Sunday, January 27, 2019

Hausa in Tamanrasset

On a recent trip to Tamanrasset, Algeria's southernmost significant city, I was not surprised to see lots of signs in Arabic and French, and not too surprised to see a significant minority of signs with Tamahaq (Tuareg) content; if I have the time I'll post later on the Tifinagh alphabet they used, closer to traditional Tifinagh than the version used in the north but still quite conspicuously modernised. But I hadn't fully appreciated how much immigration Tamanrasset attracts from the south these days, and even allowing for that I wasn't expecting to see Hausa signs as well. There was much more Hausa spoken than written, of course - on our brief trip through Tafsit market, I heard probably as much Hausa as Arabic, and even in the upmarket souvenir shops Hausa music was playing some of the time. But one Hausa expression had clearly made its way into the visual linguistic landscape of the town: over and over again, I saw little unpretentious-looking restaurants labelled with various spellings, in both Latin and Arabic script, of the Hausa phrase mai nama, "meat owner" (ie meat seller). Most of my pictures were blurry, but one came out - here it is.