Berber: G igherdh ish'ed our illi


English - Australia
The words are at page 310, Chapter 27, of The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles.

The context: Kit's life dragged on, day after day, in her 'prison' at top of the house. Eventually, one day the three wives of Belqassim burst into the room to beat her. The noise brought Belgassim to stop the fight. The three wives then sat, eyes down. Kit watched as he removed all the jewelry from each of his wives to then place it all on Kit's arms, neck and on her lap, where she was sitting. And so:

"As Belqassim fed her a cake, she sobbed and choked, showering crumbs into his face. 'G igherdh ish'ed our illi.' sang the musicians below, while the rhythm of the hand drum changed, slowly closing in on itself to form a circle from what she would not escape."

I am uncertain whether the 'G' followed by a gap is a printing error in the text. If it is an error, would the first word then be 'Gigherdh'?

But, what is the song saying? Thanks.
  • Hemza

    Senior Member
    French, Mor/Hijz Arabic (heritage)

    This doesn't ring a bell... It doesn't (to me) even look like Arabic or may be the transcription is far fetched :D. It may be Berber?


    Senior Member
    Moroccan Arabic
    Hemza is right, i showed it to someone who confirmed it must be Berber, But all he knows is "our illi" means ''nothing''


    New Member
    British English
    According to an online Berber Tamazizght dictionary g means "at", ģrd is a verbal root to do with unfolding or spreading out, ur seems to be a negative particle, "not", illi means "girl" or "my girl". But I couldn't find anything for ish'ed.

    My best guess is that it means something like "when/where (clothes? sheets?) are unfolded, you will not leave, my girl"


    English - Australia
    Thanks, jimqk. That's probably as much as can be done, given transliteration difficulties. I'll move on to the next.... :thumbsup: :)