The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 27: No, the T and the H aren't silent...

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2012/10/02 07:01 -04:00, original URI:

Previous blogs from this series:

Back in part 23, there was a comment from Naravas:

Tifinagh script in windows 8 is awesome but what about Amazigh language pack ? More than 50 million people speak Amazigh in north Africa and their PCs don't have their language.

I also got some email from several people asking the same question.

It put me in mind of the Applying for a common Moroccan Amazigh subtag thread on IETF Language tag discussions that Patrick Andries started back nearly at the beginning of 2011 that went on for several months.

People who regularly follow that list think me complaining about The Unicode List means I don't understand how these lists work. But believe me, I do!

Patrick's first post stated the basic issue of the thread:


Morocco has been teaching in schools since the early 2000's a convergent
variant of Amazigh (Berber) using the Tifinagh script. This common
variant aims to bridge gaps between the Berber variants in the country
by eliminating what is seen as non essential phonetic variants
("allophones") in the common script (this applies to some affricates,
labiovelars and spirants, for some sounds there is simply no sign in the
Tifinagh taught in schools). As far as grammar and the lexicon is
concerned, the common variant teaches children that non-local words and
syntactical features are equally valid but regional forms, enriching
their vocabulary and syntactical knowledge this way (a bit like Brits
know that an American truck is just a lorry).

Morocco would like register a new language code to refer to this common
Amazigh written in Tifinagh. It is not satisfied with «ber» (for Berber
languages, which is a collection of languages).

This being my first attempt to help registering a language subtag, I'm
seeking some advice before applying for such a subtag.

I'm thinking at this stage to propose:

Type: language
Subtag: mac
Description: Moroccan Common Amazigh
Suppress-Script: Tfng

As references, one could mention various schoolbooks and grammars:

Graphie et orthographe de l'amazighe, Meftaha et al., IRCAM, Rabat, 2006.
Vocabulaire de la langue amazighe, français-amazighe, IRCAM, Rabat, 2006.
La nouvelle grammaire de l'amazighe, Boukhris et al., IRCAM, Rabat, 2008.
ⵜⴰⵎⴰⵡⴰⵍⵜ ⵉⵏⵓ ⵜⴰⵎⵣⵡⴰⵔⵓⵜ (Dictionnaire imagier amazighe),
IRCAM, Rabat, 2008.

Do the members of this list have any suggestion before I apply for such
a subtag?


Patrick Andries

Ietf-languages mailing list
Ietf-languages <at>

Anyway, you can check the thread for long it stayed concise, as it moved around and argued about whether this was to be a standard language or a macro-language or a subtag or  variant.

If I had to guess, I'm sure they'd have been happier in Morocco if we had named the locale Amazigh (Tifinagh, Morocco) rather than Central Atlas Tamazight (Tifinagh, Morocco).

But since the code we had was tzm-Tfng-MA and there weren't (and still aren't) either ISO 639-* or BCP-47 tags or subtags for Amazigh (even though several Berber language have unique ISO 639-2 and/or ISO 693-3 tags, our hands were a little tied.

I mean, they have an army and a navy -- so why not give them a language tag? :-)

But until they do, our hands are tied....

Wikipedia gave up years ago, you know.

Any search for Tamazight or Amazigh or any of the variants thereof always tend to redirect to the Berber languages topic, which tries to unpack the Berber situation as well as it can. Which is hard (check out the topic to see what I mean).

For now, we have two keyboards, font support, and language/locale info that was largely presented by people who if you asked them would probably say they were speaking Amazigh.

We have a few other locales that essentially use slightly different languages than their BCP-47 tags would indicate (a fact that keeps Patrick Andries in my inbox from time to time!).

And the locales of Windows continue to evolve....

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referenced by

2012/10/26 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 28: We finally fixed that 'Install New Languages' thing!

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