • uwəssu ‘A summer ritual’, in the Etat d’Annexion (EL awəssu)
  • a Marker of the future
  • y-təmm aor.3sg.m. ‘to finish, complete’, in this context ‘appear fully’
  • di-s ‘in’ in the pre-prepositional form + 3sg. prepositional pronoun ending.
  • əlmizán ‘Libra’, a constellation that consists of three starts.
  • g ‘in’
  • užənná ‘sky’, in the État d’Annexion

íḍ aməzwár a yə́ffəɣ ítri, táni a yə́ffəɣ táni n itrán, əttálət a yə́ffəɣ ttálət n itrán. Baʕdén əlmizán.

“On the first night a star will come out, the second (night) the second of the stars will come out, on the third (night) the third of the stars will come out. After that: Libra.”

  • íḍ ‘night’
  • aməzwár ‘first’
  • y-ə́ffəɣ aor.3sg.m. ‘to come out’
  • ítri ‘star’
  • táni ‘second’
  • itrán ‘stars’, should be in the État d’Annexion, but is apparently not distinguished form the État Libre in Zwara.
  • (ə)ttálət ‘third’
  • baʕdén ‘then, after that’

Səbʕa u xamsín g unə́bdu a yə́ffəɣ əlmizán.

“After fifty-seven (days) in the summer Libra will be out.”

  •  Səbʕa u xamsín ‘fifty-seven’, litt. 7 and 50. Completely Arabic construction.
  • unə́bdu ‘summer’, EA of anəbdu

Tə́lt iyyám n uwə́ssu kmə́lən At Wíllul á fləl l íləl a ʕúmmən u baʕdén a rə́wwḥən s íləl.

“During the three days of Awessu, all At Willul will go to the sea to swim and then they will leave the sea.

  • kmə́lən “all”
  • At Wíllul,  Tribe name
  • flə-n aor.3pl.m. ‘to go’, with assimlation of the final n to the next l
  • l ‘to’
  • íləl ‘sea’ (EA = EL)
  • ʕúmm-ən aor.3pl.m. ‘to swim’
  • rə́wwḥ-ən aor.3pl.m. ‘to return’
  • s ‘from’

Saʕ(a) árbʕa báʕd ázgən n íḍ á fləl l íləl, qábl yə́qqas n tə́fəwt, a ʕúmmən.

“Four hours after the middle of the night they will go to the sea, before the rising of the sun, they will swim.”

  • Saʕ(a) ‘hour’
  • árbʕa ‘four’
  • báʕd ‘after’
  • ázgən ‘middle’
  • qábl ‘before’
  • yə́qqas ‘rising’ Etat d’Annexion of the verbal noun iqqas ‘rising’
  • təfə́wt ‘sun’, Paradisi records təfwít or təfúyt, my informant clearly says təfə́wt.

Lbáʕḍ n míddən əggáyən g iləɣṃan d yisán d iɣyál l íləl.

“Some of the people will bring in camels and horses and donkeys to the sea”

  • lbaʕḍ ‘some’
  • míddən ‘people’
  • əggáy-ən impf.3pl.m. ‘to bring’, of the verb ə́wəy ‘to bring , take’, which shows that the lengthened counterpart of w is gg in Zwara
  • iləɣman ‘camels’, technically in the État d’Annexion, but indistinguishable from the regular form.
  • d ‘and’
  • yisán ‘horses’ in the EA
  • iɣyál ‘donkeys’ in the EA (indistinguishable from EL)

Kúll lʕáylət a tʕúmm wə́ḥḥd-əs af iman-ís.

“Each family will wash themselves separately”

  • Kúll ‘each’
  • lʕáylət ‘family’
  • t-ʕúmm aor.3sg.f. ‘to wash/swim’
  • wə́ḥḥd-əs  ‘alone’, often used as a sort of preposition that takes prepositional endings in Berber, in this case the 3sg.m. form.
  • af ‘on’, or in this case ‘by’
  • iman-ís  reflexive pronoun with 3sg. possessive suffix -ís.

Árgaz a yátəf g íləl g tḥazamít nəɣ əg tkmíst, taməṭṭut a tátəf l íləl əg tkmíst.

“The man will enter the sea in a robe or shirt, the woman enters the sea in a shirt”

  • Árgaz ‘man’
  • y-átəf aor.3sg.m. ‘to enter’
  • tḥazamít ‘robe’
  • nəɣ ‘or’
  • tkmíst ‘shirt’
  • taməṭṭut ‘woman’
  • t-átəf aor.3sg.f. ‘to enter’

A qqímən g íləl ssáʕət nnəɣ ssáʕət d wə́zgən.

“The will stay in the sea for an hour or an hour and a half”

  • qqím-ən aor.3pl.m. ‘to stay’
  • ssáʕət ‘hour’
  • nnəɣ = nəɣ ‘or’
  • wə́zgən ‘half’ (EA, EL= ázgən)

Lbáʕḍ n mídden á yfat əlmúžət sə́bʕa məṛṛát.

“Some people will dive into the waves seven times.”

  • y-fat aor.3sg.m. ‘to dive’
  • əlmúžət ‘wave’
  • sə́bʕa ‘seven’
  • məṛṛát ‘times’, notice that this noun doesn’t have an automatic article. Nouns that mostly come in pairs with numerals, will borrow the complete syntagm from Arabic, where it does not come with the article.

Kull íǧǧən ikə́ttəḥ g áman af ttáni

“Each one enters the water a second time.”

  • íǧǧən ‘one’
  • i-kə́ttəḥ  impf.3sg.m. ‘to enter’, I do not know this verb, from the context I assume it means ‘to enter’.
  • áman ‘water’, I would expect the form g wáman here, with an État d’Annexion, but I do not have that recorded, nor did Paradisi record it.
  • ttáni ‘second (time)’

U baʕdén a rə́wwḥən l tiddárt.

“And after that they return home.”

  • rə́wwḥ-ən aor.3pl.m. ‘to return’
  • tiddárt ‘house, home’

A rə́kkbən účču d údi xaṣ y uwə́ssu.

“They will prepare účču d údi especially for Awessu”

  • rə́kkb-ən aor.3pl.m. ‘to prepare’
  • účču d údi a specific type of dish, whose preparation is explained below. Literally it translates to ‘food and butter’.
  • xaṣ ‘only, just, especially’

A trə́kkbəd áman u baʕdén a s tə́mbrəd tísent u baʕdén a yáyzəg u baʕdén a t-ə́mbṛ-əd árən u baʕdén a yḍáb,

“You prepare (i.e. cook) the water and then you add salt to it and then it will cook, and then you put (in) flour and then it will be ready”

  • t-rə́kkb-əd aor.2sg. ‘to prepare’
  • -(a)s 3sg. Indirect Object marker with ellided a due to the future marker a.
  • t-ə́mbr-əd aor.2sg. ‘to put’
  • tísent ‘salt’
  • y-áyzəg aor.3sg.m. ‘to cook’, the perfective of this verb uzə́g lacks the irregular y-infix found in the aorist and imperfective.
  • árən ‘flour’
  • y-ḍáb aor.3sg.m. ‘be ready, ripe’

báʕd lli a yḍáb, a tḥə́rrkəd s uɣə́nǧa u baʕdén a t tə́mbṛəd g ədzíwa n qə́šquš u baʕden a tnə́ɣləd áfəlla-s údi.

“Afterwards it will be ready, you will stir it with a ladle, and afterwards you put in a wooden bowl and then you will pour butter on top of it.”

  •  báʕd lli ‘afterwards’
  • t-ḥə́rrk-əd aor.2sg. ‘to stir’
  • s ‘with’
  • uɣə́nǧa ‘ladle’ (EA, aɣə́nǧa is the EL form).
  • t 3sg.m. direct object marker, fronted because of the a future marker
  • ədzíwa ‘bowl’
  • qə́šquš ‘wood’
  • t-nə́ɣl-əd aor.2sg. ‘to pour’
  • áfəlla-s ‘above, on top’, with 3sg. prepositional ending
  • údi ‘butter’

Adam Benkato points out that the dish being described is known as ʕasīda in Libyan Arabic.

Á ččən účču báʕd lli a rə́wwḥən s íləl, talži qabl ázgən mm áss.

“Then they will eat the food after they will return from the sea,  the next day, before the afternoon”

  • čč-ən aor.3pl.m.  ‘to eat’
  • účču ‘food’
  • s ‘from’
  • talži ‘the next day’
  • qabl ‘before’
  • mm is the gentive particle n that has assimilated to the w of the EA of wáss ‘day’, which has subsequently been lost.
  • áss < wáss, where w was lost due to the nw > mm assimilation/

Ázgən mm áss ad ígən amə́kli, kə́sksu nnəɣ əlmakarúnat;

“in the afternoon, they will make lunch, couscous or pasta”

  • ad allomorph of the future marker when it is followed by a vowel.
  • ígə-n aor.3pl.m. ‘to make’
  • amə́kli ‘lunch’
  • kə́sksu ‘couscous’
  • əlmakarúnat ‘pasta’

taməddít ad ígən amə́ssi

“In the evening, they will make dinner”

  • taməddít ‘evening’
  • amə́ssi ‘dinner’

ʕaṛábən nnán g tálet yúm n uwə́ssu di-s əlɣə́lṭət, walákin tíkərkas laʔínna kull lʕáylət tʕúmm wə́ḥd-əs.

‘The Arabs say that in the three days of Awessu there is a transgression, however (these are) lies, because each family swims separately’

  • ʕaṛábən ‘arabs’, notice the somewhat curious absence of the plural prefix i-. Perhaps the form is aʕṛábən
  • nná-n pf.3pl.m. ‘to say’
  • əlɣə́lṭət ‘transgression’
  • walákin ‘but’
  • tíkərkas ‘lies’
  • laʔínna ‘because’

Nətnín qə́lldən lʕádət n iməzwárən.

“They are imitating the custom of the olden days”

  • nətnín ‘they’
  • qə́lld-ən  impf.3pl.m. ‘to imitate’
  • lʕádət ‘custom’
  • iməzwárən ‘ancestors, those that precede > olden days’

At Wíllul ffáləl l íləl g uwə́ssu laʔínna əlfáyttis g əlǧísəm.

“The At Willul go into the sea during Awessu because  its benefit is in the body (i.e. it is good for the body).”

  • ffál-ən impf.3pl.m. ‘to go’ with assimilation of the n to the following l
  • əlfáytt-is ‘his benefit’ = əlfáydət ‘benefit’+ 3sg.m. possessive suffix.
  • əlǧísəm ‘body’

M. van Putten

10 Responses to Awəssu

  1. Lameen Souag says:

    The rising of Libra: From the Earth, the Sun is seen to trace out a path along the zodiac over the course of the year. This means that, on any given day, about half the zodiac remains invisible all night. As the sun changes its position in the zodiac (really the earth changes its position in its orbit), some Zodiacal constellations become visible, and others become invisible. Thus you can determine which month and day it is by checking which part of the zodiac is visible, and that is in fact how they used to do it in many cultures.

    lbaʕḍ is literally as well as contextually “some”.
    yə́qqas looks like a construct state of a VN iqqas.
    qə́lld-ən should be “imitate”, not “refer”.
    əlfáyəd: rather əlfáyda/əlfaydət “benefit” فائدة.

  2. Marijn says:

    Thanks! I’ve implemented the comments.

    As for the rising of Libra: I figured that this would be it, but when I actually tried to figure out when the rising of Libra took place, it turned out it was not in the summer, while the text specifically speaks of the summer. As it should be after the period that the sun is ‘in’ Libra, which lasts until November 22 according to Wikipedia.

    So apparently it’s not the heliacal rising, but the acronychal rising that they are referring to. But that would mean that it is the last day of the year that Libra rises at sunset, and isn’t already above the horizon when the sun sets, right?

    I tried playing around with Stellarium to find that moment in the 1960s, but I’m not quite sure how to tell ‘visibility’ of the stars.

  3. Lameen Souag says:

    Ah, I see the problem. Playing around with Stellarium, it looks like Libra should already be visible well before Awussu (which is 25 July, according to Encyclopédie Berbère: http://encyclopedieberbere.revues.org/181). Perhaps they meant some other constellation? Odd…

  4. Muhannad says:

    I 26 years old, and I can tell you that your source is not fully aware of zuwara (twillult) dialect, for example, three times: tlata n tikwal, but: ammn, because: maghallik, three days: tlata m ussan, custom: ssber. Moreover, pasta is not a traditional dish for this event, and about the linking word (baʕdé), some people use (baʕdés) instead,

  5. Lameen Souag says:

    Thanks for your comments Muhannad. It’s important to know that there’s a non-Arabic way to say such things, but it’s also important to know that some people use the Arabic expression while speaking Zuwara dialect. For numbers of days, in particular, this phenomenon is extremely widespread; in Kabyle, too, even people who don’t speak Arabic usually say telt-iyyam rather than tlata n wussan, just as Arabic speakers in Algeria normally give phone numbers in French rather than in Arabic.

  6. Marijn says:

    Thanks for the comments. I would like to add to this, that the original text was collected around the 1960s, a time in which telt iyyam was perhaps more acceptable than it might be considered today. My informant only helped to identify words I did not directly understand, he’s certainly a fluent speaker of Zwarah Berber though.

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: