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Bennasser Oussikoum, Dictionnaire Amazighe – Français : Le parler des Ait Wirra – Moyen Atlas

Khalid Ansar
p. 257-259
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Bennasser Oussikoum, Dictionnaire Amazighe – Français : Le parler des Ait Wirra – Moyen Atlas.

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1Dictionnaire Amazighe – Français : Le parler des Ait Wirra – Moyen Atlas by Bennasser Oussikoum (1995) may well be viewed as a cornerstone work amongst the composite of various lexical works undertaken, thus far, on the Amazigh language. Its contribution in enriching the lexical works carried out on the Amazigh varieties of the center and southeast of Morocco is a categorical reality. This review is meant to assess Oussikoum’s work on a whole range of facets, most influentially the contribution of the work in enriching the Tamazight variety lexicon.

2Oussikoum’s dictionary contains an introduction, exhibiting the rationale behind undertaking the work, the way the corpus is compiled and a presentation of the most important grammatical features of Ait Wirra dialect. The introduction part is proceeded by the lexical part of the dictionary which comprises over 7000 lexical entries, followed by an exhaustive bibliography, a list of the most important proverbs used in Ait Wirra variety along with a table for verb conjugation.

3The approach adopted by the writer is propelled by the same theoretical tenets made avail of in the categorization of lexical entries and lexical information in ‘Dictionnaire du français contemporain’. This theoretical approach may well be construed to assign paramount importance to syntagmatic relations between words. Under this approach, the same lexical entry is assessed in different structural positions to evince the various collocations in which the word is observed along with the different grammatical and lexical units that surround it.One of the most important characteristics that specify Oussikoum’s work is his consistent supplyof illustrations to the meanings of the words he provides exhibiting the context in which they appear and the words they collocate with. There is no wonder, therefore, that the repletion of meanings, examples and illustrations has bestowed some sense of richness on the dictionary.

4As regard the corpus, the author has compiled his corpus on the basis of poems, tales, proverbs and family discussions. The author, with an eye to enriching his lexicon, has also depended on previous dictionaries and lexicons such as the dictionary of Taifi, Chafik and Destaing, among others. As regards the ordering of corpus lexical information, the author has appealed to the classical fashion of organizing lexical data. A noun, mostly in the masculine form,is followed by its construct state and plural form proceeded by its feminine form, if existing, along with the construct state of its feminine form. Each entryis followed by its meaning(s) coupled with an illustration or a whole range of illustrations exhibiting the use of the entry. When the entry is a verb, information on the conjugation of the verb is laid out along the following display: The aorist form is supplied first, then the imperfective form, the perfective form and the negative perfective form.

5Morphological information is further supplementedby meanings, illustrations as well as nominal and verbal derivations.

6Of prime importance among the advantages of Oussikoum’s work is the inclusion of borrowed words that are in fine accord with the morphological structure of Ait Wirra Amazigh. Conversely, recently borrowed words that do not fit in with the structural requirements of the morphology of Ait Wirra Amazigh are abandoned in toto. The display as such brings about desirable effects by preserving the original lexical structure of Ait Wirra Amazigh andby helping scholars who work on the standardisation of the Amazigh language which is still underway.

7Oussikoum’s dictionary derives much of its appeal from the fashion in which the corpus is ordered. In particular, the author has resorted to an alphabetical order of lexical entries while assembling lexical units belonging to the same derivational field under a basic entry. This has played an important role in simplifying the access to the derivational information belonging to a basic entry looked up by a reader. With the scenario as such, verbal entries encompass all nominal and verbal derivations which are inextricably related to the root of the verbal entry. The entry, mun, for instance, includes a whole range of verbal and nominal derivations such as: the causative form smun, the passive form ttusmun, the agentive form asmun along with the action noun form tamunt, among others. These derived forms appear as independent lexical entries in other places in the dictionary with a cross- reference to the basic entry where they are treated more thoroughly.

8Another specifity that deserves mention is the way the author has addressed polysemy and homonymy, an influential phenomenon that faces all lexiographers. In Oussikoum’s work, it is the mismatch that holds between polysemy and homonymy that sets the methodology to be followed when handling words with various meanings. Whenever the author addresses words with many meanings, it is through the semantic features shared between the different meanings of a single word that the author decides if the word should be considered as a single entry or more than one entry. With the display as such, let us provide an example of a word that the author construes to be a single polysemous entry, due to an unmistakable correlation that holds between its meanings and semantic features. The word is ḥfa; it has two meanings which are set out below:

  • The knife is not sharp. (teḥfa tsaryt)

  • Bassu is poor. (iḥfa Bassu)

9In the first sentence, the verb ḥfacoexists with the word‘knife’, which means that the knife lacks the needed sharpness to undertake the cutting. In the second sentence, Bassu lacks the money needed tolive a decent life.

10As an example of a word that should surface as two different lexical entries, we may well mention the word fruthat has two different meanings: fru: hear, fru: revenge.

11Foremost among the advantages observed in Oussikoum’s dictionary is the nature of the corpus made avail of, which sporadically exhibits some Zenati aspects. Indeed, the author himself has highlighted this specifity. The existence of Zenati words such as iddw ‘monkey’ and abnɣir ‘dust’, among others, provide compelling evidence to the partial Zenati nature of Ait Wirra Amazigh variety. It further exhibits the richness of Ait Wirra Amazigh owing to the intermarriage between the varieties of Central and Northern Morocco. This could be viewed to be of paramount importance especially when we see how this dielectal interplay is exhibited in Ait Wirra Amazigh variety.

12To wind up, I think that this work has, considerably, contributed in enriching the Amazigh variety of central Morocco, and may well be viewed to be a precious asset in the process of standardizing Amazigh which is underway.

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Khalid Ansar, « Bennasser Oussikoum, Dictionnaire Amazighe – Français : Le parler des Ait Wirra – Moyen Atlas »Asinag, 13 | 2018, 257-259.

Référence électronique

Khalid Ansar, « Bennasser Oussikoum, Dictionnaire Amazighe – Français : Le parler des Ait Wirra – Moyen Atlas »Asinag [En ligne], 13 | 2018, mis en ligne le 01 avril 2022, consulté le 20 juillet 2024. URL :

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