Hassaniya Arabic (Mali): Poetic and Ethnographic Texts
In most countries of the Maghreb, the local Arabic vernaculars are increasingly inundated by vocabulary, grammatical forms, and even syntax from literary Arabic (used in mosques, schools, and media), and oral poetry is receding except for popular song genres. The Arabs of the TimbuktuGao region, by contrast, are a peripheral linguistic minority with little exposure to literary Arabic. They continue to speak a relatively pure beduin Arabic, closely related to varieties spoken in Mauritania and southern Algeria. These texts, recorded in 1986-1989 and presented here in transcription along with facing English translations, document this language, as well as the remarkable verbal culture of these people. The ethnographic texts cover such topics as the annual salt caravans from Timbuktu to Taoudenni, the perils of the pastoral life, and adjustments to city life. The "poetic" texts include recitations of locally familiar poems, typically integrated into narratives or otherwise contextualized. The poems, consisting of quatrains (gaf) and more extended poems (tal'a), are often satirical or even bawdy in nature.Jeffrey Heath is Professor of Linguistics and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan. He is the author of many fieldworkbased works, including grammars, dictionaries, and text collections on languages of Australia and on Songhay languages of West Africa.
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THE CHARCOAL BURNER
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8aak 8ark 8iik 8iik l-layl-a 8rayk 8uuk aana allaahi and-ak and-u ann-i Arab Araouan aywa aywalla ba?d bii-h bii-hum blad wayn camels d-dasr-a Dayluul donkeys famm fii-h flock gaadd gaal gaal-at-l-u gaal-l-ha gaal-l-hum gaal-l-u gaam Garfaaf gatt going goumier haa8a haa8a huwwa haa8a lli haa8i haa8u hadd hagg Hassaniya hatta H hawn Hedgehog hiyya huuma huwwa lli iilaa iilu kaamal kiif kull kuun l-ball l-ganfuud l-haasi l-ma l-malh l-xaym-a la-qnam laahi laughs layli lheeh lii-h lii-ya lion llaa m?aa maa-hu maan-i maassi man-ha man-hum mann-u Mas'uud Mauritania mmwalli Muhammad muulaa-na n-naas n-nhaar nahna nhaar night participle poem quatrain r-raazal reguibat s-sba s-subh she-camel story t-gadd t-traab takamba tamm Taoudenni tent Timbuktu told w-aana w-laa w-tamm waahad wahd-a wald walla xaalag xlaas y-dawr y-guul y-zi yaaqayr yaasar yakuun yawm ylayn ynayn you-Pl zaa-t zaa-u zay-t zayn zayn-a