A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Due to Revolutionary Broadcasts Siwi Berbers in Egypt Find They Can Understand Libyan Nafusi Berber

Yes, I'm on the whole Tamazight language issue again. Lameen Souag, the Algerian SOAS linguist who does the excellent but too infrequent Jabal al-Lughat blog, has been on hiatus, and among other things gotten married (mabruk!), but has checked in again with a post on how Siwi speakers from Egypt's western Siwa oasis, who can't understand broadcasts from Moroccan or Algerian Berber stations, find they can understand the Libyan radio and TV broadcasts from the Jabal Nafusa with little difficulty.

Siwa is a place I never got a chance to visit, but I have friends who know it well, and who tell me it is in many ways more Libyan than Egyptian. But the fact that Siwi Berber is mutually comprehensible with the Berber of the Jabal Nafusa, over near the Tunisian border, strikes me as an interesting artifact of historical development. But Lameen Souag knows a lot more about it than I do, so read what he has to say.

Siwa, by the way, has a fascinating history I'll have to post on sometime. Alexander the Great visited it. And have you heard of the Lost Army of Cambyses? Until I get around to it, an old friend and fellow blogger who now blogs from Burundi as Diana Buja has some reflections on Siwa, including recipes,

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