Friday, July 03, 2015

Nasheed in Tumzabt

In honour of the month - and of the harmonious coexistence in Algeria of different branches of Islam, threatened in recent years - here's a rather well-produced bilingual Ramadan nasheed in Arabic and Tumẓabt, the Berber language of the Mzab region far to the south of Algiers:

Apart from its linguistic interest, it's rather interesting semiotically. The first half, in Arabic, presents life in a Saharan oasis as idealised by an oasis-dweller rather than a tourist - no dunes, not much picturesque architecture, just well-watered, well-shaded palm groves, traditional picnic blankets, and lots of happy children. The second half, in Tumzabt with Arabic subtitles, focuses more on religious life - mosques and prayer at odd hours and pages of the Qur'an. Someone put a lot of money into this clip; I don't know anything about its background, but I get the impression that it was intended not just to edify fellow speakers of Tumẓabt but also to show the best possible image of the Mzab to outsiders - perhaps a precautionary PR effort in case of further problems in the region?

Some linguistic features of interest include:

  • The Latin loanword i-bekkaḍ-en "sins", from peccatum;
  • The non-borrowed Berber word Yuc "God";
  • The curious metathesis in dessat < s dat "before, in front of" (I have no explanation for the gemination here either);
  • The coinage ɣiṛu, based on the inherited root "call", for the time before dawn when the first call to prayer is traditionally made, about an hour before the actual time of prayer (thanks to Banouh Nouh-Mefnoune for the details). Similar forms are paralleled sporadically in a number of Berber varieties, but which prayer they refer to depends on the region;
  • The varying forms of the 1st person plural object clitic (if indeed it can still be called a clitic): -aɣen when placed before the verb, as in the first line, but -aneɣ when placed after it;
  • The addition of meaningless -i at the end of the line to make it fit the metre, paralleled in Tashelhiyt. (see comments)

Here's my best effort to transcribe it, minus some of the repetition; corrections welcome.

Yus-ed yur n uẓumi, a-ɣen yerr f etcetmi; [corrected following comments]
The month of fasting has come, let it take us away from sin;
Eṛbeḥ-ed si-s a memmi arrazen n etzeɛmi.
Win from it, my son, the reward of goodness.
Eččer-t fissaɛ ɣiṛu, dessat ma ɣad yedden,
Get up quick before dawn, before the call to prayer,
Esserr n elxiṛ eğrew, a-c reẓmen ibriden;
Gather secret good deeds, roads will open for you;
Yus-əd yur n uẓumi.
The month of fasting has come.

Yus-ed yur n uẓumi, a-ɣen yerr f etcetmi;
The month of fasting has come, let it take us away from sin;
Eṛbeḥ-ed si-s a memmi arrazen n etzeɛmi.
Win from it, my son, the reward of goodness.
S tala-s seṛwa ul-eč, tfarrid-t s ibekkaḍen, [corrected following comments]
Fill your heart from its fount, purify it from sins,
Ezdey i tawwat-eč; a-c yexs Yuc ed midden,
Reconcile with your relatives, God and people will love you;
Yus-əd yur n uẓumi.
The month of fasting has come.

6 comments:

Abu Ilyás said...

Some further details about the clip:
http://www.mzabmedia.com/Portal/?p=2147

Afifay said...

Yus-ed yur n uẓum-i, a-ɣen yerfed cetm-i

I think it should be :

Yus-ed yur n uẓumi, a(d)'(a)ɣen-yerr f tcetmi
The month of fasting has come, let it drive us back from wickedness

aẓumi = fast(ing) verbal noun of the v. ẓum, to fast
aɣen = aneɣ = us
err = to drive back
tacetmi = wickedness, evil from the v. ctem, to be(come) bad

Lameen Souag الأمين سواق said...

Afifay: Thanks! I was wondering if it should be tcetmi, but I couldn't figure out how to make that work with what I thought was the verb. So in Tumzabt the verbal noun "fasting" has a final -i normally? What about the verb I wrote as tferred, later on - is that correct?

Abu Ilyas: Interesting site. Further confirms my impression that this is linked to a broader PR campaign, but maybe that's just me....

Afifay said...

S tala-s eṛwa ul-eč, tferred s ibekkaḍen

should be :

S tala-s seṛwa ul-eč, tfarrid-t s yibekkaḍen
Fill your heart from its fount, and purify it from sins

farra = to empty, ext. to clean, to purify

Lameen Souag الأمين سواق said...

Thank you!

Moubarik said...

In Rif-Berber, northern Morocco, the word for "fasting" is pronounced: "aẓommi" (so the final "i" is part of the noun), and the verb is "ẓomm".

Also "aẓemmi" (sucking), from the verb "ẓemm" (to suck).

"Afessi" (being fast), from the verb "fess" (to be fast).