Archives par étiquette : Tamazight

Boussad Berrichi: «Sortir de l’idéologie entre le latin et le tifinagh»

Boussad Berrichi est docteur en Lettres de l’université de Paris. Etabli au Canada, il est professeur-chercheur dans le domaine berbère et la littérature comparée. Il est aussi l’auteur de Mouloud Mammeri, Amusnaw et l’éditeur scientifique des deux tomes de Mouloud Mammeri, écrits et paroles. Il prépare deux essais, le premier en langue tamazight sur l’œuvre de Mouloud Mammeri, le deuxième en français sur les cosmogonies amazighe kabyle et chinoise en littérature. Dans cet entretien, il nous livre sa position par rapport à la transcription du berbère, très influencée par les travaux de Mouloud Mammeri.

-Vous avez beaucoup travaillé dans vos recherches sur la question de la transcription du berbère et les travaux de Mouloud Mammeri. Quels étaient les arguments de ce précurseur pour défendre le choix de l’alphabet latin ?

Les arguments de Mouloud Mammeri sont scientifiques. DaLmulud a très bien détaillé ses arguments sur le plan technique dans sa réédition en 1988 de Tajerrumt n Tmazight aux éditions Awal-MSH. Il faut rappeler que Mouloud Mammeri a consacré toute sa vie au développement de tamazight, il est l’un des grands spécialistes, pour ne pas dire le plus grand de tamazight. La force de la «scientificité» des travaux de Da Lmulud réside en partie dans sa maîtrise de toutes les variantes de tamazight (kabyle, chaoui, chenoui, mozabite, chleuh, touareg ou tamahaght (tamachaqt), tamazirt au maroc, rifain, siwi, soussi, sennousi, etc.), mais aussi les langues méditerranéennes, tels que le latin et le grec, sans parler de ses connaissances des langues asiatiques comme le russe et le chinois sur le plan linguistique.

Donc, c’est un linguiste grammairien émérite de tamazight, qui a développé la transcription de tamazight en caractères latins. Ecrire tamazight en caractères latins, selon Mammeri, c’est permettre à la langue tamazight de rattraper le temps perdu et déconstruire les blocages historico-politiques qui ont entravé son développement. La transcription en caractères latins a plus d’un siècle d’existence, dont le précurseur de certaines bases est le grand amazighisant Si Amar Ben Saïd Boulifa. Aujourd’hui, l’alphabet latin est le plus utilisé dans le monde. C’est un alphabet universel. Même les langues les plus parlées dans le monde, sans citer l’anglais ou le français, utilisent l’alphabet latin adapté, tel que le chinois, le russe, le hindi pour tout ce qui est scientifique.

Le cas du chinois est très intéressant, car c’est la langue la plus parlée dans le monde, et pourtant de plus en plus de Chinois transcrivent leur langue, mandarin ou cantonnais, en alphabet latin. Cet alphabet est enseigné dans les écoles et universités chinoises. Enfin, l’utilisation des caractères latins adaptés en tamazight par Mouloud Mammeri repose sur des données et perspectives scientifiques et universelles dont il est plus judicieux pour les amazighophones d’adopter cette écriture universelle pour rattraper le retard accumulé à cause des ennemis de tamazight.

-Et que pensait-il du tifinagh alors ?

Pour l’alphabet tifinagh, selon Mouloud Mammeri, il faut avoir encore plus de moyens pour utiliser cet alphabet à l’avenir dans tous les domaines, mais avec l’alphabet latin comme cela se fait en Chine ou ailleurs. Il faut que les gens sortent de cette idéologie binaire, à savoir choisir entre le latin et le tifinagh. Aujourd’hui, il est question de la survie de tamazight dans tous les domaines. Il n’y a rien de contradictoire dans l’utilisation de deux alphabets, à savoir le tifinagh et le latin en même temps, le premier dans le sens symbolique, et le deuxième du point de vue pratique et scientifique. Je précise tout de même que, selon les travaux de M. Mammeri, le tifinagh a besoin de beaucoup de moyens et de temps pour se développer afin que les générations l’adoptent et le maîtrisent. Or, nous n’avons ni le temps ni les moyens.

Donc, le choix de l’alphabet latin est impératif sur tous les plans. Savez-vous que beaucoup de langues utilisent à la fois leur alphabet et les caractères latins, et certaines langues incomprises à cause de leur alphabet compliqué utilisent l’alphabet latin, c’est le cas de l’arabe. Alors, les Amazighs qui veulent avancer et aller vers la modernité doivent écouter les spécialistes de tamazight et adopter leurs recommandations et ne pas écouter les charlatans qui ne savent même pas dire ou écrire une seule phrase correctement en tamazight. Tamazight appartient à ceux qui la parlent, qui l’écrivent et la développent… et qui la rendent encore plus universelle… dont son officialisation comme langue nationale et officielle dans tous les pays africains du Nord (Algérie, Maroc, Tunisie, Libye, Azawad, Niger, Iles Canaries…) est incontournable.

-Ne pensez-vous pas que trancher pour le tifinagh, comme au Maroc, c’est la seule solution rassembleuse qui mettra fin aux spéculations inutiles et permettra au berbère de se développer au niveau académique ?

Le choix du tifinagh au Maroc  laisse la place à beaucoup de spéculations, car toute imposition idéologique laisse la voie à la manipulation des locuteurs et de l’outil de transcription.

-Que disent les spécialistes de tamazight au Maroc ?

Pour eux, l’alphabet latin est le plus viable et fiable dans l’enseignement et autres domaines pour inscrire la transcription de tamazight dans la modernité. Donc, l’officialisation de tamazight au Maroc est une reconnaissance de façade pour le moment, car l’imposition du tifinagh est purement idéologique. Il n’y a pas lieu de choisir entre deux ou trois alphabets aujourd’hui, il est question d’utiliser les caractères latins modernes avec les améliorations techniques que permet la linguistique moderne, mais en même temps l’utilisation du tifinagh dans le cas du symbolique (noms des ministères, écoles, universités, édifices officiels, commerces, etc.), mais aussi l’utilisation de la langue tamazight dans tous les domaines, notamment en politique dont un ministre ou député, voire un président, doit impérativement maîtriser la langue tamazight avec les autres langues pour occuper des postes importants.

-Nous vivons à l’ère du tout numérique et il n’y a jusqu’à maintenant pas d’outils informatiques en langue berbère dignes de ce nom. A quand un vrai clavier amazigh par exemple ?

Ce n’est plus un problème ; un clavier, il suffit d’avoir de l’argent pour que Microsoft et Apple vous fournissent des claviers en tifinagh de tous genres. Or, il est du devoir des «Etats» d’Afrique du Nord de fournir des moyens financiers pour le développement de tamazight (alphabet, langue, etc.) et non de bloquer tout projet novateur pour la renaissance et le développement de tamazight.

Samir Ghezlaoui

EL Watan

COUSCOUS-BÉNÉFICE POUR L’ÉCOLE DE TAMAZIGHT INAS (MONTRÉAL)

Les amis de l’école de tamazight INAS sont heureux de vous inviter, en famille, au COUSCOUS-BÉNÉFICE, qui aura lieu samedi 24 novembre, à 19h00, au Centre Lajeunesse, sis au 7378 rue Lajeunesse, Montréal (métro Jean-Talon). À cette occasion, ils vous ont concocté un programme haut en couleurs.

Au menu :
Couscous
Musique et poésie

Entrée : 30 $
Enfants : – 12 ans, c’est gratuit.La présence de tout un chacun est indispensable pour que l’école INAS continue de dispenser des cours de tamazight à Montréal.
Veuillez confirmer votre inscription avant le 18 novembre.
Les billets sont disponibles au Salon de Thé Tikjda, sis au 3880 rue Bélanger, Montréal
Ou par téléphone : 514 550-4913 / 514 973-1601Sans vous, il n’y aura pas de tamazight ; sans tamazight, vous n’existeriez pas.
———————–
Imedukkal n ugherbaz n tmazight INAS ara d-heggin s lferh imensi ara yilin i lfayda n uselmed tmazight.
Aset-d kunwi d twaculin nwen ass n 24 deg unbir 2012 af 7 n tmeddit ar tansa agi :
Centre Lajeunesse, sis au 7378, rue Lajeunesse, Montréal (métro Jean-Talon).
Ahil :
Seksu
Lmuziga d tmedyazt
Azal unekcum : 30 $Akken ad ikemmel ugherbaz INAS leqdic ines ttxilwat aset-d deg watas yidwen.
Ttxilwat, init-agh-d uqbel 18 deg unbir ma yella ad tasem akken ad awen-nhelli amkan.Tzemrem ad taghem ibeyyiten di lqahwa Tigejda n Mumuh i d-yezgan di
3880 rue Bélanger, Montréal
Ne? siwlet ar wutun n tilifun agi : 514 550-4913 / 514 973-1601Ma ulac tamazight ulac-iken ; ma ulac-iken, ulac tamazight.

BBQ & pique-nique au parc du Lac Lemy

Chers membres de note communauté,

Le comité des parents d’élèves de l’école de Tamazight a Ottawa-Gatineau voudrait organiser un BBQ pique-nique bénéfice. Les profits de ce pique-nique seront utilises pour financer les sorties et autres activités pour les élèves de l’école de Tamazight durant l’année scolaire.

La date proposée est le Dimanche 9 Septembre 2012, de 11h a 18h, au parc du Lac Lemy a Gatineau.

Au menu, il y aura:

  • sandwich Merguez avec boisson et un choix de fruit ou biscuit pour $10.

  • sandwich Hot-Dog avec boisson et un choix de fruit ou biscuit pour $5.

  • boissons, fruits, biscuits, et autres amuse-gueules seront aussi proposes a l’achat séparément.

Il y aura aussi des jeux : soccer, frisbee, survolant et plus encore pour les enfants et les adultes.

Nous aurons besoin d’un minimum de participant(e)s pour pouvoir organiser ce pique-nique. Si vous êtes intéressés, veuillez répondre avant le Mardi 4 Septembre a l’adresse émail ci-dessous en indiquant le nombre de personnes et le choix de sandwich.

Nous avons besoin de bénévoles. Veuillez indiquer votre disponibilité à aider dans votre réponse.

Merci de votre coopération.

Mustapha Aissaoui et Saliha Beguenane – pour le comité des parents d’élèves.

Confirmation émail : atamazight@gmail.com

Tamazight Language Profile

I. The Tamazight language and the Amazigh people


Tamazight or Amazigh language1, also referred to as Berber in western literature, is the language spoken by Amazigh people, the indigenous of Tamazgha (North Africa plus Mali, Niger and the Canary Islands). Before the arrival of the Arabs in that region, which started around the mid-seventh century, Tamazight was spoken all over the area stretching from the Siwa Oasis in western Egypt, extending westward to the Canary Islands through Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco and from the northern coast of the Mediterranean Sea extending southward to Mauritania, Mali and Niger.

Tamazight belongs to the African branch of the Afro-Asian language family, also referred to as Hamito-Semitic in the literature, along with ancient Egyptian and other African languages such as the ones called Cuchitic and Chadic languages, as opposed to the oriental or Semitic branch constituted of semitic languages. Ancient Egyptian is somehow disputed between these two branches (see Vergote, 1970). The question as to whether these languages started in Africa or the Middle East along with the Semitic languages is still controversial and goes beyond the field of linguistics since it involves archaeology, as well as pre-history and paleontology. Although the oriental hypothesis had long prevailed, recent research has brought to new evidence favoring the African alternative hypothesis (Hachid, 2000). It is too early even today to take any hypothesis for granted as more research has to be done in this field. Given the similarities, the possibility that the substrata of these languages are African with an important eastern influence from Semitic languages is the most plausible, although a western influence of Semitic languages from the African branch, namely Egyptian, is not to be excluded.2

It is difficult to put forward any number evaluating the Tamazight-speaking population because no census taking this question into consideration has ever been made in any country in North Africa since decolonization. Tamazight is still spoken today in all the aforementioned countries, with the exception of the Canary Islands, where a cultural movement claiming the revival of Tamazight is growing. Besides Tamazgha, one has to mention the Amazigh Diaspora in Europe and North America, where the Amazigh community is important.

The areas where Tamazigh is spoken are not continuous. Rather, they constitute more or less large islands distant from one another, interrupted by large arabized zones. As a result, Tamazight has survived mostly in somehow naturally ‘protected’ areas. The zones where it is spoken today are either desertic or mountainous while most of the plain zones were arabized. The lack of contact between these areas has led to an important dialectalization process. However, the nature of the dialectical variation is more phonological and lexical than syntactic (grammatical).

Except for the varieties spoken in central Morocco, which has always been referred to as Tamazight, and those spoken by the Tuareg populations, referred to as Tamachaq or Tamajaq3, most other dialects were renamed, locally referred to by names the Arab tribes gave to those areas and their inhabitants when they arrived there.

Morocco: there are three important Tamazight-speaking areas in Morocco. The variety spoken in the Riffian mountainous area (including Ayt Werrayghel, Beni Zennasen, El Hoceima, etc.) is referred to as Tarifit. This variety also includes the form spoken in Melilla and Ceuta, two enclaves located in the Riffian area, which belong to Spain. Heading south, we come across another important Tamazight-speaking area in central Morocco, stretching all along the mountainous Middle Atlas zone. Further south and west is the domain of another variety, referred to as Tachelhit, occupying the Anti-Atlas mountain area and the plains from Sous, stretching from Agadir down to Ifni on the western coast, going as far east as the Draa. The High Atlas mountains somehow represent an intermediate area between the domains of central Moroccan Tamazight and Tachelhit.

In Algeria: the Tamazight-speaking zones in Algeria are less homogenous than in Morocco. Starting from the north, Kabylia represents one of the most important areas where the language is still in use. This is also the area where linguistic and cultural awareness has highly developed among the population. The Kabylia region contains four full administrative departments, Tizi-Ouzou, Bgayet (or Bejaia), Bouira and Boumerdes, although there are some parts in the two latter departments affected by the arabization process. Kabylian Tamazight is also in use in another department, Setif, which borders Bgayet, and more precisely in At Wartilen, Bougaa and the surrounding areas. It is also spoken in the Chenoua region, from Cherchel to Tipasa, located in another department (Tipasa) and, as one heads south, in Haraoua, Metmata and Bel Halima, situated west of Algiers.

The next important area where the Tamazight language is spoken and which we come across as we are heading southwest from Kabylia is another mountainous region, bordering Tunisia, called Aures (Batna and Khenchla). The variety spoken there is locally referred to as ‘Tachawit’.

Other different Tamazight varieties are spoken in many other linguistic islands scattered in different areas such as the south Oranian region, called the Mountains of the Ksours, close to the Algero-Moroccan borders (Ain Ssefra, Figuig, Bechar, etc.) and Algerian Sahara (Mzab, Tougourt, Gourara and Touat and Tidikelt). Further south is the land of the Tuareg, a desert area which stretches into Mali and Niger.

Land of the Tuareg: The Tuareg are among the few Amazigh people to have kept using the name Tamazight, which as we said earlier is the original name of the language, although it is sometimes phonologically altered to Tamachaq, Tamajaq or Tamahaq depending on the area. Accordingly, the people refer to themselves as Imuhagh / Imuchagh / Imujagh, meaning ‘Amazigh people’ or as Kel Tmajaq / Tmachaq / Tmajaq meaning the people belonging to (speaking) the Tamazight language.

Among the areas where the Tuareg people live are the Hoggar and Tasili n Ajjer (in Algeria), and in the mountainous zones of Ayir (in Mali) and Ifoghas (in Niger). The land of the Tuareg also includes an important part in southern Libya, the zone stretching from Ghat to the vicinity of the Fezzan region, as well as some smaller zones in Mauritania and Senegal.

There are three more distinct zones where Tamazight is spoken in Libya besides that within the land of the Tuareg. Starting from the west, the zone called Ghadames, close to the southern Tunisian borders, is almost the continuation of the Ghat, yet with a different dialectical variety. The other zones in Libya include Nalout and Yefren in the Nefousa mountain area in the north, close to the southern border of Tunisia; Zouara on the north litoral; Sokna, and El Fokaha and Awdjila in the east.

In Tunisia, Tamazight is spoken in at least six villages located in the Ksours region, such as in Ghoumarassen, a village located about 300 km from Tunis, stretching south to Majora, Sened, Matmata, Zrawa, Taoujout, Tamezret, Chenini, Douirat and Foum Tatawin, as well as in the island of Djerba.

Unfortunately, the Tunisian government has always adopted strategies that end up forcing the inhabitants to leave these areas. As a result, Arabic-speaking investors take over the most touristic places, while the Amazigh move to already arabized areas.

In Egypt, the Oasis of Siwa is the only zone where Tamazight is spoken in Egypt. The contact between Egyptians and the Amazigh people goes as far back to antiquity as before 950 B.C. By that date, after the Pharaoh Psousenness II had died, an Amazigh4 called Sheshonq I became the Pharaoh of Egypt and ruled from (945-924 B.C.). Sheshonq I, the founder of the 22nd dynasty established his capital city in Bubastis. His dynasty lasted 191 years before it came to an end shortly after the death of Sheshonq V (767-730). By that time, the Amazigh dynasty had many difficulties and Osorkon IV’s rule, son of Sheshonq V who succeeded, was restricted to his home city Tanis and the dynasty’s capital Bubastis. Three millenniums later, the Amazigh presence in Egypt is still maintained by the small Oasis of Siwa where the most eastern variety of the Tamazight language is still in use.

II. A politically hostile environment

In all the above mentioned countries, the Tamazight language is facing an extremely politically hostile environment. Mali and Niger are the only countries where the local varieties are recognized as ‘national’ and the governments have tentatively accepted to cooperate with UNESCO agencies to implement their programs of illiteracy elimination programs and help settle the nomadic population. However, the Nigerian and Malian governments have always remained hostile to any further political concession and recognition. Things are even worse in North African countries (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt) and Mauritania where the language and human rights of the Amazigh are even denied. The arabo-nationalist regimes have always made it clear that no other identity, language and culture other than Arab would be given any official recognition. A policy of Arabization has been whose main objective is to erase Tamazight language, identity and culture. Despite the superficial ‘softening’ of this policy in Algeria and Morocco by accepting Tamazight to be introduced in some universities, the Amazigh population is convinced that the objectives and the opinion of the arabo-islamist regimes have not changed at all.

Tamazight does not have the same chances of survival in all the above-mentioned countries, not because of the nature of the regimes, all of them being equally hostile to the Tamazight language, culture and identity, but because of their numbers. While the Tamazight-speaking population is relatively high in Morocco, Algeria, Mali, Niger and Libya, it is much less so in Tunisia and Egypt, where the regimes are just waiting for its extinction. In all these areas, Tamazight has miraculously survived orally in an extremely hostile political environment. Not until very recently did the Amazigh activists start to provide it a written status. The hope is, however, permitted everywhere since the identity and cultural awareness has grown to its utmost point.

III. Tamazight morphorphology, syntax and phonology


In the present section we are going to provide some data regarding the lexicon, word order and phonetics of Tamazight.

III.1. Phonetics: Tamazight has 41 basic sounds, 3 vowels and 38 consonants.
Vowels: except from the Tuareg varieties which have developed some extra long and short vowels, Tamazight has only three (3) which are: i, u, a.

Schwa: noted as e but is not considered as a vowel.
Besides these vowels, almost all varieties have introduced the neutral vowel called schwa ?.

Consonants: the 36 consonants in use in tamazight are classified as follows:

 

Plosives

b d m t k g q ? (for ?), ? (for ? )
? ? ? ? ? ? ? (pharangealized or ‘emphatic’ consonants)
Fricatives f s z ? x ? h (for a laryngeal) , ? (pharyngeal h).
Labialized kw gw qw ?w
Nasal m n
Laterals l
Thrill r
Semi-vowels y, w (their status being between that of a vowel and that of a consonant.)
Geminates are noted by doubling the corresponding sound, dd tt gg kk qq but are not listed in the alphabet.

III. 2. Lexicon: the lexicon constitutes one of the important domains of dialectic variations among Tamazight dialects. Besides the basic Amazigh lexicon, there are a lot of loans from Arabic, French and Latin. In the Nigerian and Malian Tuareg varieties one can find loans from Haussa and Bambara respectively. Loan words are morphologically integrated in the Tamazight word structure.

III.3. Morphology: Unlike Germanic languages such as English, Tamazight is not a concatenative language. That is, the morphemes conveying grammatical information such as tense, gender, number and person, etc. do not constitute autonomous affixes. Such elements rather appear as amalgamated phonemes, vowels more often, within words.

III.4. Words: words are constituted with a consonantal root and thematic vowels. The consonantal root conveys the semantics (meaning) while the thematic vowels convey grammatical information. For instance, a root such as M?R conveys the meaning of aging, growing old, being elder, etc. It’s combination with other elements will give the following derivations among many others:

m?ar: elder (among the old),
ad yim?ur: he will grow up,
meqqer 5: he has(or is) a grown up,
ameqwran: the elder (among the youth).

III.5. Gender: Tamazight morphology makes a distinction between feminine and masculine.
Masculine: the masculine form corresponds to the neutral form of the word. This neutral form is interpreted as masculine6 by default, namely as opposed to the feminine form.
Feminine: the feminine form is indicated by a double t—t affix (the prefix t- and the suffix -t ). The feminine equivalent of the word am
?ar above is tam?art. However, there are some words whose feminine form contains only the prefix t— such as tarwa (progenitors), tasa (liver).

III.6. Number: both singular and plural forms are used in Tamazight for both masculine and feminine. There are two ways of forming the plural, the regular and the irregular. The former is obtained by alternating the initial vowel of the word and by adding the suffix -n (-in for feminine) to the singular form. The latter is obtained by altering two vowels, the initial one and an other situated within the word. These two ways are exemplified below:

 

regular form singular plural
masculine am?ar (elder) im?arn (elders)
feminine tam?art (elder) tim?arin (elders)

 

irregular form singular plural
masculine asaru 7 isura
feminine tasarut (key) tisura (keys)

III.7. Word order: Tamazight is a basically Verb-Subject-Object language [see (a) below]. The SVO order is possible but it is not the basic order [see (b)]. Because of its rich inflexion, the subject may morphologically absent [see (c)].

 

a. yeswa weqcic aman
Drank the boy water (for the boy drank water)
b. aqcic yeswa aman
The boy drank water
c. yeswa aman
Drank water (for the boy drank water)

III.8. Pronouns: Tamazight has different series of pronouns. All the pronominal paradigms contain ten (10) different pronouns as given in the following table8:

Independent9 Affixes10
paradigm subject direct indirect possessive
1s. Nek (or nekkini) -yi -yi -iw
2s.m. ke?? (or ke??ini) -k -ak -ik
2m.f. kem (or kemmini) -kem -am -im
3s.m. netta -it -as -is
3s.f. nettat -itt -as -is
1p. nekwni -a? (ana? ) -a (ana?) -nne?
2p.m. kwenwi -ikwen -awen -nwen
2p.f. kwennemti -ikwent -akwent -nkwent
3p.m. nitni -iten -asen -nsen
3p.f. niteti (nitenti) -itent -asent -nsent

 

III.9. Dialectic variation: besides vocabulary differences which should be seen as originally reflecting lexical richness, the most important criterion of dialectic variation is phonological. The different varieties of Tamazight may be classified into three different groups: plosive, fricative and affricate dialects. The latter refers to the dialects that have kept the original plosive sounds as plosives (mainly Tachelhit or Tuareg varieties) while they have evolved into fricatives (Kabylian, central Moroccan Tamazight and Tachawit among many others) or even affricates (mainly those referred to as Zenete in the literature among of which Tumzabt and Mauritanian varieties) in the two latter.11 The group that is characterized as affricate has phonologically gone a lot further. Some varieties such as Tarifit are difficult to classify as they have already moved from the fricative status but not enough to consider them as affricate. These differences do not reflect country boundaries but are older and prior to the constitution of the present different States. In Algeria for instance, all these three varieties coexist. These differences reflect the classification of inhabitant groups very often referred to as the Masmouda, Sanhadja and Zenete in the literature.

IV. The alphabets in use

Three different alphabets have unequally been used in Tamazight: Tifinagh, Latin and Arabic.

IV.1.Tifinagh, the Amazigh script system: Tamazight language has never been promoted officially. Neither by the Amazigh kings (Massinissa, Juba, etc.) at the time they were ruling Tamazgha, nor intellectually by the numerous Amazigh philosophers such as St. Augustine, Tertullien, or Apulée to mention but a few whose contribution to the western civilization is erroneously considered as Greek or Roman. Until very recently and with minor exceptions, Amazigh authors had always written in foreign languages but not in their own. Nevertheless, Tamazight did possess its own system of writing called Tifinagh, which is still in use even today among the Tuaregs. However, its use was restricted to tribute inscriptions on memorial stones or epitaph stones or epitaphs. The name Tifinagh is itself close to the way the feminine plural form of the word Phoenician is pronounced in Tamazight. However, this is not taken as proof that the script system itself derived from the Phoenician. Specialists refer to the old version of Tifinagh as Libyc or Libyan to distinguish them from the Tifinagh in use, for instance, among the Tuareg. The ancient inscriptions found all across North Africa, including the Canary Islands12, clearly show that we are dealing with two distinct varieties of old Tifinagh. It is agreed that the North African eastern variety of Tifinagh had come under Phoenician influence, but not its western variety. This led some specialists to conclude that the western variety must have existed prior to the arrival of the Phoenicians in North Africa (Février, 1959). So far, the earliest attested inscription to have been dated goes back to 138 B.C. and was found in Thugga (today’s Dougga, in Tunisia). The inscription is a tribute to the Amazigh king Missibsa. The system did not take vowel sounds into consideration; therefore only consonants were represented.

IV.2. Writing Tamazight today: there has been many attempts to adapt the Tifinagh characters to modern usage, namely by introducing new symbols in order to take vowel sounds into consideration. Although the use of Tifinagh may be considered relatively widespread among Amazigh activists in North Africa, the bulk of the existing literature is written in a Latin script system. The latter has been widely adopted in scientific, literary, schools and university circles, both in North Africa and in Europe. It is also the system that was officially adopted in Mali and Niger and more recently by the HCA13 (High Agency for Amazighity), an official and state sponsored institution in Algeria. Besides Tifinagh, attempts were made to write the Tamazight language in Arabic characters. However, the use of the latter was mostly restricted to Muslim religious circles.

by Karim Achab
University of Ottawa
November 2001


Notes

1. We use the form Tamazight, feminine singular, to refer to the language as a noun and the form Amazigh, singular rather neutral than masculine, as an adjective.
2. For a very recent view of this question, see M. Hachid (2000).
3. The same name as Tamazight with the difference that the sounds /z/ and /gh/ have become /ch/ or /j/, and the sounds /gh/ + /t/ has become /q/.
4. Referred to as the Lebou in the ancient Egyptian literature. The word Lebou is only a variant of Libyan, another name under which the eastern Amazigh (today’s Libyans) were designated.
5. The velar sound qq here of the gemination of the velar
?.
6. A default masculine as the morphology of the word does not, however, contain any morpheme marker referring to the masculine. See Achab (2001) for details.
7. Some kind of wooden support used for weaving.
8. The abbreviations read as follow: s for singular, m for masculine, f for feminine, p for plural.
9. Independent pronouns act as subjects.
10. As complement of verbs, nouns or prepositions.
11. These terms are technically used here. Plosives are sounds such as /t/ in the way it is pronounced in the English word ‘teacher,’ for instance. If it is spirantized, the sound evolves to a fricative, i.e. pronounced /th/ as in the English word ‘theater’. The corresponding affricate sound is the way the ‘ch’ is pronounced in the English word ‘church.’
12. More than 1120 were discovered, but not all deciphered. See Chabot (1940) and Février (1956).
13. Haut Commissariat à l’Amazighité.


References

Achab, K., 2001, ‘Changement morphosyntaxique en berbère’, Cahiers Linguistiques d’Ottawa, 29, Mai, 2001
Chabot, J.B., 1940. – Recueil des inscriptions libyques, Imprimerie Nationale, Paris.
Février J. G. , 1956. – Que savons-nous du libyque ? Revue Africaine, 100, pp. 263-273
Février J. G. (1959), – Histoire de l’écriture, Paris.
Hachid, M., 2000, Les Premiers Berbères, Aix-en-Provence: Ina-yas/Edisud.
Vergote, J., 1970, ‘Egyptian’ in Hodge, C. T., 1970 (ed.), Afroasiatic: a survey, The Hague/Paris: Mouton.


Written for the  Department of International languages, Ottawa-Carleton School Borad, Ontario Ministry of Education.

This article is copyrighted ©2001. The article may not be reprinted, partly or in its entirety, without written permission from the author.

by Karim Achab
University of Ottawa
November 2001

I. The Tamazight language and the Amazigh people


Tamazight or Amazigh language1, also referred to as Berber in western literature, is the language spoken by Amazigh people, the indigenous of Tamazgha (North Africa plus Mali, Niger and the Canary Islands). Before the arrival of the Arabs in that region, which started around the mid-seventh century, Tamazight was spoken all over the area stretching from the Siwa Oasis in western Egypt, extending westward to the Canary Islands through Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco and from the northern coast of the Mediterranean Sea extending southward to Mauritania, Mali and Niger.

Tamazight belongs to the African branch of the Afro-Asian language family, also referred to as Hamito-Semitic in the literature, along with ancient Egyptian and other African languages such as the ones called Cuchitic and Chadic languages, as opposed to the oriental or Semitic branch constituted of semitic languages. Ancient Egyptian is somehow disputed between these two branches (see Vergote, 1970). The question as to whether these languages started in Africa or the Middle East along with the Semitic languages is still controversial and goes beyond the field of linguistics since it involves archaeology, as well as pre-history and paleontology. Although the oriental hypothesis had long prevailed, recent research has brought to new evidence favoring the African alternative hypothesis (Hachid, 2000). It is too early even today to take any hypothesis for granted as more research has to be done in this field. Given the similarities, the possibility that the substrata of these languages are African with an important eastern influence from Semitic languages is the most plausible, although a western influence of Semitic languages from the African branch, namely Egyptian, is not to be excluded.2

It is difficult to put forward any number evaluating the Tamazight-speaking population because no census taking this question into consideration has ever been made in any country in North Africa since decolonization. Tamazight is still spoken today in all the aforementioned countries, with the exception of the Canary Islands, where a cultural movement claiming the revival of Tamazight is growing. Besides Tamazgha, one has to mention the Amazigh Diaspora in Europe and North America, where the Amazigh community is important.

The areas where Tamazigh is spoken are not continuous. Rather, they constitute more or less large islands distant from one another, interrupted by large arabized zones. As a result, Tamazight has survived mostly in somehow naturally ‘protected’ areas. The zones where it is spoken today are either desertic or mountainous while most of the plain zones were arabized. The lack of contact between these areas has led to an important dialectalization process. However, the nature of the dialectical variation is more phonological and lexical than syntactic (grammatical).

Except for the varieties spoken in central Morocco, which has always been referred to as Tamazight, and those spoken by the Tuareg populations, referred to as Tamachaq or Tamajaq3, most other dialects were renamed, locally referred to by names the Arab tribes gave to those areas and their inhabitants when they arrived there.

Morocco: there are three important Tamazight-speaking areas in Morocco. The variety spoken in the Riffian mountainous area (including Ayt Werrayghel, Beni Zennasen, El Hoceima, etc.) is referred to as Tarifit. This variety also includes the form spoken in Melilla and Ceuta, two enclaves located in the Riffian area, which belong to Spain. Heading south, we come across another important Tamazight-speaking area in central Morocco, stretching all along the mountainous Middle Atlas zone. Further south and west is the domain of another variety, referred to as Tachelhit, occupying the Anti-Atlas mountain area and the plains from Sous, stretching from Agadir down to Ifni on the western coast, going as far east as the Draa. The High Atlas mountains somehow represent an intermediate area between the domains of central Moroccan Tamazight and Tachelhit.

In Algeria: the Tamazight-speaking zones in Algeria are less homogenous than in Morocco. Starting from the north, Kabylia represents one of the most important areas where the language is still in use. This is also the area where linguistic and cultural awareness has highly developed among the population. The Kabylia region contains four full administrative departments, Tizi-Ouzou, Bgayet (or Bejaia), Bouira and Boumerdes, although there are some parts in the two latter departments affected by the arabization process. Kabylian Tamazight is also in use in another department, Setif, which borders Bgayet, and more precisely in At Wartilen, Bougaa and the surrounding areas. It is also spoken in the Chenoua region, from Cherchel to Tipasa, located in another department (Tipasa) and, as one heads south, in Haraoua, Metmata and Bel Halima, situated west of Algiers.

The next important area where the Tamazight language is spoken and which we come across as we are heading southwest from Kabylia is another mountainous region, bordering Tunisia, called Aures (Batna and Khenchla). The variety spoken there is locally referred to as ‘Tachawit’.

Other different Tamazight varieties are spoken in many other linguistic islands scattered in different areas such as the south Oranian region, called the Mountains of the Ksours, close to the Algero-Moroccan borders (Ain Ssefra, Figuig, Bechar, etc.) and Algerian Sahara (Mzab, Tougourt, Gourara and Touat and Tidikelt). Further south is the land of the Tuareg, a desert area which stretches into Mali and Niger.

Land of the Tuareg: The Tuareg are among the few Amazigh people to have kept using the name Tamazight, which as we said earlier is the original name of the language, although it is sometimes phonologically altered to Tamachaq, Tamajaq or Tamahaq depending on the area. Accordingly, the people refer to themselves as Imuhagh / Imuchagh / Imujagh, meaning ‘Amazigh people’ or as Kel Tmajaq / Tmachaq / Tmajaq meaning the people belonging to (speaking) the Tamazight language.

Among the areas where the Tuareg people live are the Hoggar and Tasili n Ajjer (in Algeria), and in the mountainous zones of Ayir (in Mali) and Ifoghas (in Niger). The land of the Tuareg also includes an important part in southern Libya, the zone stretching from Ghat to the vicinity of the Fezzan region, as well as some smaller zones in Mauritania and Senegal.

There are three more distinct zones where Tamazight is spoken in Libya besides that within the land of the Tuareg. Starting from the west, the zone called Ghadames, close to the southern Tunisian borders, is almost the continuation of the Ghat, yet with a different dialectical variety. The other zones in Libya include Nalout and Yefren in the Nefousa mountain area in the north, close to the southern border of Tunisia; Zouara on the north litoral; Sokna, and El Fokaha and Awdjila in the east.

In Tunisia, Tamazight is spoken in at least six villages located in the Ksours region, such as in Ghoumarassen, a village located about 300 km from Tunis, stretching south to Majora, Sened, Matmata, Zrawa, Taoujout, Tamezret, Chenini, Douirat and Foum Tatawin, as well as in the island of Djerba.

Unfortunately, the Tunisian government has always adopted strategies that end up forcing the inhabitants to leave these areas. As a result, Arabic-speaking investors take over the most touristic places, while the Amazigh move to already arabized areas.

In Egypt, the Oasis of Siwa is the only zone where Tamazight is spoken in Egypt. The contact between Egyptians and the Amazigh people goes as far back to antiquity as before 950 B.C. By that date, after the Pharaoh Psousenness II had died, an Amazigh4 called Sheshonq I became the Pharaoh of Egypt and ruled from (945-924 B.C.). Sheshonq I, the founder of the 22nd dynasty established his capital city in Bubastis. His dynasty lasted 191 years before it came to an end shortly after the death of Sheshonq V (767-730). By that time, the Amazigh dynasty had many difficulties and Osorkon IV’s rule, son of Sheshonq V who succeeded, was restricted to his home city Tanis and the dynasty’s capital Bubastis. Three millenniums later, the Amazigh presence in Egypt is still maintained by the small Oasis of Siwa where the most eastern variety of the Tamazight language is still in use.

II. A politically hostile environment

In all the above mentioned countries, the Tamazight language is facing an extremely politically hostile environment. Mali and Niger are the only countries where the local varieties are recognized as ‘national’ and the governments have tentatively accepted to cooperate with UNESCO agencies to implement their programs of illiteracy elimination programs and help settle the nomadic population. However, the Nigerian and Malian governments have always remained hostile to any further political concession and recognition. Things are even worse in North African countries (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt) and Mauritania where the language and human rights of the Amazigh are even denied. The arabo-nationalist regimes have always made it clear that no other identity, language and culture other than Arab would be given any official recognition. A policy of Arabization has been whose main objective is to erase Tamazight language, identity and culture. Despite the superficial ‘softening’ of this policy in Algeria and Morocco by accepting Tamazight to be introduced in some universities, the Amazigh population is convinced that the objectives and the opinion of the arabo-islamist regimes have not changed at all.

Tamazight does not have the same chances of survival in all the above-mentioned countries, not because of the nature of the regimes, all of them being equally hostile to the Tamazight language, culture and identity, but because of their numbers. While the Tamazight-speaking population is relatively high in Morocco, Algeria, Mali, Niger and Libya, it is much less so in Tunisia and Egypt, where the regimes are just waiting for its extinction. In all these areas, Tamazight has miraculously survived orally in an extremely hostile political environment. Not until very recently did the Amazigh activists start to provide it a written status. The hope is, however, permitted everywhere since the identity and cultural awareness has grown to its utmost point.

III. Tamazight morphorphology, syntax and phonology


In the present section we are going to provide some data regarding the lexicon, word order and phonetics of Tamazight.

III.1. Phonetics: Tamazight has 41 basic sounds, 3 vowels and 38 consonants.
Vowels: except from the Tuareg varieties which have developed some extra long and short vowels, Tamazight has only three (3) which are: i, u, a.

Schwa: noted as e but is not considered as a vowel.
Besides these vowels, almost all varieties have introduced the neutral vowel called schwa ?.

Consonants: the 36 consonants in use in tamazight are classified as follows:

 

Plosives

b d m t k g q ? (for ?), ? (for ? )
? ? ? ? ? ? ? (pharangealized or ‘emphatic’ consonants)
Fricatives f s z ? x ? h (for a laryngeal) , ? (pharyngeal h).
Labialized kw gw qw ?w
Nasal m n
Laterals l
Thrill r
Semi-vowels y, w (their status being between that of a vowel and that of a consonant.)
Geminates are noted by doubling the corresponding sound, dd tt gg kk qq but are not listed in the alphabet.

III. 2. Lexicon: the lexicon constitutes one of the important domains of dialectic variations among Tamazight dialects. Besides the basic Amazigh lexicon, there are a lot of loans from Arabic, French and Latin. In the Nigerian and Malian Tuareg varieties one can find loans from Haussa and Bambara respectively. Loan words are morphologically integrated in the Tamazight word structure.

III.3. Morphology: Unlike Germanic languages such as English, Tamazight is not a concatenative language. That is, the morphemes conveying grammatical information such as tense, gender, number and person, etc. do not constitute autonomous affixes. Such elements rather appear as amalgamated phonemes, vowels more often, within words.

III.4. Words: words are constituted with a consonantal root and thematic vowels. The consonantal root conveys the semantics (meaning) while the thematic vowels convey grammatical information. For instance, a root such as M?R conveys the meaning of aging, growing old, being elder, etc. It’s combination with other elements will give the following derivations among many others:

m?ar: elder (among the old),
ad yim?ur: he will grow up,
meqqer 5: he has(or is) a grown up,
ameqwran: the elder (among the youth).

III.5. Gender: Tamazight morphology makes a distinction between feminine and masculine.
Masculine: the masculine form corresponds to the neutral form of the word. This neutral form is interpreted as masculine6 by default, namely as opposed to the feminine form.
Feminine: the feminine form is indicated by a double t—t affix (the prefix t- and the suffix -t ). The feminine equivalent of the word am
?ar above is tam?art. However, there are some words whose feminine form contains only the prefix t— such as tarwa (progenitors), tasa (liver).

III.6. Number: both singular and plural forms are used in Tamazight for both masculine and feminine. There are two ways of forming the plural, the regular and the irregular. The former is obtained by alternating the initial vowel of the word and by adding the suffix -n (-in for feminine) to the singular form. The latter is obtained by altering two vowels, the initial one and an other situated within the word. These two ways are exemplified below:

 

regular form singular plural
masculine am?ar (elder) im?arn (elders)
feminine tam?art (elder) tim?arin (elders)

 

irregular form singular plural
masculine asaru 7 isura
feminine tasarut (key) tisura (keys)

III.7. Word order: Tamazight is a basically Verb-Subject-Object language [see (a) below]. The SVO order is possible but it is not the basic order [see (b)]. Because of its rich inflexion, the subject may morphologically absent [see (c)].

 

a. yeswa weqcic aman
Drank the boy water (for the boy drank water)
b. aqcic yeswa aman
The boy drank water
c. yeswa aman
Drank water (for the boy drank water)

III.8. Pronouns: Tamazight has different series of pronouns. All the pronominal paradigms contain ten (10) different pronouns as given in the following table8:

Independent9 Affixes10
paradigm subject direct indirect possessive
1s. Nek (or nekkini) -yi -yi -iw
2s.m. ke?? (or ke??ini) -k -ak -ik
2m.f. kem (or kemmini) -kem -am -im
3s.m. netta -it -as -is
3s.f. nettat -itt -as -is
1p. nekwni -a? (ana? ) -a (ana?) -nne?
2p.m. kwenwi -ikwen -awen -nwen
2p.f. kwennemti -ikwent -akwent -nkwent
3p.m. nitni -iten -asen -nsen
3p.f. niteti (nitenti) -itent -asent -nsent

 

III.9. Dialectic variation: besides vocabulary differences which should be seen as originally reflecting lexical richness, the most important criterion of dialectic variation is phonological. The different varieties of Tamazight may be classified into three different groups: plosive, fricative and affricate dialects. The latter refers to the dialects that have kept the original plosive sounds as plosives (mainly Tachelhit or Tuareg varieties) while they have evolved into fricatives (Kabylian, central Moroccan Tamazight and Tachawit among many others) or even affricates (mainly those referred to as Zenete in the literature among of which Tumzabt and Mauritanian varieties) in the two latter.11 The group that is characterized as affricate has phonologically gone a lot further. Some varieties such as Tarifit are difficult to classify as they have already moved from the fricative status but not enough to consider them as affricate. These differences do not reflect country boundaries but are older and prior to the constitution of the present different States. In Algeria for instance, all these three varieties coexist. These differences reflect the classification of inhabitant groups very often referred to as the Masmouda, Sanhadja and Zenete in the literature.

IV. The alphabets in use

Three different alphabets have unequally been used in Tamazight: Tifinagh, Latin and Arabic.

IV.1.Tifinagh, the Amazigh script system: Tamazight language has never been promoted officially. Neither by the Amazigh kings (Massinissa, Juba, etc.) at the time they were ruling Tamazgha, nor intellectually by the numerous Amazigh philosophers such as St. Augustine, Tertullien, or Apulée to mention but a few whose contribution to the western civilization is erroneously considered as Greek or Roman. Until very recently and with minor exceptions, Amazigh authors had always written in foreign languages but not in their own. Nevertheless, Tamazight did possess its own system of writing called Tifinagh, which is still in use even today among the Tuaregs. However, its use was restricted to tribute inscriptions on memorial stones or epitaph stones or epitaphs. The name Tifinagh is itself close to the way the feminine plural form of the word Phoenician is pronounced in Tamazight. However, this is not taken as proof that the script system itself derived from the Phoenician. Specialists refer to the old version of Tifinagh as Libyc or Libyan to distinguish them from the Tifinagh in use, for instance, among the Tuareg. The ancient inscriptions found all across North Africa, including the Canary Islands12, clearly show that we are dealing with two distinct varieties of old Tifinagh. It is agreed that the North African eastern variety of Tifinagh had come under Phoenician influence, but not its western variety. This led some specialists to conclude that the western variety must have existed prior to the arrival of the Phoenicians in North Africa (Février, 1959). So far, the earliest attested inscription to have been dated goes back to 138 B.C. and was found in Thugga (today’s Dougga, in Tunisia). The inscription is a tribute to the Amazigh king Missibsa. The system did not take vowel sounds into consideration; therefore only consonants were represented.

IV.2. Writing Tamazight today: there has been many attempts to adapt the Tifinagh characters to modern usage, namely by introducing new symbols in order to take vowel sounds into consideration. Although the use of Tifinagh may be considered relatively widespread among Amazigh activists in North Africa, the bulk of the existing literature is written in a Latin script system. The latter has been widely adopted in scientific, literary, schools and university circles, both in North Africa and in Europe. It is also the system that was officially adopted in Mali and Niger and more recently by the HCA13 (High Agency for Amazighity), an official and state sponsored institution in Algeria. Besides Tifinagh, attempts were made to write the Tamazight language in Arabic characters. However, the use of the latter was mostly restricted to Muslim religious circles.


Notes

1. We use the form Tamazight, feminine singular, to refer to the language as a noun and the form Amazigh, singular rather neutral than masculine, as an adjective.
2. For a very recent view of this question, see M. Hachid (2000).
3. The same name as Tamazight with the difference that the sounds /z/ and /gh/ have become /ch/ or /j/, and the sounds /gh/ + /t/ has become /q/.
4. Referred to as the Lebou in the ancient Egyptian literature. The word Lebou is only a variant of Libyan, another name under which the eastern Amazigh (today’s Libyans) were designated.
5. The velar sound qq here of the gemination of the velar
?.
6. A default masculine as the morphology of the word does not, however, contain any morpheme marker referring to the masculine. See Achab (2001) for details.
7. Some kind of wooden support used for weaving.
8. The abbreviations read as follow: s for singular, m for masculine, f for feminine, p for plural.
9. Independent pronouns act as subjects.
10. As complement of verbs, nouns or prepositions.
11. These terms are technically used here. Plosives are sounds such as /t/ in the way it is pronounced in the English word ‘teacher,’ for instance. If it is spirantized, the sound evolves to a fricative, i.e. pronounced /th/ as in the English word ‘theater’. The corresponding affricate sound is the way the ‘ch’ is pronounced in the English word ‘church.’
12. More than 1120 were discovered, but not all deciphered. See Chabot (1940) and Février (1956).
13. Haut Commissariat à l’Amazighité.


References

Achab, K., 2001, ‘Changement morphosyntaxique en berbère’, Cahiers Linguistiques d’Ottawa, 29, Mai, 2001
Chabot, J.B., 1940. – Recueil des inscriptions libyques, Imprimerie Nationale, Paris.
Février J. G. , 1956. – Que savons-nous du libyque ? Revue Africaine, 100, pp. 263-273
Février J. G. (1959), – Histoire de l’écriture, Paris.
Hachid, M., 2000, Les Premiers Berbères, Aix-en-Provence: Ina-yas/Edisud.
Vergote, J., 1970, ‘Egyptian’ in Hodge, C. T., 1970 (ed.), Afroasiatic: a survey, The Hague/Paris: Mouton.


Written for the  Department of International languages, Ottawa-Carleton School Borad, Ontario Ministry of Education.

This article is copyrighted ©2001. The article may not be reprinted, partly or in its entirety, without written permission from the author.

Ass-nni de Amar Mezdad

Ass-nni est le titre du nouveau roman de Amar Mezdad, venu achalander un peu plus la petite bibliothèque berbère. La trame se situe dans les années 90 à cette époque charnière de notre histoire récente qui a vu le pays avorter de l’espérance démocratique et accoucher d’une tragédie. Mohand Ameziane est un homme comme il en existe tant en Kabylie : ordinaire et à la vie sans sailles. Sa mère languit dans l’attente du retour d’un autre de ses fils parti au Canada. La maladie, thématique toujours présente dans l’œuvre de Mezdad, lui-même médecin de formation, la ronge tandis que le destin refuse de lui sourire en donnant une postérité à Mohand Améziane. Cette bru qui n’enfante pas devient la cible toute désignée de ses allusions désagréables. Celle-ci encaisse sans broncher, comme toute belle-fille de bonne famille.Ce personnage de la mère permet de passer en revue une somme de croyances et une représentation du monde, marquée par les mythes et les fétichismes, propres à la société kabyle. Des croyances en disparition que le roman de Mezdad consigne ainsi pour les générations futures.Comme tous les créateurs romanesques de langue kabyle, Amar Mezdad semble écrire tout en songeant à la destination de son œuvre. Celle-ci se ressent d’un certain souci pragmatique et hésite à s’offrir le luxe de la “gratuité”. Pensant sans doute aux potaches, Amar Mezdad a abouti à une forme de roman documentaire : le livre est une succession de tableaux plus ou moins indépendants, les chapitres se déploient dans une relative autonomie de façon à pouvoir servir pour des textes choisis de manuels scolaires. D’autres s’intercalent comme des avenants qui éclairent simplement sur des situations fortes ou sur des enseignements moraux, comme cette parabole de ce roi en quête de rajeunissement. Le roman décrit un écoulement des jours plutôt tranquilles mais charrie une ambiance de précarité et d’inquiétude. Il n’y a pas à proprement parler d’intrigue. Nous sommes dans l’ère des files d’attentes, dans ces usines tournant en pures pertes où les travailleurs gravissent la hiérarchie au hasard des clientélismes, à cet époque où l’Etat dotait de cheptel des villageois qui en détournaient l’usage, de cette jeunesse qui fuit un pays peu respirable pour des horizons d’Eldorado. Le roman zoome sur la quotidienneté algéroise faite de promiscuité et de mal-vie et introduit un jeune personnage qui revient au bled pour s’embarquer dans l’aventure du terrorisme islamiste.Après Id d wass (1990) et Adfel Urghu (2000), Amar Mezdad signe ainsi son troisième roman. Et c’est comme toujours un grand événement dans le petit landernau de la littérature kabyle.

M. Bessa

Depechedekabylie.com

BURURU

“Bururu”, cet oiseau de la nuit, porteur du malheur et de désolation, est le nom qu’a choisi Tahar Ould Amar pour titrer son premier roman qui vient de sortir chez l’édition Azur. L’auteur, qui vient par le moyen de ce produit littéraire, consolider le processus d’affirmation d’une nouvelle littérature amazighe, est un journaliste de son état. Ecrit dans un amazigh quotidien, accessible pour toutes et tous, ce roman se veut un témoignage d’une étape très sensible de notre histoire récente, la décennie terroriste. Publié chez l’Edition Azur, Bururu est un roman de 123 pages, format 12/18. L’illustration de la couverture est de Toufik Hadibi qui, il faut le dire, a réussi une oeuvre originale qui exprime fortement le contenu de Bururu. La préface du roman porte la signature de deux enseignants du DLCA de l’université de Béjaïa, MM. Allaoua Rabhi et Zahir Meksem.

Qui est l’auteur ?
Tahar Ould Amar est né en 1961 à Sidi Aïssa, dans la wilaya de M’sila. Après des études primaires à Aïn Bessem, moyennes à At Yenni, il se retrouve au lycée Abderrahmane-Mira de Bouira où il prendra part comme tous les jeunes de son âge à ce que l’on appellera plus tard les évènements du Printemps berbère. En 1986, il décroche le bac français au lycée Descartes (actuel Bouamama) à Alger. En 1988, après une traversée du désert qui n’aura pas trop duré, il enseigna le français dans la wilaya de Médéa. Avec l’introduction de tamazight dans le système éducatif, suite au boycott de l’année scolaire 1994/1995, il fait sa conversion vers l’enseignement de tamazight. En 1999, avec un groupe d’amis de Béjaïa et de Tizi Ouzou, il participe à la création d’un journal régional : “L’hebdo n Tmurt”, pour se retrouver actuellement à la Dépêche de Kabylie comme responsable du bureau de Bouira.

L’histoire
Dans “Bururu”, Tahar Ould Amar nous raconte l’histoire mouvementée du jeune Muh, un enfant d’une cité populaire de la capitale. Désarçonné par la beauté d’une jeune fille qui vient de passer devant lui, le jeune Moh réalisa qu’elle est la cible d’un groupe de jeunes voleurs issus de son quartier. L’ayant secourue, Moh fait la connaissance de Dounya, fille d’un haut gradé de l’armée. Ayant menti sur sa personne, s’étant présenté comme le fils d’un grand commerçant, Moh s’est retrouvé victime de son propre mensonge. En voulant dire la vérité à Dounya, qu’il fréquentait depuis quelques temps, celle-ci a eu une réaction violente et brutale : “Il faut te rendre compte que nous ne sommes pas de la même classe, il ne faut plus penser à moi”. A partir de cet instant, la vie de Moh bascula. De rêveur innocent, il devient un tourmenté qui ne vit que pour amasser de l’argent et égaler en fortune le père de sa bien-aimée. C’est alors qu’il intègre un réseau de trafiquants de voitures. Arrêté par la police, il fut jeté en prison pour quelques mois. A sa sortie, il décide d’immigrer. Du Maroc, il rentre en Espagne puis en Italie. Dans son pays, il ne trouve pas son voisin Rida, surnommé Grifa, qui s’est fait ramasser par la police. Il est pris en charge par des amis de celui-ci, deux jeunes marocains qui l’attirent dans l’univers de l’alcool et de la drogue. Sans travail, sans sa “dose”, Moh tente de voler une vieille femme. Arrêté, il retrouve Rida en prison. Depuis cette rencontre, sa vie prend une autre tournure. Il est pris dans une cascade qu’il échoue à contrôler. Membre d’un réseau islamiste, Rida insère son voisin dans son groupe. Avec finesse, Tahar Ould Amar nous introduit dans la vie intérieure des groupes islamistes. D’Italie à la France, Moh atterrit à Alger. Au lieu de rejoindre la maison familiale, il est pris en main par ses amis barbus. “Tu es recherché par la police, tu es fiché comme moudjahid !”, lui dit-on. D’Alger à Zberber, le destin le conduit vers les grottes de “Abou Ikhejdan”, l’émir de la région. Ayant assisté au massacre de tout un village, Moh dans un moment de panique du groupe, saisit l’occasion et tire en tuant l’émir sanguinaire. Depuis ce moment, il fait le maximum pour déserter du rang du groupe terroriste. Pour ce faire, il gagne la confiance de Mourad, un terroriste désillusionné et se rapproche habilement du nouvel émir qui le place comme son bras droit. Ce dernier lui accorde sa demande de mariage avec Dalila, la fille enlevée dans un village voisin et épousée malgré elle par l’émir assassiné. La fille qui séduit Moh depuis le premier jour, reprend le goût à la vie dans les bras de l’amour caressant de son nouveau mari. En compagnie de Dalila, Mourad et Nadia, Moh quitte le maquis de Zberber. Dans la gare de Boumerdès, en partance pour Alger, le groupe de “miraculés” prend place. Pour terminer son texte, Tahar Ould Amar prend le soin de clôturer son roman sans clore le problème de la violence terroriste. “… je regarde de la fenêtre, je vois deux barbus aborder la colline”. Telle est la dernière phrase du roman.

Quelques remarques
A la lecture de ce roman, nous retenons que si l’amour contrarié de Dounia, fille d’un haut dignitaire du régime a conduit Moh vers la dérive, vers le vol, la drogue et le terrorisme, paradoxalement, c’est un autre amour, celui de Dalila, fille d’un petit chef de kasma, qui le remet sur le chemin de la vie et du sourire. “Je partirais avec toi en enfer…”, phrase dite par Dalila, contraste, rassure et efface le “nous ne sommes pas de la même classe” de la fille de Hydra. Tahar Ould Amar, avec un style d’écriture dynamique et souvent plein de dérision, utilise cet amour qui éleva l’homme au rang des sains, pour décomplexer Mourad, un orphelin enrôlé par les terrorismes intégristes. En effet, celui-ci retrouve la joie de vivre à côté de la jeune Nadia qui, par peur du regard des autres et de leur cruauté, hésite à retourner dans la maison de ses parents. Nadia, comme Dalila d’ailleurs, sont deux jeunes femmes enlevées par les terroristes islamistes et obligées de se marier, l’une à un neveu de l’émir national et l’autre, à l’émir du groupe de Zberber. C’est l’exemple de centaines de femmes abaissées au rang d’esclaves sexuelles par des terroristes qui les considéraient comme de simples butins de guerre, sans aucun respect pour leur humanité. Sauvées par les deux hommes, les filles retrouvent le sourire à côté de ceux-là qui ont compris, mieux que personne d’autre, le martyre qu’elles ont subi. L’auteur touche là à un problème très essentiel de la crise violente imposée à notre peuple. Quel est le nombre de ces femmes enlevées et violées dans les maquis ? Quel sera leur avenir ? Quelles sont les mesures concrètes qui leur garantissent la réinsertion dans le tissu social ? Des questions que la lecture de Bururu provoque en nous, sans que nous soyons dans la position d’apporter les réponses. D’un autre côté, cette histoire qui commence et qui finit à Alger, dans un mouvement de départ et de retour qui a tant changé Moh et ses amis, détruit à sa façon les clichés qui sont construits au sujet de la nouvelle littérature amazighe : “Une littérature purement de combat et à thème exclusivement identitaire”. Le roman de Tahar Ould Amar, qui a traité du terrorisme est venu démentir cette idée tant répandue chez des “spécialistes/observateurs” qui hésitent encore à approcher suffisamment l’écrit en langue tamazight, se contentant d’un regard lointain et à la limite dédaigneux. “La prétention” de tamazight à véhiculer une littérature d’un niveau appréciable et de qualité leur semble une méprise, parce qu’elle bouscule quelques-unes de leurs hypothèses qui construisent leurs carrières et leurs êtres scientifiques. A défaut de côtoyer sérieusement la nouvelle littérature amazigh, beaucoup de phototypes réducteurs continuent à façonner le discours traitant de cette écriture qui, il faut le rappeler, est nouvelle. En vérité, non seulement le texte en langue amazigh est un texte à thèmes actuels et multiples, mais je dirais qu’il est en train d’explorer des thématiques que le texte écrit en langues arabe et française hésite encore à aborder… ! Bururu, un roman facile à lire, à lire au plus tôt.

Par Brahim Tazaghart

« Bururu »
Roman de Tahar Ould Amar
Editions Azur (Béjaia) 2006

COURS DE TAMAZIGHT

L’Association Culturelle Amazighe d’Ottawa-Hull, a le plaisir de vous informer que des cours de Tamazight sont offerts par le Conseil Scolaire d’Ottawa Carleton dans le cadre du Programme des Langues Internationales. Deux cours sont offerts, les samedi matin, tout au long de l’année scolaire. Le premier cours est disponible pour les élèves de l’élémentaire (enfants de moins de 12 ans) et le deuxième pour les étudiants du secondaire et les adultes. Les cours de Tamazight sont d’une durée de 3 heures par semaine. Pour les étudiants du secondaire, ce cours est crédité et donc concourt à l’obtention du diplôme d’études secondaires. Les adultes pour leur part, recevront un certificat attestant la réussite au cours.

Lieux

Niveau Secondaire

Glebe Collegiate Institute

212 Glebe Avenue, Ottawa

Niveau Primaire

17 Hopewell Avenue

Ottawa, Ontario K1S 2Y7

  • Accéder au cours de Tamazight de l’année en cours 2009 – 2010 (Site Web Taqbaylit.com )