The 33 letters of Tifinagh alphabet, according to IRCAM (Royal Institute of Amazigh Culture), and below the correspondences in the Berber Latin alphabet.
The 33 letters of Tifinagh alphabet, according to IRCAM (Royal Institute of Amazigh Culture), and below the correspondences in the Berber Latin alphabet.

Tifinagh (Berber pronunciation: [tifinaɣ]; also written Tifinaɣ in the Berber Latin alphabet; Neo-Tifinaɣ: ⵜⵉⴼⵉⵏⴰⵖ; Tuareg Tifinagh: ⵜⴼⵉⵏⵗ or ⵜⴼⵏⵗ) is an abjad script used to write the Berber languages.[1]

A modern alphabetical derivative of the traditional script, known as Neo-Tifinagh, was introduced in the 20th century. A slightly modified version of the traditional script, called Tifinagh Ircam, is used in a number of Moroccan elementary schools in teaching the Berber language to children as well as a number of publications.[2][3]

The word tifinagh is thought by some scholars to be a Berberised feminine plural cognate of Punic, through the Berber feminine prefix ti- and Latin Punicus; thus tifinagh could possibly mean "the Phoenician (letters)"[4][5] or "the Punic letters". Others support an etymology involving the verb efnegh, meaning to write. [6]

Origins

Libyco-Berber
Prehistory-draa16.jpg
Script type
Time period
Sometime during the 1st millennium BCE to the 7th century CE
Directionleft-to-right Edit this on Wikidata
LanguagesNumidian
Related scripts
Parent systems
Child systems
Tifinagh

Tifinagh is believed to have descended from the ancient Libyan (libyque) or Libyco-Berber script, although its exact evolution is unclear.[7] The latter writing system was widely used in antiquity by speakers of the largely undeciphered Numidian language, also called Old Libyan, throughout Africa and on the Canary Islands. The script's origin is uncertain, with some scholars suggesting it is related to the Phoenician alphabet.[8] Its first appearance is also uncertain, but it is no older than the first millennium BCE,[9] with the oldest remains likely originating from the 6th-century BCE.[10] It disappeared in the northernmost areas of North Africa during the 8th-century, after the Arab conquest of the Maghreb, and Lybico-Berber along with Latin being replaced by the Arabic script.[11]

There are two known variants: eastern and western. The eastern variant was used in what is now Constantine and the Aurès regions of Algeria and in Tunisia. It is the best-deciphered variant, due to the discovery of several Numidian bilingual inscriptions in Libyco-Berber and Punic (notably at Dougga in Tunisia). Since 1843, 22 letters out of the 24 have been deciphered. The western variant was more primitive (Février 1964–1965). It was used along the Mediterranean coast from Kabylia 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 took different forms when written vertically than when they were written horizontally.[12]

Tuareg Tifinagh

Tifinagh
Kidal.jpg
Entrance to the town of Kidal. The name is written in Tifinagh (ⴾⴸⵍ/ Kdl) and Latin script.
Script type
Time period
unknown to present
Directionleft-to-right Edit this on Wikidata
LanguagesTuareg
Related scripts
Parent systems
Child systems
Neo-Tifinagh

The Libyco-Berber script is used today in the form of Tifinagh to write the Tuareg languages, which belong to the Berber branch of the Afroasiatic family. Early uses of the script have been found on rock art and in various sepulchres. Among these are the 1,500 year old monumental tomb of the Tuareg matriarch Tin Hinan, where vestiges of a Tifinagh inscription have been found on one of its walls.[13]

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."[7]

Occasionally, the script has been used to write other neighbouring languages such as Tagdal, which belongs to a separate Songhay family.

Orthography

Traditional Tifinagh
Traditional Tifinagh

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 it from l. Similarly, ln is ||/, nl |//, ll ||//, nnn |/|, etc.

Traditionally, the Tifinagh 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

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Neo-Tifinagh
Tamazgha.png
Script type
Time period
1980 to present
Directionleft-to-right Edit this on Wikidata
LanguagesStandard Moroccan Berber and other Northern Berber languages
Related scripts
Parent systems
ISO 15924
ISO 15924Tfng, 120 Edit this on Wikidata, ​Tifinagh (Berber)
Unicode
Unicode alias
Tifinagh
U+2D30–U+2D7F
 This article contains phonetic transcriptions in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA. For the distinction between [ ], / / and ⟨ ⟩, see IPA § Brackets and transcription delimiters.

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 use; 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 Neo-Tifinagh 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. The Moroccan state arrested and imprisoned people using this script during the 1980s and 1990s.[14] The Algerian Black Spring was also partly caused by this repression of Berber languages.[15]

In Algeria, almost all Berber publications use the Berber Latin Alphabet.

In Libya, the government of Muammar Gaddafi consistently banned Tifinagh from being used in public contexts such as store displays and banners.[16]

After the Libyan Civil War, the National Transitional Council has shown an openness towards the Berber languages. The rebel Libya TV, based in Qatar, has included the Berber language and the Tifinagh alphabet in some of its programming.[17]

Letters

This section’s hatnotes may be too long to read and navigate comfortably. Please consider splitting content into sub-articles, condensing it, or adding subheadings. Please discuss this issue on the article's talk page. (December 2021)

"ⴹ" redirects here. Not to be confused with E (disambiguation).

"ⴸ" redirects here. Not to be confused with V (disambiguation).

"ⵁ" redirects here. Not to be confused with Ø (disambiguation).

"ⴻ" redirects here. For the mathematical symbol, see ÷.

"ⵈ" redirects here. Not to be confused with Three dots (disambiguation).

"ⵊ" redirects here. Not to be confused with I (disambiguation).

"ⵌ" redirects here. For the mathematical symbol, see Number sign.

"ⵍ" redirects here. For the Cyrillic letter, see И.

"ⵑ" redirects here. Not to be confused with ! (disambiguation).

"ⵔ" redirects here. Not to be confused with O (disambiguation).

"ⵕ" redirects here. Not to be confused with Q (disambiguation).

"ⵗ" redirects here. For the punctuation mark, see .

"ⵝ" redirects here. Not to be confused with X (disambiguation).

"ⵣ" redirects here. For the rapid transit system, see MTR. For the Cyrillic letter, see Ж.

"ⵧ" redirects here. Not to be confused with -- (disambiguation).

"⵰" redirects here. For the katakana, see .

An IRCAM version of Neo-Tifinagh
An IRCAM version of Neo-Tifinagh

The following are the letters and a few ligatures of traditional Tifinagh and Neo-Tifinagh:[18]

Unicode Image Font Transliteration Name
Latin Arabic IPA
U+2D30
2D30.png
a ا æ ya
U+2D31
2D31.png
b ب b yab
U+2D32
2D32.png
b ٻ β yab fricative
U+2D33
2D33.png
g گ ɡ yag
U+2D34
2D34.png
g ڲ ɣ yag fricative
U+2D35
2D35.png
dj, ǧ ج d͡ʒ Berber Academy yadj
U+2D36
2D36.png
dj, ǧ ج d͡ʒ yadj
U+2D37
2D37.png
d د d yad
U+2D38
2D38.png
d ذ ð yad fricative
U+2D39
2D39.png
ض yaḍ
U+2D3A
2D3A.png
ظ ðˤ yaḍ fricative
U+2D3B
2D3B.png
e ه ə yey
U+2D3C
2D3C.png
f ف f yaf
U+2D3D
2D3D.png
k ک k yak
U+2D3E
2D3E.png
k ک k Tuareg yak
U+2D3F
2D3F.png
ⴿ k ک x yak fricative
U+2D40
2D40.png
h
b
ھ
ب
h
b
yah
= Tuareg yab
U+2D41
2D41.png
h ھ h Berber Academy yah
U+2D42
2D42.png
h ھ h Tuareg yah
U+2D43
2D43.png
ح ħ yaḥ
U+2D44
2D44.png
ʕ (ɛ) ع ʕ yaʕ (yaɛ)
U+2D45
2D45.png
kh (x) خ χ yax
U+2D46
2D46.png
kh (x) خ χ Tuareg yax
U+2D47
2D47.png
q ق q yaq
U+2D48
2D48.png
q ق q Tuareg yaq
U+2D49
2D49.png
i ي i yi
U+2D4A
2D4A.png
j ج ʒ yaj
U+2D4B
2D4B.png
j ج ʒ Ahaggar yaj
U+2D4C
2D4C.png
j ج ʒ Tuareg yaj
U+2D4D
2D4D.png
l ل l yal
Unicode Image Font Transliteration Name
Latin Arabic IPA
U+2D4E
2D4E.png
m م m yam
U+2D4F
2D4F.png
n ن n yan
U+2D50
2D50.png
ny ني ɲ Tuareg yagn
U+2D51
2D51.png
ng ڭ ŋ Tuareg yang
U+2D52
2D52.png
p پ p yap
U+2D53
2D53.png
u
w
و
ۉ
w yu
= Tuareg yaw
U+2D54
2D54.png
r ر r yar
U+2D55
2D55.png
ڕ yaṛ
U+2D56
2D56.png
gh (ɣ) غ ɣ yaɣ
U+2D57
2D57.png
gh (ɣ) غ ɣ Tuareg yaɣ
U+2D58
2D58.png
gh (ɣ)
j
غ
ج
ɣ
ʒ
Aïr yaɣ
= Adrar yaj
U+2D59
2D59.png
s س s yas
U+2D5A
2D5A.png
ص yaṣ
U+2D5B
2D5B.png
sh, c (š) ش ʃ yaš (yac)
U+2D5C
2D5C.png
t ت t yat
U+2D5D
2D5D.png
t ت θ yat fricative
U+2D5E
2D5E.png
ch, č (tš) تش t͡ʃ yatš (yač)
U+2D5F
2D5F.png
ط yaṭ
U+2D60
2D60.png
v ۋ v yav
U+2D61
2D61.png
w ۉ w yaw
U+2D62
2D62.png
y ي j yay
U+2D63
2D63.png
z ز z yaz
U+2D64
2D64.png
z ز z Tawellemet yaz
= Harpoon yaz
U+2D65
2D65.png
ژ yaẓ
U+2D66
2D66.png
e   e ye (APT)
U+2D67
2D67.png
o   o yo (APT)
U+2D6F
2D6F.png
 ⵯ +ʷ + ٗ ʷ Labio-velarization mark
= Tamatart
≈ <super> 2D61
Digraphs (for which ligatures are possible)
Unicode Image Font Transliteration Name
Latin Arabic IPA
U+2D5C U+2D59
2D5C.png
2D59.png
ⵜⵙ ts تس t͡s yats
U+2D37 U+2D63
2D37.png
2D63.png
ⴷⵣ dz دز d͡z yadz
Unicode Image Font Transliteration Name
Latin Arabic IPA
U+2D5C U+2D5B
2D5C.png
2D5B.png
ⵜⵛ ch (tš) تش t͡ʃ yatš
U+2D37 U+2D4A
2D37.png
2D4A.png
ⴷⵊ dj دج d͡ʒ yadj
Color Key
Basic Tifinagh (IRCAM)[19] Extended Tifinagh (IRCAM)[18] 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 range for Tifinagh is U+2D30–U+2D7F:

Tifinagh[1][2]
Official Unicode Consortium code 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 14.0
2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points

References

  1. ^ To a limited extent: See Interview Archived 2008-05-03 at the Wayback Machine with Karl-G. Prasse and Penchoen (1973:3)
  2. ^ "Institut Royal de la Culture Amazighe" (in French). Ircam.ma. Archived from the original on April 25, 2008. Retrieved 2015-07-14.
  3. ^ "Institut Royal de la Culture Amazighe". Ircam.ma. Archived from the original on April 21, 2008. Retrieved 2015-07-14.
  4. ^ Penchoen (1973:3)
  5. ^ O'Connor (2006:115)
  6. ^ D. Vance Smith. "Africa's ancient scripts counter European ideas of literacy". Aeon. Retrieved 2021-06-24.
  7. ^ a b M.C.A. MacDonald (2005). Elizabeth A. Slater, C.B. Mee and Piotr Bienkowski (ed.). Writing and Ancient Near East Society: Essays in Honor of Alan Millard. T.& T.Clark Ltd. p. 60. ISBN 9780567026910.
  8. ^ Suleiman, Yasir (1996). Language and Identity in the Middle East and North Africa. Psychology Press. p. 173. ISBN 978-0-7007-0410-1.
  9. ^ Papers of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, p. 129
  10. ^ Written Culture in a Colonial Context: Africa and the Americas 1500 - 1900, p. 11
  11. ^ Landscapes, Sources and Intellectual Projects of the West African Past: Essays in Honour of Paulo Fernando de Moraes Farias, p. 185
  12. ^ "Berber". Ancient Scripts. Archived from the original on 2017-08-26. Retrieved 2017-10-09.
  13. ^ Briggs, L. Cabot (February 1957). "A Review of the Physical Anthropology of the Sahara and Its Prehistoric Implications". Man. 56: 20–23. doi:10.2307/2793877. JSTOR 2793877.
  14. ^ "Rapport sur le calvaire de l'écriture en Tifinagh au Maroc". Amazighworld.org. Retrieved 2017-10-09.
  15. ^ "Algérie: 10 ans après son « printemps noir », la Kabylie réclame justice – Jeune Afrique". JeuneAfrique.com (in French). 2011-04-20. Retrieved 2021-05-08.
  16. ^ سلطات الامن الليبية تمنع نشر الملصق الرسمي لمهرجان الزي التقليدي بكباو [Libyan security authorities to prevent the publication of the official poster for the festival traditional costume Pkpau] (in Arabic). TAWALT. 2007.
  17. ^ "Libya TV – News in Berber". Blip.tv. Retrieved 2015-07-14.[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ a b P. Andries, Proposition d'ajout de l'écriture tifinaghe. Organisation internationale de normalisation, Jeu universel des caractères codés sur octets (JUC). ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 2 WG, vol.2, p.2739R, 2004.
  19. ^ "Polices et Claviers Unicode" (in French). IRCAM. Archived from the original on 2012-03-10. Retrieved 2012-08-20.

Bibliography