This is a resource for words that Imazighen use regularly to refer to ourselves and things related to us. It will be separate from any Tamazight vocabulary resources I may make in the future.
Amazigh/ⴰⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖ: a singular term that describes the indigenous people of North Africa, frequently referred to as Berber in English and berbere in French. It can be used to refer to an indigenous North African person (“the Amazigh who works at the store down the street”), an adjective to describe an indigenous North African person (“an Amazigh woman from Tunisia”), or an adjective to refer to Imazighen and their culture in general (“an Amazigh language,” “Amazigh culinary traditions,” etc). It is our preferred word to describe ourselves.
Imazighen/ⵉⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⴻⵏ: describes Amazigh people as either a whole (“the Imazighen of North Africa”) or as a plural (“the Imazighen who work at the store down the street”). While this is an umbrella term, different groups of Imazighen have specific words to refer to themselves. Some of these include Imuhagh (Tuareg), Iqvayliyen (Kabyle), Irifiyyen (Riffian), Ishawiyen (Chaoui), Ichenwiyen (Chenoua), and Iznagen (Sanhaja).
Tamazgha/ⵜⴰⵎⴰⵣⵖⴰ: describes what roughly corresponds to the Maghreb in Arabic, referring to the geographical area in which Imazighen live. It refers to either the full or partial areas of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Niger, Mali, Azawad, Mauritania, Egypt (Siwa), Burkina Faso, and the Canary Islands.
Tamazight/ⵜⴰⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵜ: describes an umbrella term for a group of languages that Imazighen speak, all closely related. Examples of Amazigh languages include Tashelhit/Tamazirt n Sus, Taqbaylit, Tamazight (Watlas), Tarifit, Tachawit, Tamahaq, Haqbaylit, Tanfusit, (Tawallamat) Tamajaq, and Tayirt. Latin and Arabic versions of Amazigh alphabets exist; however, many involved in Timmuzgha prefer to use Tifinagh.
Timmuzgha/ⵜⵉⵎⵎⵓⵖⴰ: also called Amazighism; describes a movement for Amazigh geographic, ethnic, and cultural nationalism. It promotes a strong Amazigh identity and fights to gain recognition and liberation from oppressive pan-Arabism and Arabization in Tamazgha. It is a self-determination movement for Imazighen in all areas of Tamazgha as well as the diaspora.
Tifinagh/ⵜⵉⴼⵉⵏⴰⵖ: describes the scripts used to write multiple Amazigh languages. It is used famously by the Imuhagh (Tuareg), but can be used to write other Amazigh languages as well. While Tifinagh is not used as widely as other alphabets in that it’s used for everyday things, Tifinagh is an important component of promoting an Amazigh identity and a useful tool in Timmuzgha. Its origins are ancient, dating back to the 3rd century BCE.
Please, if you’re going to speak about us, use these words! We prefer Amazigh/Imazighen over Berber/Berbers. Berber has roots in the word ‘barbarian,’ and Imazighen are not savages; our own self-describing word means noble and free man.