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Neo-Tifinagh, Arabic and French at a store in Morocco Tifinagh writing.JPG
Neo-Tifinagh, Arabic and French at a store in Morocco

Tifinagh (Berber pronunciation:  [tifinaɣ] ; also written Tifinaɣ in the Berber Latin alphabet; Neo-Tifinaɣ: ⵜⵉⴼⵉⵏⴰⵖ; Tuareg Tifinagh: ⵜⴼⵉⵏⵗ or ⵜⴼⵏⵗ) is an abjad script used to write the Berber languages. [1]


A modern alphabetical derivative of the traditional script, known as Neo-Tifinagh, was introduced in the 20th century. A slightly modified version of the traditional script, called Tifinagh Ircam , is used in a number of Moroccan elementary schools in teaching the Berber language to children as well as a number of publications. [2] [3]

The word tifinagh is thought by some scholars to be a Berberised feminine plural cognate of Punic , through the Berber feminine prefix ti- and Latin Punicus; thus tifinagh could possibly mean "the Phoenician (letters)" [4] [5] or "the Punic letters". Others support an etymology involving the verb efnegh, meaning to write. [6]


Script type
Time period
3rd century BCE to the 3rd century CE
Directionleft-to-right  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Languages Numidian
Related scripts
Parent systems
Child systems

Tifinagh is believed to have descended from the ancient Libyan (libyque) or Libyco-Berber script, although its exact evolution is unclear. [7] The latter writing system was widely used in antiquity by speakers of the largely undeciphered Numidian language, also called Old Libyan, throughout Africa and on the Canary Islands. It is attested from the 3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD. The script's origin is uncertain, with some scholars suggesting it is related to the Phoenician alphabet. [8]

There are two known variants: eastern and western. The eastern variant was used in what is now Constantine and the Aurès regions of Algeria and in Tunisia. It is the best-deciphered variant, due to the discovery of several Numidian bilingual inscriptions in Libyco-Berber and Punic (notably at Dougga in Tunisia). Since 1843, 22 letters out of the 24 have been deciphered. The western variant was more primitive (Février 19641965). It was used along the Mediterranean coast from Kabylia to the Canary Islands. 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 letters took different forms when written vertically than when they were written horizontally. [9]

Tuareg Tifinagh

Entrance to the town of Kidal. The name is written in Tifinagh (ⴾⴸⵍ/Kdl) and Latin script.
Script type
Time period
unknown to present
Directionleft-to-right  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Languages Tuareg
Related scripts
Parent systems
Child systems

The Libyco-Berber script is used today in the form of Tifinagh to write the Tuareg languages, which belong to the Berber branch of the Afroasiatic family. Early uses of the script have been found on rock art and in various sepulchres. Among these are the 1,500 year old monumental tomb of the Tuareg matriarch Tin Hinan, where vestiges of a Tifinagh inscription have been found on one of its walls. [10]

According to M.C.A. MacDonald, the Tuareg are "an entirely oral society in which memory and oral communication perform all the functions which reading and writing have in a literate society… The Tifinagh are used primarily for games and puzzles, short graffiti and brief messages." [7]

Occasionally, the script has been used to write other neighbouring languages such as Tagdal, which belongs to a separate Songhay family.


Traditional Tifinagh Tifinagh abjad.png
Traditional Tifinagh

Common forms of the letters are illustrated at left, including various ligatures of t and n. Gemination, though phonemic, is not indicated in Tifinagh. The letter t, +, is often combined with a preceding letter to form a ligature. Most of the letters have more than one common form, including mirror-images of the forms shown here.

When the letters l and n are adjacent to themselves or to each other, the second is offset, either by inclining, lowering, raising, or shortening it. For example, since the letter l is a double line, ||, and n a single line, |, the sequence nn may be written |/ to differentiate it from l. Similarly, ln is ||/, nl|//, ll||//, nnn|/|, etc.

Traditionally, the Tifinagh script does not indicate vowels except word-finally, where a single dot stands for any vowel. In some areas, Arabic vowel diacritics are combined with Tifinagh letters to transcribe vowels, or y, w may be used for long ī and ū.


Zgh-plake province Tiznite.jpg
Script type
Time period
1980 to present
Directionleft-to-right  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Languages Standard Moroccan Berber and other Northern Berber languages
Related scripts
Parent systems
ISO 15924
ISO 15924 Tfng, 120  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg ,Tifinagh (Berber)
Unicode alias
 This article contains phonetic transcriptions in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA).For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.For the distinction between [ ], / / and  , see IPA § Brackets and transcription delimiters.

Neo-Tifinagh is the modern fully alphabetic script developed from earlier forms of Tifinagh. It is written left to right.

Until recently, virtually no books or websites were published in this alphabet, with activists favouring the Latin (or, more rarely, Arabic) scripts for serious use; 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. In Morocco, the king took a "neutral" position between the claims of Latin script and Arabic script by adopting Neo-Tifinagh in 2003; as a result, books are beginning to be published in this script, and it is taught in some schools. However, many independent Berber-language publications are still published using the Berber Latin alphabet. Outside Morocco, it has no official status. The Moroccan state arrested and imprisoned people using this script during the 1980s and 1990s. [11] The Algerian Black Spring was also partly caused by this repression of Berber languages. [12]

In Algeria, almost all Berber publications use the Berber Latin Alphabet.

In Libya, the government of Muammar Gaddafi consistently banned Tifinagh from being used in public contexts such as store displays and banners. [13]

After the Libyan Civil War, the National Transitional Council has shown an openness towards the Berber languages. The rebel Libya TV, based in Qatar, has included the Berber language and the Tifinagh alphabet in some of its programming. [14]


An IRCAM version of Neo-Tifinagh 2008 - Marocko - berbertext utanfor kafe i Agadir 3.JPG
An IRCAM version of Neo-Tifinagh

The following are the letters and a few ligatures of traditional Tifinagh and Neo-Tifinagh:

Unicode ImageFontTransliterationName
Latin Arabic IPA
U+2D30 2D30.png aاæya
U+2D31 2D31.png bبbyab
U+2D32 2D32.png bٻβyab fricative
U+2D33 2D33.png gگɡyag
U+2D34 2D34.png gڲɣyag fricative
U+2D35 2D35.png dj, ǧجd͡ʒBerber Academy yadj
U+2D36 2D36.png dj, ǧجd͡ʒyadj
U+2D37 2D37.png dدdyad
U+2D38 2D38.png dذðyad fricative
U+2D39 2D39.png ضyaḍ
U+2D3A 2D3A.png ظðˤyaḍ fricative
U+2D3B 2D3B.png eهəyey
U+2D3C 2D3C.png fفfyaf
U+2D3D 2D3D.png kکkyak
U+2D3E 2D3E.png kکkTuareg yak
U+2D3F 2D3F.png ⴿkکxyak fricative
U+2D40 2D40.png h
= Tuareg yab
U+2D41 2D41.png hھhBerber Academy yah
U+2D42 2D42.png hھhTuareg yah
U+2D43 2D43.png حħyaḥ
U+2D44 2D44.png ʕ (ɛ)عʕyaʕ (yaɛ)
U+2D45 2D45.png kh (x)خχyax
U+2D46 2D46.png kh (x)خχTuareg yax
U+2D47 2D47.png qقqyaq
U+2D48 2D48.png qقqTuareg yaq
U+2D49 2D49.png iيiyi
U+2D4A 2D4A.png jجʒyaj
U+2D4B 2D4B.png jجʒAhaggar yaj
U+2D4C 2D4C.png jجʒTuareg yaj
U+2D4D 2D4D.png lلlyal
U+2D4E 2D4E.png mمmyam
U+2D4F 2D4F.png nنnyan
U+2D50 2D50.png nyنيnjTuareg yagn
U+2D51 2D51.png ngڭŋTuareg yang
U+2D52 2D52.png pپpyap
U+2D53 2D53.png u
= Tuareg yaw
U+2D54 2D54.png rرryar
U+2D55 2D55.png ڕyaṛ
U+2D56 2D56.png gh (ɣ)غɣyaɣ
U+2D57 2D57.png gh (ɣ)غɣTuareg yaɣ
U+2D58 2D58.png gh (ɣ)
Aïr yaɣ
= Adrar yaj
U+2D59 2D59.png sسsyas
U+2D5A 2D5A.png صyaṣ
U+2D5B 2D5B.png sh, c (š)شʃyaš (yac)
U+2D5C 2D5C.png tتtyat
U+2D5D 2D5D.png tتθyat fricative
U+2D5E 2D5E.png ch, č (tš)تشt͡ʃyatš (yač)
U+2D5F 2D5F.png طyaṭ
U+2D60 2D60.png vۋvyav
U+2D61 2D61.png wۉwyaw
U+2D62 2D62.png yيjyay
U+2D63 2D63.png zزzyaz
U+2D64 2D64.png zزzTawellemet yaz
= Harpoon yaz
U+2D65 2D65.png ژyaẓ
U+2D66 2D66.png e eye (APT)
U+2D67 2D67.png o oyo (APT)
U+2D6F 2D6F.png  +ʷ+ ٗʷLabio-velarization mark
= Tamatart
≈ <super> 2D61
Digraphs (for which ligatures are possible)
U+2D5C U+2D59 2D5C.png 2D59.png ⵜⵙtsتسt͡syats
U+2D37 U+2D63 2D37.png 2D63.png ⴷⵣdzدزd͡zyadz
U+2D5C U+2D5B 2D5C.png 2D5B.png ⵜⵛch (tš)تشt͡ʃyatš
U+2D37 U+2D4A 2D37.png 2D4A.png ⴷⵊdjدجd͡ʒyadj
Color Key
Basic Tifinagh (IRCAM) [15] Extended Tifinagh (IRCAM)Other Tifinagh lettersModern Tuareg letters


Tifinagh was added to the Unicode Standard in March 2005, with the release of version 4.1.

The Unicode block range for Tifinagh is U+2D30U+2D7F:

Tifinagh [1] [2]
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
U+2D7x  ⵿  
1. ^ As of Unicode version 13.0
2. ^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points

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