Thursday, 25 August 2011

The Economist on the Berber Spring

In Springtime for them too?, The Economist reports on the "Berber renaissance taking place across north Africa", alongside the Arab Spring.

The article notes that "Moroccan Berber" has recently been recognised by the Government there. Ethnologue lists Five Berber languages spoken in Morocco: Ghomara, Tamazight (Central Atlas), Tachelhit, Senhaja de Srair, and Tachawit

It includes a short history of written Berber:
A written script for the various Berber dialects was created only in the 20th century. Algeria’s Kabyles, a Berber people said to number 4m, have usually preferred the Latin alphabet, whereas a Tuareg alphabet, called Tifinagh, is now officially used in Morocco and has been adopted by Libyan Berbers who were banned from using it under the colonel. (The Tuareg are nomadic Berber pastoralists living mainly in southern Algeria, eastern Mali and western Niger.)

Although, in the most part, it speaks of Berber Languages as a group, Tamazight is mentioned by name, referred to as: "Tamazight, the Berber tongue". In context, that phrase could be interpreted as having an implied "... spoken in Libya", but a casual reading might assume it is the Berber language. Although not identified as languages, the Tuareg and Kabyle people are also mentioned.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Paul,

    What's being portrayed in the media about the 'Berbers' often lack of information, there's a lot that's unknown about our people.
    I think the thing people should keep in mind, is that there is no 'Arab' in north Africa, aside from a few tribes, scattered mainly near or in, desertic areas(for Algeria - this is the country I know best) who partially share the same gene pool as the Mid-Eastern/Arab population.
    This said, they are an extreme minority.

    The majority of the north African population is made up of individuals, whose ancestry is Berber but speak what is known as arabic dialects, that aren't arabic per se, these regional dialects were shaped through (because of its location as a Mediterranean country) past invadors. The 'Darja' is made up of bits of pieces of old latin, a variety of today's latin languages (french, spanish), turkic, arabic on a "thick layer" of Tamazight. Now this is what the Arabised individuals speak. Then, comes the berber speakers.

    Anyhow, I intially wanted to point out that if we want to talk about Tamazight, we can't look at it and define as Tashawit (that's my original language - Mountains of Aurès Nememcha), Taqbaylit, Tamzabit ect... we have to go back to the roots of things, that is: Zenata, Senhadja ect...

    There is a sort of awakening though, this is how I see it, people are coming back slowly but surely to their roots and learning about themselves and their origins ect...

    I'd also like to say that, on the contrary of media reports, being Berber doesn't necessarily mean being secular. Berbers can be Muslims, Jewish ect... (By the way the same thing happens with Berber Jews that think they are related to the children of Israel mentioned in the scriptures, like some arabised think they are linked to the family of the prophet Muhammad, while it's all false), they tend to confuse religion with origins.

    Anyhow, this blog is nice.