The Berber Latin alphabet (Berber languages: Agemmay Amaziɣ Alatin) is the version of the Latin alphabet used to write the Berber languages. It was adopted in the 19th century, using varieties of letters.
The Berber languages were originally transcribed using the ancient Libyco-Berber script, of which the Neo-Tifinagh alphabet is the modern representative.
The use of a Latin script for Berber has its roots in French colonialist expeditions to North Africa. Berber texts written with Latin letters began to appear in print in the 19th century when French, Italian, and Spanish colonial expeditionaries and military officers began surveying North Africa. The French attempted to use Romanization schemes for North African Arabic dialects and for Berber. The attempts for Arabic were unsuccessful, but Berber was more susceptible, having little established literature to stand in the way.
In the colonial era a French-based system was used. Though it has now fallen partly out of favor, it is still used for transcription of names into French. More recently the French institute of languages, INALCO, has proposed its own writing standard which now is the primary system used in mainly Kabyle-Berber writings  in Kabylie, Algeria.
Other, slightly different, varieties of Latin-based standards have been used since the beginning of the 20th century by Berber linguists in North Africa, France, and recently at the University of Barcelona, Spain.
The Berber Latin alphabet of Northern-Berber usually consists of 34 letters:
|The 34-Letter Alphabet of Northern-Berber|
In Northern-Berber texts, foreign words and names are written in their original form even if they contain the letters: O, P, V, or any other non-Berber letter (like: Ü, ß, Å, ... ). According to SIL, the letter P is used in Kabyle.
The following table shows the Northern-Berber Latin alphabet with its Neo-Tifinagh and Arabic equivalents:
|Similar English sound|
|1||A a||ⴰ||أ / ا / َ||æ||"a" like in the English word bad|
|2||B b||ⴱ||ب||β||like the Spanish intervocalic "b" or "v"|
|3||C c||ⵛ||ش||ʃ||the English "sh" in ship|
|4||Č č (tc)||ⵞ||تش||t͡ʃ||the English "ch" in China|
|5||D d||ⴷ||د / ذ||d or ð||English "d", and English "th" in this|
|6||Ḍ ḍ||ⴹ||ض||ðˤ||emphatic "d"|
|7||E e||ⴻ||none||ə||"a" in (unstressed) attack|
|8||Ɛ ɛ (Â â)||ⵄ||ع||ʕ||like Arabic ع ‘ayn (no English equivalent)|
|9||F f||ⴼ||ف||f||like the English "f"|
|10||G g||ⴳ||(گ)||ɡ||"g" like in the words gate or Greek|
|11||Ǧ ǧ (dj)||ⴵ||ج||d͡ʒ||English "j" like in the words joke and James|
|12||Ɣ ɣ (gh)||ⵖ||غ||ɣ||like "g" in Spanish haga; similar to French / German "r"|
|13||H h||ⵀ||هـ||h||"h" like in hello or high|
|14||Ḥ ḥ||ⵃ||ح||ħ||like in Arabic Muḥammad (no English equivalent)|
|15||I i||ⵉ||ي / ِ||i||English ee like in sheet|
|16||J j||ⵊ||(ژ)||ʒ||like in confusion or television, French "j" in déjà vu.|
|17||K k||ⴽ||(ک)||k||English "k"; in some dialects like "ch" in German ich|
|18||L l||ⵍ||ل||l or ɫ||non-emphatic "L" (like in German or French)|
|21||Q q||ⵇ||ق||q, qʷ or ɢ||like Arabic ق "qaf" (no English equivalent)|
|22||R r||ⵔ||ر||r, rˤ||like a Spanish or Italian "r"|
|23||Ř ř||ⵔ / ⵍ||ر||r ~ l||A very light "R", pronounced like something between "R" and "L" (ɺ)|
|24||Ṛ ṛ||ⵕ||ر||rˤ||emphatic "r"|
|25||S s||ⵙ||س||s||"s" as in sun|
|26||Ṣ ṣ||ⵚ||ص||sˤ||emphatic "s"|
|27||T t||ⵜ||ت / ث||t or θ||English "t", and/or English "th" in three|
|28||Ṭ ṭ||ⵟ||ط||tˤ||emphatic "t"|
|29||U u||ⵓ||و / ُ||ʊ||English "u" like in put|
|30||W w||ⵡ||وْ||w||English "w" in water|
|31||X x||ⵅ||خ||χ||Spanish "j", German / Dutch "ch" in lachen, Arabic خ "kh"|
|32||Y y||ⵢ||يْ||j||English "y" like in yes|
|33||Z z||ⵣ||ز||z||English "z" in zoo|
|34||Ẓ ẓ||ⵥ||(ژ)||zˤ||emphatic "z"|
The Latin letter "O" does occur occasionally in Tuareg-Berber orthography. In Northern-Berber orthography it corresponds to the letter "U".
In the interest of pan-dialectal legibility, the Berber Latin alphabet omits the partly phonemic contrasts found in some Berber language varieties (notably the Kabyle language and Tarifit) between stops and fricatives.
Phonemic labiovelarization of consonants is widespread in Berber varieties, but there are rarely minimal pairs and it is unstable (e.g. ameqqʷran "large", in the Ainsi dialect of Kabyle, is pronounced ameqqran in At Yanni Kabyle-Berber, only a few kilometers away). The INALCO standard uses the diacritic ⟨°⟩ for labiovelarization only when needed to distinguish words, e.g. ireggel vs. iregg°el.
|North-Berber Latin letter||Tifinagh equivalent||IPA equivalent|
|Bʷ bʷ / B° b°||ⴱⵯ||bʷ|
|Gʷ gʷ / G° g°||ⴳⵯ||ɡʷ|
|Ɣʷ ɣʷ / Ɣ° ɣ°||ⵖⵯ||ɣʷ|
|Kʷ kʷ / K° k°||ⴽⵯ||kʷ|
|Qʷ qʷ / Q° q°||ⵇⵯ||qʷ|
|Xʷ xʷ / X° x°||ⵅⵯ||xʷ|
The letter ⟨ṛ⟩ is used for [rˤ] only when it contrasts with ⟨r⟩ (e.g. ṛwiɣ "I am satisfied" vs. rwiɣ "I am moved"). In all other cases ⟨r⟩ is used, e.g. tarakna "carpet" (pronounced taṛakna). This is because [rˤ] is often an allophone of /r/ in the environment of other emphatics, and it rarely contrasts with /r/ otherwise. Exceptional cases of other emphatics, e.g. [ʊʃˤːæj] "hound", are ignored (i.e. written as uccay).
Riffian Berbers pronounce the "LL" (in a word like yelli, "my daughter") like "dj" or "ǧǧ" (yeǧǧi). Depending on the author's whim, this might be represented in writing as "ll", "dj", a single "ǧ", or "ǧǧ".
|Riffian letter||Riffian word||The word in other Berber dialects||meaning in English|
|awař||awal||speech / talk|
|yeǧǧa||yella||(he) is / (he) exists|
|Č č||wečma||weltma||my sister|
|tacemřač||tacemlalt||blonde / white|
|taɣyuč||taɣyult||female donkey (jenny)|
In Souss (mid-southern Morocco), Berber writers either rarely use the neutral vowel "e", or they use it inconsistently. Elsewhere in the Berber world, the neutral vowel "e" is used to represent the non-phonemic [ə]. Tuareg-Berber uses "ə" for this purpose.
In Kabyle-Berber (northeastern Algeria), the affricates /t͡s, d͡z/ have traditionally been notated as ⟨ţ, z̧⟩ for over thirty years. However these affricates are uncommon in other dialects (except in Riffian) and they are morphologically conditioned, so for the sake of pan-dialectual legibility the INALCO standard omits them. In Kabyle the affricate [t͡s] may derive from underlying /tt/ or /ss/. In the former case the INALCO standard uses ⟨tt⟩, and in the second it uses ⟨ss⟩ (e.g. yettawi vs. ifessi deriving from the verb fsi).
|Character||INALCO equivalent||IRCAM Tifinagh equivalent||IPA equivalent||Pronunciation|
|Ţ ţ||Tt tt||ⵜⵙ||t͡s||ts like in "Tsetse fly"|
|Z̧ z̧||Zz zz||ⴷⵣ||d͡z||dz / the English "ds" in words|
Labiovelarization is indicated with the superscript letter ⟨ʷ⟩ (examples: kʷ, gʷ), or with the "degree sign": "°" (examples: k°, g°), or simply by using the letter ⟨w⟩. ⟨ḇ ḏ ǥ ḵ ṯ⟩ may represent spirantization.
On the internet, it is common to replace the Latinized Greek epsilon and gamma, Ɛɛ and Γγ, with actual Greek letters:
Among non-Kabyle Berber writers a number of alternative letters are used:
|Â â||Ɛ ɛ|
|Ġ ġ||Ɣ ɣ|
There has been a long and fierce debate on whether to use the Latin alphabet, the Tifinagh alphabet, or the Arabic alphabet, as the official alphabet for Berber in Algeria and Morocco, between Berber activists and the anti-Berber establishments, mainly those with Arab-Islamic agendas or orientations. The Berber activists overwhelmingly favor the use of the Latin alphabet in order to ensure a quick development and proliferation of the Berber language (Tamazight) in schools, in public institutions, and on the internet. A small number of them prefer the neo-Tifinagh alphabet. The states of Morocco and Algeria usually distance themselves from Latin-based Berber writing, fearing that it would strengthen the position of Berber against Arabic and French, and thus leading to a stronger Berber political activism. The Arab-Islamic establishments and political parties often reject the Latin alphabet as a Berber alphabet for the same reasons, and they usually brand it as a tool to westernize and Christianize Berbers.
In 2003, king Mohammed VI of Morocco approved the Royal Institute of the Amazigh Culture (IRCAM) Berber Institute's decision of using neo-Tifinagh as the sole official alphabet for the Berber language in Morocco. The IRCAM's decision was met with much disapproval among independent Berber activists and they saw it as a way of neutralizing Berber and preventing it from quick flourishing and development.
The vowel O is used only in the Latin alphabet of Southern Berber (Tuareg), not in Northern-Berber. The vowel "O" in Tuareg words mostly corresponds to "U" in Northern Berber words.
|37-Letter alphabet for Tuareg-Berber (Tamasheq) as recognized in Mali since 1982|
Tawellemet and Tamajaq also use Ââ Êê F̣f̣ G̣g̣ Îî J̣j̣ Ḳḳ Ṃṃ Ṇṇ Ôô Ṛṛ Ṣṣ Ṣ̌ṣ̌ Ûû Ẉẉ 
|37-Letter Latin alphabet for Tuareg-Berber (Tamasheq), official in Niger since 1999|
The Malian national literacy program DNAFLA has proposed a standard for the Latin alphabet, which is used with modifications in Karl G. Prasse's Tuareg French Dictionary and the government literacy program in Burkina. In Niger a slightly different system was used. There is also some variation in Tifinagh and in the Arabic script.
The DNAFLA system is a somewhat morphophonemic orthography, not indicating initial vowel shortening, always writing the directional particle as ⟨dd⟩, and not indication all assimilations (e.g. ⟨Tămašăɣt⟩ for tămašăq.
The Berber Arabic alphabet is an Arabic-based alphabet that was used to write various Berber languages in the Middle Ages. Nowadays users have largely reverted to either the Tifinagh alphabet in Morocco,
or Berber Latin alphabet in Algeria.Berber alphabet
Berber alphabet may refer to:
Tifinagh, the ancient Berber alphabet still used by the Tuareg and recently modernized and made official in Morocco
Berber Latin alphabet, widely used in modern Algerian and some Moroccan publishing, and used by most Berber linguists
Berber Arabic alphabet, decreasingly used in Moroccan and Libyan Berber publishing
Shilha Arabic alphabet, traditionally used in the Moroccan Souss
Tuareg Latin alphabet, official in Mali and NigerBerber languages
The Berber languages, also known as Berber or the Amazigh languages (Berber name: Tamaziɣt, Tamazight; Neo-Tifinagh: ⵜⴰⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵜ, Tuareg Tifinagh: ⵜⵎⵣⵗⵜ, pronounced [tæmæˈzɪɣt], [θæmæˈzɪɣθ]), are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. They comprise a group of closely related languages spoken by the Berbers, who are indigenous to North Africa. The languages were traditionally written with the ancient Libyco-Berber script, which now exists in the form of Tifinagh.Berber is spoken by large populations of Morocco, Algeria and Libya, by smaller populations of Tunisia, northern Mali, western and northern Niger, northern Burkina Faso and Mauritania and in the Siwa Oasis of Egypt. Large Berber-speaking migrant communities, today numbering about 4 million, have been living in Western Europe, spanning over three generations, since the 1950s. The number of Berber people is much higher than the number of Berber speakers. The bulk of the populations of the Maghreb countries are considered to have Berber ancestors.Around 90% of the Berber-speaking population speak one of seven major varieties of Berber, each with at least 2 million speakers. They are, in order of number of speakers: Shilha (Tacelḥiyt), Kabyle (Taqbaylit), Central Atlas Tamazight (Tamaziɣt), Riffian (internal: Tmaziɣt, external: Tarifiyt), Shawiya (Tacawit) and Tuareg (Tamaceq/Tamajeq/Tamaheq). The extinct Guanche language spoken on the Canary Islands by the Guanches as well as the languages of the ancient C-Group culture in present-day southern Egypt and northern Sudan are believed to have belonged to the Berber branch of the Afroasiatic family.
The Berber languages and dialects have had a written tradition, on and off, for about 2,500 years, although the tradition has been frequently disrupted by cultural shifts and invasions. They were first written in the Libyco-Berber abjad, which is still used today by the Tuareg in the form of Tifinagh. The oldest dated inscription is from 3rd century BCE. Later, between about 1000 CE and 1500 CE, they were written in the Arabic script, and since the 20th century they have been written in the Berber Latin alphabet, especially among the Kabyle and Riffian communities of Morocco and Algeria. The Berber Latin alphabet was also used by most European and Berber linguists during the 19th and 20th centuries.A modernised form of the Tifinagh alphabet, called Neo-Tifinagh, was adopted in Morocco in 2003 for writing Berber, but many Moroccan Berber publications still use the Berber Latin alphabet. Algerians mostly use the Berber Latin alphabet in Berber-language education at public schools, while Tifinagh is mostly used for artistic symbolism. Mali and Niger recognise a Tuareg Berber Latin alphabet customised to the Tuareg phonological system. However, traditional Tifinagh is still used in those countries.
There is a cultural and political movement among speakers of the closely related varieties of Northern Berber to promote and unify them under a written standard language called Tamaziɣt (or Tamazight). The name Tamaziɣt is the current native name of the Berber language in the Moroccan Middle Atlas and Rif regions and the Libyan Zuwarah region. In other Berber-speaking areas, this name was lost. There is historical evidence from medieval Berber manuscripts that all indigenous North Africans from Libya to Morocco have at some point called their language Tamaziɣt. The name Tamaziɣt is currently being used increasingly by educated Berbers to refer to the written Berber language, and even to Berber as a whole, including Tuareg.
In 2001, Berber became a constitutional national language of Algeria, and in 2011 Berber became a constitutionally official language of Morocco. In 2016, Berber became a constitutionally official language of Algeria alongside Arabic.Berber orthography
Berber orthography is the writing system(s) used to transcribe the Berber languages. In antiquity, the Libyco-Berber script (Tifinagh) was utilized to write Berber. Early uses of the script have been found on rock art and in various sepulchres. Following the spread of Islam, some Berber scholars also utilized the Arabic script. There are now three writing systems in use for Berber languages: Tifinagh (Libyco-Berber), the Arabic script, and the Berber Latin alphabet. Different groups in North Africa have different preferences of writing system, often motivated by ideology and politics.Centre de Recherche Berbère
Centre de Recherche Berbère (CRB, English: Berber Research Center) is a department at the Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (INALCO) specializing in the Berber languages. It was founded in 1990 by Salem Chaker and managed by him until the end of 2009. It is headed by Abdellah Bounfour since january 2010. The center has proposed a standard for the Berber Latin alphabet.Eastern Middle Atlas Berber
Eastern Middle Atlas Berber is a cluster of Berber dialects spoken in the eastern and north-eastern parts of the Middle Atlas, in Morocco. These dialects are those of the tribes of Aït Seghrushen, Aït Waraïn, Marmusha, Aït Alaham, Aït Yub and Aït Morghi.Despite the fact that they are mutually intelligible with neighbouring Central Atlas Tamazight dialects and are generally classified among them, these dialects actually belong to the Zenati languages and are intermediate dialects between the Riffian and Atlas languages.Among these Zenati dialects, those of Aït Seghrouchen and Aït Waraïn were subject to most studies, while only a few studies were focused on the dialects of Aït Alaham and Marmusha, and practically none focused on the dialects of Aït Yub and Aït Morghi.Eastern Morocco Zenati
Eastern Morocco Zenati dialects are a cluster of Berber dialects spoken in the Jerada Province, Morocco, to the southwest of Oujda. They belong to the Zenati dialectal group and are closely related to the main Riffian dialects, as well as to the Aït Snous dialect, spoken across the border in Algeria.Eastern Morocco Zenati is spoken among the Berber tribes of Beni Bouzegou, Beni Ya'la, Zekara, Bekhata, Haddiyin, Meharez and Rwaba'.Formerly, these dialects were also spoken in the area between Debdou and Taourirt (to the west of their current speaking area) by the tribes of Beni Koulal, Oulad Mahdi and Beni Chebel ; these tribes are currently mainly Arabophone.Judeo-Berber language
Judeo-Berber (Berber languages: Tamazight Tudayt, Hebrew: ברברית יהודית) is any of several hybrid Berber varieties traditionally spoken as a second language in Jewish communities of central and southern Morocco, and perhaps earlier in Algeria. Judeo-Berber is (or was) a contact language; the first language of speakers was Judeo-Arabic. (There were also Jews who spoke Berber as their first language, but not a distinct Jewish variety.) Speakers emigrated to Israel in the 1950s and 1960s. While mutually comprehensible with the Tamazight spoken by most inhabitants of the area (Galand-Pernet et al. 1970:14), these varieties are distinguished by the use of Hebrew loanwords and the pronunciation of š as s (as in many Jewish Moroccan Arabic dialects).Kabyle
Kabyle people, an ethnic group in Algeria
Kabyle alphabet, also known as Berber Latin alphabet
Kabylie, the Kabyle ethnic homeland
Kabyles du Pacifique, a group of Algerians deported to New Caledonia after an uprising in 1871
Kabyle (ancient city), an ancient Thracian city in southeastern Bulgaria
Kabile, Bulgaria, a modern village near the Thracian city
Kabyle musketLatin epsilon
Latin epsilon or open e (majuscule: Ɛ, minuscule: ɛ) is a letter of the extended Latin alphabet, based on the lowercase of the Greek letter epsilon (ε). It occurs in the orthographies of many Niger–Congo languages, such as Ewe, Akan, and Lingala, and is included in the African reference alphabet.
In the Berber Latin alphabet currently used in Algerian Berber school books, and before that proposed by the French institute INALCO, it represents a voiced pharyngeal fricative [ʕ]. Some authors use ƹayin ⟨ƹ⟩ instead; both letters are similar in shape with the Arabic ʿayn ⟨ع⟩.
The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) uses various forms of the Latin epsilon:
U+025B ɛ LATIN SMALL LETTER OPEN E represents the open-mid front unrounded vowel
U+025D ɝ LATIN SMALL LETTER REVERSED OPEN E WITH HOOK represents the rhotacized open-mid central vowel
U+025E ɞ LATIN SMALL LETTER CLOSED REVERSED OPEN E represents the open-mid central rounded vowel (shown as U+029A ʚ LATIN SMALL LETTER CLOSED OPEN E on the 1993 IPA chart)The Uralic Phonetic Alphabet uses various forms of the Latin epsilon:
U+1D08 ᴈ LATIN SMALL LETTER TURNED OPEN E
U+1D4B ᵋ MODIFIER LETTER SMALL OPEN E
U+1D4C ᵌ MODIFIER LETTER SMALL TURNED OPEN EMozabite language
Mozabite, or Tunżabt, is a Berber dialect spoken by the Mozabites, an Ibadi Berber group inhabiting the seven cities of the M'zab natural region in the northern Saharan Algeria. It is also spoken by small numbers of Mozabite emigrants in other local cities and elsewhere. Mozabite is one of the Mzab–Wargla languages, a dialect cluster of the Zenati languages. It is very closely related to the nearby Berber dialects of Ouargla and Oued Righ as well as the more distant Gourara.Rifian language
Rifian, Rif Berber or Rifian Berber (native local name: Tmaziɣt or Tarifect; external name: Tarifit) is a Zenati Northern Berber language. It is spoken natively by some 1.4 million Rifians of Morocco and Algeria, primarily in the Rif provinces of Al Hoceima, Nador, Driouch, Berkane and as a minority language in Tangier, Oujda, Tetouan and Leɛrayec. In addition, Rifian expatriate communities also speak the language.Sanhaja de Srair language
Senhaja de Srair ("Senhaja of Srair") is a Northern Berber language. It is spoken by the Sanhaja Berbers inhabiting the southern part of the Moroccan Rif. It is spoken in the Ketama area west of Tarifit in the Taza-Al Hoceima-Taounate region (Ethnologue).
Despite its speech area, the Sanhaja language belongs to the Atlas branch of Berber. It has also been influenced by the neighbouring Riffian language.Standard Moroccan Berber
Standard Moroccan Berber (Amazigh or Tamazight) is the standardized national variety of Berber spoken in Morocco. It was established in accordance with Article 5 of the 2011 amendments to the Moroccan Constitution.Tifinagh
Tifinagh (Berber pronunciation: [tifinaɣ]; in Tamazight Latin: Tifinaɣ; in Neo-Tifinagh: ⵜⵉⴼⵉⵏⴰⵖ; in Tuareg Tifinagh: ⵜⵊⵉⵏⵗ or ⵜⵊⵏⵗ) is an abjad script used to write the Tamazight languages.A modern alphabetical derivative of the traditional script, known as Neo-Tifinagh, was reintroduced in the 20th century. A slightly modified version of the traditional script, called Tifinagh Ircam, is used in a number of Moroccan elementary schools in teaching the Berber language to children as well as a number of publications.The word tifinagh is thought to be a Tuareg pun meaning itif ("discovery") nnegh ("our") i.e. our discovery.Â
Â, â (a-circumflex) is a letter of the Inari Sami, Romanian, and Vietnamese alphabets. This letter also appears in French, Friulian, Frisian, Portuguese, Turkish, Walloon, and Welsh languages as a variant of letter “a”.Ǧ
Ǧ/ǧ (G with caron, Unicode code points U+01E6 and U+01E7) is a letter used in several Latin orthographies.
In transliteration of South Azeri, ǧ represents /ɣ/, the voiced velar fricative.
In the Romany and Skolt Sami languages, it represents the palatalized g [ɟ͡ʝ].
It has also been used in Czech (and Slovak) orthographies until the middle of the 19th century to represent the
consonant /ɡ/, whereas "g" stood for /j/.
In a romanization of Pashto, ǧ is used to represent [ɣ] (equivalent to غ).
In the Berber Latin alphabet, ǧ is pronounced [d͡ʒ] as an English J, like in Jimmy.
In Lakota, ǧ represents voiced uvular fricative /ʁ/.
In DIN 31635 Arabic transliteration it represents the letter ﺝ (ǧīm).Ḍ
Ḍ (minuscule: ḍ) is a letter of the Latin alphabet, formed from D with the addition of a dot diacritic.
In the transcription of Afro-Asiatic languages such as Arabic, ḍ represents an "emphatic" consonant [dˤ], and is used for that purpose in the Berber Latin alphabet.
In the transcription of Indic and East Iranian languages, and in the orthography of the O'odham language, ḍ represents a retroflex [ɖ]. This was used in a former transcription of Javanese, but has been replaced by "dh."Ẓ
Ẓ (minuscule: ẓ) is a letter of the Latin alphabet, formed from Z with the addition of a dot below the letter. It is used in the transcription of Afroasiatic languages, specifically:
as transcription of the Arabic letter Ẓāʼ
in the Berber Latin alphabet to represent /zˤ/ (an emphatic z)
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