The "Berber" script has a
very interesting story behind it. Ancient Berber is thought to have sprung off
the Punic script roughly around the 6th century BC. It was used throughout North
Africa until the 3rd century AD. Strangely though, the inscriptions remain
unread, as linguists cannot link the written language to any of the dozen modern
Berber languages spoken in North Africa. However, it is widely accepted by
scholars that it was a Berber language given the continuity of the population.
Ancient Berber disappeared after the
3rd century AD, first supplanted by the Roman alphabet, and then later by the
Arabic alphabet brought by Islam. But by some strange miracle, it is preserved,
and still used today mainly by women in Tuareg society. The modern form is
called Tifinagh, which scholars believe to mean "Phoenician/Punic
letters". Tifinagh is not used widely for literature or history, but
instead for recreation (like for composing letters).
The following is a chart of both
Ancient Berber and Tifinagh. The leftmost two are the Horizontal and Vertical
forms of Ancient Berber. The right two columns contain the normal letter in
Tifinagh, and the same letter in ligature with t.