Libyan


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Libyan

the extinct Hamitic language of ancient Libya

Libyan

 

the Old Berber language of the Libyans inhabiting North Africa in classical antiquity. It belongs to the Hamito-Semitic language family. Numidian, a Libyan dialect, is known from inscriptions in the Libyan consonantal alphabet. The inscriptions from ancient Numidia (Tunisia and part of Algeria) date from the second and first centuries B.C. and the first centuries A.D. Most are brief funerary inscriptions, but there are two bilingual Libyan and Punic inscriptions, the dedications in a temple and mausoleum in Dougga (second century B.C.). In scriptions from the western regions of North Africa, written in a Mauretanian variant of the Libyan alphabet and for the most part undeciphered, may reveal other Libyan dialects. The modern Berber dialects probably stem from a dialect other than Numidian. Words are formed by prefixes, suffixes, and infixes. Structurally, Libyan resembles the ancient Semitic languages, but its vocabulary and phonetics are akin to the modern Berber languages.

REFERENCES

Chabot, J. B. Recueil des inscriptions libyques, fasc. 1. Paris, 1940.
Rössler, O. “Die Sprache Numidiens.” In Sybaris: Festschrift Hans Krahe. Wiesbaden, 1958.

A. B. DOLGOPOL’SKII

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