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Tifinagh ( in Neo-Tifinagh, in Berber Latin alphabet, ) is an alphabetic script used by some Berber peoples, notably the Tuareg, to write their language. The Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. It is not in widespread use as a means of daily communication, but often serves to politically and symbolically assert a Berber identity. A slightly modified version of this Berber script, called Tifinagh Ircam is used in a very limited number of Moroccanmarker elementary schools in teaching the Berber language to children.

The word Tifinagh may be etymologically derived from tifi negh 'our find/discovery',, or from a cognate to the word Punic.

Tifinagh or Neo-Tifinagh?

Linguists and historians tend to be specific in distinguishing between the millennia-old Berber abjad which is Tifinagh; and the Neo-Tifinagh alphabet which is based on the abjad but marks vowels and distinguishes more consonants.

The old Tifinagh script is found engraved in stones and tombs in some historical sites in northern Algeria, in Tunisia, and in Tuareg areas in the African Sahara.

The Neo-Tifinagh script was developed and computerized in the 20th century mainly by Moroccan and Algerian researchers, some of whom were based in Europe.


An older version of Tifinagh was more widely used by speakers of North Africa. It is attested from the 3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD.

  • There are two variants: eastern and western.
  • The eastern variant was used in what is now Constantinemarker, the Aures region and Tunisiamarker. It is the best-deciphered variant, due to the discovery of several Numidian bilingual inscriptions in Libyan and Punic (notably at Douggamarker in Tunisia.) 22 letters out of the 24 were deciphered.
  • The western variant was more primitive (Février (1964–1965). It was used along the Mediterranean coast from Kabyliemarker to the Canary Islandsmarker. It used 13 supplementary letters.
  • The Libyco-Berber script was a pure Abjad, it had no vowels.
  • Gemination was not marked.
  • The writing was usually from the bottom to the top, although right-to-left, and even other orders, were also found.

The Traditional Tifinagh (Tuareg)

Traditionally, the script marks no vowels, except word-finally; however, various proposals to allow it to mark vowels have been made in recent times. In some areas, Arabic vowel diacritics are combined with Tifinagh characters to mark vowels.

Occasionally the script has been used to write other neighboring languages, such as Tagdal Songhai.

The Neo-Tifinagh script

Salem Chaker, professor at INALCO had proposed a change in Neo-Tifinagh (Tafsut 1990 #14).

Until recently, virtually no books or websites were published in this alphabet, with activists favouring Latin (or, more rarely, Arabic) scripts for serious usage; however, it is extremely popular for symbolic use, with many books and websites written in a different script featuring logos or title pages using Neo-Tifinagh. However, in Morocco, the king took a "neutral" position between the claims of Latin script and Arabic script by adopting the Neo-Tifinagh script in 2003; as a result, books are beginning to be published in this script, and it is taught in some schools. Outside Morocco, it has no official status. Ironically, the Moroccan state arrested and imprisoned people using this script during 1980s and the 1990s.

In Libya, the authorities have consistently banned the Neo-Tifinagh script from being used in public contexts such as store displays and banners.

Code chart for the Neo-Tifinagh script

Neo-Tifinagh is encoded in the Unicode range U+2D30 to U+2D7F, starting from version 4.1.0. There are 55 defined characters, but there are more characters being used than those defined. In ISO 15924, the code Tfng is assigned to Neo-Tifinagh.

Unicode representative glyphs chart (in left-to-right direction)
Code +0 +1 +2 +3 +4 +5 +6 +7 +8 +9 +A +B +C +D +E +F

Here is a comparison chart for the character glyph and the transliteration.

Color keys
Color Meaning
  Basic Tifinagh (IRCAM)
  Extended Tifinagh (IRCAM)
  Other Tifinagh letters
  Modern Tuareg letters
  This position shall not be used

Simple letters (and modifier letter)
Code Glyph Unicode Transliteration Name
Latin Arabic
U+2D30 a ا ya
U+2D31 b ب yab
U+2D32 b ٻ yab fricative
U+2D33 g گ yag
U+2D34 g ڲ yag fricative
U+2D35 dj ج Berber Academy yadj
U+2D36 dj ج yadj
U+2D37 d د yad
U+2D38 d د yad fricative
U+2D39 ض ya
U+2D3A ض ya fricative
U+2D3B e ه yey
U+2D3C f ف yaf
U+2D3D k ک yak
U+2D3E k ک Tuareg yak
U+2D3F ⴿ k ک yak fricative
U+2D40 h



= Tuareg yab
U+2D41 h ھ Berber Academy yah
U+2D42 h ھ Tuareg yah
U+2D43 ح ya
U+2D44 (ε) ع yaε
U+2D45 kh (x) خ yax
U+2D46 kh (x) خ Tuareg yax
U+2D47 q ق yaq
U+2D48 q ق Tuareg yaq
U+2D49 i ي yi
U+2D4A j ج yaj
U+2D4B j ج Ahaggar yaj
U+2D4C j ج Tuareg yaj
Code Glyph Unicode Transliteration Name
Latin Arabic
U+2D4D l ل yal
U+2D4E m م yam
U+2D4F n ن yan
U+2D50 ny ني Tuareg yagn
U+2D51 ng ڭ Tuareg yang
U+2D52 p پ yap
U+2D53 u



= Tuareg yaw
U+2D54 r ر yar
U+2D55 ڕ ya
U+2D56 gh (γ) غ yaγ
U+2D57 gh (γ) غ Tuareg yaγ
U+2D58 gh (γ)


Aïr yaγ

= Adrar yaj
U+2D59 s س yas
U+2D5A ص ya
U+2D5B sh (š, c) ش yaš
U+2D5C t ت yat
U+2D5D t ت yat fricative
U+2D5E ch (tš) تش yatš
U+2D5F ط ya
U+2D60 v ۋ yav
U+2D61 w ۉ yaw
U+2D62 y ي yay
U+2D63 z ز yaz
U+2D64 z ز Tawellemet yaz

= Harpoon yaz
U+2D65 yaẓ
U+2D6F +ʷ ۥ+ Labio-velarization mark

= Tamatart

= 2D61

Digraph letters (ligatures are possible)
Code Glyph Unicode Transliteration Name
Latin Arabic
U+2D5C U+2D59 ⵜⵙ ts تس yats
U+2D37 U+2D63 ⴷⵣ dz دز yadz
Code Glyph Unicode Transliteration Name
Latin Arabic
U+2D5C U+2D5B ⵜⵛ ch (tš) تش yatš
U+2D37 U+2D4A ⴷⵊ dj دج yadj

Unicode fonts for Neo-Tifinagh

*DejaVu Fonts
* Fixedsys Excelsior (a stylized ornamental font, not recommended for running text)
* Hapax Berbère
* MPH 2B Damase


  1. to a limited extent, see Interview met Karl-G. Prasse and
  2. The Mother Tongue in Morocco: The politics of an indigenous education p. 20.
  3. Rapport sur le calvaire de l’écriture en Tifinagh au Maroc
  4. [1]


  • Aghali-Zakara, Mohamed (1994). Graphèmes berbères et dilemme de diffusion: Interaction des alphabets , ajami et tifinagh. Etudes et Documents Berbères 11, 107-121.
  • Aghali-Zakara, Mohamed; and Drouin, Jeanine (1977). Recherches sur les Tifinaghs- Eléments graphiques et sociolinguistiques. Comptes-rendus du Groupe Linguistique des Etudes Chamito-Sémitiques (GLECS).
  • Ameur, Meftaha (1994). Diversité des transcriptions : pour une notation usuelle et normalisée de la langue berbère. Etudes et Documents Berbères 11, 25-28.
  • Boukous, Ahmed (1997). Situation sociolinguistique de l’Amazigh. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 123, 41-60.
  • Chaker, Salem (1994). Pour une notation usuelle à base Tifinagh. Etudes et Documents Berbères 11, 31-42.
  • Chaker, Salem (1996). Propositions pour la notation usuelle à base du berbère. Etudes et Documents Berbères 14, 239-253.
  • Chaker, Salem (1997). La Kabylie: un processus de développement linguistique autonome. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 123, 81-99.
  • Durand, O. (1994). Promotion du berbère : problèmes de standardisation et d’orthographe. Expériences européennes. Etudes et Documents Berbères 11, 7-11.
  • O’Connor, Michael (1996). The Berber scripts. The World’s Writing Systems, ed. by William Bright and Peter Daniels, 112-116. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Savage, Andrew. 2008. Writing Tuareg — the three script options. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 192: 5-14

Tifinagh on Computers


The IRCAM has launched a software suite that enables Windows XP users to be able to view/write Tifinagh on windows machines.This suite can be downloaded from the IRCAM website download here.


It is possible to write Tifinagh on other systems as there are free Tifinagh fonts download here such as AFUS DEG WFUS developed by the SOLIDARITE BERBERO-EUROPENNE AFUS DEG WFUS .

External links

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