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On the Issue of the Berber Written Tradition

E. N. Fursova ()

Outlines of global transformations: politics, economics, law, 2020

Abstract: The article is devoted to the study of the linguistic tradition of the Berbers, who are the indigenous people of North Africa. The Berbers have maintained a rich tradition of spoken language. At the turn of the 20th ‑21st centuries, against the backdrop of the intensification of the movement for self‑determination, their cultural and linguistic rights, the Berbers launched a large‑scale activity aimed at restoring the national written language. The author suggested that the need to develop standardized writing was partly due to the desire of the Berbers to consolidate the official status of their language in the Constitution. The author notes that the aggravation of the so‑called “Berber question†at the end of the 20th century spurred the interest of scientists and researchers in the Berber written heritage. Most of the surviving handwritten documents make Berber texts (mostly religious), recorded using the Arabic alphabet between the 15th and early 20th centuries. The study of conditions for their creation and fields of their application shows that these texts played a significant role in the dissemination of religious and scientific knowledge among the Berbers. It is concluded that despite the use of the predominantly oral form of the language, the Berbers managed to create a unique written tradition. The article discusses in detail the main problems of the study of Berber manuscripts, among which: the requirement from the researcher of serious pre‑knowledge in various fields; the problem of accessibility of texts stored in private collections; the need to develop unified approaches to the description of Berber manuscripts, their digitization and other important arrangements to ensure the availability of documents for the scientific‑research community. Particular attention is paid to the history of the creation of the first collections of Berber manuscripts and their cataloging. The author has also highlighted the work of scientists, who made a qualitative contribution to the study of the Berber manuscripts, most of which have not yet been discovered and carry significant potential aimed at pre‑ serving and enhancing the Berber cultural and historical heritage.

Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.23932/2542-0240-2020-13-3-13

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