- This term refers to the Berber alphabet, and it is related to the ancient Libyan alphabet, which dates back to the fourth century B.C. Archaeological evidence from Tassili n'Ajjer in the Ahaggar and from Thugga in Tunisia (today Dougga) shows a simplified Semitic alphabet composed of symmetrical and orthogonal inscriptions. Similar to Punic, vowels are not transcribed, and for the most part it is constituted of an epigraphic alphabet. Ancient administrative texts tend to be written from right to left, while funerary inscriptions were inscribed in columns and read from either the top or the bottom. Its use was widespread, stretching from the Fezzan, or southwestern modern Libya, to the Canary Islands. A variant of Tifinagh survives today among the Tuareg, and its rehabilitation and revitalization are being undertaken by the Institut Royal de la Culture Amazigh (IRCAM) in Morocco, Kabyles, Chaouia, and other diaspora communities.The adoption of the ancient script of Tifinagh to revive Berber culture language and culture has become a contested issue among Berbers as well as policymakers in North Africa. While the Institut Royal de la Culture Amazigh, a government-certified institution, is reviving Berber language, or Tamazight, in Tifinagh, the Kabyle and others in the diaspora have elected to apply a Latin script to Tifinagh. Kabyles and others argue that the Roman script lends itself very nicely to modern means of communication of all that is Berber beyond the borders of the Berber homeland. Another interesting aspect of this linguistic debate is the fact that writing in Berber is still not politically correct in North Africa. There are many bases for this fact. First, there is the deliberate attempt to anchor nation building in the discourse of Islam through its sacred language, Arabic. Second, the Berber Dahir and the efforts of the French to isolate Berber culture and practices in Algeria and Morocco were rejected by the nationalist movements. Finally, while cultural and political leftist formations have privileged the notion of class as a unit of social analysis, they have always displayed unconstructive and Arab-centric attitudes and sentiments, if not downright racism, toward all things considered Berber.
Historical Dictionary of the Berbers (Imazighen) . Hsain Ilahiane. 2014.