Terence Frederick Mitchell: Zuaran Berber (Libya) – Grammar and Texts [PDF]


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BS Berber Studies Volume 26

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XVI, 349 pp.
Six dialogues of several speakers of Zuaran Berber, free for listening on our webpage (see link at the bottom)

Text language: English

This volume contains a survey devoted to the Berber language of the town Zuara on the west coast of Libya. Little was known about this language when Terence Frederic Mitchell (1919–2007) started to study it in the late forties. The data given in this volume concerning language contact and related subject areas are as relevant as when examined by Mitchell and his informant Ramadan Azzabi in the fifties. At that time, Mitchell published two articles on the Zuaran Berber noun.

The present book mainly presents his research on the verbal system. This is especially characterised by the use of several affixes, the existence of the aorist as grammatical aspect, and derivations, which are likewise being developed by affixes. In detail, the volume alludes to the diversified typology of conjugation, tense and personal affixes, the derivation and the negation of the verb, the incorporation of object pronouns into the verb, and verbal nouns.

The volume is completed by six short conversational texts reflecting the Zuaran everyday life, annotated and translated into English. (For further reading and analyses of Zuaran folk tales see also Mitchell’s text edition Ferhat – An Everyday Story of Berber Folk in and around Zuara (Libya).

What makes this book particularly interesting is the fact that Mitchell, a well-known Arabist, paid close attention to contact phenomena between spoken Libyan Arabic and Zuaran Berber. Collecting data for Zuaran Berber, he accumulated evidence for mutual influence of the two interacting languages. In order to make the text more legible the phonetic transcriptions are adjusted to modern standards.

The audio material transcribed by the author was found later – after this book had been published – in the archives of SOAS, the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. It had been digitalised and put on our webpage for free listening, see the following link:

Audio Material

Under these links you will find descriptions of further Libyan Berber languages:

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