Friday, April 27, 2007

Tamghazinut

I'm writing my core chapter at the moment on Kwarandzie (Korandje), the Northern Songhay language of Tabelbala. (Ethnologue and basic historical common sense notwithstanding, it is specifically Northern Songhay in ancestry, sharing common innovations with the language of places like In-Gall rather than the city it used to trade extensively with, Timbuktu.) It is very heavily influenced by Berber, like other Northern Songhay languages, and I found a great example the other day: the word for "old woman" is tamghazinut. Amghar is a Berber word meaning "old man"; zinu is a Songhay word meaning "old"; and ta-...-t is a Berber circumfix forming the feminine, which, even though Kwarandzie doesn't have gender agreement of any kind, seems (judging by this remarkable case) to be marginally productive as a derivational affix. (Postvocalic r is regularly lost in Korandje.)

On the map below (which I put together for my thesis using Google Earth and GIMP), you can see something of the geographic improbability of the situation:

4 comments:

John Cowan said...

Sounds like it's time to write to the Ethnologue editor to get Korandje's affiliation fixed for the 16th edition.

An English equivalent for tamghazinut would be femgeezerman, I suppose, fem- being marginally productive as a derivational affix, as in fembot or femmefan.

David Marjanović said...

You link to the Wikipedia article. Could you update it? :-) (I'd do it, but for example I don't know what the k among the fricatives is supposed to be.)

Lameen Souag said...

> femgeezerman

Good one, but I think I prefer "paleodudette".

John Cowan said...

"Paleodudette", huh? It must be a generational thing (in English).