Tuareg languages


The Tuareg () languages constitute a group of closely related
Berber languages The Berber languages, also known as the Amazigh languages (Berber name: , ; Neo-Tifinagh: ⵜⴰⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵜ, Tuareg Tifinagh: ⵜⵎⵣⵗⵜ, , ), are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. They comprise a group of closely related la ...

Berber languages
and dialects. They are spoken by the
Tuareg The Tuareg people (; also spelt Twareg or Touareg; endonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) is a common, internal name A name is a term used for identification by an external observer. They can identify ...
Berbers Berbers or ''Imazighen'' ( ber, translit=Imaziɣen, ⵉⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵏ, ⵎⵣⵗⵏ; singular: , ) are an ethnic group mostly concentrated in North Africa, specifically Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, the Canary Islands, and to a lesser ...

in large parts of
Mali Mali (; ), officially the Republic of Mali (french: République du Mali; bm, ߡߊߟߌ ߞߊ ߝߊߛߏߖߊߡߊߣߊ, Mali ka Fasojamana, ff, 𞤈𞤫𞤲𞥆𞤣𞤢𞥄𞤲𞤣𞤭 𞤃𞤢𞥄𞤤𞤭, Renndaandi Maali), is a landlocked country ...

Niger ) , official_languages = French language, French , languages_type = National languages
Algeria ) , image_map = Algeria (centered orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Algiers , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , religion = , official_languages = , languages_type = Othe ...

Libya Libya (; ar, ليبيا, Lībiyā), officially the State of Libya ( ar, دولة ليبيا, Dawlat Lībiyā), is a country in the Maghreb region in North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to Egypt–Libya border, the ...

Burkina Faso Burkina Faso (, ; ) is a landlocked country in West Africa that covers an area of around and is bordered by Mali to the northwest, Niger to the northeast, Benin to the southeast, Togo and Ghana to the south, and the Ivory Coast to the southwes ...

Burkina Faso
, with a few speakers, the ''Kinnin'', in Chad.


Tuareg dialects belong to the South Berber group and are sometimes regarded as a single language (as for instance by Karl-Gottfried Prasse). They are distinguished mainly by a few sound shifts (notably affecting the pronunciation of original ''z'' and ''h''). The Tuareg varieties are unusually Conservative (language), conservative in some respects; they retain two short vowels where Northern-Berber languages have one or none, and have a much lower proportion of Arabic language, Arabic loanwords than most Berber languages. The Tuareg languages are traditionally written in the indigenous Tifinagh alphabet. However, the Arabic script is commonly used in some areas (and has been since medieval times), while the Latin script is official in
Mali Mali (; ), officially the Republic of Mali (french: République du Mali; bm, ߡߊߟߌ ߞߊ ߝߊߛߏߖߊߡߊߣߊ, Mali ka Fasojamana, ff, 𞤈𞤫𞤲𞥆𞤣𞤢𞥄𞤲𞤣𞤭 𞤃𞤢𞥄𞤤𞤭, Renndaandi Maali), is a landlocked country ...

Niger ) , official_languages = French language, French , languages_type = National languages


*Northern **Tamahaq language, Tamahaq – language of the Kel Ahaggar, and Kel Ajjer spoken in Algeria, western
Libya Libya (; ar, ليبيا, Lībiyā), officially the State of Libya ( ar, دولة ليبيا, Dawlat Lībiyā), is a country in the Maghreb region in North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to Egypt–Libya border, the ...

and in the north of Niger by around 77,000 people. Also known as Tahaggart. *Southern **Tamasheq language, Tamasheq – language of the Kel Adrar (also known as Adrar des Ifoghas), spoken in Mali by approximately 500,000 people. **Air Tamajeq language, Air Tamajaq – language of the Kel Ayr, Kel Ayer (sometimes spelled Aïr), spoken in Niger by approximately 250,000 people. **Tawellemmet language, Tawellemet – language of the Iwellemmeden, spoken in Mali and Niger by approximately 800,000 people. The term Iwellemmeden (the name of the people) is sometimes used to denote the language. **Tamashaq language of Kal Asakan. Roger Blench, Blench (ms, 2006) lists the following as separate languages, with dialects in parentheses: *Tawellemmet language, Tawellemet (Abalagh/East, West) *Air Tamajeq language, Tayiṛt (Ingal, Gofat) *Air Tamajeq language, Tamesgrest (Azerori) *Tafaghist language, Tafaghist *Tamahaq language, Tahaggart/Ahaggar *Tamahaq language, Ghat Speakers of Tetserret language, Tin Sert (Tetserret) identify as Tuareg, but the language is Western Berber languages, Western Berber.


The Tuareg languages may be written using the ancient Tifinagh (Libyco-Berber) script, the Latin script or the Arabic script. The Malian national literacy program DNAFLA has established a standard for the Latin alphabet, which is used with modifications in Prasse's ''Lexique'' and the government literacy program in Burkina, while in Niger a different system was used. There is also some variation in Tifinagh and in the Arabic script. Early uses of the Tifinagh script have been found on rock art and in various sepulchres. Among these are the Tin Hinan Tomb, 1,500 year old monumental tomb of the Tuareg matriarch Tin Hinan, where vestiges of a Tifinagh inscription have been found on one of its walls. Tifinagh usage is now restricted mainly to writing magical formulae, writing on palms when silence is required, and in letter-writing. The Arabic script is mostly in use by tribes more involved in Islamic learning, and little is known about its conventions. The DNAFLA system is a somewhat Morphophonology, morphophonemic orthography, not indicating initial vowel shortening, always writing the directional particle as < dd⟩, and not indicating all Assimilation (linguistics), assimilations (e.g. for [tămašăq]). In Burkina Faso the emphatics are denoted by "hooked" letters, as in Fula language, Fula, e.g. .



The vowel system includes five long vowels, and two short vowels, (on this page, is used to represent International Phonetic Alphabet, IPA ). Some of the vowels have more open "emphatic" allophones that occur immediately before emphatic consonants, subject to dialectal variation. These allophones include for and (although may be less open), for and (although may be less open), and for . Karl Prasse argued that /e/ goes back to Proto-Berber language, Proto-Berber, while /o/ is derived from /u/. Comparative evidence shows that /ə/ derives from a merger of Proto-Berber */ĭ/ and */ŭ/. Sudlow classes the "semivowels" /w, j/ with the vowels, and notes the following possible diphthongs: /əw/ (> [u]), /ăw/, /aw/, /ew/, /iw/, /ow/, /uw/, /əj/ (> [i]), /ăj/, /aj/, /ej/, /ij/, /oj/, /uj/.


The consonant inventory largely resembles Arabic: differentiated voicing; uvulars, pharyngeals (traditionally referred to as emphatics) ; requiring the pharynx muscles to contract and influencing the pronunciation of the following vowel (although only occur in Arabic loans and only in the name of Allah). is rare, is rare in Tadraq, and are only used in Arabic words in the Tanəsləmt dialect (most Tamasheq replace them with respectively). The glottal stop is non-phonemic. It occurs at the beginning of vowel-initial words to fill the place of the initial consonant in the syllable structure (see below), although if the words is preceded by a word ending in a consonant, it makes a Sandhi, liaison instead. Phrase-final /a/ is also followed by a phonetic glottal stop. Gemination is contrastive. Normally becomes , becomes , and becomes . and are predominantly geminate. In addition, in Tadraq is usually geminate, but in Tudalt singleton may occur. Voicing assimilation occurs, with the first consonant taking the voicing of the second (e.g. > ). Cluster reduction turns word/morpheme-final into and into (e.g. > 'Tamasheq').


Syllable structure is CV(C)(C), including glottal stops (see above).


Contrastive stress may occur in the stative aspect of verbs.

Dialectal differences

Different dialects have slightly different consonant inventories. Some of these differences can be diachronic linguistics, diachronically accounted for. For example, Proto-Berber ''*h'' is mostly lost in Ayer Tuareg, while it is maintained in almost every position in Mali Tuareg. The Iwellemmeden and Ahaggar Tuareg dialects are midway between these positions. The Proto-Berber consonant ''*z'' comes out differently in different dialects, a development that is to some degree reflected in the dialect names. It is realized as ''h'' in Tamahaq (Tahaggart), as ''š'' in Tamasheq and as simple ''z'' in the Tamajaq dialects Tawallammat and Tayart. In the latter two, ''*z'' is realised as ''ž'' before palatal vowels, explaining the form ''Tamajaq''. In Tawallammat and especially Tayart, this kind of palatalization actually does not confine itself to ''z''. In these dialects, dentals in general are palatalized before and . For example, ''tidət'' is pronounced in Tayart. Other differences can easily be traced back to borrowing. For example, the Arabic pharyngeals ''ħ'' and ''ʻ'' have been borrowed along with Arabic loanwords by dialects specialized in Islamic (Maraboutic) learning. Other dialects substitute ''ħ'' and ''ʻ'' respectively with ''x'' and ''ɣ''.


The basic word order in Tuareg is verb–subject–object. Verbs can be grouped into 19 morphological classes; some of these classes can be defined semantically. Verbs carry information on the subject of the sentence in the form of pronominal marking. No simple adjectives exist in the Tuareg languages; adjectival concepts are expressed using a relative verb form traditionally called 'participle'. The Tuareg languages have very heavily influenced Northern Songhay languages such as Sawaq language, Sawaq, whose speakers are culturally Tuareg but speak Songhay; this influence includes points of phonology and sometimes grammar as well as extensive loanwords.


Tamasheq prefers VSO order; however it contains topic–comment structure (like in American Sign Language, Modern Hebrew, Japanese and Russian), allowing the emphasized concept to be placed first, be it the subject or object, the latter giving an effect somewhat like the English passive. Sudlow uses the following examples, all expressing the concept “Men don’t cook porridge” (e denotes Sudlow's schwa): Again like Japanese, the “pronoun/particle ‘a’ is used with a following relative clause to bring a noun in a phrase to the beginning for emphasis,” a structure which can be used to emphasize even objects of prepositions. Sudlow’s example (s denotes voiceless palato-alveolar fricative): The indirect object marker takes the form i/y in Tudalt and e/y in Tadraq.


As a root-and-pattern, or templatic language, triliteral roots (three-consonant bases) are the most common in Tamasheq. Niels and Regula Christiansen use the root k-t-b (to write) to demonstrate past completed aspect conjugation:
The verbal correspondence with the use of aspect; Tamasheq uses four, as delineated by Sudlow: # Perfective: complete actions # Stative: "lasting states as the ongoing results of a completed action." # Imperfective: future or possible actions, "often used following a verb expressing emotion, decision or thought," it can be marked with "'ad'" (shortened to "'a-'" with prepositions). # Cursive: ongoing actions, often habitual ones. Commands are expressed in the imperative mood, which tends to be a form of the imperfective aspect, unless the action is to be repeated or continued, in which case the cursive aspect is preferred.

Further reading


*Bougchiche, Lamara. (1997) ''Langues et litteratures berberes des origines a nos jours. Bibliographie internationale et systematique.'' Paris: Ibis Press. *Chaker, Salem, ed. (1988) ''Etudes touaregues. Bilan des recherches en sciences sociales.'' Travaux et Documents de i.R.E.M.A.M. no. 5. Aix-en-Provence: IREMAM / LAPMO. *Leupen, A.H.A. (1978) ''Bibliographie des populations touaregues: Sahara et Soudan centraux.'' Leiden: Afrika-Studiecentrum, Leiden, Afrika Studiecentrum.


*Charles de Foucauld (1951–1952) ''Dictionnaire touareg–francais''. 4 vol. Paris: Imprimerie Nationale de France. [posthumous facsimile publication (author dec. 1916); dialect of Hoggar, southern Algeria] * Jeffrey Heath (2006) ''Dictionnaire tamachek–anglais–français''. Paris: Karthala. [covers dialects of northern Mali] * Motylinski, A. (1908)
Grammaire, dialogues et dictionnaire touaregs
Alger: P. Fontana. *Karl-G Prasse, Ghoubeid Alojaly and Ghabdouane Mohamed, (2003) ''Dictionnaire touareg–francais (Niger)''. 2nd edition revised; 2 vol. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, University of Copenhagen. [1st edition 1998; covers two dialects of the northern Republic of Niger]


*Christiansen, Niels, and Regula. "Some verb morphology features of Tadaksahak ." SIL Electronic Working Papers. 2002. SIL International. 2 December 2007 . * Hanoteau, A. (1896)
Essai de grammaire de la langue tamachek' : renfermant les principes du langage parlé par les Imouchar' ou Touareg
'. Alger: A. Jourdan. *Galand, Lionel. (1974) 'Introduction grammaticale'. In: Petites Soeurs de Jesus, ''Contes touaregs de l'Air'' (Paris: SELAF), pp. 15–41. * Heath, Jeffrey. 2005. ''Grammar of Tamashek (Tuareg of Mali)''. (Mouton Grammar Series.) the Hague: Mouton de Gruyter. * *Prasse, Karl G. (1973) ''Manuel de grammaire touaregue (tahaggart)''. 4 vol. Copenhagen. *Sudlow, David. (2001).
The Tamasheq of North-East Burkina Faso.
' Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag.


* Ag Erless, Mohamed (1999) ''"Il ný a qu'un soleil sur terre". Contes, proverbes et devinettes des Touaregs Kel-Adagh.'' Aix-en-Provence: IREMAM. * Aghali-Zakara, Mohamed & Jeannine Drouin (1979) ''Traditions touarègues nigériennes.'' Paris: L'Harmattan. * Albaka, Moussa & Dominique Casajus (1992) ''Poésies et chant touaregs de l'Ayr. Tandis qu'ils dorment tous, je dis mon chant d'amour''. Paris: L'Harmattan. * Alojaly, Ghoubeïd (1975) ''Ǎttarikh ən-Kəl-Dənnəg – Histoire des Kel-Denneg.'' Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag. * Casajus, Dominique (1985) ''Peau d'Âne et autres contes touaregs''. Paris: L'Harmattan. * Chaker, Salem & Hélène Claudot & Marceau Gast, eds. (1984) ''Textes touaregs en prose de Charles de Foucauld et. A. de Calassanto-Motylinski.'' Aix-en-Provence: Édisud.

* Foucauld, Charles de (1925) ''Poésies touarègues. Dialecte de l'Ahaggar.'' Paris: Leroux.

* Heath, Jeffrey (2005) ''Tamashek Texts from Timbuktu and Kidal''. Berber Linguistics Series. Cologne: Koeppe Verlag * Louali-Raynal, Naïma & Nadine Decourt & Ramada Elghamis (1997) ''Littérature orale touarègue. Contes et proverbes.'' Paris: L'Harmattan. * Mohamed, Ghabdouane & Karl-G. Prasse (1989) ''Poèmes touaréges de l'Ayr.'' 2 vol. Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag. * Mohamed, Ghabdouane & Karl-G. Prasse (2003) ''əlqissǎt ən-təməddurt-in – Le récit de ma vie.'' Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press. *Nicolaisen, Johannes, and Ida Nicolaisen. The Pastoral Tuareg: Ecology, Culture, and Society. Vol. 1,2. New York: Thames and Hudson, Inc, 1997. 2 vols. * Nicolas, Francis (1944) ''Folklore Twareg. Poésies et Chansons de l'Azawarh.'' BIFAN VI, 1–4, p. 1-463.

Linguistic topics

* Cohen, David (1993) 'Racines'. In: Drouin & Roth, eds. ''À la croisée des études libyco-berbères. Mélanges offerts à Paulette Galand-Pernet et Lionel Galand'' (Paris: Geuthner), 161–175. * Kossmann, Maarten (1999) ''Essai sur la phonologie du proto-berbère''. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe. * Prasse, Karl G. (1969) ''A propos de l'origine de ''h'' touareg (tahaggart)''. Copenhagen.



* ''Christiansen, Niels and Regula. 2002. Some verb morphology features of Tadaksahak .'' SIL Electronic Working Papers ''2002-005.'' Dallas: SIL International. Online. URL: ''http://www.sil.org/silewp/abstract.asp?ref=2002-005''. * *Sudlow, David. (2001).
The Tamasheq of North-East Burkina Faso.
' Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag.

External links

Souag, L.: Writing Berber Languages
{{DEFAULTSORT:Tuareg Languages Tuareg languages, Berber languages Languages of Algeria