Tuareg dialects belong to the South Berber group and are sometimes regarded as a single language (as for instance by Karl-Gottfried Prasse
). They are distinguished mainly by a few sound shifts (notably affecting the pronunciation of original z
). The Tuareg varieties are unusually conservative
in some respects; they retain two short vowels where Northern-Berber languages have one or none, and have a much lower proportion of Arabic loanwords
than most Berber languages.
The Tuareg languages are traditionally written in the indigenous Tifinagh
alphabet. However, the Arabic script
is commonly used in some areas (and has been since medieval times), while the Latin script
is official in Mali
– language of the Kel Ahaggar
, and Kel Ajjer
spoken in Algeria, western Libya
and in the north of Niger by around 77,000 people. Also known as Tahaggart.
- Tamasheq – language of the Kel Adrar (also known as Adrar des Ifoghas), spoken in Mali by approximately 500,000 people.
- Air Tamajaq – language of the Kel Ayer (sometimes spelled Aïr), spoken in Niger by approximately 250,000 people.
- Tawellemet – language of the Iwellemmeden, spoken in Mali and Niger by approximately 800,000 people. The term Iwellemmeden (the name of the people) is sometimes used to denote the language.
- Tamashaq language of Kal Asakan.
(ms, 2006) lists the following as separate languages, with dialects in parentheses:
The Tuareg languages may be written using the ancient Tifinagh
(Libyco-Berber) script, the Latin script
or the Arabic script
. The Malian national literacy program DNAFLA
has established a standard for the Latin alphabet, which is used with modifications in Prasse's Lexique
and the government literacy program in Burkina, while in Niger a different system was used. There is also some variation in Tifinagh and in the Arabic script.
Tifinagh usage is now restricted mainly to writing magical formulae, writing on palms when silence is required, and in letter-writing.
The Arabic script is mostly in use by tribes more involved in Islamic learning, and little is known about its conventions.
Traditional Tifinagh, including various ligatures of t and n. Gemination is not indicated. Most of the letters have more than one common form. When the letters l and n are adjacent to themselves or to each other, the second one is inclined: ⵍ ("l"), ⵏⵏ ("nn"), ⵍⵏ ("ln"), ⵏⵍ ("nl"), ⵍⵍ ("ll"), ⵏⵏⵏ ("nnn").
The DNAFLA system is a somewhat morphophonemic
orthography, not indicating initial vowel shortening, always writing the directional particle as < dd⟩, and not indicating all assimilations
(e.g. ⟨Tămašăɣt⟩ for [tămašăq]).
In Burkina Faso the emphatics are denoted by "hooked" letters, as in Fula
, e.g. ⟨ɗ ƭ⟩.
The vowel system includes five long vowels, /a, e, i, o, u/ and two short vowels, /ə, ă/ (on this page, /ă/ is used to represent IPA
[æ]). Some of the vowels have more open "emphatic" allophones that occur immediately before emphatic consonants, subject to dialectal variation. These allophones include [ɛ] for /e/ and /i/ (although /i/ may be less open), [ɔ] for /o/ and /u/ (although /u/ may be less open), and [ă] for /ə/.
Karl Prasse argued that /e/ goes back to Proto-Berber
, while /o/ is derived from /u/.
Comparative evidence shows that /ə/ derives from a merger of Proto-Berber */ĭ/ and */ŭ/.
Sudlow classes the "semivowels" /w, j/ with the vowels, and notes the following possible diphthongs: /əw/ (> [u]), /ăw/, /aw/, /ew/, /iw/, /ow/, /uw/, /əj/ (> [i]), /ăj/, /aj/, /ej/, /ij/, /oj/, /uj/.
The consonant inventory largely resembles Arabic: differentiated voicing; uvulars, pharyngeals (traditionally referred to as emphatics) /tˤ/, /lˤ/, /sˤ/, /dˤ/, /zˤ/; requiring the pharynx muscles to contract and influencing the pronunciation of the following vowel (although /lˤ, sˤ/ only occur in Arabic loans and /ɫ
/ only in the name of Allah
/ŋ/ is rare, /ʒ/ is rare in Tadraq, and /ħ, ʕ/ are only used in Arabic words in the Tanəsləmt dialect (most Tamasheq replace them with /x, ɣ/ respectively).
The glottal stop
is non-phonemic. It occurs at the beginning of vowel-initial words to fill the place of the initial consonant in the syllable structure (see below), although if the words is preceded by a word ending in a consonant, it makes a liaison
instead. Phrase-final /a/ is also followed by a phonetic glottal stop
Gemination is contrastive.
Normally /ɣɣ/ becomes [qː], /ww/ becomes [ɡː], and /dˤdˤ/ becomes [tˤː].
/q/ and /tˤ/ are predominantly geminate. In addition, in Tadraq /ɡ/ is usually geminate, but in Tudalt singleton /ɡ/ may occur.
Voicing assimilation occurs, with the first consonant taking the voicing of the second (e.g. /edˤkăr/ > [etˤkăr]).
turns word/morpheme-final /-ɣt, -ɣk/ into [-qː] and /-kt, -ɟt, -ɡt/ into [-kː] (e.g. /tămaʃăɣt/ > [tămaʃăq] 'Tamasheq'
Contrastive stress may occur in the stative aspect of verbs.
Different dialects have slightly different consonant inventories. Some of these differences can be diachronically
accounted for. For example, Proto-Berber *h
is mostly lost in Ayer Tuareg, while it is maintained in almost every position in Mali Tuareg. The Iwellemmeden and Ahaggar Tuareg dialects are midway between these positions.
The Proto-Berber consonant *z
comes out differently in different dialects, a development that is to some degree reflected in the dialect names. It is realized as h
in Tamahaq (Tahaggart), as š
in Tamasheq and as simple z
in the Tamajaq dialects Tawallammat and Tayart. In the latter two, *z
is realised as ž
before palatal vowels, explaining the form Tamajaq
. In Tawallammat and especially Tayart, this kind of palatalization actually does not confine itself to z
. In these dialects, dentals in general are palatalized before /i/ and /j/. For example, tidət
is pronounced [tidʲət] in Tayart.
Other differences can easily be traced back to borrowing. For example, the Arabic pharyngeals ħ
have been borrowed along with Arabic loanwords by dialects specialized in Islamic (Maraboutic
) learning. Other dialects substitute ħ
respectively with x
The basic word order in Tuareg is verb–subject–object
. Verbs can be grouped into 19 morphological classes; some of these classes can be defined semantically. Verbs carry information on the subject of the sentence in the form of pronominal marking. No simple adjectives exist in the Tuareg languages; adjectival concepts are expressed using a relative verb form traditionally called 'participle'. The Tuareg languages have very heavily influenced Northern Songhay languages
such as Sawaq
, whose speakers are culturally Tuareg but speak Songhay; this influence includes points of phonology and sometimes grammar as well as extensive loanwords.
Tamasheq prefers VSO order; however it contains topic–comment
structure (like in American Sign Language, Modern Hebrew, Japanese and Russian), allowing the emphasized concept to be placed first, be it the subject or object, the latter giving an effect somewhat like the English passive.
Sudlow uses the following examples, all expressing the concept “Men don’t cook porridge” (e denotes Sudlow's schwa):
Again like Japanese, the “pronoun/particle ‘a’ is used with a following relative clause to bring a noun in a phrase to the beginning for emphasis,” a structure which can be used to emphasize even objects of prepositions.
Sudlow’s example (s denotes voiceless palato-alveolar fricative):
The indirect object marker takes the form i/y in Tudalt and e/y in Tadraq.
As a root-and-pattern, or templatic
language, triliteral roots
(three-consonant bases) are the most common in Tamasheq. Niels and Regula Christiansen use the root k-t-b (to write) to demonstrate past completed aspect conjugation:
Tamasheq subject affixes
Conjugation of k-t-b 'write'
The verbal correspondence with the use of aspect; Tamasheq uses four, as delineated by Sudlow:
- Perfective: complete actions
- Stative: "lasting states as the ongoing results of a completed action."
- Imperfective: future or possible actions, "often used following a verb expressing emotion, decision or thought," it can be marked with "'ad'" (shortened to "'a-'" with prepositions).
- Cursive: ongoing actions, often habitual ones.
Commands are expressed in the imperative mood, which tends to be a form of the imperfective aspect, unless the action is to be repeated or continued, in which case the cursive aspect is preferred.
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- ^ Monique Jay, “Quelques éléments sur les Kinnin d’Abbéché (Tchad)". Études et Documents Berbères 14 (1996), 199-212 (ISSN 0295-5245 ISBN 2-85744-972-0).
- ^ "Ethnologue report for language code: thz". Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
- ^ AA list, Blench, ms, 2006
- ^ Sudlow (2001:33–36)
- ^ Briggs, L. Cabot (February 1957). "A Review of the Physical Anthropology of the Sahara and Its Prehistoric Implications". Man. 56: 20–23. JSTOR 2793877.
- ^ Penchoen, Thomas G. (1973). Tamazight of the Ayt Ndhir. Los Angeles: Undena Publications. p. 3.
- ^ Project: Orthography in a plurigraphic society: the case of Tuareg in Niger
- ^ Sudlow (2001:28,35–36)
- ^ Ridouane Ziri, Rachid. "Les différents systèmes d'écriture amazighe" (in French). Retrieved August 19, 2012.
- ^ Bizari, Brahim. "Ecriture amazigh" (in French). Archived from the original on April 5, 2001. Retrieved August 19, 2012.
- ^ Fukui, Yusuf Yoshinori; Walett Mahmoud, Khadijatou. "Alphabets of Tamashek in Mali: Alphabetization and Tifinagh". Archived from the original on February 1, 2004. Retrieved August 18, 2012.
- ^ Osborn, Don (2002). "Base extended-Latin characters and combinations for languages of Mali". Retrieved August 18, 2012.
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- ^ Sudlow (2001:34)
- ^ Sudlow (2001:33)
- ^ a b Sudlow (2001:25)
- ^ K.-G. Prasse (1990), New Light on the Origin of the Tuareg Vowels E and O, in: H. G. Mukarovsky (ed), Proceedings of the Fifth International Hamito-Semitic Congress, Vienna, I 163-170.
- ^ Sudlow (2001:25–26)
- ^ a b Sudlow (2001:26–28)
- ^ Sudlow (2001:26) does not make it clear whether this is a true palatal stop or something else, possibly a front velar stop or some sort of affricate.
- ^ Sudlow (2001:26) doesn't specify whether these are velar or uvular.
- ^ Sudlow (2001:26–7)
- ^ a b Sudlow (2001:27)
- ^ a b c Sudlow (2001:28)
- ^ Sudlow (2001:28–29)
- ^ Note that the geminate is dropped if not followed by a vowel.
- ^ Sudlow (2001:29)
- ^ Prasse 1969, Kossmann 1999
- ^ Prasse e.a. 2003:xiv
- ^ Sudlow, (2001:46)
- ^ Sudlow (2001:48)
- ^ Sudlow & 2001, 1.1.
- ^ Sudlow (2001:118)
- ^ a b Participle form, i.e. "who ..."
- ^ Christiansen 2002, p. 5.
- ^ Sudlow (2001:57)
Last edited on 30 April 2021, at 13:39
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