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From:Danny Wier <dawier@...>
Date:Saturday, January 11, 2003, 0:07
I've mentioned, from time to time, the fact that a few minor languages
around the world really interest me in some way. Usually it's some phonetic
feature, since I know MUCH more about phonology than other aspects of
linguistics. I've talked a lot about Georgian, and Irish Gaelic was one of
my first major inspirations. Another language I've kinda fallen in love with
is Tamazight, or Berber, spoken in Morocco, Algeria, and Spanish territory
in northwest Africa. It's part of the Berber branch of Afro-Asiatic, and
probably most closely related to Egyptian.

A sample from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:



Yesbudan d yesse ran deg wegraw amatu seg use ti-s 217 A. (III) di 10
dujember 1948


Imi asmussen n lh.werma i ttalasen akkw ya^ggalen n twachult talsawt d
yizerfan n sen yemsawan, d nitni i d llsas n tlelli, taghdemt akkw d- tifrat
deg wmadal (di ddunit).

Imi kra n widn nesmussun ara izerfan n wemdan d widn ih.eqqren s lkhwedm n
lewh.uch yesserfayen tamsakwit n talsa akkw d- tlilin umadal and'ara hedren
u and'ara yamnen yemdanen s tlelli idg ur yelli la aserh.eb la lmizirya, d
nettat i d asirem a^layan n wemdan.

Imi tebbwi -- dd nnig kra yellan ad ttuh.udden izerfan n wemdan s nnidam
azerfan i wakkn ur yettuh.errs ara wemdan di taggara alamma yughal d amnafeg
d.add temh.eqranit akkw d unaghur.

Imi yessefk ad tennerni tegmi d wassaghen n tmidwa d lemh.ibba gar


You're probably asking, Where did all the vowels go? Yeah, there are some
weird consonant groups in that, not to mention those C-with-no-V enclitics.
The doubled initial consonants are the result of assimilation. There are
also "emphatics", pharyngealized consonants, just like in Arabic (some, like
/s~/, are only found in Arabic loans like |s.abun| "soap"). Those have dots
beneath them in writing. <a> with a circumflex accent is Arabic <ayn>, if
I'm not mistaken. There are a few digraphs: <ch> is /S/ (as in French), <kh>
is /X/, <gh> is /R/, and <gw> and <kw> are of course labialized velars. Like
Arabic, there is no /p/ in the language, except maybe in certain dialects
and loanwords.

In Kabyle, another Berber language, stops can be spirantized, along the same
lines as Biblical Hebrew, adding /B/ (or /v/?), /T/, /D/, /x/, /g/, /xw/ and
/gw/ to the inventory.

This is one of several Romanizations represented here; the language is also
written in Arabic script. However, it's best written in the Tifinagh
alphabet, which uses rather simple geometric shapes. There should be
increased usage, now that the Internet has helped unite the scattered Berber

Unfortunately, I know next to nothing about grammar; I did find an old
Tamazight-French dictionary:



Danny Wier <dawier@...>
Mangiat <mangiat@...>