Libyco-Berber script

Tifinagh (Berber pronunciation: [tifinaɣ]; also written Tifinaɣ in the Berber Latin alphabet, ⵜⵉⴼⵉⵏⴰⵖ in Neo-Tifinagh, and تيفيناغ in the Berber Arabic alphabet) is a series of abjad and alphabetic scripts used by some Berber peoples, notably the Tuareg, to write Berber languages.[1]

A modern derivate of the traditional script, known as Neo-Tifinagh, was introduced in the 20th century. It is not in widespread use as a means of daily communication, but often serves to assert a Berber identity politically and symbolically. A slightly modified version of the traditional script, called Tifinagh Ircam, is used in a limited number of Moroccan elementary schools in teaching the Berber language to children.

The word tifinagh is thought to be a Berberized feminine plural cognate of Punic, through the Berber feminine prefix ti- and Latin Punicus; thus tifinagh could possibly mean "the Phoenician (letters)"[2][3] or "the Punic letters".

Origins

Libyco-Berber
Type Abjad
Time period 3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD
Parent systems
Egyptian hieroglyphs
Child systems Tifinagh
ISO 15924 Template:ISO 15924 code, Template:ISO 15924 number
Direction Template:ISO 15924 direction
Unicode alias Template:ISO 15924 alias

Tifinagh may have descended from a script sometimes named the Libyan (libyque) or Libyco-Berber script although the descent is unclear and uncertain.[2].

There are two known variants: eastern and western. The eastern variant was used in what is now Constantine, the Aures region and Tunisia. It is the best-deciphered variant, due to the discovery of several Numidian bilingual inscriptions in Libyan and Punic (notably at Dougga in Tunisia). 22 letters out of the 24 were deciphered. The western variant was more primitive (Février 1964–1965). It was used along the Mediterranean coast from Kabylie to the Canary Islands. It used 13 supplementary letters.

The Libyco-Berber script was a pure abjad; it had no vowels. Gemination was not marked. The writing was usually from the bottom to the top, although right-to-left, and even other orders, were also found. The letters would take different forms when written vertically than when they were written horizontally.[6]

Tuareg Tifinagh

Tifinagh
Type Abjad
Languages Tuareg language
Time period ?? to present
Parent systems
Egyptian hieroglyphs
Child systems Neo-Tifinagh
ISO 15924 Template:ISO 15924 code, Template:ISO 15924 number
Direction Template:ISO 15924 direction
Unicode alias Template:ISO 15924 alias

The Libyco-Berber script survived in the writing of the Tuareg language.

According to M.C.A. MacDonald, the Tuareg are "an entirely oral society in which memory and oral communication perform all the functions which reading and writing have in a literate society… The Tifinagh are used primarily for games and puzzles, short graffiti and brief messages."[4]

Occasionally the script has been used to write other neighboring languages, such as Tagdal Songhai.

Right: Entrance to the town of Kidal. The name is written in Tifinagh (ⴾⴸⵍ) and Latin script.

Orthography


Common forms of the letters are illustrated at left, including various ligatures of t and n. Gemination, though phonemic, is not indicated in Tifinagh. The letter t, +, is often combined with a preceding letter to form a ligature. Most of the letters have more than one common form, including mirror-images of the forms shown here.

When the letters l and n are adjacent to themselves or to each other, the second is offset, either by inclining, lowering, raising, or shortening it. For example, since the letter l is a double line, ||, and n a single line, |, the sequence nn may be written |/ to differentiate in from l. Similarly, ln is ||/, nl |//, ll ||//, nnn |/|, etc.

Traditionally the script does not indicate vowels except word-finally, where a single dot stands for any vowel. In some areas, Arabic vowel diacritics are combined with Tifinagh letters to transcribe vowels, or y, w may be used for long ī and ū.

Neo-Tifinagh

Neo-Tifinagh
Type Alphabet
Languages Standard Moroccan Tamazight and other northern Berber languages
Time period 1980 to present
Parent systems
Egyptian hieroglyphs
ISO 15924 Template:ISO 15924 code, Template:ISO 15924 number
Direction Template:ISO 15924 direction
Unicode alias Template:ISO 15924 alias
Unicode range U+2D30–U+2D7F
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Neo-Tifinagh is the modern fully alphabetic script developed from earlier forms of Tifinagh. It is written left-to-right.

Until recently, virtually no books or websites were published in this alphabet, with activists favouring the Latin (or, more rarely, Arabic) scripts for serious usage; however, it is extremely popular for symbolic use, with many books and websites written in a different script featuring logos or title pages using Neo-Tifinagh. In Morocco, the king took a "neutral" position between the claims of Latin script and Arabic script by adopting the Neo-Tifinagh script in 2003; as a result, books are beginning to be published in this script, and it is taught in some schools. However, many independent Berber-language publications are still published using the Berber Latin alphabet. Outside Morocco, it has no official status. Ironically, the Moroccan state arrested and imprisoned people using this script during the 1980s and 1990s.[7]

In Algeria, almost all Berber publications use the Berber Latin alphabet, not Tifinagh.

In Libya, the regime of Gaddafi consistently banned the Berber Tifinagh script from being used in public contexts such as store displays and banners.[8]

After the Libyan civil war, the National Transitional Council has shown an openness towards the Berber language. The independent rebel Libya TV, based in Qatar, has included the Berber language and the Tifinagh alphabet in some of its programming.[9]

Letters


Letters and a few ligatures of traditional Tifinagh and Neo-Tifinagh:

Unicode Image Font Transliteration Name
Latin Arabic IPA
U+2D30
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a ا æ ya
U+2D31
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b ب b / β yab
U+2D32
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
b ٻ b / β yab fricative
U+2D33
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g گ ɡ yag
U+2D34
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
g ڲ ɡ yag fricative
U+2D35
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dj ج d͡ʒ Berber Academy yadj
U+2D36
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dj ج d͡ʒ yadj
U+2D37
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d د d yad
U+2D38
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
d د ð yad fricative
U+2D39
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
ض yaḍ
U+2D3A
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ض ðˤ yaḍ fricative
U+2D3B
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
e ه ə yey
U+2D3C
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f ف f yaf
U+2D3D
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k ک k yak
U+2D3E
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
k ک k Tuareg yak
U+2D3F
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ⴿ k ک k yak fricative
U+2D40
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
h
b
ھ
ب
h
b
yah
= Tuareg yab
U+2D41
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h ھ h Berber Academy yah
U+2D42
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h ھ h Tuareg yah
U+2D43
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
ح ħ yaḥ
U+2D44
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ʕ (ɛ) ع ʕ yaʕ (yaɛ)
U+2D45
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kh (x) خ χ yax
U+2D46
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kh (x) خ χ Tuareg yax
U+2D47
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
q ق q yaq
U+2D48
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
q ق q Tuareg yaq
U+2D49
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
i ي i yi
U+2D4A
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
j ج ʒ yaj
U+2D4B
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
j ج ʒ Ahaggar yaj
U+2D4C
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
j ج ʒ Tuareg yaj
Unicode Image Font Transliteration Name
Latin Arabic IPA
U+2D4D
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
l ل l yal
U+2D4E
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
m م m yam
U+2D4F
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
n ن n yan
U+2D50
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
ny ني nj Tuareg yagn
U+2D51
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
ng ڭ ŋ Tuareg yang
U+2D52
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p پ p yap
U+2D53
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u
w
و
ۉ
w yu
= Tuareg yaw
U+2D54
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r ر r yar
U+2D55
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
ڕ yaṛ
U+2D56
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gh (ɣ) غ ɣ yaɣ
U+2D57
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gh (ɣ) غ ɣ Tuareg yaɣ
U+2D58
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
gh (ɣ)
j
غ
ج
ɣ
ʒ
Aïr yaɣ
= Adrar yaj
U+2D59
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
s س s yas
U+2D5A
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
ص yaṣ
U+2D5B
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
sh (š) ش ʃ yaš
U+2D5C
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
t ت t yat
U+2D5D
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
t ت t yat fricative
U+2D5E
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
ch (tš) تش t͡ʃ yatš
U+2D5F
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
ط yaṭ
U+2D60
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
v ۋ v yav
U+2D61
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
w ۉ w yaw
U+2D62
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
y ي j yay
U+2D63
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
z ز z yaz
U+2D64
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
z ز z Tawellemet yaz
= Harpoon yaz
U+2D65
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
ژ yaẓ
U+2D66
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
e   e ye (APT)
U+2D67
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
o   o yo (APT)
U+2D6F
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
 ⵯ +ʷ + ٗ ʷ Labio-velarization mark
= Tamatart
2D61
Digraphs (for which ligatures are possible)
Unicode Image Font Transliteration Name
Latin Arabic IPA
U+2D5C U+2D59
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
ⵜⵙ ts تس t͡s yats
U+2D37 U+2D63
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
ⴷⵣ dz دز d͡z yadz
Unicode Image Font Transliteration Name
Latin Arabic IPA
U+2D5C U+2D5B
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
ⵜⵛ ch (tš) تش t͡ʃ yatš
U+2D37 U+2D4A
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
ⴷⵊ dj دج d͡ʒ yadj
Color Key
Basic Tifinagh (IRCAM)[10] Extended Tifinagh (IRCAM) Other Tifinagh letters Modern Tuareg letters

Unicode

Main article: Tifinagh (Unicode block)

Tifinagh was added to the Unicode Standard in March, 2005 with the release of version 4.1.

The Unicode block for Tifinagh is U+2D30–U+2D7F. Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points:

TifinaghUnicode.org chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
U+2D3x ⴿ
U+2D4x
U+2D5x
U+2D6x
U+2D7x ⵿
Notes
1.^ As of Unicode version 6.3

References

Bibliography

  • Aghali-Zakara, Mohamed (1994). Graphèmes berbères et dilemme de diffusion: Interaction des alphabets latin, ajami et tifinagh. Etudes et Documents Berbères 11, 107-121.
  • Aghali-Zakara, Mohamed; and Drouin, Jeanine (1977). Recherches sur les Tifinaghs- Eléments graphiques et sociolinguistiques. Comptes-rendus du Groupe Linguistique des Etudes Chamito-Sémitiques (GLECS).
  • Ameur, Meftaha (1994). Diversité des transcriptions : pour une notation usuelle et normalisée de la langue berbère. Etudes et Documents Berbères 11, 25–28.
  • Boukous, Ahmed (1997). Situation sociolinguistique de l’Amazigh. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 123, 41–60.
  • Chaker, Salem (1994). Pour une notation usuelle à base Tifinagh. Etudes et Documents Berbères 11, 31–42.
  • Chaker, Salem (1996). Propositions pour la notation usuelle à base latine du berbère. Etudes et Documents Berbères 14, 239–253.
  • Chaker, Salem (1997). La Kabylie: un processus de développement linguistique autonome. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 123, 81–99.
  • Durand, O. (1994). Promotion du berbère : problèmes de standardisation et d’orthographe. Expériences européennes. Etudes et Documents Berbères 11, 7–11.
  • O’Connor, Michael (1996). The Berber scripts. The World’s Writing Systems, ed. by William Bright and Peter Daniels, 112–116. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Savage, Andrew. 2008. Writing Tuareg – the three script options. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 192: 5–14
  • Encyclopaedia of Islam, s.v. Tifinagh.

External links

  • lbi-project.org, an excellent compilation of images and information]
  • ancientscripts.com
  • ennedi.free.fr
  • (French) Ircam.ma, official website of the Royal Institute of the Amazigh Culture]
    • Ircam – Online lessons in Amazigh and the Tifinagh alphabet
  • mondeberbere.com
  • omniglot.com
  • Unicode character picker for Moroccan Tifinagh
  • Tifinagh Font for Windows
  • ircam.ma
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