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Linguistic Documentation of the variety of Berber spoken in the Siwa Oasis (Egypt)

Landing page image for the collection "Siwi narrative and conversation recordings"

Landing page image for the collection “Siwi narrative and conversation recordings”. Click on image to access collection.


Language Siwi
Depositor Valentina Schiattarella
Affiliation EPHE, Paris – LLACAN, Villejuif
Location Egypt
Collection ID 0283
Grant ID SG0115
Funding Body ELDP
Collection Status Collection online
Landing Page Handle


Summary of the collection

The collection is the result of a documentation project on the Siwi language (Berber language family, Afroasiatic phylum) funded by an ELDP Small Grant (2012-2013). The collection includes a corpus of primary data useful for the community and for researchers who work on the comparison of different varieties of Berber. It is composed of a large selection of genres and topics and it is particularly interesting because it focuses on data elicited from women, which is quite rare due to social factors in the area.


Group represented

The group represented in the deposit are the men and women living in the Siwa Oasis (Egypt), speaking the Siwi language (Berber, Afro-asiatic). All speakers recorded are bilingual (Arabic). Siwi people call themselves ‘Isiwan’ or ‘itadəm n isiwan’ and their language ‘žlan n isiwan’. The collection includes members of the Eastern and Western tribes. Two recordings were made in El Gara, a small oasis 130 km far from Siwa where the Siwi language is also spoken. I wish to thank here all those who welcomed me in Siwa and helped me whenever it was needed.


Language information

The Siwi language (Berber language family, Afroasiatic phylum) is a variety of Berber spoken in the Siwa oasis (Egypt) considered “definitely endangered” by the Atlas of UNESCO.


Special characteristics

This collection contains data elicited from women, which had so far remained unknown because the conservatism of the society prohibited male researchers to undertake this work. It also contains the first collection of folktales in Siwi.


Collection contents

In its current version, the corpus contains mainly audio (but also video) recordings made in Siwa by the depositor. Different genres and topics are documented, including narratives (legends, folktales…), descriptions (history of the oasis and its people, agricultural practices, handicrafts, main ceremonies, uses and customs of the oasis, changes taking place in the oasis), conversations, short songs, recipes, poems, proverbs and riddles. For most of the audio recordings, a Praat file containing the transcription and translation in English is available. The deposit also contains videos (mainly landscape).


Collection history

The project from which this collection originated was financed by an ELDP Small Grant (SG0115) awarded to Valentina Schiattarella for the period from February 2012 to February 2013. Data collection for this project begun in March 2012 and ended in December, 2012 (two fieldwork trips). The collection also contains recordings made outside of the SG project period, in particular those collected in 2011 and 2014. The metadata were reviewed in May 2023.


Other information

The transcription used in the analysis files follows to a large extent the International Phonetic Alphabet. Nevertheless, some symbols differ, namely: š [ʃ]; y [j]; č [ʧ]; ǧ [ʤ]; x [χ]; ɣ [ʁ]; ħ [ʜ]; ʕ [ʢ]; h [ɦ]. Pharyngalized consonants are represented by a subscribed dot. For example: ḅ=bˁ.


Acknowledgement and citation

Users of any part of this collection should acknowledge Valentina Schiattarella as the principal investigator. The Endangered Languages Documentation Programme as the funder of this project. The relevant information is available in the metadata.

To refer to any data from the collection, please cite as follows:

Schiattarella, Valentina. 2013. Linguistic Documentation of the variety of Berber spoken in the Siwa Oasis (Egypt). Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: Accessed on [insert date here].

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