Nafusi language

Nafusi (also spelt Nefusi; in Nafusi: Ažbali / Maziɣ / Mazoɣ) is a Berber language spoken in the Nafusa Mountains (Drar n infusen), a large area in northwestern Libya. Its primary speakers are the Ibadite communities around Jadu, Nalut (Lalut) and Yafran.

Ažbali[1]; Mazoɣ / Maziɣ[2]  (Nafusi)
Native toLibya
Native speakers
140,000 (2006)[3]
Language codes
ISO 639-3jbn

The dialect of Yefren in the east differs somewhat from that of Nalut and Jadu in the west.[5] A number of Old Nafusi phrases appear in Ibadite manuscripts as early as the 12th century.[6]

The dialect of Jadu is described in some detail in Beguinot (1931).[7] Motylinski (1898) describes the dialect of Jadu and Nalut as spoken by a student from Yefren.[8]

Nafusi shares several innovations with the Zenati languages, but unlike these other Berber varieties it maintains prefix vowels before open syllables. For example, ufəs "hand" < *afus, rather than Zenati fus. It appears especially closely related to Sokni and Siwi to its east.[9]


  1. ^ Provasi, Elio. 1973. Testi berberi di Žâdo (Tripolitania). Annali dell’Istituto Orientale di Napoli 23, p. 503
  2. ^ Beguinot, F. 1931. Il berbero Nefûsi di Fassâṭo. Grammatica. Testi raccolti dalla viva voce. Vocabolarietti. Roma. p. 220
  3. ^ E. K. Brown, R. E. Asher & J. M. Y. Simpson, Encyclopedia of language & linguistics, Volume 1, p.155 (Elsevier, 2006, ISBN 9780080442990)
  4. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Nafusi". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  5. ^ Beguinot 1931:VIII
  6. ^ Tadeusz Lewicki, "De quelques textes inédits en vieux berbère provenant d'une chronique ibāḍite anonyme" and André Basset, "Note additionnelle", Revue des études islamiques VIII, 1934, pp. 277, 298
  7. ^ Francesco Beguinot, Il berbero nefûsi di Fassâṭo: grammatica, testi raccolti dalla viva voce, vocabolarietti. Roma: Istituto per l'Oriente 1931
  8. ^ p. 1, A. de Calassanti-Motylinski, Le Djebel Nefousa: transcription, traduction française et notes, avec une étude grammaticale, Paris: Ernest Leroux, 1898.
  9. ^ Maarten Kossmann, 1999, Essai sur la phonologie du proto-berbère, Köln: Rüdiger Köppe, pp. 29-33

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