The ancient Berber script, Tifinagh, was developed around 500 BC, from Pheonician. The top line of the slide means 'Hello' in Berber. The lower line shows some additional characters from the Berber alphabet.

Although after around a thousand years the Berber script began to be less widely used, it has still continued to exist here and there.

In November of 2004, however, there was a workshop in Rabat, Morocco, organised by the Royal Institute for Berber Culture (IRCAM). IRCAM has been working, with the support of the Moroccan King, to reintroduce the widespread use of Tifinagh in Morocco to represent the Berber language. It is a fascinating idea, with few parallels in the modern world outside the revival of Hebrew and Welsh languages.

The Berber script is closely associated, however, with the Berber identity. It's symbols reappear in Berber art and patterns. Reintroducing its use is seen as an affirmation of this ancient culture. Children are already being taught the Berber script in Moroccan schools.

Of course, in today's world it is essential to enable use of the script with computerised technology. This is in progress. IRCAM has been working on ISO standards for keyboards and sorting. There are free fonts available (eg. Hapax Berbère). But most importantly, Unicode 4.1, which is soon to be released, will contain codepoints for all the necessary Tifinagh characters.

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