The Berber language of Awjila | لهجة اوجلة الامازيغية

Here at the Silphium Gatherer we are going to close out this month with a focus on recent studies about the various Berber groups of Libya. [1]

Academic work on the Berbers of Libya has been primarily linguistic, but of course, as we often say here, all aspects of these groups are understudied. By sharing the main recent publications here, I hope to at least give an impression of what has been done and possibilities for future research. The first two works highlighted here are both based on linguistic data collected during the pre-regime period, as little fieldwork has been possible in the past several decades.

The most recent publication is my friend and colleague Marijn van Putten‘s overview of the grammar of the Berber variety spoken in the oasis of Awjila in eastern Libya: A Grammar of Awjila Berber (Libya), Rüdiger Köppe Verlag, Cologne, 2014 (Berber Studies 41). The material for this was collected in the 1960s by a very able linguist named Umberto Paradisi, whose tragic death in an accident in Benghazi prevented him from finishing his work. Marijn van Putten has now turned his work into a detailed and readable grammatical description which also includes all the material in Awjila Berber recorded by earlier scholars, including a number of fairy tales and songs.

On a Berber-language-related blog that Marijn and I started a while ago, you can also find some discussion of Awjila Berber (note that it is oriented primarily at those with some linguistic knowledge of Berber languages). Over at Marijn’s academia.edu page those interested will also find a number of further articles about the Berber variety of Awjila.


1 The term ‘Berber’ is usually used in scholarly works, but is sometimes considered pejorative—however, we’ll continue to use ‘Berber’ here in order to refer to publications without confusion.

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