Ammud əglimǝn – the mosque of the leathered ones

Ibrahim Sultan, a member of the Awjila Berber community and resident of Awjila, recently posted an interesting story pertaining to local history on his Facebook. The story is about one of the older mosques of the oasis (see here for a short video showing such extremely old mosques there) given in Arabic, but the most important part is a few phrases in Berber, which provide a compelling climax to the tale. The Berber is of course written in Arabic script, and provides an interesting glimpse at how a semi-native speaker would write Awjila Berber. Ibrahim seems to have heard the story from an older, probably fluent, Awjila speaker and then written it down in somewhat summarized form using his own words. The fact that he does not speak Awjili fluently probably explains some of the oddities in verbal morphology, agreement, and syntax. Indeed, there are a number of interesting features of  Ibrahim’s idiolect, though I’ll only mention a few here (but there is a comments section for a reason!).

We’ve obtained Ibrahim’s permission to re-post and translate; the original Arabic is given first, as Ibrahim wrote it, followed by a translation, and rough transcription of the Berber based on the standards of Marijn’s new book. A line by line parse is after the jump.

‫امود اقلیمن …. یحکی ان غزاه جاءو لیغزو اوجله قبل عدة اعوام مضت .لباسهم من الجلد .. وعندما جاء المؤذن لرفع اذان الفجر تعرضو له لکی یوضح لهم الاغنیا فی البلاد والقاده لیبداء الغزاه منهم .. فقال لهم المؤذن .. دعونی ارفع الاذان اولا لکی اسهل علیکم الامر .. فالناس ستاتی لتصلی بلا سلاح وانتم یا غزاه اختبو تحت هذا الجدار .. ولا تتحرکو حتی تقام الصلاه .. فوافق الغزاه .. .. فاذن المؤذن الاذان التالی .. بالامازیغیه .

“ammud əglimǝn … It is said that some raiders came to raid Awjila a number of years ago. They wore leather clothes. When the muezzin came to call the dawn prayer, they presented themselves to him so that he could tell them who the leaders and rich people in the town were so that they could start with them. So the muezzin told them ‘Allow me to call the prayer first, that way it will be easier to show you. The people will come to prayer with no weapons, and you should all hide under this wall. Don’t move until the prayer starts.’ The raiders agreed, and so the muezzin called the prayer with the following words, in Berber:”

الله اکبر ..تقلیمن اوشندا . یغلینی کا غارکم حاجت یغلین یوغنتت سغارکیم . الله اکبر الله اکبر … وان غارص تان افیو ایقیدادس، ایاغید دتکم تان ابدار ابزالیم .. وناغارص کا وان افیو یتادت اید افیر الفلانی ..یصفصفین ‬

‫اید افیر ادفعات فلسین .الله اکبر الله اکبر

allahu akbar təglimən uša-n=da. yə-ġǝlliy-ǝn=a ka ġar-kim ḥažət yə-ġǝlliy-ǝn y-uġ-ən=tǝt sġar-kim. allahu akbar allahu akbar. wan ġaṛ-ǝs tan afiw iqidadǝs, a=yaġi=d dit-kim tan abdar əbẓalim…u na ġaṛ-ǝs ka wan afiw yǝ-tadǝt ayǝd afir alflani .. yǝṣǝfṣǝfin ayǝd afir adfǝʕat fǝll-ǝssin. allahu akbar allahu akbar.

Allahu akbar. Leathered-ones(?) came. They do not want you to have anything, they want to take it from you. Allahu akbar, allahu akbar. He who has a gun should bring it, and with you gunpowder. He who does not have a gun should come to such-and-such a wall. They should set themselves up in rows and push this wall over on them!”

الترجمه … وصف المؤذن ما یبغی الغزاه لناس وقال لناس ان غزاه لابسین جلود قادمین لسلبکم و من عنده بندقیه او بارود یحضرها معه للمسجد .. والاخرین یاتی لکی ندفع علیهم الحائط المختبیین تحته ..ووصف لهم الطریق التی یسلکونها بحث لا یشعر الغزاه بحضورهم وعدد الاهلی داخل المسجد .. فاستجاب الناس .. واسقطوا الحائط علی روس الغزاه.. ومن نجاء اطلقوا علیه النار وقتل الغزاه بالکامل .. وتم انقاد المنطقه من شرهم .. بقت هذه القصه سر من اسرار اوجله لکی لا تتعرض المنطقه تدعیات الانتقام .. … .. فکتیرین یستهین باللغة وفوائد اللغه .. … من قصص الاجداد..‬

The muezzin described what the raiders wanted from the people, and told them that raiders wearing leather were coming to rob them, so whoever had a rifle or ammunition should bring it to the mosque. And others should come to push down the wall the raiders were hiding under. And he described the way they should come so that the raiders would not sense their presence, or that of the number of families inside the mosque. So the people responded, toppled the wall on the heads of the raiders, and opened fire on whoever survived that. In this way they killed all the raiders, and the area was saved from that evil. This story has become one of Awjila’s secrets, so that it (Awjila) wouldn’t fall prey to revenge. Many people trivialize the language and interest in the language… but well, this is one of our ancestors’ stories.”

Ibrahim told me that the mosque (known these days as مسجد تونيت masjid tunit) has been abandoned for about 10 years now, and that its eastern wall is still of mud brick, while the western one (perhaps the one toppled on the invaders?) is now made of cement.

Read more of this post

Further evidence for the linguistic heritage of Sokna

I recently came upon an essay (linked here) by a certain al-Mukhtār ‘Uthmān al-‘Afīf entitled العادات الاجتماعية و الدينية و الموسمية في مدينة سوكنة الليبية (“Social, Religious, and Seasonal Customs of the Libyan City of Sokna”), who is also the author of a book about 19th/20th-century Sokna. In his discussion of the different holidays celebrated in Sokna, al-‘Afīf cites some particular songs and phrases used on those holidays. Even better, some of those phrases are entirely in, or include words from, languages other than Arabic. ‘Berber!’, you’re thinking. Yes, indeed, but there also seem to be some other languages represented.

al-‘Afīf doesn’t say much about the use of Berber in Sokna. In his book on the history of Sokna, his section on the “local dialect” (cf. 2002: 172-175) is completely derivative of Lyon, with no new information. This essay is much more informative, if only unintentionally, since the author’s aim here is only to discuss holidays, not linguistics. al-‘Afīf also does not even mention any other possible languages of Sokna (i.e. Hausa, Kanuri, Songhay; see Kossmann’s post on the languages formerly spoken in the Fezzan).  What we can glean from this is that, for some traditions, a few non-Arabic words and phrases survive, frozen, in the Arabic dialect of Sokna. But the author clearly knows exactly what they mean, which is a great help. He also comments that the last two phrases, which are sung during the holiday of Ashoura, originally come from the ‘people of Sudan’.

The following are the passages of interest from that essay, with a necessarily hypothetical transcription, Arabic translation (as given by the author), English translation, and glosses with discussion. Comments are welcome.

I. قيو بيه .. راكو شايدنه .. قيو هيه .. قيو تغرنه
qayu baya .. rākū šāyid-ennu .. qayu haya qayu taġra-nnu

al-‘Afīf gives the following translation:
انني احمل جهاز سيدي، على مشهد من الناس، الى منزل سيدتي، و انا عبدهم مدى الحياة
“I am carrying my master’s goods(?) in public, to the home of my mistress, and I am their slave for life.”

  • qayu baya – related to Hausa(?) kayar uba “goods of master”? qayu alone means ‘servant’ (cf. qâyu in Sarnelli, Fog. qāyu, Awj. aqǝyùn ‘black slave’), perhaps from a non-Berber language.
  • rākū – perhaps related to Hausa(?) rako “escort hither on journey”?
  • šāyid-ennu is perhaps ‘my master':  Arabic  sayyid > šāyid with unconditioned palatalization?, with Sokna 1sg. possessive suffix -ennu. But if it is a loanword, why is there no Arabic definite article?

II. سلمها دادا يزه .. من البرطيل انخ وزه
sǝllǝm-hā dādā yǝzza(?) .. min ǝlbǝrṭīl-ennax wǝzza

al-‘Afīf comments:
و يقصد بهذا البيت ان قفتها (برطيلها) احضرت لها وزة
“And this verse means that her basket (bǝrṭīl-ha) delivered to her a goose…”

  • sǝllǝm-hā is Arabic ‘he/it delivered (to) her’. If the following noun is the verbal subject, then it is understood as grammatically masculine; if it is the verbal object (which I assume), then the suffix – refers to it.
  • dādā yǝzza is presumably the name of a nanny (probably of sub-Saharan African origin). dādā is Libyan Arabic word for ‘nanny’, which may have actually been derived from Berber anyway. I assume that the following word is to be transcribed as yǝzza in order to rhyme with wǝzza ‘goose’.
  • ǝlbǝrṭīl-ennax ‘our basket’, Arabic loanword with attached def. article, with the Sokna 1pl. possessive suffix -ennax. Borrowing the word together with the definite article al- is normal for Berber. al-‘Afīf seems to misunderstand the possession as 3sg.f.

The translation would thus be: “Dāda Yǝzza, it brought her; from our basket a goose.”

Maarten Kossmann, in an email, writes that the character Dāda Yǝzza may be well-known:

“There is a song in Figuig that kind of reminds me of the Ramadan song. I don’t know its Sitz im Leben, but it is quite well-known (I quote it from memory):

a mama yzza / wš-axdd aziza / a ss-nawy i baba / baba u da ylli / illa i tmuṛawin / timuṛawin bǝ’dǝnt (I forgot the last few lines)

o Miss Izza / give us aziza (a type of high-quality dates) / we’ll give it to daddy / daddy isn’t there / he is away (lit. in the countries) / the countries are far away.”

III. بابا كيري … قم قاجي … بابا كيري … فيه لحمة … بابا كيري …فيه خبزة
bābā kīrī … qǝm qājī … bābā kīrī … fīh laḥma … bābā kīrī … fīh xubza
“Baba Kiri, ? ?, Baba Kiri, here’s (some) meat, Baba Kiri, here’s (some) bread.”

  • Baba Kīrī is a character during Ashoura, one covers oneself with white mud and goes house to house followed by young children who ask for some bread and meat for him (according to al-‘Afīf).
  • qǝm qājī – the first is perhaps qqim impv. ‘stay’ (Marijn)?

IV. قجرنبي … تاتا لارمبي
qǝjrǝmbī … tātā lārǝmbī

  • qǝjrǝmbī is explained by al-‘Afīf as being the equivalent of ام جرمبي ‘the mother of jǝrǝmbī(?)’, whoever that is.
  • tātā lārǝmbī is likewise unknown to me.

And lastly, from a footnote at the end of the essay: كركدو kǝrkǝdu? means خشن “to toughen, roughen”. Possibly Kanuri? Compare: kə́r-gada “they plaited/braided”; kər-gada “they thickened” (thanks to Lameen).

-A. Benkato

Sokna Text IV: The sultan and the poet

This is the fourth of five texts collected by Sarnelli (1925: 34), concerning a miserly sultan who encounters a poet. It is almost entirely a dialogue, with every phrase introduced by yenn-âs ‘he said to him’. There are only a few new forms in this text, and a number of new Arabic words.

ěllân íǧǧěn n essẹ́lṭān bxîl.

(Once) there was a miserly sultan.

  • ěllân 3pl.m. ‘there were’
  • íǧǧěn n essẹ́lṭān phrasal n. ‘a sultan’ (lit. ‘one of sultan’)
  • bxîl adj. ‘miserly’ from Ar. bxīl

yusâzed íǧǧen në mmār šâ‘ir ṭâma, yenn-âs: sîulax fellá-k amdáḥ.

A poet came to him, and said to him: “I spoke praise about you.”

  • yusâzed pf.3sg.m. + 3sg. indirect object pronoun –ās– + ventive particle –d, with assimilation [āsed] > [āzed]
  • íǧǧen në mmār šâ‘ir phr. n. ‘a poet’ (lit. ‘one of man poet’), with the second noun ‘poet’ from Ar. šā‘ir ‘poet’.
  • ṭâma adj. ‘greedy’ from Ar. ṭāmi‘. Sarnelli does not transcribe the final ‘ayn of this word–noting that it was not pronounced (though it is written in the Arabic text, of course, which has no long vowel). I’ve emended his transcription to reflect short final vowel (maybe schwa), since compensatory lengthening would be hard to demonstrate.
  • sîulax pf.1sg. ‘I spoke, talked’
  • fellá-k prep. ‘about’ + 2sg.m. object pronoun ‘you’
  • amdáḥ n. ‘praise’ from Ar. amdaḥ

yẹ̌nn-âs: bā tā tenn-îd?

(The sultan) said: “What did you say to me?”

  • tenn-îd pf.2sg.m. ‘to say’ + 1sg. indir.obj. pronoun

yẹ̌nn-âs ẹllî yennî-t dg-īs.

(The poet) said what he said about him.

  • yẹ̌nn-âs pf.3sg.m. ‘to say’ + 3sg. indir.obj. pronoun
  • ẹllî relative pronoun from Ar. illī
  • yennî-t pf.3sg.m. ‘to say’ + -t dir. object suffix referring back to the relative pronoun
  • dg-īs particle marking the 3sg. direct object

yěnn-âs essélṭān: ḥatta nîš ẹssîulāx fěll-ák amdáḥ.

The sultan said: “I, too, spoke praise about you.”

  • ḥatta nîš phrase calqued from dialectal Ar. ḥattā nā ‘me too’
  • ẹssîulāx pf.1sg. ‘I spoke, talked’, though I’m not sure why the final vowel is long ā and not short as previously; the initial ẹ- is probably epenthetic

wu yenn-âs ellî yennît dg-īs.

And he said what he said about him.

yennâ mār iyi-ssélṭān udînak: usíġt s aglad-énnüen.

The man said to this sultan: “I came by your street.”

  • yennâ pf.3sg.m. ‘he said’
  • iyi-ssélṭān ‘to the sultan’
  • udînak ‘this’
  • usíġt pf.1sg. (Auj. ušíġd) of root s(d) ‘to come’ (same root as yusâzed above).
  • s prep. ‘by, through’
  • aglad-énnüen n. ‘street (of a city)’ + 2pl.m. possessive suffix

yěnn-âs: tbarût-ēnnek fëll-âs.

(The sultan) said to him: “Your road is on it.”

  • tbarût-ēnnek n.m. ‘road (of countryside)’ + 2sg.m. possessive suffix
  • fëll-âs prep. ‘on’ + 3sg.m. indirect obj. pronoun

yennâ: slīx ezzěġârio̱ṭ et-tasqá-nnüen.

(The poet) said: “I heard the ululation from your house.”

  • slīx pf.1sg. ‘to hear’
  • ez-zěġârio̱ṭ n. ‘ululation’ probably from a form of Ar. zaġraṭ
  • et-tasqá-nnüen n.f. ‘house’ + 2pl.m. possessive suffix; the initial et- could represent an assimilation of the prep. d: *de-tasqá > *et-tasqá, the only problem is that d means ‘with’, usually s or sāl is ‘from’.

yěnnâs: farḥân. děluqō*t eddînak winâzed i-issẹ́lṭān amekl-ínnes.

(The sultan) said: “I was celebrating.” At that moment they brought to the sultan his lunch.

  • farḥân from Ar. farḥān ‘happy’
  • děluqōt n. ‘moment, time’(?), some kind of reanalysis of Ar. waqt preceded by the prep. d/de ‘at, from’
  • eddînak
  • winâzed wi- ‘to bring’, -n- 3pl.m marker, -âz- 3sg. indirect obj. suffix, -ed petrifed ventive particle ‘they brought him’
  • amekl-ínnes n. ‘lunch’ + 3sg.m. possessive suffix

iṣâr itéčč dg-îs wu íngî yěnn-âs i-mâr udînak: éčč.

He began to eat it, and no one said to the man: “eat.”

  • iṣâr must reflect the Arabic iṣār which is pf.3sg; not only is this an anomalous (at least so far) to make an inchoative in Sokni (usually with yiqqím), but it is an interesting case of loan verb + native verb.
  • itéčč impf.3sg.m. (together with the preceding verb forms an inchoative phrase)
  • dg-îs the particle dg- again marks the direct object
  • wu ‘and’ from Arabic wa
  • íngî yěnn-âs ‘did not say to him’ (usual double marking of indirect object)
  • i-mâr udînak ‘to that man’, directional part. i- with n. ‘man’, followed by the
  • éčč impv.2sg.m. ‘eat!’

yěnn-âs mār iyi-ssẹ́lṭān: lahl-ẹ́nnek turû.

The man said to the sultan: “Your wife gave birth.”

  • lahl-ẹ́nnek n.f. ‘wife’ + 2sg.m. possessive suffix (the poet now changes between using the 2pl., perhaps as a sign of respect, to the 2sg.)
  • turû pf.3sg.f. ‘to give birth’

yěnn-âs: eǧǧíx-t taqqál.

He said to him: “I left her pregnant.”

  • eǧǧíx-t pf.1sg. ‘to leave’ (Auj. dǧiḫ) + 3sg.m. direct object suffix
  • taqqál n.f. ‘pregnant’

yěnn-âs: tuwîd sen n immězzûnīn! d essẹ́lṭān qarîb adikkâmel tagílla.

He said: “She brought two little ones!” And the sultan was close to finishing the meal.

  • tuwîd pf.3sg.f. ‘to bring’ (Sokna has -w- where the same Auj. verb has -gg-)
  • sen n immězzûnīn n. phrase ‘two small (ones)’
  • qarîb ‘close’ from Ar. qarīb
  • adikkâmel aor.3sg.m. ‘to finish’ of Ar. verb kammal (?)
  • tagílla n.f. ‘meal’

yěnn-âs essẹ́lṭân ii-mār: lahl-ẹ́nnu lallâ-s tawîd dě-ttuwâma.

The sultan said to the man: “My wife his mother gives birth to twins.”

  • lahl-ẹ́nnu n.f. ‘wife’ + 1sg. possessive suffix
  • lallâ-s n. ‘his mother’
  • tawîd pf.3sg.f. ‘to bring’ (same form as above, with slightly different schwa realizations)
  • dě-ttuwâma part. ‘of’ + n. ‘twins’ from Ar. tǝwām

yěnn-âs mār i-issẹ́lṭān: íǧǧen sāl mězzânīn yummút.

The man said to the sultan: “One of the twins died.”

  • íǧǧen sāl mězzânīn ‘one of the little ones’; this phrase is odd given that ‘one of…’ is routinely expressed in Sokni with the particle n ‘of’ (see the first line of this text, for example), and never sāl ‘from’ – this might be a calque on dialectal Arabic, which would use min ‘from’: *wāḥid min et-tǝwām ‘one of the twins’.
  • yummút pf.3sg.m. ‘to die’

yěnn-âs: lâllā-s lā těnǎžžām atěssẹ́mbi sẹn.

(The sultan) said to him: “His mother could not give milk to the two.”

  • lā těnǎžžām impf.3sg.f. from Arabic lā tenežžem (najjam with the meaning ‘to be able’ is rare in Libya, but is the usual verb in southern and eastern Tunisia)
  • atěssẹ́mbi aor.3sg.f. ‘to give milk, breastfeed’ (causative of ẹ́mbi ‘to suck, nurse, take milk’)
  • sẹn num. ‘two’

yěnn-âs: ḥátta uyéṭ yěmmút!

(The poet) said to him: “The other also died!”

  • ḥátta part. ‘even, too, also’ from Arabic ḥǝttā
  • uyéṭ ‘other’
  • yěmmút (glossed above)

yěnn-âs: iḥzén s úmm-as

(The sultan) said to him: “(Because) he was sad of his brother.”

  • iḥzén pf.3sg.m. (?) ‘to be sad’ from Arabic verb ḥzn
  • úmm-as n.m. ‘brother’ + 3sg. kinship possessive

yěnn-âs: ḥáttā lallá-tsen tẹ́mmūt!

(The poet) said to him: “Their mother also died!”

  • lallá-tsen n.f. ‘mother’ + 3pl. kinship possessive
  • tẹ́mmūt pf.3sg.f. ‘to die’

yěnn-âs: teḥzén sě děná-nnas.

(The sultan) said to him: “(Because) she was sad of her sons.”

  • teḥzén pf.3sg.f. ‘to be sad’
  • děná-nnas ‘sons’ + 3sg. possessive suffix (not kinship)

yěnn-âs: tagill-ánnek ṭāyyéb?

(The poet) said to (the sultan): “Was your lunch good?”

  • tagill-ánnek n.f. ‘lunch’ + 2sg.m. possessive suffix
  • ṭāyyéb adj. ‘good’ from Arabic ṭāyyib

yěnn-âs: w-ẹ́lli úgǐex adẹ́nax iy-úggīd ẹ́čč dîd-i!

(The sulten) said to him: “That is why I did not want to say to anyone ‘eat with me!’ ”

  • w could be interpreted as the demonstrative wā, which is then followed by the relative pronoun ẹlli (Ar. illī), resulting in the contraction *wā-ẹlli > wẹ́lli.
  • úgǐex pf.1sg. ‘to want’
  • adẹ́nax aor.1sg. ‘to say’ (aorist following the verb ‘to want’)
  • iy-úggīd ‘to’ followed by n. ‘someone’
  • ẹ́čč impv.2sg.m. ‘to eat’
  • dîd-i prep. ‘with’ + 1sg. suffix

– A. Benkato

Sokna Text III: The Good-for-Nothing

This third of five texts collected by Sarnelli (1925: 33) concerns someone who is evidently a good-for-nothing–he has no trade (or rather, his trade is that of a good-for-nothing!), and mostly seems to hang around eating and sleeping with other folk, until this habit gets him into trouble.

There are a number of aorist forms in this text, which seem to have the function of expressing hypothetical as well as habitual actions (also as the main verb of a ‘to want’ construction).

Text III

zěmân ẹ́llân íǧǧěn n ěṭṭufêǐli
Once there was a good-for-nothing

  • zěmân adverbial usage of Arabic zǝmān ‘once, once upon a time’
  • ẹ́llân 3pl.m. ‘(there) were’, existential ‘to be’
  • íǧǧěn number ‘one’
  • n genitive particle ‘of’
  • ěṭṭufêǐli n.m. ‘deadbeat’ (Sarnelli: ‘scroccone’), perhaps from the Arabic diminutive eṭ-ṭufeyl of ṭifl ‘child’ (?).

eṣṣana‘āt-énnes mímmi adiyûf sẹn nax sârěṭ nax áktar
His trade (was that) when he would find two or three or more,

  • eṣṣana‘āt-énnes n.f. ‘trade, craft’ < Arabic aṣ-ṣana‘āt الصنعات with 3sg. possessive suffix
  • mímmi ‘when’
  • adiyûf aor.3sg.m. of af ‘to find’
  • nax ‘or’
  • sẹn number m. ‘two’
  • sârěṭ number ‘three’ (though probably šârěṭ, as in Sarnelli’s glossary). a Proto-Berber numeral! Sokni joins Fogaha and Siwi Berber with š<k (cf. Ghadames kárǎḍ)
  • áktar ‘more’ < Ar. akṯar اكثر with (Western Libyan) dialectal [ṯ] > [t].

adiqqím díd-sẹn lē̱n adiyéčč díd-sen.
He would stay with them until he would eat with them.

  • adiqqím aor.3sg.m. ‘to stay’
  • díd-sẹn conj. ‘with’ + 3pl.m. object pronoun ‘them’
  • lē̱n ‘until’ (probably dialectal Arabic lēn/nēn ‘until’)
  • adiyéčč aor.3sg.m. ‘to eat’ (Sarnelli has the aorist as adičč)

marra yuséd yufâ ifá̱ssen n imarrîwen.
Once he came (and) he found ten men.

  • marra ‘once, one time’ < Arabic marra ‘one time, a time’
  • yuséd pf.3sg.m. ‘to arrive, to come’
  • yufâ pf.3sg.m. ‘to find’
  • ifá̱ssen number ‘ten’, literally ‘hands’ (sg. fūs = ‘five’, literally ‘hand’)
  • imarrîwen ‘men’

itrék eššuġl-énnes azẹ́l udínak we yěqqím díd-sen.
He left his work that day and remained with them.

  • itrék pf.3sg.m. ‘he left’ < Ar. tarak ‘he left’ (probably reflecting a WLA dialect form with initial epenthetic vowel)
  • azẹ́l n. ‘day’
  • udínak ‘that’
  • we conj. ‘and’ < Ar. wa ‘and’
  • yěqqím pf.3sg.m. ‘he stayed’
  • díd-sen ‘with them’

yěnn-âs íǧǧen sě ġúr-sen: mádd i-išuġǎl-é̱nnek!
One of them said to him: “Go to your work!”

  • íǧǧen ‘one’
  • sě ġúr-sen sě-ġúr ‘from’ (Fogaha s-ġúr ‘from’, see El-Fogaha III), sen is the 3pl.m. indirect object clitic; ‘one of them’, literally ‘one from them’
  • mádd impv.2sg. ‘go’
  • i- directional particle i ‘to, toward’
  • išuġǎl-é̱nnek n. ‘work’ + 2sg.poss. ‘your’ (I assume the initial i to be the Arabic definite article, rather than part of the Sokni directional particle i/iyi).

yěnn-âs: lā līẖ šûġǔl xēr nē wā!
He [the good-for-nothing] said to him: “I have no work better than this!”

  • lī-ẖ pf.1sg. ‘to have’
  • xēr Arabic comparative adjective خير xēr ‘better’
  • usually ‘of’, but following comparatives ‘than’ (cf. Ar. xēr min ‘better than’)
  • pronoun ‘this’

yěnn-âs: bâlek anněmmúḥbes!
He [the other guy] said to him: “Maybe we will be imprisoned!”

  • bâlek adv. ‘maybe’ < Libyan Arabic bālǝk ‘maybe’ (ultimately from Turkish)
  • anněmmúḥbes aor.1pl. (medio-passive -mm-), Berber conjugation of an Arabic root (Libyan Arabic yeḥbes ‘to be in prison’)

yěnn-âs: rětíx! am nīš, am kīníu; wu yeqqím.
He said to him: “Fine with me (lit. I agree)! Like me, like you”; and he remained.

  • rěṭíx pf.1sg. ‘to agree’, from Arabic rḍw (with [ḍ] rendered as [ṭ]–this shows the underlying Arabic dialect rendering of [ḍ] rather than ELA [ð̣])
  • am ‘like, as’, though in the previous text this had a long vowel: ām
  • nīš 1sg. personal pronoun ‘I’
  • kīníu 2pl.m. personal pronoun ‘you’

sagín-ten wu ssikmẹ́n-ten d íǧǧit n tâsqâ, wa qqěsẹ́n fellâ-sen.
They led them and made them enter a house, and closed (the door) on them.

  • sagín-ten pf.3pl.m. + 3pl.m. direct object suffix ‘they led them’
  • ssikmẹ́n-ten causative + 3pl.m. direct object ‘they made them enter’
  • d preposition ‘in’
  • íǧǧit n tâsqâ n. ‘a house’, literally ‘one of house’ (íǧǧit is f.)
  • wa qqěsẹ́n pf.3pl.m. ‘and they closed/locked’ (Sarnelli: ōqqěs ‘to close/lock from outside’)
  • fellâ-sen preposition ‘on’ + 3pl.m. object pronoun ‘them’

yeglíg eṭṭufêili wu yěqqím qârîb i-îmi n tawō*rt.
The good-for-nothing was disturbed, and remained near to the doorway.

  • yeglíg impf.3sg.m. Arabic verb ‘to be disturbed’
  • qârîb ‘near’ from Arabic qarīb (note the interesting phenomenon of two Arabic loans appearing next to each other, each with a different realization of qaf; the first is no doubt a more recent loan, as no contemporary Libyan Arabic dialects have q.)
  • i– directional particle ‘to, toward’
  • îmi n. ‘mouth’ (i.e. the opening of the door, or doorway)
  • tawōrt ‘door’

yuséd ěssâyáf, yurâ tasergilt, yufâ ěṭṭufêǐli nẹ́tta ěddûni.
The executioner came, opened the lock, (and) found the good-for-nothing, he (was) bad(?).

  • yuséd pf.3sg.m. ‘he came’
  • ěssâyáf n. ‘executioner’ < Arabic السياف es-sayyāf ‘executioner, swordsman’
  • yurâ pf.3sg.m. ‘he opened’
  • tasergilt n.f. ‘lock’
  • yufâ pf.3sg.m. ‘he found’
  • nẹ́tta 3sg.m. independent pronoun ‘he’
  • ěddûni perhaps meaning something like ‘bad’ (some Arabic dialects have dūnī ‘bad’)

yussufō*ġ-t, ya‘bâ asíḥḥar.
He tossed him out, (and) wanted to kill (him).

  • yussufōġ-t pf.3sg.m. causative of yeffọ́ġ ‘to exit, go outside’ + 3sg.m. direct object clitic
  • ya‘bâ pf.3sg.m. ‘he wanted’ (takes an aorist verb)
  • asíḥḥar aor.3g.m. of the verb aḥḥar ‘to kill’ (originally from Arabic nḥr).

yeqqím itéll wu yěnnâs: nīš ingî sě ġúr-sen!
He began to weep and said to him: “I am not one of them!”

  • yeqqím itéll pf.3sg.m. yeqqím functions as inchoative with following impf. itéll 3sg.m. ‘to cry, weep’
  • nīš 1sg. personal pronoun ‘I’
  • ingî ‘not’ (Fogaha nk-)
  • sě ġúr-sen ‘one of them’, literally ‘one from them’ (see above)

yuzén assîyáf išâwar lěḥkûmet.
The executioner sent himself off (and) consulted the authorities.

  • yuzén pf.3sg.m. ‘he sent’
  • išâwar impf.3sg.m. of Arabic verb يشاور īšāwǝr ‘to consult’
  • lěḥkûmet n.f. ‘government’ from WLA l-eḥkūma

ěnnân-ās: ōḍbaḥîm-as anẹddiyûsěd.
They said to him: “Call him (and) we will come.”

  • ěnnân-ās pf.3pl.m. ‘they said’ (compare innân- in text II) + 3sg. indir.obj. pronoun
  • ōḍbaḥîm-as impv.2pl.m. ‘you call him’. the initial ō is odd, but the Arabic text simply has an alif.
  • anẹddiyûsěd aor.1pl. ‘we will come’

yèmmadd-âsen eṭṭufêǐli ii-lěḥkûmet, yěnn-âsen: eṣṣanǎ‘āt-énnu ěl‘amr-é̱nnu kúll ṭufêǐli.
The good-for-nothing went to them, to the authorities, (and) said to them: “My trade, for my whole life (is that of) a good-for-nothing.”

  • yèmmadd-âsen pf.2sg.m. ‘he went’ + 3pl. indirect object ‘to them’
  • ii-lěḥkûmet directional particle i-/iyi- + n. ‘government, authorities’ (note double marking of indirect object of the verb)
  • eṣṣanǎ‘āt-énnu 1sg. possessive ‘my work, trade’
  • ěl‘amr-é̱nnu 1sg. possessive ‘my life’ (with ěl‘amr probably reflecting Arabic li-‘amr-ī ‘for my life’, rather than ěl- being the definite article.)
  • kúll ‘all, whole’ < Arabic kull ‘all’

yěnn-âs el-ḥâkim: in kān atétrāk eṣṣana‘āt-énnek, aksárrax.
The judge said: “If you leave your trade, I’ll set you free.”

  • el-ḥâkim n. ‘judge’ < Arabic el-ḥākim ‘judge’
  • in kān atétrāk conditional construction headed by Arabic in kān ‘if’
  • eṣṣana‘āt-énnek 2sg.m. possessive ‘your trade’
  • aksárrax aor.1sg. (?) Sarnelli’s transcription has aksárrah (with -h not -ẖ), even though the Arabic text has ح [ḥ]; perhaps the dot was just omitted, since we’d expect a 1sg. ending here.

yěnn-âs: térkěẖ eṣṣân‘āt ěddâl ḥáttā kān ‘ázzǎmen fěllâ, āmadíx abādé̱n!
(The good-for-nothing) said to him: “I have (already) abandoned this trade. Even if they invited (me), I would never go!”

  • térkěẖ pf.1sg. ‘I left’ of Arabic root taraka ‘to leave’
  • ḥáttā kān Arabic conditional ‘even if’, followed by perfect verb
  • ‘ázzǎmen pf.3pl.m. of Arabic verb ‘azzam ‘to invite’
  • fěllâ This preposition has not yet occurred without an indirect object suffix, so I’m not completely sure what its function is here. Perhaps it is just a peculiar form of the 1sg., with féll– marking the object of the verb (note that in Awjili felli- becomes felliwi in the 1sg.).
  • āmadíx aor.1sg. ‘to go’
  • abādé̱n adv. ‘never’ from Arabic abadan ‘never’
 -A. Benkato

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 ‘(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’ + ‘wife’ + 3sg.m. possessive pronoun
  • bāb n gen.poss. construction ‘owner of’
  • tafunâst ‘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. < 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 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 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 ‘old woman’ + 1pl. possessive suffix

-A. Benkato

Sokna Text I: A Man and a Pomegranate Tree

This post is the first in a series of (re)translations of the published texts of the Berber language of the Sokna oasis in west-central Libya, in the same manner as the series of translations of Aujila Berber on this blog. I give here text, translation, and linguistic notes; the comments section, as always, is open for contributions.

The Berber language (once?) spoken in the oasis of Sokna (سوكنة) in west-central Libya is particularly interesting for our purposes. We don’t really know if it is still spoken, or by whom, because the most recent documentation of the Sokna language was in the 1920s. In fact, the single publication with any information about Sokni is a small collection of texts translated into Italian, accompanied by a rather unfulfilling Italian-Sokni glossary (and hardly any grammatical or linguistic commentary) by an Italian, Cap. Dott. Tommaso Sarnelli (1924). The texts that I present here will be re-translations based on Sarnelli’s transcriptions. Despite its merit in being the only substantial record of Sokni, his publication has numerous shortcomings. The glossary, for example, does not include any Arabic loans, and sometimes does not even include Sokni words from his own texts! There is no linguistic analysis or commentary, and no attempt to give even a basic sketch of the grammar. One also wonders how he arrived at his transcriptions, since he states that the stories were first written down for him in Arabic script (Sarnelli, 4). Presumably they were read aloud later, though this is not explicitly mentioned.

According to Sarnelli’s main informant, Shaykh Hassouna Ben Mohammed ad-Dakshi (“considered the best living speaker of the native language…”), in 1915 only about 40 or 50 people could understand the language, while only 4 or 5 could speak it fluently (ibid, 3). This does not bode well for our hopes of finding any native speakers.

Sarnelli seems to have been aware of the work of Rohlfs, a German explorer of the Sahara, who claimed to have drafted a dictionary and grammar of Sokni in the 1870s (unfortunately ‘lost’ during Rohlfs’ other travels in the desert). Rohlfs had characterized Sokni as “the most imperfect and the poorest of all Berber languages”; but Sarnelli strongly disagreed with this and found fault with a few of Rohlfs’ comments.

The Sokni language is relatively closely related to that of el-Fogaha (الفقهاء), a nearby oasis in central Libya, but they probably should not be grouped as one language as the scholarship up until now does. There is clearly some historical connection between the two; for example, inhabitants of both claim historic descent from the same geographic origin—Sāgya el-Ḥamra in southern Morocco. We hope to explore the nature of this relationship by working simultaneously on the published texts of Sokna and Fogaha Berber.

N.B. For some reason, Sarnelli sometimes puts asterisks (*) after long vowels–I have no idea what this is supposed to indicate, but I’ve left them in the transcription anyway. WLA means Western Libyan Arabic.


íǧǧěn ně mmār ilâ eššéžret n arěmmûn, arěmmūn-énnes mo̱qqâr

One man had a pomegranate tree, his pomegranate(-tree) (was) big.

  • íǧǧěn ně mmār ‘one man’. Genitive particle with epenthetic vowel; corresponding lengthening of initial m of mār?
  • mār ‘man’ pl. immariwen. This word for man is only otherwise attested  for Berber in El-Fogaha (see Richardson’s Sokna I, forthcoming).
  • i-lâ ‘have’
  • eššéžret ‘tree’ (< WLA eššǝžǝra ‘tree’), with -t of fem. construct state.
  • n genitive particle ‘of’
  • arěmmūn-énnes n. + 3sg.m.poss.pron.suff. ‘his pomegranate (tree)’. Rather than from Ar. rumān ‘id.’, the final long vowel hints at a possible Phoenician loan(?), in which Sem. ā  > Phoenician ū (via Canaanite ō), cf. Colin, Etymologies Maghrébines, Hespéris 1927: 88.
  • mo̱qqâr ‘big’ adj. deriv. of common berber verb *mɣr ‘to be big’. Compare Auj. amoqqǝrán ‘big, old’. Or, could be a stative verb.

iwî laḥmél n ameḳtâr iyi-ssẹ́lṭān, yessûṣēl-t.

He brought a donkey-load to the Sultan, and caused it to arrive(?).

  • iwî of âwid ‘he brought, carried’ (?)
  • laḥmél ‘load’ < Ar. l-(ǝ)ḥmǝ́l ‘load’, WLA CCvC nominal pattern with l-; takes gen. n ‘load of…’
  • ameḳtâr ‘ass, donkey’
  • iyi-ssẹ́lṭān dir.part. iyi + ssẹ́lṭān ‘sultan’ borrowed from Ar. with es-sulṭān ‘to the sultan’
  • yessûṣēl-t 3sg.m.impf. must be a causative derivation of Ar. yūṣel ‘to arrive’. The only way to explain the ē seems to be the tendency of imperfects of causatives to insert a long vowel before the final root consonant. (cf. Auj. impv. sg. š-îšef; impf. 1sg. š-išâfḫ ‘to sieve’), with a shift /ā/ to /ē/ in Sokni. Compare Auj. uṣǻlen /uṣǝ́lǝn/. The shift in the Sokni form seems to be some unusual imāla-like phenomenon, but I haven’t yet checked for comparison. The -t is the 3sg.m.dir.obj. clitic.

arěmmûn yèssěkkém-t laḥdîm, dě mār ět-tamektārt-énnes bẹ́dden d imî n tásqā.

The servant brought in the pomegranate (tree), and the man and his she-donkey halted under the entrance of the house.

  • yèssěkkém-t 3sg.m.impf. of causative ‘he brought it, made enter’ + -t 3sg.m.dir.obj. suffix. For the verb, cf. Fog. sékem ‘introdurre’ < ákem ‘entrare’.
  • laẖdîm n. < dial. Ar. l-exdīm ‘the worker, servant’. WLA noun shape.
  • ět-tamektārt-énnes ‘she-ass’ + 3sg.poss.pron. ‘and his she-ass’, note assim. of d/dě to fem. circumfix t-…-t *d-tamektārt > *t-tamektārt > ěttamektārt
  • bẹ́dden 3pl.impf. of bẹd ‘they stopped, halted’
  • imî ‘entrance (lit. mouth)’
  • n tásqā ‘of the house’

yuséd azzabṭi ěssẹ́n imarrîwen ẹ́nġả’’n iǧǧẹn ně mmār, suggarẹ́n-tën i-láḥbes.

An officer came with two men (who had) killed one man; they wanted them to (go to) prison.

  • yuséd of âsed ‘he came’. Compare Auj. yušâd; the shift to š is unconditional.
  • azzabṭi ‘officer’? from Ar. eð-ð̣ābiṭ (dial. ẓābiṭ?)
  • ěs-sẹ́n ‘two’, epenthetic vowel ě (to avoid initial CC)
  • imarrîwen ‘men’
  • ẹ́nġả’’n 3pl.m.aor of ‘to kill’. Not sure why Sarnelli inserts ’’.
  • iǧǧẹn ně mmār ‘one man’ (poss. constr. with gen. n)
  • suggarẹ́n-tën of issúgger ‘to want’+ -ten 3pl.m. dir.obj.suff. ‘they wanted them’
  • i-láḥbes from Ar. ḥabs ‘to prison’. note syllable structure of Ar. borrowing: CCvC as in WLA

šâwrěn fěll-âsen essẹ̌lṭân, yěnn-âsên: sagít-ten iyi-láḥběs.

They consulted about them, the sultan said to them: bring them to prison.

  • šâwrěn < Ar. šāwara III ‘to consult’ (cf. Ar. šūra ‘council’)
  • fěll-âsen ‘about them’ -ā
  • yěnn-âsên of mẹ́n ‘to say’ + 3pl.m.indir.obj.suff. ‘to them’
  • sagít-ten 2pl.impv. + 3pl.m. dir.obj.suff. ‘bring them’
  • iyi-láḥběs dir.part. iyi + Ar. noun ‘to the prison’. It is odd that the immediately preceding sentence has i- and here is iyi-.

sagín-těn, ítni dè bāb n tamektârt.

They led them – they and the owner of the she-ass.

  • sagín-těn + 3pl.m.dir.obj.suff. ‘they led them’
  • ítni 3pl.m.pron. ‘they’
  • ‘and’
  • bāb ‘father, owner’

ummuḥábsen sānā*.

They were imprisoned for a year.

  • ummuḥábsen (-mm- usually a middle/reciprocal prefix) of Ar. root ḥabbas ‘to imprison’
  • sānä ‘year’ < Ar. sana ‘year’

s igö*f ně lě‘âm yěnšẹ́d essẹ́lṭān sě bāb n tamektârt ẹ́mmik iṣâr dg-īs we bā tā usân-ās.

At the beginning of the year, the Sultan asked about the owner of the donkey, how (he) happened (to be) in it, and what they gave to him.

  • s ‘with, by, at’
  • igöf ‘head, beginning’ cf. iġọ̣́f
  • lě‘âm ‘one year’ < Ar. ‘ām ‘year’
  • yěnšẹ́d ‘he asks’ < dial. Ar. yenšed ‘to ask’
  • must mean ‘about’ here
  • ẹ́mmik ‘how’
  • iṣâr ‘happened’ < Ar. ṣār ‘to happen’ (?)
  • dg-īs ‘in’ 3sg.m.
  • bā tā ‘what’
  • usân-ās (misprint in Sarnelli for ušân?) of ‘they gave’ + ‘him’ 

ufân-t dē lěḥábs.

They found him in the prison.

  • ufân-t of af ‘to find’ + 3sg.m.dir.obj.suff. ‘him’
  • lěḥábs ‘prison

yěsseḥědō*r-t essẹ́lṭān we yěstâ‘dr-ās wu yěnnâ-s: nettâ-k.

The sultan caused him to appear (before him) and asked him for pardon and said to him: I had forgotten you.

  • yěsseḥědōr-t 3sg.m.impf.caus. (< Ar. ḥaḍara ‘to make appear’). Note lengthening of final vowel to long /ō/ (lengthening seems to be a phenomenon with the Sok. caus.), but why /ō/ and not /ē/?
  • yěstâ‘dr-ās vb. < Ar. yista‘ðar ‘to excuse oneself, to ask for pardon’ + 3sg.m.indir.obj.suff. ‘him’.
  • nettâ-k (royal plural?) + 2sg.m.indir.obj.suff. ‘you’ (cf. Foq. úttu ‘to forget’; Ghd. ǝttu ‘to forget’; Kb. əţţ ‘to forget’; Nef. étta ‘to forget’). This word is misprinted in Sarnelli as rettâk, but the handwritten Arabic looks like n; definitely not r.

we yěkkér dîd-ēs yěssekém-t iyi-lḵā*znet n elmā**l yěnn-âs: âwi ělḥāml-énnek sāl bā tā tsuggârě-t.

And he got up with him and brought him in to the treasure room (and) said to him: take your load of what you want.

  • yěkkér of ékker ‘he rose up’
  • dîd-ēs conj. + 3sg.m.obj.suff. ‘with him’
  • yěssekém-t ‘he brought it in’ (parsed above)
  • iyi-lḵāznet n elmāl dir.part. iyi + noun phrase (i)lḵāznet ‘storeroom’ < Ar. xazna + elmāl ‘wealth, treasure’ < Ar. māl ‘id.’
  • âwi 2sg.m.impv. ‘carry, take’ (?)
  • ělḥāml-énnek n. ‘load’ (note difference from earlier laḥmél ‘id.’) + 2sg.m.poss.suff. ‘your’
  • sāl ‘from’, note Pan-Berber s (see Richardson’s Sokni I, forthcoming).
  • tsuggâr-ět 2sg.impf. ‘you want’

iwí íg̃ǧẹn n assrẹ́m yennâ-s essẹ́lṭān: ẹ́mmik sā?

(He) took one axe. The sultan said to them: how (is it) so? (i.e. why?)

  • íǧǧẹn n assrẹ́m ‘one axe’ (poss. construction with gen. particle n)
  • ẹ́inmik sā ‘how so’

yènn-âs: ummuḥébsaẖ sě sebéb n aremmûn, suggâreḵ atténkōṭ, satrîži!

(He) said to him: (I was) imprisoned because of the pomegranate, I want to cut (it), please!

  • yènnâ-s ‘he said’ + 3sg.m.indir.obj.suff. ‘him’
  • ummuḥébsaẖ ‘(I was) imprisoned’ (-mm- passive) < Ar. ḥabbas ‘to imprison’
  • sě sebéb n ‘by reason of’ (constr. parallel to Ar. bi-sabab + iḍāfa), sebéb ‘reason, cause’ < Ar. sabab
  • suggâreḵ ‘I want’
  • atténkōṭ impf. ‘to cut’ cf. énkōṭ (< Ar. naqada with q > k?). The text in Arabic script doesn’t display a long ō, however.
  • satrîži 2sg. (cf. Nef. itréžža “pregare (persone)”) < dial. Ar. 2sg. itrāžī “wait” (?). Not really sure what this form is supposed to be.

ušān-ās laḥmēl-énnes uráǧ.

(But) he gave him his load (of) gold.

  • ušān-ās of aš ‘they gave’ + 3sg.m.indir.obj.suff. ‘him’
  • laḥmēl-énnes n. ‘load’ + 3sg.m.poss.suff. ‘his’. The second long vowel /ē/ is rather odd, and the Arabic text reads simply الحمل. Perhaps a resyllabification of earlier laḥmél (“mobile schwa”) [p.c. Lameen].
  • uráǧ n. ‘gold’

-A. Benkato


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.