Works on Ghadames

There are a few works on Ghadames in Arabic, published in Libya, that might turn up interesting leads on its history and language should anyone have the time to delve into them.

One is a grammar of the Berber language of Ghadames in Arabic titled السهل و المسير في تعلم اللغة الامازيغية بلهجة غدامس by Abu Bakr Hārūn. It’s available to order from a UK-based distributor here, though they’re currently sold out due to ‘overwhelming’ demand by Berberologists. There are 484 sayings and prayer formulas accompanying the grammatical remarks.


There are also two catalogues of manuscripts and documents held in Ghadames. The more recent is وثائق غدامس: وثائق تجارية، تاريخية، اجتماعية, published in 1995. It may be ordered online here. It seemingly follows on an older volume (with awesomer cover): فهرس مخطوطات غدامس, published in 1986. Both are by بشير قاسم يوشع. I had a brief flip through both volumes in the library and did not come across any mention of Berber, however, though that may be due to both having been published under the former regime. A more detailed reading might turn up clues.

ghadames-mss1 ghadames-mss2

Here is also a plug for Maarten Kossman’s recent grammatical sketch of Ghadames Berber, the first new monograph on that language in several decades. See the table of contents here.

A map of early 20th-century Awjila


Plan of Awjila from Scarin 1937 (insert between pp. 76 and 77).

Plan of Awjila from Scarin 1937 (insert between pp. 76 and 77).


This map of Awjila comes from a work by the colonial-era Italian “human geographer” Emilio Scarin on the oases of eastern Libya, focusing on Awjila, Jalu, Jaghbub, and Marada. The high density of mosques and tombs of marabouts that Awjila is famous for can clearly be seen.

The term “human geographer” is in quotes because Scarin was evidently a practitioner of the cranium– and lip-thickness–measuring type of fascist racial sciences (just check out his pamphlet “Le oasi del Fezzàn : ricerche ed osservazioni di geografia umana”). Not all of his works were of that type; thankfully the volume from which the above map is taken contains almost nothing of the sort and is full of detailed maps of the oases and plans of vernacular architecture.

Scarin, Emilio. 1937. Le oasi cirenaiche del 29 parallelo. Ricerche ed osservazioni di geografia umana. Firenze.

Recent publications

Two articles by Marijn van Putten, both historical linguistic studies of Libyan Berber varieties, are now published.

“Some notes on the historical consonantism of Awjila” (Folia Orientalia 51, 2014, 257–274) can be accessed at this link. The contents of the entire issue can be viewed here. Hooray for open access!

“Reflexes of the glottal stop in Nefusa and Ghadames” (Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes 105, 2015, 303–314), is not available online for a while but can be consulted in print format (or for an offprint contact Marijn directly or leave a comment below).

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.

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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

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