Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Libyan Berber and a remarkable Laghouat archaism

In case you ever wondered where in Libya Berber languages are spoken, check out this map at Tawalt. Note at least two oases that don't get any mention in the Ethnologue - Ubari and al-Fogaha.

I was talking to a guy from Laghouat the other day, and it turns out that in that area people say `ma عما rather than more widespread Maghreb Arabic m`a معا for "with". This is rather interesting, in the light of Aramaic `am and Hebrew `im... wonder whether it's a coincidence, or a Syriac borrowing somehow picked up by an Arab tribe en route to Algeria? Anyone heard of another Arabic dialect where this happens?

7 comments:

Patrick Hall said...

Hi there,

I can't resist observing the amusing coincidence that the place name smack in the middle of that map of Libya looks a bit like it says "Libya" in cursive Latin script!

I've been a (quiet) fan of your blog for some time, wandered in via Languagehat. :)

Cheers,
Pat Hall

bulbul said...

Hi there,

first time reader, already a big fan :o)

I vaguely remember a similar phenomenon in a Maltese dialect, i.e. ma' > 'am > am. Unfortunately, I can't confirm this, but I will try to find the source of the information.

Lameen Souag said...

Thanks - sounds worth checking; it might well have a wider distribution in Maghreb dialects.

Anonymous said...

Libya = ILIVYEN in the berber language spoken befor the arabs oppressors arrive theier with thier camels today the berber language are not allowe even though in the street of libya by the folish men Kaddafi
help sos world for the berber people

Anonymous said...

North africa is berber we are comming back to restore ower lands and identite ,for many cenetries the berber poppulation stragelled against the :Romain ,the phenician ,spanish the italyen the french and now with the arabs the battle just begain
chek teh link below :www.makabylie.info
or thamazgha.org and ther is many
ofberbere@yahoo.fr

MB said...

Hello ! About your comment on a Syriac borrowing, I recently learned that the possessive pronoun in Syriac is "dīl" (I hope I'm not mistaken?). it's surprisingly similar the maghrebi pronoun (at least the one used in Algiers) : dyal-i. Do you happen to know its etymology ?

Lameen Souag الأمين سواق said...

Syriac dîl is from dî "which, of" plus l- "to". The etymology of Algerian Arabic dyal is controversial, but one proposal would derive it from a form *dhi'a related to Classical ذي plus l- "to"