Wednesday, October 13, 2010
A note on Azer
In the unlikely event that you've heard of Azer, a northern dialect of Soninke formerly spoken in the now Arabic-speaking region of Tichit and Walata in southeastern Mauritania, you may well have formed the impression - as I did initially - that it was heavily influenced by Berber, like the Northern Songhay languages are. If you know anything about Berber, a look at Monteil's article on Azer is sufficient to dispel this idea. If you don't, then chapter 3 of Long's thesis on Northern Mande, which I just came across, clarifies the issue nicely. This rather highlights the Northern Songhay problem: if centuries of close contact with Berber left Azer so little changed, why is Northern Songhay so full of Berber words?