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

From: Patrick Andries (
Date: Mon Nov 10 2003 - 14:33:28 EST

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    Philippe Verdy a écrit :
    >I was concerned recently by some people who wanted to better write the
    >Tifinagh languages

    Stricto sensu, they are no tifinagh languages, but languages (or dialects of
    the Berber language) written with the tifinagh script.

    >(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).

    I'm not sure why you want to privilege the Latin script. A large part in
    chosing a script for tifinagh is based on subjective reasons. Tifinagh is
    seen as a neutral (neither Western, neither Arabic), indigeneous and deeply
    historically-rooted script. These sentiments must be respected and
    communities may choose whatever script they feel best suited for their own
    needs (affirming one's identity should not be disregarded here).

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

    This makes no sense : the modern use of the Tifinagh script cannot be
    another script... You may have meant the modern day script used for the
    berber language. This is highly disputable (Morocco just started teaching
    Tifinagh in its schools and they are many Berber sites in Tifinagh and
    Arabic scripts). It also does not follow that being able to switch fonts
    between two scripts used for a language should take precedence over coding
    properly the different scripts. What if there is no one-to-one mapping
    between the characters of the different scripts ? What about a mapping
    between the Arabic and Tifinagh transcriptions of Berber ? Should we be
    able to switch between the Arabic and Latin transcriptions by a simple font
    adjustment ? What is one then to do with the « emphatiques conditionnées »
    noted by some scholars in Latin and Tifinagh but for which no Arabic
    character seems to be available ?

    Patrick Andries

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