Tifinagh

Tifinagh (Tuareg Berber language: ⵜⴼⵏⵗ or ⵜⴼⵉⵏⵗ, Berber pronunciation: [tifinaɣ]) is an abjad script used to write the Berber languages. Tifinagh is descended from the ancient Libyco-Berber alphabet.[1] The traditional Tifinagh, sometimes called Tuareg Tifinagh, is still favored by the Tuareg Berbers of the Sahara desert in southern Algeria, northeastern Mali, northern Niger and northern Burkina Faso for use writing the Tuareg Berber language. Neo-Tifinagh (ⵜⵉⴼⵉⵏⴰⵖ) is an alphabet that was created in northern Algeria around the 1980s as an updated version.[2] Neo-Tifinagh has been used since largely by Algerians and Moroccans for the symbolic promotion of the Berber language, while mainly using the Berber Latin alphabet in most publications. Neo-Tifinagh is often simply called "Tifinagh".

The 33 letters of the Neo-Tifinagh alphabet, used by the Moroccan IRCAM (Royal Institute of Amazigh Culture), and below the correspondences in the Berber Latin alphabet.
Traditional Tifinagh

The script has evolved over time. The early forms of the Libyco-Berber script loosely date from around the 2nd century BCE; traditional Tifinagh seems to have formed in the 1st millenium at some point; and Neo-Tifinagh dates to the 1980s. There are significant differences between the ancient Libyco-Berber script and the Tuareg Tifinagh script. Many letters from the ancient Libyco-Berber script do not exist (anymore) in the Tuareg Tifinagh, while other letters evolved into a different pronunciation in the current Tuareg Tifinagh script. There are also significant differences between the classic script and the more modern Neo-Tifinagh alphabet. Many Tuareg Tifinagh letters are discarded in Neo-Tifinagh, and other ones are modified in form or in pronunciation. The Neo-Tifinagh alphabet also features invented vowels and other letters not found in Tuareg Tifinagh. About half of the letters in the Neo-Tifinagh alphabet were either completely invented (ⵥ,ⴻ,ⵕ,ⵄ,ⵃ,ⵞ,ⵯ,ⵇ,ⵚ,ⴽ,ⵅ,ⴿ,ⵖ,ⵠ), modified in form (ⴰ,ⵓ,ⴼ,ⵁ,ⵍ) or repurposed for a different pronunciation (ⵀ,ⵡ,ⴵ). All traditional Tuareg Tifinagh letters that consist entirely of dots (ⵗ,ⵈ,ⴾ,ⵆ,ⵘ,ⵂ) were discarded by the creators of Neo-Tifinagh and were replaced by newly invented ones. Tuareg people in the Sahara desert continue to use these dotted letters as part of their traditional script, thus deliberately distinguishing their writings from the northern Berbers of Morocco and northern Algeria who use the Neo-Tifinagh alphabet or the Berber Latin alphabet in writing the Berber language.

The ancient Libyco-Berber script[3][4] (or the Libyc script) was used by the ancient northern Berbers known as Libyco-Berbers,[5][6] also known as Libyc people, Numidians, Afri and Mauretanians who inhabited the northern parts of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya as well as the Canary Islands west of Morocco.

The name Tifinagh is stylized as Tifinaɣ in the Berber Latin alphabet, and in the Neo-Tifinagh alphabet it is written as ⵜⵉⴼⵉⵏⴰⵖ, while in the Tuareg people's traditional Tifinagh it's written as ⵜⴼⵉⵏⵗ or ⵜⴼⵏⵗ.


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