Grammar of Tamazight (based on Tacawit)
Basic Grammar of Tamazight_Tacawit
RE-ADAPTED FROM WICKI(KABYLE GRAMMAR) AND RE-EDITED BY ZEUS Z.
Tacawit (pronounced [thashawith],[hashawith],[hshawith] or simply [shawith] ) is a variety of Berber language aka Tamazight spoken by the Shawi people . tacawit belongs to the Zenati group (The C group which pronounces certain /k/ like /c/ [sh])which includes tacenwit, tamzabit, tanfusit, tarifit, tasnusit,Atlas tamazight , Sahara taznatit) .
In 1995, there were 1,5 speakers of tacawit worldwide, the majority of Shawis are to be found in the Algerian berber
/a/ Like English /a/ in /hare/
/u/ Like English /oo/ /book/
/i/ Like English /ee/ in /meet/
/e/ (short vowel -schwa /e/ like in english /often/)
at the begining of a word pronounce Like English /a/ in /apple/
pronounce Like English /b/
pronounce Like English /sh/
ulac(there is not)
pronounce like english /th/ in/the/
(spirant) or like in /bad/(occlusive)
silent vowel at the begining of a word
pronounce Like English f
pronounce like English/g/ in /give/ dans (occlusiv) or like English/y/(spirant)
spirant:yega (he did))
pronounce Like parisian r
a8r'um(bread) or aghr'um(bread)
pronounce like English /h/ in /he/:
at the begining of a word pronounce Like English /ea/in /eat/:
j like french /j/ :
pronounce Like English k (occlusif) or german /ch/ (spirant):
pronounce Like English l:
pronounce Like English m
pronounce Like English n
3 (epsilon, a')
like arabic 3ayn
qa3/ga3(all) or qaa'/gaa'(all)
pronounce like arabic qaf
pronounce like English/ r/ in /write/
pronounce Like English s
pronounce like English / th/ (spirant)in/ thanks/ or english h or Like English t(occlusif) :
tazeggwa8t (the red one)
at the begining of a word pronounce Like English oo :
pronounce like English/w/ in /we/:
pronounce like Arabic /kha/:
pronounce pronounce like English/ y/ in /yes/:
imma (my mother)
pronounce Like English z
the emphatics of t, d, r, z,s,h are written traditionally with a dot underneath but on the internet with an apostrophe :t', d', r', z' s',h'
In case of double-emphatics we put the apostrophe after the second letter:
tt', ss', zz' etc...
The two shawi diphtongues of cc and gg are written traditionally with a diatric sign above them but on the internet with an apostrophe after the second letter:
/gg'/:gg'i$ ou jj'i$ (I let)
k' pronounce sh in chawi but k in kabyle
g' pronounce j in chawi but g in kabyle
kk' pronounce tch in chawi but kk in kabyle
THEY ARE DOUBLE LETTERS FOLLOWED WITH A SUPERSCRIPTED /W/:
ggw pronounce oogg ex: /ggwede$/(I am frigtened)
kkw(pronounce ookk) ex:/akkwl/(all)
mmw(pronounce oomm) ex:/yemmwa/(it is ripe. It is cooked)
bbw'(pronounce oobb) ex:/3ebbwa/ (diminutive of the name abdella)
.1 Nouns and adjectives
1.3 Free and annexed state
.4 Verb framing
.6 Verb derivation
.7 Agent noun
.8 Action noun
.9 Predicative particule "d"
2.1 Personal pronouns
2.2 Possessive pronouns
2.3 Pronouns of the verb
4 Sample text
5 Sources used for this article
Nouns and adjectives
As in all Berber dialects, Tacawit has only two genders, Masculine and Feminine. Like most Berber dialects, masculine nouns and adjectives generally start with a vowel (a-, i-, u-), while the feminine nouns generally start with ta, ti or t (t often pronounced h like in Tacenwit) and end with a -t (there are some exceptions, however). Note that most feminine nouns are in fact feminized versions of masculine nouns.
Ahyuy "a boy", tahyuyt "a girl".
Am8ar "an old man", tam8art "an old woman".
Afunas "a bull", Tafunast "a cow".
Singular nouns generally start with an a-, and do no have a suffix. Plural nouns generally start with an i- and often have a suffix such as -en. There are three types of plural : external, Internal, mix:
External or "regular": consists in changing the initial vowel of the noun, and adding a suffix -n, :
am8ar "an old man" → im8aren "old men".
argaz → irgazen "men"
Internal: involves only a change in the vowels within the word:
adrar → idurar "mountain"
combines a change of vowels (within the word) with the suffix -n:
-fus → ifassen "hands"
ul → ulawen "hearts"
izi → izan "fly"
Free and annexed state
As in all Berber dialects, Tacawit has two types of states or cases of the noun, organized ergatively: one is unmarked, while the other serves as the subject of a transitive verb and the object of a preposition, among other contexts. The former is often called
The first involves a vowel alternation, whereby the vowel a become u :
amazi8 → umazi8 "Berber"
ameqqran → umeqqran "big"
adrar → udrar "mountain"
The second involves the loss of the initial vowel in the case of some feminine nouns :
tam8art → tm8art "old women"
tamdint → tmdint "town"
tamurt → tmurt "country"
The third involves the addition of a semi-vowel (w or y) word-initially:
iles → yiles "tongue"
uccen → wuccen "jackal"
Finally, some nouns do not change for free state:
tuccent → tuccent "female jackal"
Depending on the role of the noun in the sentence, it takes either its free or annexed state:
Free: Yuta ahyuy. "He has beaten a boy". (Verb-Object)
Annexed: Yuta uhyuy. "The boy has been beaten". (Verb-Subject)
After a preposition (at the exception of "ar" and ""), all nouns take their annexed state:
There are three tenses : the Preterite (past), intensive Aorist (present perfect, present continuous, past continuous) and the future (Ad+Aoriste). the aorist alone is rarely used in Tacawit (In the other languages it is used to express the present).
"Weak verbs" have a preterite form that is the same as their aoriste.
Examples of weak verbs that follow are conjugated at the first person of the singular:
Verb: Krez (to plough)
Preterite: kerze8 ''i ploughed''
ad + aorist: ad kerze8 ''i will plough''
Intensive aorist:kerrze8 '' i am ploughing''
As in all Berber dialects, Conjugation in Tacawit is done by adding suffixes (prefixes, postfixes or both). These suffixes are static and identical for all tenses (only the theme changes)(note the neutral vowel /e/ is not taken into account when analyzing verbal themes as it is not a real vowel in Berber:
singular: — 8
plural: n —
singular: t —d
plural: t — m
singular:t — d
plural: t — mt
plural: — n
plural: — nt
/t/ in all prefixes above is pronouned [h] in eastern tacawit ..
Example: verb af (to find) with its four themes : uf (preterite), uf (negative preterite), af (aorist), ttaf (intensive aorist).
Berber is a satellite-framed based language and Tacawit verbs use one particle of location to show the path of motion towards the speaker:
Idd(long form fter verb) or dd(short form before verb) orientates toward the speaker, and could be translated as "here".
/yusa-idd ''he came''
/a dd-yas ''he will come''
Tacawit usually expresses negation in two parts: by «
« irare8 » ("I played") → «
/ur/ is sometimes pronounced [oorr], sometimes [oodh], sometimes [oo], depending on which tribe and region of Numidia.
Verb derivation is done by adding suffixes. There are three types of derivation forms : Causative, reflexive and Passive.
obtained by prefixing the verb with the instrumental preposition /s/,/ ss/ :
irid "to be washed" → ssired "to wash".
obtained by prefixing the verb with m- :
zer "to see" → mzer "to see each other"
a nemzer ''we will see each other''
it is obtained by prefixing the verb with ttu- / ttwa-
krez "to plough" → ttwakrez "to be ploughed"
etc "to eat" → ttwacc' "to be eaten".
ttwacc'en '' they were eaten''
Every verb has a corresponding agent noun. In English it could be translated into verb+er. It is obtained by prefixing the verb with « ma- » or internal doubling:
sreh' "to graze" → aserrah "shepherd"
ker "to steal" → makar "thief"
Every verb has a corresponding action noun, which in English it could be translated into verb+ing:
ffer "to hide" → tuffra "hiding" (stem VI),
There are 6 regular stems of forming action nouns, and the 7th is for quality verbs : (C for consonant, V for vowel)
rwel "to flee'', tarewla ''flight''
utlay"to speak" → tutlayt ''speech, language''
Predicative particule "-d"
As in all Berber dialects, The predicative particule "-d" is an indispensable tool in speaking Tacawit, "-d" is equivalent to both "it is + adjective" and "to be + adjective", but cannot be replaced by the verb "ili" (to be). It is always followed by a noun (
-d tahyuyt, "it's a girl".
d- necc', "it's me".
Necc' -d argaz, "I'm a man".
Muh'end -d aqeddac, "Muh'end is a student".
Muh'end yella d aqeddac, "Muh'end was a student".
The predicative particule "-d" should not be confused with the particle of coordination "d"; indeed, the former is followed by a noun at its annexed state while the first is always followed by a noun at its
singular: necc' (nekk')
singular: necc' (nekk')
plural: Netni(pronounced nehni)
plural: Netnti (pronounced nehenti)
Le first t de netni and netnti is pronunced [ h].
Example : « Axxam nne8. » — "Our house." (House-our)
Direct object long form
Direct object short form
T of it , iten and itent is pronounced h.
Indirect object long form
Indirect object short form
the long forms are placed after the verb and the short before the verb :
« Yes8a-it. » — "He bought it." (He.bought-
« Yes8a-as. » — "He bought for him." (He.bought-
« a t-yse8 — "He will buy it." (He.bought-
« a s-yse8 — "He will buy for him."
Complex example (Mixing indirect and direct object) :
« Yes8-as-it. » — "He bought it for him."
« a s-t-yse8. » — "He will buy it for him."
There are three demonstratives, near-deictic ('this, these'), far-deictic ('that, those') and absence. thy can be used as:
- Isolated : Used when we omit the subject we are speaking about : «Way yehla» — "This is nice." (This-is.nice)
singular:ta / tay /
Note that t is pronounced [h]
Only the first two numbers are Berber; for higher numbers, Arabic is used. They are ijj', ict "one", sin (f. sint) "two". The noun being counted follows it in the genitive: sin n irgazen "two men".
"First" and "last" are respectively amezwaru and aneggaru (regular adjectives). Other ordinals are formed with the prefix
Prepositions precede their objects(they are used before nouns and pronouns): « i yudan » "to the people", « si temdint » "from the town". All words preceded by a preposition (at the exception of « i » , "towards", "to" ) .
Some prepositions have two forms : one is used with pronominal suffixes and the other form is used in all other contexts.
Also some of these prepositions have a corresponding relative pronoun (or interrogative), example:
« i » "for/to" → « imwumi » "to whom"
'with, in the company of'
'for, to' (dative)
'to whom' (dative) ,whose'
f, 8ef(behind nouns), fell-(behind object pronouns)
s (behind nouns),yis (behind object pronouns)
'with, by means of' (instrumental)
'with what' (instrumental)
'on top of'
'in front of'
Conjunctions precede the verb:
di dd-yeusa "when he arrived",
eqqel ma yusa-idd "see if he came".
Non-Berber Loan words
Tacawit has absorbed quite some Arabic and French vocabulary. According to Salem Chaker, about just about a third of Tacawit vocabulary is of Arabic origin(less than kabyle); the amount of French loanwords has not been studied yet. These loanwords are sometimes Berberized and sometimes kept in their original form. The Berberized words follow the regular grammar of Tacawit (free and annexed state).
Examples of berberized Arabic or french words :
arabic waraqa => tawerqit ( leaf, Ar.)
french bidon => abidun (bucket, Fr.)
Many loanwords from Arabic have often a different meaning in Tacawit:
elMal (Money, Ar.) => Lmal (Domestic animals in tacawit .)
All verbs of Arabic and french origin follow a Berber conjugation and verbal derivation:
arabic fhem (to understand) => ssefhem (to explain).
french engager (to be enlisted in the army)=> amgaji (a professional army soldier()