Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Berber dictionary online

A link I've been meaning to post for a while: Amawal n Tiddukla Tadelsant Imedyazen. The guy behind it, Omar Mouffok, deserves credit for his efforts to document Kabyle dialects outside of the mainstream, like the one spoken near Blida; many entries indicate which regions the word is used in, though unfortunately a fairly impenetrable system of abbreviations is used. Translations into French, Spanish, and Arabic are given for some words, but many are only given definitions in Kabyle.

4 comments:

Moubarik Belkasim said...
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Moubarik Belkasim said...

Yeah the great Amawal in a new form. I gotta give the tip of the hat to my Kabylian brothers who are really putting out some good efforts into the language, unlike we Moroccans whose laziness (with Berber) has reached cosmological-constant-status!

How do you see the loose and pretty uncontrollable amateur-dominated field of Berber neology?

If I remember correctly, Salem Chaker expressed in one of his books his resentment and concern about the hasty and amateurish strides of Berber neology undertaken by amateurs (like me :D). I think he gave the Berber/Algerian neologism "tusnakt" (mathematics) as an example of a not well-thought one.

By the way, do you happen to know the "etymology" or at least the rationale behind "tamsulta" (police)? Does it come from "assulṭa" (power, in Ar.)?

Is Anṣuf (welcome) a genuine Berber word or just a neologism?

What about the proposed "amtiweg" for "planet"? And "asmil" for "comet"?

David Marjanović said...

Obviously, I cannot comment any Berber neologism at all. But I can offer the fact that, mostly in the 18th and early 19th century, thousands of neologisms were coined in German to replace French and Latin loans. Something like half of them have survived (and only specialists know they're neologisms), the other half has been completely forgotten (except by specialists) and, for the most part, sounds utterly ridiculous when unearthed.

In other words, a Darwinian approach can work: invent with abandon, and watch what survives.

Estonian contains neologisms that aren't derived from anything but are completely made up from scratch. But that's an easily controllable language with few speakers (for European standards).

Lameen Souag said...

To be honest, I have no idea where any of those words come from! I was once told a word for "comet" by an old man from the Ait Atta in Tabelbala: it was bu-tbbib. I suspect that's an Arabic loan somehow, but it's not an obvious one. He had some wonderful stuff to say about astronomy - he said once he had come across a meteorite still hot from its landing when he used to herd his flocks in the desert...