Western Berber languages

The Western Berber languages are a branch of the Berber languages. They comprise two languages:

Western Berber
Northwest Africa
Linguistic classificationAfro-Asiatic

Zenaga is spoken in southwestern Mauritania while Tetserret is spoken in central Niger. They appear to have influenced the Algerian Songhai language Korandje.

The label "Western Berber" was first used in a classificatory sense by Aikhenvald and Militarev (1984)[1] in reference to Zenaga alone. (Tetserret data was not available to them.)

Sound changes characteristic of this subgroup include the reflex of proto-Berber *ww as *bb (elsewhere gg/ggʷ) and *w (elsewhere retained) as *b after consonants; of *x (elsewhere retained) as *k; of *ṭṭ as ḍḍ (elsewhere ṭṭ); and of *ẓ as a voiceless fricative ṣ (Tetserrét) or θ̣ (Zenaga).[2][3]


  1. Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y. & A. Ju. Militarev. 1984. Klassifikacija livijsko-guančskih jazykov. In IV vsesojuznaja konferencija afrikanistov "Afrika v 80-e gody: itogi i perspektivy razvitija" (Moskva, 3-5 oktjabrja 1984 g.), vol. II, 83-85. (Tezisy Dokladov i Naučnyh Soobščenij IV). Moskva: Institut Afrika Akademii Nauk SSSR, as cited in Takács, Gábor. 1999. Development of Afro-Asiatic (Semito-Hamitic) Comparative-Historical Linguistics in Russia and the Former Soviet Union. (LINCOM Studies in Afroasiatic Linguistics 02). München: LINCOM Europa, p. 130
  2. Lux Cécile. Etude descriptive et comparative d’une langue menacée : le tetserret, langue berbère du Niger. Doctoral thesis, University of Lyon 2, 2011.
  3. Souag, Lameen. "The Western Berber Stratum in Kwarandzyey (Tabelbala, Algeria)", in ed. D. Ibriszimow, M. Kossmann, H. Stroomer, R. Vossen, Études berbères V – Essais sur des variations dialectales et autres articles. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe, 2010

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