numerous tables and charts
Text language: English
The present course is designed to be an introduction to the Tuareg dialect of the Ahaggar or Hoggar region of Algeria, as well as the adjacent Azzar and Ahnat regions. This dialect is spoken by a minority of some 43,000 Tuareg speakers and some 10,000 beyond the Libyan border. Thus, it is a small dialect, compared with those of Niger (about 1,000,000 speakers) and Mali (about 500,000 speakers). However, it is a very important dialect for research purposes as it was the object of some of the earliest and best studies into the Tuareg language and culture. Outstanding are the great four-volume dictionary and the texts compiled by Charles de Foucauld during the early years of the 20th century, which are still a source of important information to modern scholars.
The Tuaregs have their own alphabet called tifinagh. The tifinagh are derived from the ancient Libyan alphabet, used for funerary inscriptions. Some of these can be dated back to 150 BC, e.g. the important funeral inscription of the Numidian king Massinissa that can be seen in modern Dougga (Northwestern Tunisia). The tifinagh alphabet only writes the consonants (plus a dot for the final a, and sometimes a final w or y for u and i). Not even the long vowels are written, as is the case in Arabic, and traditionally the words are not separated. This makes it extremely difficult to decipher longer texts, even for Tuaregs. This is the reason why modern scholars and the literacy services (Services d’Alphabétisation) of the modern states have developed an alphabet based on the Latin one. This is also the alphabet adopted for this course.
Once you have mastered the Hoggar dialect (tahaggart), it will be easy for you to move on to the other dialects of the Tuareg language, especially those of the Adrar of Mali (tadghaq) and of the region of Timbuktu (tenshart or taneslemt) that are akin to tahaggart.