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).

Towards a Libyan/Tunisian Berber dialect atlas

The polls on the previously mentioned Libyan Berber site are a wonderful data source, notwithstanding occasional difficulties caused by inexact transcription.  Here are a few more, selected from the minority of posts that include Wazzin:

Sun“: tufut in white, tfuyt/tfwit in green, təfuṯ in dark green:

berber-sun

Son“: təṛwa in white, məmmi in green:

berber-son

Year“: suggəs/sukkəs in white, asəggas/asəggʷas in green, asəkkʷas in dark green, and (Arabic) əlʕam in yellow.

berber-year

Note that, each time, the eastern and western extremes of the Berber-speaking area of Nefusa – Wazzin, Yefren, and Al-Qalaa – group outside of the core Nefusi area and with more Zenati-like dialects of the region.  One gets the same impression from other posts which sadly exclude Wazzin, eg:

Donkey” (حاشاكم:) ziṭ/aziṭ in white, aɣyul in green, aɣɣul in dark green:

berber-donkey

Dog“: yudi in white, aydi / ayəddi in green, ayḏi in dark green, aɣərzul in blue:

berber-dog

That’s not to say, of course, that the central Nefusi dialect area is always homogeneous; there seems to be a certain number of isoglosses separating the Jadu area from the Nalut area.  Consider, for instance:

Figs“: iməṭkən in white, iməṭšan/iməṭšən in green, ifərgas in blue.  (I’ve ignored a few attestations of the Arabic loan kəṛmus, since they are inconsistent.  The form iməṭšən is attested only in the Nalut area, but some speakers from the same areas are writing iməṭšan.)

berber-fig

For all of these varieties, available grammatical descriptions are at best inadequate; practically nothing has been published on the dialects of Yefren, Wazzin, or even the Nalut region.

Two new publications on Eastern Berber

Recently two authors of this blog, Marijn van Putten and Lameen Souag, have both released publications on Eastern Berber languages in the Berber Studies series of Rüdiger Köppe Verlag.

Lameen Souag has released Berber and Arabic in Siwa (Egypt) describing the contact between Siwa Berber and Arabic as well as providing a very useful insight into the grammar and structure of Siwa itself. Besides the main body of the work, there is a large portion dedicated to a fully glossed and translated text, which also has marked accent throughout. For those interested in the accent in Siwa Berber and the Eastern Berber languages in general, this fantastic material.

Marijn van Putten has released A Grammar of Awjila Berber (Libya). A descriptive grammar of the Awjila language based on all the available written sources, most prominently Umberto Paradisi’s work. It includes all Awjila Berber texts fully glossed and translated and a large root based lexicon in the back.

Awjila Berber – MVP

Siwa Berber – LS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Together with the also fairly recently published grammar of Ghadames Berber by Maarten Kossmann (also in the Berber Studies), there certainly is a lot more to read on Eastern Berber than there ever was!

Another version of the Awjili “fire” story

Readers may recall that Aujila Text II presented the local saint Sidi Ahmed Zarruq as being of such sanctity that whatever had prayed behind him, even a piece of meat, would be forever immune from the Fire (of Hell).  Recently I accidentally found a much-abbreviated parallel to this charming but absurd legend rather a long way away – consider the following extract from a Sufi work written in Agadez (in Niger), Qudwat al-Mu`taqid fī Siyar al-‘Ajwād, attributed to Shaykh Aḥmad al-Ṣādiq ibn al-Shaykh Uwāyis al-Lamtūnī.  The original text and a translation are given in Norris’ (1990) Ṣūfī Mystics of the Niger Desert: Sīdī Maḥmūd and the Hermits of Aïr; I have taken the liberty of making the translation more literal.

وكان واحد من أصحابه يصلي ويصلي ونسي حمامة في رأس برنوسه وجعلها في النار ولم تاخذها وذكروا له ذلك فقال لعلك صليت ورائي قال نعم (p. 60)

“One of his companions was praying and praying, and he forgot a pigeon in the hood of his cloak (burnus) and he put it in the fire, but it did not burn it.  They mentioned what had happened to him (the Shaykh).  He said: ‘Perchance you had prayed behind me?’ ‘Yes,’ he answered.” (p. 62)

The shared motif may be much more widespread, for all I know, but its presence in this case is unlikely to be a coincidental similarity, though the shaykh to whom it is attributed here is Sidi Mahmud Al-Baghdadi.  According to Barth (1851:143), many people of the Agadez region claim Awjili ancestry, and the two areas were traditionally linked by trade.