Ghadamès language

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Ghadamès
Native to Libya
Region Ghadamès
Native speakers
< 10,000 (2006)[1]
Dialects Ayt Waziten, Ayt Ulid
Language codes
ISO 639-3 gha
Glottolog ghad1239[2]

Ghadames (Berber: Ɛdimes, [ʕdimes] or Ɣdames, [Ɣdames]; Arabic: غدامس, [ɣadaːmes]) is a Berber language that is spoken in the oasis town of Ghadames in Nalut District, Libya.

Research[edit]

Ghadamsi language materials have been gathered by two linguists. The first materials were published in 1903 and 1904 by Adolphe de Calassanti Motylinski (1854-1907). A more copious and reliable source is provided by the works of White Father Jacques Lanfry, who stayed in Ghadames from 1944 to 1945 and who published his main works in 1968 and 1973. No new research has been undertaken on location since then. Recently, Kossmann (2013) has published a modern grammar of Ghadames based on Lanfry’s materials.

Number of speakers[edit]

Lanfry mentions the number of c. 4,000 speakers as an optimistic estimate.[3] The actual number of speakers is not known with certainty. Ethnologue cites a number of c. 10,000 speakers in 2006, with another 2,000 living outside the area. However, the number of 10,000 reflects the total number of inhabitants of Ghadames, who are not all native speakers of Ghadamès. In addition, the number of 2,000 emigrant speakers is based on a very old source.[4] Ethnologue classifies the language as 6b (Threatened).

The language[edit]

Ghadames constitutes a Berber language on its own, preserving several unique phonological and morphological features, and the Ghadames lexicon, as recorded by Lanfry, shows relatively little influence from Arabic. There is as yet no consensus on the classification of Ghadamès within the Berber language group. Aikhenvald and Militarev (1984) group it as Eastern Berber, and Kossmann (1999) specifically groups it together with Awjila. Ethnologue classifies it as East Zenati.

Phonology[edit]

Consonants

Like other Berber languages and Arabic, Ghadames has both pharyngealized ("emphatic") and plain dental consonants. Gemination is contrastive. Consonants listed between brackets occur only very sporadically.

Ghadames consonant phonemes (IPA)
Labial
 
Labio-
dental
Dental
 
Dental
phar.
Palatal
 
Velar
 
Uvular
 
Pharyngeal
 
Glottal
 
Nasal m
Stop
 
(p)
b

t̪ˤ
 
ɟ
k
ɡ
q
 
Fricative
 
 
β
f
 

s̪ˤ
z̪ˤ
ʃ
ʒ
x
ɣ
ħ
ʕ
h
 
Affricate ()
Approximant w l̪ˤ j
Trill r̪ˤ


Vowels

Most Berber languages have just three phonemic vowels. Ghadames, like Tamasheq, has seven vowels.

Ghadames vowel phonemes (IPA)
Front Central Back
Close i u
Close-mid e o
Mid ə
Near-open ɐ
Open a

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ghadamès at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Ghadames". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Lanfry (1973:iv).
  4. ^ Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd edition, article Ghadāmis (1952): 2,000 persons with a background in Ghadames living in Tunis; quoted by Lanfry (1973:iv).

Bibliography[edit]