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History of Amazigh script

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.



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