Department of Linguistics
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6
phone: +49 (0) 341 3550 - 300
fax: +49 (0) 341 3550 - 333
An Acoustically-based Phonology and Morphophonology of Siwi (Berber)
The project aims at a phonological analysis of Siwi and an overwiev of its formal morphology. It was partially funded by Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes.
Siwi (or ∂ǧlan n-Isiwan 'the language of the Siwis') is the most easterly Berber language spoken by approximately 20,000 people in the oasis of Sīwa in Western Egypt. The oasis was independent from Egypt until the 19th century but was crossed by an important North-African trade route to Cairo. Hence an enduring heterogeneous influence from individual immigrants (Arabs and other Berbers) and Subsaharan slaves has probably led to the current linguistic state, where some of the 'typical' Berber features in morphology and syntax are missing. The intention of the project, the origin of which goes back to students' field records, is to provide a more thorough phonological basis for its morphosyntactic description since the few existing studies on Siwi have significant shortcomings in this respect. A commitment for collecting oral literature is planned.