Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Siwi on Wikipedia

I am not a big fan of Wikipedia, despite its usefulness. To contribute good material to it - and there is a lot of wonderful material there - is to make an article look reassuringly reliable. That appearance of reliability then makes the article prime prey for anybody with an ideological or even commercial agenda to push: one little edit, and their propaganda is integrated into the same text, gaining credibility from its context, and getting copied over and over and over. Nevertheless, the insistent niggling itch of knowing that "someone is wrong on the internet" eventually got to me, and last month I ended up massively expanding the article Siwi language - including a fairly extensive section on Siwi oral literature. Suggestions or comments are welcome, although I make no promises.

7 comments:

Ian said...

Nice, looks great (although I admit I never looked at it before).

I agree with your appraisal, but at the same time I value Wikipedia quite a bit. I think if you approach it with the right amount of skepticism it can be hugely helpful, but the content certainly needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

David Marjanović said...

Very informative. Everything I always wanted to know but wasn't aware enough of to ask! :-)

Whygh said...

It's nice to have a reliable Wikipedia article about a language. I've always wanted to visit Siwa...

The list of researchers is very handy, and I wish lists like that were more widespread. That said, the nature of such lists is that they need maintenance, more so than the language page itself.
Is there a Wiki template someplace for interlinear texts?
I'd be interested to know if the Siwa and Gara (Qara in WP) communities have any dialectal distinction. Could you put some comments in about the linguistic history of Siwi and how fits within the Berber family?

Incidentally, are tlá 'shadow' and ftk 'open' Arabic loans, or AA cognates?

Eli said...

In the phonology section, it surprised me a bit that the non-pharyngealized rhotics are realized as [ɾ] [r:], but the pharyngealized rhotics are [rˤ] [rˤ:] with a trill and not a tap/flap for the short/singleton as well as the long consonantl. Is there a phonetic or historical explanation for this asymmetry?

David Marjanović said...

Oh, is the asymmetry even real? Lots of people transcribe single-contact trills as flaps, as if they had anything in common with the American flap sound.

Lameen Souag الأمين سواق said...

Whygh: Not much data is available for the variety spoken at Gara, but enough to indicate that if there are differences they aren't very large. It seems to be slightly more conservative though.

tlá (from proto-Berber *t-ele) is neither a loan nor a cognate (the t is just a feminine prefix). əftək "open" is a good candidate for a genuine cognate, since we also find it in Tuareg: Tamasheq əftək "split (wood, lengthwise, with an axe)". But even that isn't always sufficient for ruling out shared borrowing from Arabic.

Eli, David: For the flap/trill asymmetry, you'll have to ask Christfried Naumann - I haven't done any strictly phonetic work on Siwi. But I think David's right about it being a single-contact trill.

protouralic said...

I've sometimes seen a contrast made between taps (overshort plosives, as in American English) vs. flaps (single-contact trills, as in Spanish); with an ad hoc IPA extension to retain [ɾ] for the latter, introduce [ᴅ] for the former.