Re: Berber/Tifinagh (was: Swahili & Banthu)

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Sun Nov 09 2003 - 09:53:21 EST

  • Next message: Michael Everson: "Re: Berber/Tifinagh (was: Swahili & Banthu)"

    From: "Don Osborn" <>

    > As for other African scripts, they are most notable in the western
    > and northern parts of the continent. Tifinagh and N'ko are in the
    > process of being encoded. I just had a conversation with someone
    > the other day who recounted seeing a letter written in Tifinagh
    > script in a rural part of northern Niger written by someone to a
    > local chief - quietly this script continues to be used.

    I was concerned recently by some people who wanted to better write the
    Tifinagh languages (such as Berber) with the Latin script (notably for North
    Africa, but also in Europe due to the important North African community,
    notably in France).

    The current situation of the Berber language can no longer be maintained:
    there's a real need to support the language with a unique encoding system,
    even if it involves variants for glyphs (there are differences between the
    official Moroccoan initiative and the desires of Berber people in other
    African or European countries).

    One of the most acute problem comes with the representation of Ayin, and
    problems related to the case conversions of this letter (what is the correct
    way to represent the uppercase Ayain? There are divergences as some will
    want to borrow a Greek Sigma glyph, others will prefer the mirrored 3-shaped

    Same problem with the dot below consonnants: is it really a dot-below
    diacritic or shouldn't there be a separate encoding for the "dotted"
    consonnants, which would allow them to be rendered as dot below or above or
    on the right or with an asterisk glyph, possibly with a compatibility
    mapping to the sequence <Latin consonnant, combining dot-below>

    When the Tifinagh script will be standardized, it would then be interesting
    to allow it to be rendered correctly with Latin letters and diacritic glyphs
    on a user font preference, as it corresponds more to the now modern use of
    the script...

    It would have the benefit of allowing interchanges of dictionnaries and
    texts even if they are rendered differently. It could be possible if the
    transliteration between the historic Tifinagh script and the Latin script
    obeys to precise presentation rules, and also possible because there does
    not seem to exist for now a precise orthograph of Tifinagh-based languages
    when they are written with the Latin script (and this does not facilitate
    the exchange of information between people sharing the same language but
    distinct conventions for the written language).

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