Treasury of the Berber language:
Messagefrom mbibany “Fri., July 7, 2006 12:17

Treasury of the Berber language

The vocabulary of animals (I)

By M.A Haddadou

The Berber language has thousands of common words that attest to both the language community, but also cultural populations of the Maghreb and the Sahara.

Despite the diversity of the, Berber vocabulary retains a deep unity with hundreds or thousands of words are common. This vocabulary, which dates back to the origins of the Berber language, embraces all areas of life: actions and statements, flora, fauna, feelings, human body … over the articles, the reader will discover with us the richness of the vocabulary which has not, unfortunately, been met in dictionary.


The Berbers place a high animal which today, especially in the countryside, a capital income source. They provide a part of the diet – meat and especially laitiers- products and a host of products that can be drawn from their wool, fur, leather and even bones clothes, shoes, blankets, tents and utensils velum kitchen, such as ostrich eggshells, formerly used as containers or the necks of camels arranged in vases. Added to this is the use of many animals, such as labor force and in steep areas, such as transportation.

Place of animals

Have Berbers practiced, like other ancient peoples, like their Egyptian neighbors, zoolatry or worship of animals? The ancient authors described the practices that are similar to a cult. Thus, according to Diodorus of Sicily, the peoples in the border of Tunisia and Algeria worshiped monkeys could come and go in homes unmolested.

At the same time Muslim El Idrissi reports, a tribe of southern Morocco, a cult of the ram. This practice seems marginal since according to El Idrissi, people who engaged in this cult had to hide, because of the disapproval they faced (quoted by G. CAMPS 1988).

While some authors like Mr. Benabou (1976) argue without hesitation the existence of animal worship among the Berbers of antiquity, others as G. Camps (op.cit) cast doubt on the “What animals for different reasons, have had strong links with the sacred and have enjoyed special privileges (monkeys, snakes, some birds) than others usually and preferably used as sacrificial offerings, have finally benefited from close relations s’ establish with the gods (rams) than others as Gurzil bull or lion for sun or Saturn, were living simulacra of divinity, it is not enough to establish a worship of animals. “(opus cited, p. 669).

It should probably go back in prehistoric times to find, especially in cave paintings, traces of this cult.

The vocabulary of animals

We found, for all the dialects that we studied, fewer than seventy common names. It is little, for a supposed sector being one of the basic vocabulary of the language, so the one who changes the least. The more common terms mean pets, wild animals, best represented are those that have always been part of the Berber landscape: lion, gazelle, jackal …
Almost all of the Berber dialects employ, to designate the animal, terms borrowed from Arabic. Only Tuareg dialects have a Berber word and yet is it limited to the designation of the wild animal, axu “wild beast”. According to testimonies we collected, the word existed in Kabyle, with the meaning “beast,” but this dialect employs today a form apparently related to axu, abexxuc, with sense of “maggot cockroach creeping things.” The dialects of central Morocco employ the very near term, abaxxu, with the sense of “worm, insect” tabaxxa and in that of “spider”. A third word, bexxu has the meaning of “ogre”. Kabyle, today we introduced a new designation aghersiw, which comes from agherus ‘animal skin, tanned skin etc.’

Wild animals

The North African and Saharan fauna is very varied, which explains the difference in denominations from one region to another.


It identifies five common words. These, when used in the same dialect, were to designate the origin of the different species. But the distinctions are rare today.

-Ahenkod “Male gazelle” fem. tahenkod ‘(Ihenkad’, “gazelles”, proper name of the constellation of the Hare) (Tuareg)
-Azenkod “Male gazelle” fem, tazenkot ‘(Ghadames)
-Azenk ° ed “gazelle-male” fem. tazenk ° ett ‘(Chleuh)
-edmi “gazelle of a large species,” fem, tedemit (Tuareg)
-Admu “Male gazelle” fem. Tadmit (Chaoui)
-Dami “Gazelle” (Zenaga)
-Ehem “Name of a species of antelope” fem. Tehemt, p. ext. “shield” (Tuareg)
-Izem “Gazelle” fem. tizemt (Nefousi)

The word is attested in other dialects (Kabyle, central Morocco, chleuh) but with the meaning “lion”.

-Zerzer “Gazelle” (Nefousi)
-Izerzer “Gazelle” (Qalaat Sned, Tunisia)
-Izerzer “Big gazelle” tizerzert “gazelle” (Mzab)
-Izerzer “Male gazelle, large gazelle, deer” Tizerzert “gazelle, gazelle female” (Kabyle)

Kabyle Zerzer uses the verb “run, spinning at high speed”, which could be from the name that appears to be expressive of origin (total repeating a bilitère base).

-Enir “Mohor antelope” (Tuareg)
-Anir “Antelope” (Chleuh)

Tuareg still means the addax antelope with the word amallal, fem. Tamallalt imlul which comes from the verb “to be white.” The same designation is attested in the dialects of central Morocco: Amlal “gazelle”.


His name is common to some dialects but its expansion area extends north to the Sahara.

-Udad “Mouflon” (Tuareg)
-Awdad “Mouflon” (Nefousi)
-Udad “Mouflon” (Ghadames)
-Udad “Mouflon” fem. tudatt (central Morocco, Chleuh)
-Udad “Mouflon” (Kabyle)


This animal, common in North Africa, has the same name in several dialects, with the exception of the Tuareg employs a clean word azubara:
-Ilef “Boar pig” tileft “sow sow” (Nefousi)
-Ilef “Boar” (Siwa)
-Ilef “Boar pig” tileft “sow sow” (central Morocco, chleuh, Kabyle, Chaoui)
-Ilef, Iref “boar” tileft, tireft “sow” (Rif)

The word may be related to the name of the elephant, elected, still living in the Tuareg as elected / telut and place names attested in the northern regions of North Africa. Colloquial Arabic Maghreb ilef borrowed in the form of h’eluf.

———————————- Treasury of the Berber language (II) ——– ——-

We continue to investigate, in this part, denominations common wildlife Berber dialects. Some of these animals like the lion disappeared but their names because conveyed by folklore and literature, are still alive.

the Lion

This animal once widespread, has almost entirely disappeared from the Maghreb and the Sahara. He was still present in the early twentieth century and the acrobats walking in the villages and cities, including Oran. In Kabylia, lion tracks were recorded until the late 40. It would still find in the Moroccan High Atlas, but her survival seems very hypothetical. The name of the lion is however still alive in stories, poetry and proverbs, which allowed him to survive in different dialects.

-ahar “lion” fem. Tahart (Tuareg)
-war “lion” fem. Twait (Nefousa)
-ar “lion” (Sned, Tunisia)
-abur “lion” (Ghdames)
-ar “lion” (arch.) (Ouargla)
-abuharu “lion” (composed of har + bu “master, that of” (Rif.)

Kabyle name of the lion is izem (a term which is also noted in central Morocco and chleuh), however, the common name is up in place names in the form
-war (eg AzRu bbwar, ” the lion of the rock ” in the Mizrana region).

other wild

The other big cats such as the leopard and lynx (often mistaken) have no common names.
Some Algerian and Moroccan dialects employ aghiles for these animals, the Touareg has amayas for cheetah and leopard Damsa for, etc.

the monkey

This animal seems to have carried a sacred aspect in the ancient Maghreb: the Greek and Latin authors speak of villages where monkeys enjoy protection, coming and going as they pleased. Linguistically, the monkey carries different names depending on the dialect, perhaps because of taboos forbidding the use of its name and its replacement by more neutral names. A name is common to some dialects, however:

-abiddaw “Monkey” fem. tabiddawt (To)
-biddu “Monkey” (Ghd)
-iddew “Monkey” fem. tiddut (TM)
-iddew “Monkey” fem. tiddewt; Biddu, ms. (pleasant) (K)

The word is attested in néfousi, beddiw in Mozabite and wargli, abeddiw with the meaning “crazy, insane.” These dialects have verbs, beddu, sbiddu, meaning “be crazy.” It was probably a secondary sense, became principal. It is through metaphorical transfer the name of the monkey, animal known by its extravagances, has come to designate the insane.

In Kabylia, the most common name of the monkey is ibekki, fem. tibekkit ‘forms that seems unique to this dialect but can be compared to a verb attested in Tuareg:

Beket “cringe, cower in order not to be seen” sebbeket “to cringe” ABKI, pl. ibkiten “made to snuggle” asebbeki, pl. isebbeka “house of a wild animal” and, by extension, tisebbeka “embuscad

the Jackal

This animal is probably the most common in North Africa, it is also the most famous of folklore in which he is cunning and resourcefulness, like the fox in the European popular literature. His name is common to several dialects, except the Touareg, which employs a clean run.

-weccin “jackal” (Ghdamès)
-uccen “jackal” (Nefousa, Sned)
-uccen “jackal” fem. tuccent (Mzab)
-uccen “jackal” tuccent “female jackal, p. ext. collapse of the soil, cracks in the walls” (Ouargla)
-uccen “jackal” fem. tuccent (central Morocco, Chleuh, Rif, Chaoui)
-uccen “jackal” tuccent “.. female jackal, p ext crack, crack in the walls of the walls” (Kabyle)

The name provided many names and is used as a proper name of a family, in all the countries of the Maghreb, even in Arabic-speaking regions.

the fox

The “counterpart ‘jackal, fox, does not enjoy himself, such a reputation: he rarely appears in the stories, and his name, understandably, is not widespread. Kabyle, chleuh and central Morocco employ, however, a common name, abaragh, probably derived from awragh ” yellow ”, in reference to the tawny color of his coat.

The hyena

As everywhere in the world, this animal scavenger has a bad reputation, include especially unlucky. Its name, which seems of great antiquity, is as common as the jackal:
-fis “hyena” fem. tifist (Nefousa)
-ifis “hyena” fem. tifist (Sned, Mzab, central Morocco, Chleuh, Rif, Kabyle, Chaoui)
Tuareg employs aridal, fem. taridalt might be not the animal’s name but his nickname. The word means, in fact, in some dialects (central Morocco, Rif) “lame” with a sridel verb “limp” (Rif).

The field mouse, weasel

The names vary from one dialect to another. One is
common to two dialects listed in different areas:
-tadghagha “field mouse, Palm rat” (Ouargla)
– Tadghaghat “weasel, weasel” (Kabyle)

The name may be related to a verb attested in Tuareg deghideghi “toddle” also found in the dialects of central Morocco in the form deghidgey “seek, search anxiously, p. Ext. Be agile” and dialectal Arabic the borrowed in the form deghdegh ‘tickle’

the hedgehog

As jackal, hedgehog is a pet folklore and popular literature Maghreb, whether Arab or Berber expression. As the jackal, with whom he is often confronted, it represents trickery, finesse and intelligence in the service of evil. The name is common to several dialects, often the first radical drop:

-ekenesi “hedgehog” fem. tikenesit (Tuareg)
-akkunsi “hedgehog” (Ghadames)
-insi “hedgehog” fem. tinsit (Ouargla, central Morocco)
-insey, inisi “hedgehog” fem. tinseyt (Rif)
-inisi “hedgehog” fem. tinisit (Kabyle)
-insi “hedgehog” fem. tinsit (Chaoui)

The name is perhaps related to the KNES verb “quarreling, arguing” attested in Tuareg and ghadamsi.

Rat, mouse

The name is common to most dialects considered, with the exception of the Tuareg.

-gardi, agerdi “mouse” (Nefousa)
-agerdi “rat” (Siwa)
-agherda “rat, mouse,” fem. tagherdayt (Ouargla, Mzab, central Morocco, Chleuh, Rif, Kabyle, Chaoui)

—————————————– Treasury of the Berber language —- ——

The vocabulary of animals (3)

The name of the bird and snake are common to most dialects. This may be indicative of ancient common magical practices Berber societies.

Magical practices related to birds, we include the ornithomancy or divination by the flight, the cry and entrails of birds, the famous Kabyle you will already denounced in ancient times by Saint Augustine, proscribed by Islam but long practiced. As for the snake, he held a special place in fertility rites associated with the fertility of the land, it was sometimes revered, sometimes feared and fought.


The generic name of the bird is common to most of the Berber dialects. He notes a GD’D root ‘, and it is done in different ways:

-ajd’did ‘(Tuareg Mzab Ouargla, Rif) agd’id’ (Ghadames) ajet’it ‘(Nef)
acîiî “bird” (Siw, Skn) agd’id ‘(Kabyle, Chaoui, central Morocco etc.)
The name seems to derive from a verb meaning “jump, fly, fly”, attested by Tuareg, egged ‘and ghadamsi, ekked’. Tuareg of Niger dialects have an agent name, emajjad with the meaning of “volatile, flying animal.” Note that the female bird Kabyle, tagd’it has given its name to a childish disease dysentery. According to legend, a oiselle beat his son under the amused look of the women who did nothing to stop him from killing: the bird then vowed to take to wherever it was possible to human children and kill them.
Some bird species have common names.


– Tafilellest, tifirellest “Swallow” (Kabyle)
– Tafelillest “Swallow” (Ghadames, siwa)
– Teflillist “Swallow” (nefousi)
– Taflillist “Swallow” (Mzab)
– Taslallaft “Swallow” (Ouargla)
– Taflilist “Swallow” (aflillis “fastest animal placed on the outside of the hitch dépiquant grain”) (Morocco-central)
– Tiflellust “Swallow” (chleuh)
– Tifredjdjest “Swallow” (Rif)
– Tifilillest “Swallow” (chaoui)

Eagle, vulture

A word is common to some dialects. He sometimes refers to different species but the word spreads everywhere the common “bird of prey.
– Igider, ijider “eagle, vulture, kite, bird of prey” (Kabyle)
– Eheder, ejadar “eagle” (Tuareg)
– Igider “eagle, vulture” (Morocco-central)
– Gider, ijidar “vulture, eagle” (chaoui)
Buse, milan, bird of prey
– Tamedda “nozzle” ameddiw “nozzle, hawk, bird of prey” (Kabyle)
– Tamidda “name of a bird of prey” (Tuareg)
– Timdi “nozzle” Amedda “milan” (Morocco-central)
– Tamedda “hawk” (Rif)


– Tagerfa “raven, crow” agerfiw (Kabyle) “raven, ravens (col.)”
– Udjerf “crow” (Ghadames)
– Tejarfi “crow” (nefousi)
– Tjarfi “crow” (Sokhna)
– Ajerfi “crow” tajerfit “raven, crow” (Ouargla)
– Tjarfit “crow” (Rif)
– Jarfi “crow” (chaoui)
Owl, owl
– Tawik “owl” (Tuareg)
– Tiyukt “owl” (Siwa)
– Tawikt “owl, owl” (Morocco-central)
– Tawukt “owl, great horned” (chleuh)

Kabyle use their own words: awi’ruf, literally “scholar, who knows,” probably an understatement, the animal being unlucky and onomatopoeia: Bururu ..


The name of the snake differs from one area to another. One word is common to some dialects:

– Figher “snake, reptile, intestinal worms” (Mzab Ouargla)
– Ifigher “snake, reptile” tifighra “viper snake” (Morocco-central)
– Ifighar “snake” (Rif)
– Figher “snake” (chaoui)

Kabyle employs azrem, probably az’rem ‘gut’. The common word ifighar, attested in place names (Ifigha), the same word seems to be composited in forming the name of “crab” in this dialect, ifiraghqes, likely composed of Ifigha and eqqes “sting”. Tuareg accel used to describe general snake. The diminutive, taccelt means the viper. The word is found in Mozabite, taccelt with the same meaning. This is another word for in other dialects.


– Talefsa, tanefsa “viper” (Kabyle)
– Talifsa “viper” (Ghadames, Ouargla, Mzab)
– Telifsa “viper” (Nefousa)
– Talifsa “viper” alefsa “toad” (central Morocco)
– Talefsa, tarefsa “viper” (Rif)
– Talefsa “viper” (chaoui)

The word may have to link to a verb, elves, attested in Tuareg with the meaning of “flatten be flattened” by reference to the flattened shape of the head of the reptile.


One frog, frog, wearing a common name:
– Adjeru “frog” (Tuareg)
– A’âedjdjur “frog” (ghdames)
– Ajru “big frog” tajrut “little frog, Pippin” (Mzab Ouargla)
– Agru, ajru “frog, toad” (Morocco-central)
– Agru “toad” (chleuh)
– Ajru “frog” (Rif, chaoui)

Note that this word has passed into colloquial Arabic Maghreb, in the form djrana. Kabyle, we use a word from an onomatopoeia: amqaqur by reference to the animal’s cry. Note that the animal is sacred and it is forbidden to put him to death. This is probably the sanctity that made her name is persisted in Arabized populations.


The vocabulary of the fish is very varied and each coastal area has its own vocabulary.
We will return later, in a special article on this vocabulary.
Reported here that the animal’s generic name is common to all dialects, including the Sahara.

– Asûlmay “fish” tasûlmit “fishbone” (Tuareg)
– Aslem “fish” taslemet “small fish, p. ext. arm muscle “(central Morocco)
– Aslem “fish” (Kabyle chleuh,)
– Asrem “fish” (Rif)

M.A Haddadou

Source: La Depeche de Kabylie

Morocco: AYT-TIMOULAY of France requires of investigation on the tragedy of TIMSURT

Amazigh diaspora communities are beginning to demand the rights of their parents and families left in Morocco. The Ayt Timoulay community in France has just sent a letter of protest to the Moroccan government leader requesting of investigation on the tragedy of the river Asif n-Timsurt. The AmazighWorld site received a copy of the letter we publish in full:


     Drancy December 1, 2014

Mr. Abdelilah Benkirane,
Head of Government.

Subject: Opening of an investigation into the drama of TIMSURT

Mr. Head of Government,

Southern and southeastern Morocco experienced deadly storms that left dozens dead, wounded and missing. Timoulay our hometown has been particularly affected. On Saturday, November 22, the river that separates TIMSURT Timoulay of Bouizakaren, took away 17 people from our village. Immediately after his miraculous survival, AKOURBAL Hned me, the only survivor of the tragedy, has not failed to prevent the gendarmerie BOUIZAKAREN. However, prevented authorities have not shown minimal interest in this distress call.

The n-Timsurt Asif River, site of the accident, is less than 2 km from one of the largest military bases in the country, “BERDN”. Despite this proximity, no order was given to the military to help the victims. This then this is the army that is in front in disaster areas around the world.

The world discovered another face of the kingdom. That of Morocco characterized by the absence of the state and the lack of infrastructure. Indeed, the authorities’ contempt pushed the villagers, with their modest means, to provide relief and assistance to victims and to support research and the evacuation of the dead. Eight victims were found Sunday night, while the others were located Monday morning, not far from TAGANT. All returnees and carried in a garbage truck. This picture is unworthy humiliation beyond death.

Retirees and AYT-MOULAY IZDAR community resident abroad contribute annually and significantly by hundreds of millions of dirham into the coffers of the state. Despite the economic effort that calamity illustrates once again and dramatically exclusion of this region which is part of said “useless Morocco”. Fragility, see the lack of infrastructure is the direct realization of socio-economic policy of the state.

After a second wave of bad weather, the Moroccan government has just declared the province of Guelmim disaster area. In short, the government is committed through this declaration to indemnify and take charge of all flood victims. We hope that this measure will be put in place quickly without distinctions or favoritism among the victims.

The management of this drama is a disaster in itself, and we believe that the State is responsible for this one next to local politicians. We believe in the rule of law makers accountable. That is why we call for the opening of an investigation into the tragedy in question.

Accept, Excellency the Head of Government, our sincere considerations.

Copy to M Salaheddine Mezouar, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.
Copy to M Anis Birou inister charge of Moroccans living abroad and business migration.
Copy to M Chakib Benmoussa, Morocco’s ambassador to Paris.
Copy to Mr Mohamed Ali El Admi, wali and governor of the province of Guelmim.

Email: timoulaydiaspora@gmail.com Tel: 0033651029249

Author: AmazighWorld
Date: 2014-12-08

Skip to toolbar