|Autoglottonym:||žlan n Isiwan|
|Location point:||29° 10′ 12.00″ N, 25° 30′ E|
"Siwi" is an Arabic nisba adjective from Sīwah, the Arabic name of the main oasis where Siwi is spoken; the word is also used in Siwi. The Siwi name of the oasis and of its inhabitants is Isiwan, and žlan n Isiwan means "speech of Siwa/the Siwis". Siwis do not call their language tasiwit, although speakers of other Berber languages have been known to use the term.
Siwi is the main language of the oases of Siwa and Gara, in western Egypt. Emigration, mainly in search of work, has led to the presence of Siwis elsewhere in Egypt and in parts of Libya.
The current population of Siwa is a little over 20,000. Most of them are Siwi speakers, but no exact count is available. The Ethnologue's (2005) estimate of 5,000 speakers in 1995 was undoubtedly far too low.
No published data indicates dialectal variation within Siwi.
Validity of classification
There is no doubt that Siwi is a Berber language, although it has undergone Arabic influence to a degree unusually heavy even for Berber.
Ongoing research on Siwi:
Works on the language
- Basset, René. 1890. Le Dialecte de Syouah. Paris: Publications de l'Ecole des Lettres d'Alger.
- Laoust, Emile. 1932. Siwa I: son parler. Paris: Ernest Leroux.
- Leguil, Alphonse. 1986. “Notes sur le parler berbère de Siwa.” Bulletin des études africaines de l'Inalco, vol. VI, no. 11, pp. 5-42; no. 12, pp. 97-124.
- Vycichl, Werner. 1998. A Sketch of Siwi Berber. In Vycichl 2005. Berberstudien & A Sketch of Siwi Berber. Berber Studies Vol. 10. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe.
- Walker, W. Seymour. 1921. The Siwi Language. London.