Sunday, February 10, 2013

Kabyle vocab 1: Verbs of motion

I've been taking advantage of being in Paris to attend some Kabyle classes. However, the classes are in French - as are all the textbooks - and I find that I memorise vocabulary more easily when English equivalents are presented. So I'm going to experiment with writing up vocabulary lists and posting them online periodically, on the theory that these might be useful to Anglophone learners other than myself, and that putting them together will be good for my memory. For today, the theme will be verbs of motion. I find that knowing facts about a word's wider connections makes me more likely to remember it, but that may just be me, so if you don't, feel free to ignore them...

Go: ṛuḥ "go!", yeţṛuḥ(u) "he goes", iṛuḥ "he went". This verb, obviously, is borrowed from colloquial Arabic ṛuḥ (like its Siwi counterpart ṛuḥ, iteṛṛaḥ, iṛaḥ); it is quite commonly used, but there is a more purist alternative:

Go: ddu "go!", iṯeddu "he goes", yedda "he went". This verb is also used with the same meaning in Tashelhiyt; it's probably related to Tamasheq idaw, itidaw, ǎddew "accompany, go with". Example: Tom yebɣa ad yeddu ɣer Japun.

Come: as "come!", yeţţas "he comes", yusa "he came". This nearly pan-Berber verb is usually combined with the particle -d "hither (towards here)"; in Siwi, that particle has fused with the stem, yielding héd, itased, yused. Example: Yusa-d ɣer Japun asmi ay yella d agrud.

Pass: ɛeddi "pass!", yeţɛeddi / yeţɛedday "he passes", iɛedda "he passed". This verb, widespread in both Berber and dialectal Arabic, is from Arabic عدا "he passed", as the generally un-Berber ɛ betrays. Siwi retains fel, iteffal, yefla "pass / depart"; the rarer cognate verb (fel, yeffal, ifel) in Kabyle means "go over". Example: ɛeddaɣ fell-as deg wezniq.

Arrive: aweḍ "arrive!", yeţţaweḍ "he arrives", yebbʷeḍ (yuweḍ) "he arrived". Siwi instead uses an Arabic loan mraq, imerraq, yemraq; but it retains a causative of the original root, siweṭ. Example: aql-ik tuwḍeḍ-d zik.

Go up: ali "go up!", yeţţali "he goes up", yuli "he went up". The similarity to Arabic على is probably just a coincidence, since the Tashelhiyt equivalent is eɣli. Siwi uses an equally Berber but unrelated form wen, itewwan, yuna, also found in Tashelhiyt (awen); Kabyle retains a causative of this root, ssiwen "go up (eg road)", and a commoner noun, asawen "(up) a rising slope". Example: La ttalyeɣ isunan.

Go down: aḏer "go down!", yeţţaḏer "he goes down", yuḏer "he went down". Siwi again uses an equally Berber but unrelated form ggez, iteggez, yeggez, also found in Tashelhiyt (ggʷez). Example: La ttadreɣ isunan.

Go in: ḵcem "go in!", iḵeččem "he goes in", yeḵcem "he went in". The same verb is used in Tashelhiyt; Siwi uses a cognate form kim, itekkam, ikim. Example: Ttxil-k, kcem-d.

Go out: ffeɣ "go out!", iṯeffeɣ "he goes out", yeffeɣ "he went out". The same verb is used in Tashelhiyt. and (with a trivial regular vowel change) in Siwi f̣f̣eɣ, itef̣f̣aɣ, yef̣f̣aɣ. Example: Zemreɣ ad ffɣeɣ ad urareɣ?

Or, in a form more suitable for quick self-testing:

go upali
go downaḏer
go inḵcem
go outffeɣ

Comments and suggestions welcome, especially if you speak Kabyle!


MnarviDZ said...


I always assumed that you knew Kabyle so I am surprised to learn that you're... learning it :)

When you said a more "purist" alternative to ruh I expected you to say "elhu" which is the equivalent of "ruh" in Tizi-Ouzou.

As for 'ddu", although we use it as a synonym of "ruh" it is more often use to say "walk". Also, compared to "ruh", it has a nuance of "accompanying".

Lameen Souag الأمين سواق said...

Well, I'm not exactly a beginner, but I've got a long way to go before I start to become fluent. Like most people from Dellys, I don't consider myself Kabyle; I didn't grow up speaking it, and neither did my grandparents. But, given that I'm studying Berber and come from the edge of Kabylie, it seems ridiculous not to learn it.

It makes sense that ddu should have a nuance of accompanying - that was probably the original meaning. How would you say "Walk, don't run"?

MnarviDZ said...

I'd say "ddu, u-tazzal-ara"

I forgot to add two other synonyms of aTar (go down). You may hear "Sob" or "Arres". Which is interesting because exactly like with asawen (up), the word for down is different (aksar).
Any thoughts?

Mmi-s n Tmurt said...

Great post, thanks.

Don't they have "uyur" / "ugur" / "ujur" in Kabylian for "to walk" or "to go"?

In the Rif (on Morocco's northern coast) we have "ruḥ" (with a non-emphatic R), "uyur" / "ugur" / "ujur" for "go/walk/depart". They overlap a lot. For "Walk, don't run" you would say in the Rif: "Uyur, wer ttazzel" or "Uyur, wer ttazzeř ca".

Lameen Souag الأمين سواق said...

Thanks. I came across a verb corresponding to aksar in a Berber text from Sened recently, so it does exist; I'll see if I can find out more.

I've heard a version of ugur from the Sahara, around Touggourt. Don't think it exists in Kabyle, but who knows...

Aεamriw n Tizi said...

I saw Uggur in an old René Basset's Lexicon, as an equivalent of ruh'. It seemed to be used in the At Xelfun area in Western Kabylie (Ammal, At 3amran, Thénia). I don't if it is still used nowadays there (as well as the region is in the process to be Arabized pretty soon).