Rio Nunez languages

The Rio Nunez (Rio Nuñez) or Nunez River languages constitute a pair of Niger–Congo languages, Mbulungish and Baga Mboteni. They are spoken at the mouth of the Nunez River in Guinea, West Africa.

Rio Nunez
Nunez River
Geographic
distribution
mouth of the Nunez River, Guinea
Linguistic classificationNiger–Congo
Subdivisions
GlottologNone

The Rio Nunez languages have been studied by Fields (2001),[1] but otherwise remain sparsely documented.

ClassificationEdit

The two Rio Nunez languages do not subgroup with the Nalu language, contrary to prior classifications.[2] Previously, Fields had proposed a Coastal group consisting of Mbulungish, Mboteni, and Nalu that she considered to be distinct from the surrounding Mel languages.[3] The grouping in its current scope was proposed by Güldemann (2018).

The Rio Nunez languages are currently unclassified within Niger-Congo, and whether or not they are part of the Atlantic languages is also uncertain.[2]

HistoryEdit

Speakers of Rio Nunez languages had cultivated African rice (Oryza glaberrima) for thousands of years on the swampy coast of Guinea. Mel speakers were later arrivals on the Guinean coast, as the Proto-Mel homeland is located in the north-central highlands of Sierra Leone just to the south of the Lesser Scarcies River, rather than on the coast (Fields 2008:83).[4]

Today, both languages are endangered. As of 1998, fewer than 100 people spoke Baga Mboteni fluently, while Mbulungish had fewer than 500 speakers, although both speech communities had a few thousand people. The language endangerment is caused by a shift to Susu, a Mande language that is the lingua franca of coastal Guinea (Fields 2008:33-35).[4]

VocabularyEdit

BasicEdit

Vocabulary shared with Atlantic languages:[3]

English Mbulungish Mboteni Nalu
four nɛŋ na bi-nan
head kap kap n-ki
ear nop nʌf n-nɛw
eye syɛt / syi-syɛt eir / si-kir n-cɛt / a-cɛt
mouth tul sul n-sol / a-sol
tongue lim lɤm n-lem
breast / milk m-bin mban m-bem
hand / arm n-tɛ
leg luŋ tɛŋk
bone mbol / tyʌ-mbol nhol / a-hol
moon / month bel pʌl m-bilaŋ
tree ti li n-ti
dog but wur maa-bet
egg in n-yin

Innovated vocabulary differing from Atlantic languages:[3]

English Mbulungish Mboteni Nalu
man mɛ-sil o-kw-cel / ngwɛ-cɛl nlam-cel
dirty / black bali a-val m-balax
long lani m-lanna
cold hon m-hon
to come batɛ m-ba
to kill ka-rame lama m-rama
to bite nyɛt nyera m-ŋateŋ
to sit ŋo ŋon m-ɲɔh
to die ŋu-rip n-ref

Some Mbulungish and Mboteni innovated words that differ from Nalu and other surrounding languages (Fields 2008:74):[4]

English Mbulungish Mboteni
mosquito ɔ-bo / ɔ-bolleŋ a-bɔ
crab (generic) i-nep, e-nep, ɛnippel / ɛ-nippel a-nep / a-neppel
type of crab i-laŋ / ayel-laŋ a-laŋ / alaŋŋel

CulturalEdit

A rich set of rice agriculture-related vocabulary in Rio Nunez languages has been documented by Edda L. Fields-Black.[4]

Meaning Mbulungish Mboteni Nalu Sitem
Salt mbes ɔ-mbɛl mer (< Proto-Atlantic *-mer)
Oil palm yiis m-siis / a-siis
Seasonal stream bɔlɔŋ / cubɔlɔŋ; para / cipparaŋ; ipal / appalleŋ pɔl m-tɛsɛ / a-tɛsɛ
Small seasonal stream masaleŋ ilex / alexeŋ
Tree used to fabricate the short fulcrum shovel and the shovel handle ki-mal m-silaa / a-silaa
Red mangrove (Rhizophora racemosa) used to fabricate the short or long fulcrum shovel ki-kiɲc / ɛ-kiɲcil; ku-wɔl / a-wɔlleŋ e-ma, ɛ-ma / a-ma m-mak / a-mak a-kinc / kinc
Rice cultivated in the red mangroves malɔ bɛ kinycilpon / cimmalɔŋ bɛ kiɲcilpon for ɛma
White mangroves (Avicennia africana) yɔp / ki-yɔp e-wɛleŋ, weleŋ / awelleŋ m-yɔɔf / a-yɔɔf kopir / copir
Rice cultivated in the white mangroves malɔ biyɔppon / cimalɔ ciyɔppon maafer
Order given by the elder to begin fieldwork fɔfuduŋ kusɔkɔp
Enough water in the mangrove field to begin fieldwork asofɔilawola dumun dɛncmɛ dukubora
Order given by the elder to stop fieldwork senden afanc aŋkatefer
Harvest ceremony (pre-Islam) xesara lemma kuwurɛ malɔ
Order given to begin the harvest ndebe loŋŋon kitɛl kufɔlɔ
Fulcrum shovel handle kur capɔn / cukurkappon; ki-ti akɔp / ɛ-ti akɔp ndii kɔp m-kuŋgbala / a-kuŋgbala
Small pieces of wood used to reinforce shovel foot when tying it to handle (could be bamboo or the stalk of the red mangrove) wac / cuwacel i-xare / aŋ-xare m-ba iŋkifɔhlasen / a-ba iŋkifɔhlasen m-caanahsen / a-caanahsen mɛ-kɪnc
Shovel blade a-fenc / e-fenccel ma-fanc / a-fanc
Sculpted blade of fulcrum shovel kɔp nyetelpon i-cel / aɲ-cel
To sharpen the fulcrum shovel blade a-fenc gbat inʊmi cel m-namtah / a-namtah
Vine used to attach shovel foot to handle ntel / ɛteelleŋ aɲcel m-nintamp / a-nintamp dɛ-tɛmpa / s-tɛmpa
To clear the red mangroves to make the large dike ɛ-cɛp asaɓɛn wucer akuvɔr
To burn the rice hay before the rainy season muxalɔmppasinal kɪcɔs yikaya malɔ
To trace the grand dike ki-bereŋ wurtɛ wac nxɔfɔrn
To cut the earth with the shovel to make the dike abereŋ yɛkɛt / cibereŋ yɛkɛt ebaxacakca
To cut weeds and separate two ridges awul m-sɔɔaŋ / a-sɔɔaŋ kɪ-cɛs
To walk on the weeds to diminish their size i-camanasen ma-daka / a-daka kɪ-namp
To cut the weeds on the bottom before turning soil with the shovel iŋcɛpel mɔlɔ inpenna; a-cappa ma-cɛsa / a-cɛsa kɪ-cɛs yika
First turning of the weeds and soil with fulcrum shovel bɔŋwaca; ki-cɛp / a-cappa; a-beret / ɛ-beret afanc m-kes / a-kes
One shovelful of earth for ma-bees / a-bees damba / samba
To walk on weeds for a second time elɛrpɛrnanasɔxɔl m-ŋakten / a-ŋakten
To tuck weeds into the soil with hands or feet walta ayixil; ibaxanas (feet are used in the fields); ibaxayekel (hands are used in the nursery) kɪ-nas anɛk
Second turning of the soil to cover the weeds with fulcrum shovel bɔŋkubut; awupur m-wupur / a-wupur
Short fulcrum shovel ki-taŋgbaŋ / ci-taŋgbaŋŋel aŋ-kumbɛl; faa-aŋkumbɛl (for repairing the dikes and other small jobs in the field and around the village) ma-kumbal / a-kumbal
Long fulcrum shovel (2 to 4 meters long) kɔp kokilannɛ / ci-kɔppel kokilannɛ ɛ-lar (for use when turning the earth for the first time) m-kɔp lanna / a-kɔp lanna
Ancestral fulcrum shovel used without metal blade kɔp amaŋkre cel / su kɔpamaŋ i-cel
Dike / mound ki-bereŋ / ci-bereŋ axɔɓɛrn / aŋxɔɓɛrn ma-bɔŋɛn / a-bɔŋɛn
Ridge ɛ-nɛk / ki-nɛk e-nɛk / a-nɛk ma-nɛk / a-nɛɛk a-nɛk
Furrow ku-bont / a-bontol e-won / a-won m-sumuunt / a-sumuunt
To sow in rows a-sappa suk mmao ma-cɛɛp kɪ-cɛp tɛcɪr
To sow in the fields a-meŋker mbuŋma asina
To sow by broadcasting malɔ pɛn mboo mmao ma-yara kɪ-glal ka malɔ
To sow directly in the field afur mmao ma-yaara
To sow directly, done tightly axɔfɛl m-dafeet / a-dafeet kɪ-fɪlfɪl; kɪ-gbɛɛ malɔ
To sow directly, done tightly and then to pull up some seedlings and leave some malɔ seŋ mɓɛlmmalon
To sow directly, done loosely malɔ bɛ kabatɛŋŋɛ biliŋmpon maasɛpna m-yolyolen / a-yolyolen
To sow on flat land bɔkitefɛ maaxɔfɔla
First rice nursery tabla mbuŋŋund kamao kɪsɪmɪ kɪɪnɪkicɔkɔ cɔkɔ
Second rice nursery mbuŋna asenden kɪsɪmɪ kamɛrɛŋ
Too much water beneath the rice nursery asoyokokinin mmao kiŋkankla dumun
Normal cycle of the rice nursery fam mmao ocomas
To wash bottom of germinated rice seedlings before transplanting abɔxɔr mmao ki-yaak malɔ
To attach germinated rice seedlings ɛra mmao ku-kutus malɔ
To put the attached and germinated rice seedlings in water before transplanting ndepman asɔla aŋgbɛ midirɛ
To cover the seeds with banana leaves malɔ gbopret / cimmallɔŋ gbepret wofor mmao kukumpus malɔ
Germinated seedlings ɛ-tiebelaŋŋa ɛcɔlcen axɔfɛl m-kicɛɛpa / a-kicɛɛpa malɔ mopoŋ
Seedlings that did not germinate malɔ tɔti / cim-mallɔŋtɔti; malɔ beabuwɔcɛ maamaŋ kulum malɔ mɛlɛcɛ
To pull up weeds with the hands ɔtulut iŋkur awewen
To transplant belaŋ ɔcɔlɛ; a-sappa iwaaso m-cɛɛpa pa-cɛɛp; tøk yɔkɔ an luksɪrnɛ kɪ-bɔf mɔ
To weed after replanting iŋkur aɓaɓɛn kʊwas malɔ
To clean the canal to begin fieldwork wuxucer aso kɪfɪnc kibɔŋɛn
To open the canal bamcaɔtɔ imuaxurtuŋun m-bannataŋ / a-bannataŋ kɪ-ŋɛr
To evacuate the water when the rice is ripe ɛbɛlaso kamato malɔ mɔlɔl
To close the canal wulci; ɔtɔcaŋ caimuarumtuŋ m-laŋŋaŋ / a-laŋŋaŋ kɪ-ŋiri
End of the canal bampɛtɔtipotɛ / cim-bammelpɛcitɔtipetɛ alubana
Canal used to evacuate water from field bampetelɔtɔ / cim-bampetɔlɔtɔ tuŋ / suruŋ m-tisɔɔtɔ / a-tisɔɔtɔ; m-sumunt / a-sumunt dɪk wurɛ du mun; dobo
Principal drain kubŋkum tuŋ / suruŋ
Secondary drain mawuŋkummul fatuŋ / fam suruŋ
To guard the rice field from predators during the hungry season a-kecek mmel ma-lɛɛm kabafrɛ / a-lɛɛm kabafrɛ kɪ-bum
Temporary shelter in the rice field agbɔŋk / agbɔŋkel iŋgaɲcaŋ ma-gbɔɔŋk kamtɔh / a-gbɔɔŋk kamtɔh ʊ-bal dalɛ tetek
To move to the field until the harvest ncebel asina siŋkɔdalɛ dikidirɛ
Harvest malɔ ɛtɛl mɓɛr ma-bit / a-bit kɪ-tɛl ka malɔ
To evacuate the harvested rice to the dike so that it will not get wet yokon mal awultɔŋ patel dikibɔŋɛn
Small handful / pile of harvested rice ɛra mmao malɔ kɪcaka
Large pile of rice arranged with the grains on the inside maasuŋ saŋ kappa amboc kur
To fan rice kɔ-fuŋŋa m-fentah [loanword from English] kɪ-foy
To fan rice with fanner malɔ petel afoi mmao kɪ-gbap malɔ
To fan rice with wind malɔ fuŋŋa wuluŋ mmao kɪ-foi malɔ
Rice fanner ki-rɛbɛ / ci-rɛbɛ kɛbei m-dɛhɛn kɪ-rɛbɛ / cɪ-rɛbɛ
To mill rice ka-tampa icɛr ma-maθ
To mill rice for first time malɔ tampa yuŋkapt mmaun kɪ-sɛpɪr; kɪ koŋos
To mill rice for second time malɔ bekɛbiritɛ wuŋ ailim anxɔ diksɛpɪt
To mill daily rations of rice with feet malɔ ɛcɛɛk ɛsupun sux mmao
Daily ration of rice maalɔw / maŋŋalɔ malɔ medi
Area where rice is beaten tɛtek kubɔrton aɓoma ma-tana
To cover the rice after beating but before fanning it wupurmaayɔŋŋɔn pakis malɔ
To transport the rice to the granary suŋ maarun kɪsarɛ malɔ
Rice granary for seeds tɛlɛ pasansi
To dry the parboiled rice fambɛn mmao aruful kɪ cɛɛs
To distribute cooked rice for consumption wal malɔn kiyeres yɛɛc
Calabash in which rice was served isar mmao pɛpɛ
Wooden bowl in which rice was served ifɛrl po-ros / si-ros
Rice is spoiled, because it was prepared with too much fire and smoke mmambɛl fus yɛɛc yɛntɛɛ
Weeds used to reinforce the big mound kɛp / ci-kɛppel seɲɲel won m-hoof / a-hoof
Water moss a-fuc / ku-fuccel afuɲc m-cufran / a-cufran kɪ-foc kadumun
New field with no mounds or ridges avent m-bitik / a-bitik kɪ-pɪr
To make new ridges abeta / abetelaŋ
Field on high ground whose soil is sandy ɔtɔ yɛiboŋkorolɛ / ɔtɔllɔŋ yɛciboŋkoroŋ aninannces
Field lying fallow cakara ɛnɛkicot; bɔŋ bɛ pepiyɛcilɛ / cimboŋŋel pepiyecilɛ m-woskamtɔh atilɛbah / a-woskamtɔh watilɛbah
Low-lying area timbilɛ apol / citimbilɛŋŋel iniyapɔŋ m-cumbaaŋ / a-cumbaaŋ
Rice husk m-kisɛɛŋŋa / a-kisɛɛŋŋa ʊ-fɔnta / fɔtʊ
Rice seed agba agbaleŋ axɔfɔl mmao m-kofok ka maro / a-kofok ka maro
Threshed, unmilled rice malɔ bipɛc / cimmalɔ ciabolɛ maŋkul m-maaro tabobor / a-maaro tabobor malɔ mɔbomba
Pounded rice caaki / cicakileŋ manduŋŋund m-maaro ntɔɔn / a-maaro ntɔɔn malɔ mɔsɔkɪr
Rice straw malɔ baba tampa mamiŋ kɛlɛcɛr m-maaro nsimaθ / a-maaro nsimaθ malɔ mɔtɔ sɛpɪr
Rice grain caaki maŋkul m-maaro yaaŋka / a-maaro yaaŋka malɔ mɛgbɪntɛ
Rice broken during processing mɛɲim / cimmɛɲim aɲcakas m-ɲin ka maaro / a-ɲin ka maaro
Parboiled rice malɔ yiŋŋin / cimmalɔ yiŋŋin aruful m-maaro nton / a-maaro nton malɔ mocuf / talɔ pocuf
Cooked rice ɔro mandul m-fɛɛf / a-fɛɛf yɛc
Rice broth made with rice flour baxa mbɔs ammasam; alafa m-mɔni / a-mɔni
Rice broth made with rice mɔni mbɔs; asowasa m-baha / a-baha
To form grain malɔ fuŋŋa m-yeenɲcaŋ
Head of the rice plant kapa malɔ / ciŋkapel amalɔ “literally head of rice” kap mmao / saŋka mmao m-ki ka mba putna / a-ki ka aba putna do-bomp da malɔ “literally head of rice plant”
Early-maturing rice variety mabaxa m-rɛfnaha / a-rɛfnaha malɔ mɔkɔ mɔ nunkɛnɛ
Cluster m-tɔnsɔ / a-tɔnsɔ kɪ-ncɔnc / ŋcɔnc
Beginning of gestation awal siŋŋapaŋŋal m-lafkam lah / alafkam lah malɔ mɛlɛk cor
Rice in gestation period maawul malɔ melɛ cor
Rice forming the head maafutuŋ malɔ kuwurus
Rice plants in the same field form heads at different times maalɔ mdafutuŋŋul kunɔmkul malɔ
Approaching the rainy season ɛllɛ lɛpɛr mɔlɔfɛ
Rainy season tɛmeisa kuiyoŋ m-tɛm kamkaak a-tɛm kamkaak tɛm ta kɪfe
Cold season wɔɔppipepi sɔɔ m-hɔɔh kamcacŋah / a-hɔɔh kamcacŋah
Beginning of the rainy season tɔ-lɔfɛ tablɛ eleɓɛr; elɛpɛr ma-lɔɔfɛ / a-lɔɔfɛ
Beginning of fieldwork kitaŋkɛmɛc sux mmao; ku-sɔk mmao
End of the rainy season kayɛmin / ci-kayɛmin elɛlɛŋ
End of the rainy season, hungry season elɛlɛŋ; ɛlɛlaŋ m-lank / a-lank
Hungry season tcippelɛmpep wori laŋ ɲin sabɔk / ɲinnɛ sabɔk
Surveillance period yilaŋxɔc kɪmɔmɔn kɪbora
Dry season abanan / tɛmu abanan m-hɔɔh kamθabraan / a-hɔɔh kamθabraan kɪ-tɪŋ

Areal words borrowed from Mande languages such as Susu (Fields 2008:118, 150-151):[4]

English Mbulungish Mboteni Nalu
rice malɔ mao maro
fonio m-pindi / apindi pundɛ / cu-pundɛlɛŋ pundu, pundo
short-handled hoe keri/ci-keri keri / si-keri
mound tukunyi m-tukuɲi / atukuɲi
fulcrum shovel (generic) kɔp / ci-kɔppel kɔp / su-kɔp m-kɔp / a-kɔp

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Fields, Edda. 2001. Rice farmers in the Rio Nunez region: A social history of agricultural technology and identity in coastal Guinea, ca. 2000 BCE to 1880 CE. Doctoral dissertation. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania.
  2. ^ a b Güldemann, Tom (2018). "Historical linguistics and genealogical language classification in Africa". In Güldemann, Tom (ed.). The Languages and Linguistics of Africa. The World of Linguistics series. 11. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. pp. 58–444. doi:10.1515/9783110421668-002. ISBN 978-3-11-042606-9.
  3. ^ a b c Fields, Edda L. Before "Baga": Settlement Chronologies of the Coastal Rio Nunez Region, Earliest Times to c.1000 CE. In: The International Journal of African Historical Studies, Vol. 37, No. 2 (2004), pp. 229-253. Boston University African Studies Center.
  4. ^ a b c d e Fields-Black, Edda L. 2008. Deep Roots: Rice Farmers in West Africa and the African Diaspora. (Blacks in the Diaspora.) Bloomington: Indiana University Press.