Jerba Berber

Tamazight of Djerba, Chelha of Djerba, or Djerbi (in Berber: eddwi jjerbi or Tadjerbit) is a Berber language of the Eastern Maghreb, spoken on the island of Djerba, in Tunisia.[2][3] It is a component of what is regularly denominated Tunisian “Chelha”, in the south of the country.

Jerba
Chelha
Native toTunisia
Native speakers
Unknown; 10,000[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3(included in jbn)
Glottologjerb1241
Tunisia-Zuwara Berber Map.PNG
Berber-speaking areas belonging to Kossmann's "Tunisian-Zuwara" dialectal group

The Tamazight of Djerba belongs to the group of Zenet languages of the East, to which also belong the other Berber dialects of Tunisia as well as that of the city of Zouara, in Libya.[4]

Geographical distributionEdit

At the end of the 19th century, Tamazight (or Berber) was apparently well established and spoken through the island. It was then possible to connect the dialect of Djerba to other Berber-speaking areas of Maghreb, and many orientalists like Adolphe de Calassanti Motilynski or René Basset (father of André Basset) were able to collect data, in particular tales and legends in vernacular. However, in the same time began the first significant statutory decline of Berber, in Djerba and more generally across the whole Maghreb. Different factors explain such a process, as the French sociolinguist Francis Manzano has pointed out. The reflection involves both French and Arabic. It also goes beyond Tunisia by suggesting a reflection on a North African scale.[5][6]

On the one hand, French had reached rural populations more and more from the end of the 19th century, and the beginning of the 20th. This concerned men from Djerba,in contact with the bases of spoken French of the protectorate, in particular through commercial activities, an important activity of many Djerbians who emigrate through Tunisia and France, like “Kabyles” (Algeria) and “Chleuhs” (Morocco) migrants. At the same time, colonial education (although with shortcomings), combined with new administrative necessities, affected more and more efficiently the young people of the island.[7] Conscription (increasingly important, with the two world wars that were to follow), also favored the growing learning of French by men. This language therefore began to play the role of a new koine as the colonial Maghreb depended heavily on metropolitan France and the whole French colonial empire.

In the 19th century, the influence of dialectal Arabic was limited to geographic sectors of contact between rural Berber areas and more urban areas, with an Arabic-speaking growing population. It is, paradoxically, colonization in Algeria (or the French protectorates in Morocco and Tunisia) which allowed the Arabic language to benefit from new channels of diffusion and penetration within the Berber continuum. In addition, Arab was an estimated written language (notably in religious and administrative matters), and this favored its dissemination. The anti-colonial struggle indeed required the use of a written language opposable to French, something impossible for Berber in this period. Of course, the fact that Arabic is closely associated with the Muslim cult was a factor of progress, as it made Arabic the main language of the identity response among regional elites. All these facts, accumulated and amplified, could therefore only weaken the Berber language and prepare the current sociolinguistic landscape.From this complex process resulted that Tamazight of Djerba was variably spoken during the 20th century in seven main localities of the south and east of the island: El May, Cedriane (or Sedriyan), Mahboubine, Sedouikech, Ajim (or Adjim) and Guellala, with strong decline during the second part of the century, in most of these villages (see below the study of Francis Manzano). The main exception was Guellala where some studies and reviews mentioned regularly a clear reservoir[8]

Recent information on Berber dialects in Tunisia and the current situation are imprecise. But we are better informed about the state and the realities of the Berber-speaking communities of the island during the first half of the 20th century, through the generalist works of René Stablo and those of the French dialectologist André Basset. At the end of the sixties, linguists and sociolinguists took up observations on the language practices of Berber of Tunisia and Djerba, while linguistics and sociolinguistics were actively spreading in Tunisia and more generally in Maghrib. The whole documentation highlights a declining language, little (or not at all) correlated with a positive collective consciousness of identity. It is, in most cases, a minority language, often stigmatized, and unprotected by the institutions or the general culture of the State.

Linguistic characteristicsEdit

Geodiachronical aspectsEdit

Francis Manzano, on the basis of personal surveys and various previous works, carried out an analysis of the sociolinguistic landscape of the island at the beginning of the 1990s.[9]

Most of the Berber speakers were found in the sectors of Guellala, Sedouikech, Srandi and Khenansa, in the centre and the south of the island. They were overwhelmingly bilingual (Arabic and Tamazight), trilingual (Arabic, French, Tamazight) and often more, as many of them were employed in the touristic area where they learned and speak usually English, German, Italian and many languages of the Mediterranean.

On the other hand, further north, there were no Berber speakers since the time of Stablo or Basset (Houmt Souk and Midoun), or it was very old people who could no longer find partners to express themselves in their mother tongue (Mahboubine). As a usual language of public space, Berber seemed to have already disappeared in El May and perhaps in Ajim, two areas where it was reported a few years earlier. In a synthetic cartography,[10] the author showed how the decline of the Berber language seemed to have occurred since the work of Basset[11] and those of Thomas Penchoen.[12] The main Arabization started in the north of the island (1930-1940: Houmt Souk and Midoun) bypassed and isolated the centre / south of the island in the 1960s. Finally remained, in 1990, a hard core in the south, already centred on Guellala, Berber being often catalogued as the jargon of the potters of this locality.[9]

Sociolinguistic aspectsEdit

This geographic decline is accompanied by a generational decline of Berber, regularly highlighted by informants. Most of them declare that the youngest know only fragments, some words and snatches, or ignore it completely.[9] Tunisian school seems to be a major source of this decline, because it provides a real training in Arabic and French, which tends to cut young people off from their Berber environment.[9]

Another heavy factor lies in the touristic activity, as Djerba is one of the most famous summer spots in the Mediterranean. This situation tends to devaluate Berber in the language exchanges and contacts, the more so as no Berber heritage cultural movement took shape in the 1990s. In this context, it was judged that learning English, German or Italian (or others languages of the hotels), with high economic and professional value, was surely better; so that Tamazight was essentially spoken by women and old people in the villages and their rural activities.

The religious factor is also important, in the Maghrebian context. Thus, an informant from the northeast of the island, questioned in 1990, about the Algerian Berber movement (at that time very virulent), could not understand the "refusal to speak Arabic, very astonishing and shocking among Muslims".[13] He thus summarized a very "normal" opinion in the Tunisian sociolinguistic system, that of a logical replacement of Berber by Arabic.

Past studies, like the most recent ones, show that Djerba's Tamazight is conceived as a language of intimacy, of the family, reserved or confined to collective memory, and promised to disappear. It is a language that has been dominated for a long time and which spontaneously retracted to escape the various sociolinguistic pressures mentioned.[14]

Lexical and typological characteristicsEdit

The same survey allows us to establish that in a lexical sample of a hundred fundamental words declared "Berber" in Guellala, about three-quarters are effectively Berbers indeed, such as argaz ("man"), aɣrum ("bread") or anzar ("rain") [anẓaṛ], words clearly distinguished from their Arabic equivalents, and regularly presenting a typically Berber phonological structure, such as adu ("wind") [aḏu], with very audible interdental fricative (or spirant) phoneme. In contrast, a quarter of the words tested seems to come from Arabic, such as alɛafit (< Arabic [ɛāfja]) or (ǝ)lkes (< Arabic [kạ̄s]). This probably reveal a penetration of the Berber system, in proportions yet established by Ridwan Collins, in his study of the Berber of Tamezret. This Arabization can indirectly affect the sub-system of the verb (example [əxdəm] "to work", from Arabic). Finally, we may note that several of these words borrowed from Arabic agglutinate the article and the lexeme. As Penchoen[12] or Ahmed Boukouss[15] observe years ago, we can see in this fact an inability to integrate the Arabic word into the Tamazight reception system, and the index of a strong and ancient sociolinguistic pressure of Arabic.

Phonetic and phonological characteristicsEdit

For consonants, the Berber dialects of Djerba are in an intermediate position between the dialects with a "spirant" tendency of Algeria (such as Kabyle or Chaoui, which regularly present fricatives / spirants in place of occlusives), and the dialects where the occlusives are well maintained (like Tachelhit in Morocco, and Tamasheq in Algeria). A phenomenon comparable to what occurs in Hebrew (begadkefat) is observed in Djerba. The occlusives / plosives become fricatives after a vowel, but keep their occlusive character at the beginning of a word, or after a consonant.[16]

For vocalism, it differs from most other varieties of Northern Berber, which generally have three cardinal vowel phonemes: / i / - / a / - / u /. Indeed, / ə / may have phonological value here, at least in certain contexts. As a result, in Djerba (as also in Tamasheq), the themes of the aorist and the perfective of roots called "zero vocalism" are different (while they coincide in most other Berber dialects). For example, for əxdəm ("to work", borrowed from Arabic), the aorist theme is / xdm / (purely consonantal), while the conjugate forms are realized by syllables containing ə, of changing position according to the context ([ta yəxdəm] “he will work”, but [ta xədməɣ] “I will work”); the aorist's theme is / xdəm /, and contains the phoneme ə, whose position remains fixed across the paradigm ([yəxdəm] “he worked”, [xdəməɣ] “I worked”).[16]

Ethno-toponymic characteristicsEdit

Toponymy is an excellent indicator of the ethnic roots of a region, but we do not have complete studies on the toponymy of Djerba, although the linguist Vermondo Brugnatelli has carried out surveys and partial studies on the toponymy of Djerba.[17] Nevertheless, the work of Arthur Pellegrin (1949) gives various direct or indirect data on the island.[18] Evelyne Ben Jaafar's book (1985) recalls various Libyco-Punic etymologies, although it does not specifically consider the Berber toponymy of Tunisia. An old but very useful work remains that of Émile Laoust (1942), a good model for approaching Amazigh toponymy of the Maghrib.[19] On these points, regional archeology also brings various elements which militate for the continuity from ancient Libyan (“libyque”) to Tamazight.[20][21][22][23]

Berber onomastic marks appear especially in sectors where the local language seems to have held up better over time. Thus, in Guellala, a mosque is called Tamazguida, a common Berber designation in various parts of the Maghreb.[24]

The visible Berber structures are the names of towns and villages, micro toponyms, or even ethnonyms (names of tribes). This last case was previously established for Sedouikech and Sedriyan, Ibn Khaldoun specifying: “The inhabitants [of Djerba] belong to the Berber race and are part of the Ketama tribe. Indeed, there are, even today, Sedouîkîch and Sadghîan, peoples of Ketamian origin [...] In ancient times, the Djerbians professed Kharedjism and even, nowadays, one finds there two branches of this heretical sect ”.[25] Another example is that of the toponym El May, which comes from the aṯ-Alemmay, a fraction of the same tribe of the Sedouikech.[17]

Different Berber place names on the island have correspondents in the Maghreb, such as Taourirt for “small hill” (in the region of Houmt Souk),[26][27] a very common type in Morocco and Algeria (from aourir “hill”),[28][29] or Tamast (Sedouikech), also present in Algeria and Morocco under graphic variants such as Tamest. In these toponyms appears the discontinuous morphological scheme {t – t}, a regular formator of feminine or diminutive in Tamazight (see: aserḏun “mule”, ṯaserḏunṯ “mule female”, afus “hand”, ṯafust “small hand”). Several other toponyms reproduce this structure, such as Tafertast (Sedouikech) or Tianest (Ouallagh). The Berber background appears in series which are not always immediately intelligible without toponymic field surveys: Aghir,[30] Taguermess, Temlel (Midoun),[31] Tarhdimess (Ouallagh), Tghala (Sedouikech), etc. According to Vermondo Brugnatelli,[17] toponyms like Taguermes (s) or Tarhdimess illustrate a diachronic phonetic law in the final of lexia: * -st> -ss> -s. So we are allowed to restore toponyms typic of Tamazight and of the structure mentioned above: * Taguermest and * Tarhdimest.

Mainly located in the east and south of the island, a toponymy of Berber origin can be found further north (Ghizen,[32] Tajdit), or towards the west, regions where Tamazight is no longer spoken in our days. This seems to be the case with Agga,[33] close to Mellita. Here opens a linguistic space of contact with other languages of Antiquity in Tunisia. Mellita, like its North African equivalents, from Morocco to Libya (including Mellita, from the Kerkennah Islands in Tunisia[34]), could be linked to the base already mentioned (amellall or amellul "white"), but also to a Punic root * MLT, attested in the generic name of Malta islands.[35] Such contacts between the “Libyco-Berber” background and the Carthaginian (Semitic) stratum are plausible and frequently documented. One of the problems remains, however, the precision of the sure antic attestations, or that of restitution hypotheses. The importance of the Punic remains and the very nature of the materials collected allow us to glimpse an island that has long been opened to maritime, economic and cultural influences from outside (and for this reason rather welcoming to different toponymic influences): Greek, Hellenistic, Punic and Latin. For example, an islet in front of Ajim bears the name of Taɣlisya, local adaptation and evolution of the Latin ECCLESIA (“church”), a toponymic type otherwise frequent in North Africa 14. This is further illustrated by the site of Tala (or Henchir Tala),[36] which does not fail to evoke the Pan-Berber name of the “source” or of the “water point” (tala or thala),[37][38] as the site seems to have supplied water to the Meninx region, constituting the departure of an aqueduct towards the coastal city.

Of course, the toponymic meeting between Berber and Arab is extremely frequent across the Maghreb. This is the case in Djerba, for example for Ras Taguermess (Midoun) or Oued Amghar (Sedouikech), where a recurrent Arabic toponymic appellative (ras for "cape", oued for "river") has doubled the Berber item.[39] It is also common for places to be named twice in Berber and Arabic. This phenomenon, very negative on the sociolinguistic level (because it prepares a toponymic replacement), is found regularly in the Maghreb and in Djerba too; for example, in the case already mentioned of Taɣlisya, called Guettâya Guebliya in Arabic, or in that of a neighboring islet, called Tawsiẖt in Tamazight, and Guettâyet el Bahariya in Arabic.[17]

From retreat to language deathEdit

The languages of North Africa are not simple languages superimposed randomly by history. We may observe a deeply stable systemic edifice, described by Francis Manzano as a "tripolar system", where each language added automatically takes a relative place within one of the three “poles” observed. Hamitic (cf. Libyan, Berber) Indo-European (cf. Latin, French, Spanish, Italian) and Semitic (cf. Punic, Arabic) languages have constantly shared the linguistic market since Antiquity, which amply demonstrates that Maghreb is located on a fault line between the Hamito-Semitic linguistic domain and Romance languages. From this point of view, Tunisia is distinguished by the fact that the Berber "pole" of the system is much more fragile there than in Algeria or Morocco, so that we are moving towards a bipolar landscape, which would be a great novelty for the whole Maghreb. As Manzano pointed many times, for example in 1996,[40] or later, in 2011,[41] in this country Arabic and French are almost in a face-to-face situation, while Berber is minimized / ignored in different ways.[42] The same observation is made by other sources, such as the Canadian site initiated by Jacques Leclerc.[43]

Effectively, the various observations and studies since the end of the 19th century reveal a constant decline in both numerical and statutory terms. We are sorely lacking in demolinguistic studies, so it is difficult to estimate the real number of Tamazight speakers remaining there; but we are probably around a few thousand, almost concentrated in the south-east of the island, and of practices mainly partial, discreet, even cryptic, of the native language.[44] Above all, it appears that the conditions for the perpetuation of this language are no longer met, in an island which is one of the most famous places of Mediterranean tourism (and its negative effects). Families, divided, constrained by the inevitable opening to the outside of an initially very rural island, are powerfully drawn towards the only national language of a country near of a total Arabic-speaking monolingualism.[43][45][46][5]

Obviously, the devaluation of the Berber language is reinforced by a weak heritage awareness among most Berber speakers themselves. In this regard, there is an evident lack of a local Berber-speaking elite, particularly at the university or administrative level, which distinguishes Morocco and Algeria. No planned teaching of Tamazight exists and the Tunisian state still does not seem to act in favor of a language and local identities which are nevertheless part of the most venerable Tunisian collective heritage.[47][48] Likewise, the deep international movement to support endangered languages and identities (UNESCO type)[46] does not seem to have a direct hold on Tunisia.

The most likely, now, is that the retreat will end with the disappearance of the regional Tamazight. This is an additional textbook case of the more general theme of the "language death" which has long been reflected in Tunisia and Djerba by the consensual celebration of a "Berber" identity, but now (or in short-term) without the Berber/Tamazight language.[43][9]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Amazigh, Djerba in Tunisia".
  2. ^ Trousset, P.; Despois, J.; Mantran, R.; Chaker, S. (1995-11-01). "Djerba. (Jerba, Meninx)". Encyclopédie berbère (in French) (16): 2452–2460. doi:10.4000/encyclopedieberbere.2188. ISSN 1015-7344.
  3. ^ Delmas, Yves (1952). "L'île de Djerba". Les Cahiers d'Outre-Mer. 5 (18): 149–168. doi:10.3406/caoum.1952.1786.
  4. ^ Kossmann, Maarten (2013-07-18). The Arabic Influence on Northern Berber. BRILL. ISBN 978-90-04-25309-4.
  5. ^ a b Manzano, Francis (1996). "Sur les mécanismes du paysage sociolinguistique et identitaire d'Afrique du Nord". Langage & société. 75 (1): 5–43. doi:10.3406/lsoc.1996.2727.
  6. ^ Manzano, Francis (2012). Moulin, Université Lyon 3 Jean (ed.). Maghreb : une francophonie sur la brèche, une interface en Méditerranée. Publications du CEL [Linguistique, dialectologie]. Nouvelle série. Université Lyon 3 Jean Moulin.
  7. ^ Manzano, Francis (2007). "Sur l'implantation du français au Maghreb". Le Français en Afrique (22): 5 à 42.
  8. ^ Trousset, P.; Despois, J.; Mantran, R.; Chaker, S. (1995-11-01). "Djerba. (Jerba, Meninx)". Encyclopédie berbère (in French) (16): 2452–2460. doi:10.4000/encyclopedieberbere.2188. ISSN 1015-7344.
  9. ^ a b c d e Manzano, Francis (1999). "La fin du berbère à Djerba : repères sociolinguistiques et implications sur le système tripolaire de Tunisie". Cahiers de sociolinguistique. Langues du Maghreb et du Sud méditerranéen.
  10. ^ Manzano 1999, La fin du berbère à Djerba...71-74.
  11. ^ André Basset, "Les parlers berbères" 1950, 220-226. See bibliography.
  12. ^ a b Thomas Penchoen, "La langue berbère en Tunisie et la scolarisation des enfants berbérophones", 1968, 173-186.
  13. ^ Manzano, "La fin du berbère à Djerba", 1999, p. 58 (footnote 31).
  14. ^ Manzano, "La fin du berbère à Djerba", 1999, p. 58.
  15. ^ Ahmed Boukouss, "Le berbère en Tunisie", dans Langue et société au Maghreb : bilan et perspectives, Rabat, Publications de la faculté des lettres de Rabat, 1989, 143-150.
  16. ^ a b Vermondo Brugnatelli, "Il berbero di Jerba: secondo rapporto preliminare", Incontri Linguistici, no 23, 2001, p. 169-182 (ISSN 0390-2412).
  17. ^ a b c d Brugnatelli, Vermondo. "Notes d'onomastique jerbienne et mozabite". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  18. ^ Arthur Pellegrin, Essai sur les noms de lieux d'Algérie et de Tunisie : étymologie, signification, Tunis, SAPI, 1949, 244 p.
  19. ^ Émile Laoust, Contribution à une étude de la toponymie du Haut-Atlas, I-Adrär n Deren : d'après les cartes de Jean Dresch, Paris, Paul Geuthner, 1942, 179 p.
  20. ^ Ali Drine, « Le sanctuaire de Tala (Île de Jerba) », Reppal, no 12, 2002, p. 29-37.
  21. ^ Jenina Akkari Weriemmi, « Le paysage funéraire libyco-punique de l'île de Djerba : les caveaux de Mellita », Reppal, no 13, 2004, p. 5-33.
  22. ^ Sami Ben Tahar, « Henchir Tawrirt (Jerba) : un site libyque aux origines », Antiquités africaines, no 52, 2016, p. 9-52.
  23. ^ Yamen Sghaïer, « Une tombe punique à Mellita (Îles Kerkennah - Tunisie) », Antiquités africaines, no 55, 2019, p. 53-69.
  24. ^ Pellegrin 1949,104. “Berberization” of the Arabic masǧid. Through the language contacts within al-Andalus, this etymon is also at the source of both Catalan mesquita and Castilian mezquita.
  25. ^ Ibn Khaldoun (trad. William Mac Guckin de Slane), Histoire des Berbères et des dynasties musulmanes de l'Afrique septentrionale, t. III, Alger, Imprimerie du gouvernement, 1856, p. 63. So, the text gives us information relating to the 14th century situation. This religious characterization has endured until now.
  26. ^ Akkari Weriemmi, 2004, p. 18, footnotes 5 and 6.
  27. ^ The toponym has been documented since the 12th century [ɣabat tawrirt], and again in the 19th century, by French travelers. This toponymic type also appears on the Henchir Tawrirt site, studied in particular by Sami Ben Tahar (2016), this time in the south-east, between Guellala and Aghir.
  28. ^ Pellegrin, 1949, 61-62.
  29. ^ Laoust, 1942, 27.
  30. ^ From Berber ighir "shoulder", and "escarpment, cliff" in toponymy (Pellegrin 1949, 63).
  31. ^ To be likened to the Pan-Berber series amellall or amellul for “white” (above, and see Laoust 1942, 41), Amlal or Tamlalt for “white sand”.
  32. ^ Another rich archaeological site, see Jenina Akkari Weriemmi, Africa, XIII, 1995, pp. 51-73.
  33. ^ Berber aqqa « canyon, gorge ». Laoust 1942, 42.
  34. ^ Sghaïer, Yamen (2019-12-31). "Une tombe punique à Mellita (Îles Kerkennah – Tunisie)". Antiquités africaines. l'Afrique du Nord de la protohistoire à la conquête arabe (in French) (55): 53–69. doi:10.4000/antafr.1141. ISSN 0066-4871. S2CID 213920394.
  35. ^ Akkari Weriemmi,« Le columbarium de Dar Al Ghoula à Djerba (Tunisie) », Africa, no 20, 2004, p. 6.
  36. ^ South of Sedouikech, see Drine 2002.
  37. ^ Pellegrin 1949, p. 66.
  38. ^ Laoust 1942, pp. 56-57.
  39. ^ The first case is to be compared with the Berber agelman for “lake, expanse of water”. The second directly includes the Berber amghar [amɣar] for "old man, elder".
  40. ^ Francis Manzano "Sur les mécanismes du paysage sociolinguistique et identitaire d'Afrique du Nord", 1996, pages 29-32.
  41. ^ Manzano, Francis (2011). "Le français en Tunisie, enracinement, forces et fragilités systémiques : rappels historiques, sociolinguistiques, et brefs éléments de prospective". International Journal of the Sociology of Language. 2011 (211). doi:10.1515/ijsl.2011.038. S2CID 146900867.
  42. ^ Francis Manzano, "Le français en Tunisie...", 2011, pages 16 and 19.
  43. ^ a b c "Tunisie". www.axl.cefan.ulaval.ca. Retrieved 2021-08-26.
  44. ^ Most global estimates put the proportion of Tunisian Berber speakers at less than 1%, perhaps more, taking into account cryptic assumptions and concealment. On the island of Djerba (163,000 inhabitants, 2014), Berber speakers would be 10 to 20,000 in the best estimates, half of them around Guellala. Anyway, that is to say less than 5% of the island population. See for example https://joshuaproject.net/people_groups/12344/TS.
  45. ^ See notably “Endangered languages” and the “UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger”.
  46. ^ a b "Atlas of languages in danger | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization". www.unesco.org. Retrieved 2021-08-26.
  47. ^ From a similar perspective, Stéphanie Pouessel (2012) evokes a “touristified and folklorized Berberity”. https://journals.openedition.org/anneemaghreb/1432#tocto1n5
  48. ^ Pouessel, Stéphanie (2012-10-12). "Les marges renaissantes : Amazigh, Juif, Noir. Ce que la révolution a changé dans ce « petit pays homogène par excellence » qu'est la Tunisie". L'Année du Maghreb (in French) (VIII): 143–160. doi:10.4000/anneemaghreb.1432. ISSN 1952-8108.

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