Tetserret language

Tin Sert
Native to Niger
Region Sahara
Ethnicity Ait-Awari
Native speakers
2,000 (2017)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 tez
Glottolog tets1235[2]

Tetserret (Tin Sert) is a Western Berber language spoken by the Ait-Awari and Kel Eghlal Tuareg tribes of the Akoubounou (Akabinu) commune in Niger. This main speech area is located between Abalak, Akoubounou and Shadwanka.[3] The variant spoken by the Kel Eghlal is called taməsəɣlalt. The Tamasheq equivalent shin-sart / shin-sar / tin-sar is used in some older literature.[4] Popular understanding among some Ait-Awari derives the name tet-serret, and its Tamasheq equivalent shin-sart, from expressions meaning 'the (language) of Sirte'.[5]

Tetserret is one of the last Berber languages to be recognised as distinct. As late as 1981, Bernus treated Tetserret as a dialect of Tuareg,[6] and some early sources even confused it with the Northern Songhay languages.[7] The first published linguistic material on Tetserret was Drouin (1984), and only with Khamed Attayoub's (2001) thesis did it become clear how different Tetserret was from Tuareg.

Tetserret is the only surviving Berber language to share a number of sound shifts with Zenaga of Mauritania.[8][9] It also has non-Tuareg vocabulary found in other Berber languages. For example, afagan (man) resembles Central Atlas Tamazight of Morocco; aiddid (goatskin container for water) resembles Ghadames of Libya; and awdosh (ox) recalls Hassaniya Arabic.

All speakers of Tetserret are bilingual in the Tawellemmet language, which has influenced their language.[10] As of 2011, Tetserret was no longer being spoken with children, and as such appears endangered.[11]


  • Drouin, Jeannine. 1984. Nouveaux éléments de sociolinguistique touarègue. Un parler méridional nigérien, la tamasaghlalt. Paris Groupe Linguistique d'Études Chamito-Sémitiques, G.L.E.C.S.,XXIV-XXVIII (1979–1984), Geuthner, pp. 507–520.
  • Khamed Attayoub, Abdoulmohamine. 2001. La tətsərret des Ayttawari Seslem : identification socio-linguistique d’un parler berbère non-documenté chez les touaregs de l’Azawagh (Niger). Mémoire de maîtrise dirigé par Salem Chaker. Inalco : Paris.
  • Khamed Attayoub, Abdoulmohamine. Les mots du voyages chez les Touaregs Ayttawari Seslem. Quelques éléments lexicologues en tetserrét. In ed. H. Claudot-Hawad, Voyager du point de vue d'un nomade. Paris: Éditions Paris-Méditérranée, pp. 159–166.
  • Lux, Cécile. 2011. Etude descriptive et comparative d’une langue menacée : le tetserret, langue berbère du Niger. Doctoral thesis, Université de Lyon-2.
  • Walentowitz, Saskia & Abdoulmohamine Khamed Attayoub. 2001. La tetserrét des Ayttawari Seslem: un parler proche du berbère "septentrionale" chez les Touaregs de l'Azawagh (Niger). Annuaire de l'Afrique du Nord vol. XXIX, 2000-2001.


  1. "Tetserret". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2018-05-25.
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Tetserret". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Lux 2011:21, 40
  4. Citations in Lux 2011:21
  5. Walentowitz and Khamed Attayoub, 2001:28
  6. "D’autres Touaregs parlent des langues qui ne sont que des variations dialectales du touareg : shin sar des Aït Awari, talasaghlalt des Kel Eghlal Enniger du sud de l’Azawagh". Bernus, E. 1981. Touaregs Nigériens : Unité culturelle et diversité régionale d’un peuple pasteur. Paris: Orstom, p. 72.
  7. "L’étude des langues mixtes Songhay- Tamajaq parlées encore de nos jours dans la région – celles des tribus nomades de l’Azawagh : Igdalan, Aït Awari, Dahusahaq, Kel Eghlal Ninggər..." Marty, A. 1975. Histoire de l'Azawagh nigérien de 1899 à 1911. Paris, mém. de l'EHESS, pp. 16-17.
  8. Lux Cécile. Etude descriptive et comparative d’une langue menacée : le tetserret, langue berbère du Niger. Doctoral thesis, University of Lyon 2, 2011.
  9. Souag, Lameen. "The Western Berber Stratum in Kwarandzyey (Tabelbala, Algeria)", in ed. D. Ibriszimow, M. Kossmann, H. Stroomer, R. Vossen, Études berbères V – Essais sur des variations dialectales et autres articles. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe, 2010
  10. Lux 2011:52
  11. Lux 2011:54
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