Thursday, October 30, 2014

Some Tuareg-Songhay loans

I'm almost three-quarters of the way through Heath's Grammar of Tamashek (Tuareg of Mali). The main interest lies in its efforts to reduce the bewildering complexity of Tuareg morphology to some sort of order, an impossible task which it accomplishes more successfully than any other Tuareg grammar I've looked at so far. Aside from this, however, it's raised some interesting etymological issues.

I've wondered for years where the Korandjé verb wəy "gather (firewood)" comes from. It normally appears in the idiom a-wwəy-ts skudzi [3Sg-gather-hither wood] "she gathered in firewood". On p. 333 of Heath's grammar, I found the explanation, in the following example:

i-wwáy=ədd i-sǽɣer-æn
3MaSgS-bring.Reslt-Centrip Pl-firewood-MaPl
[He] has brought firewood here.

The Tamasheq verb in question, awəy in the imperative, is simply the normal Berber word for "take, bring" (which in Korandjé is expressed with a Songhay verb, zəw), so I would have hesitated to connect them based on a dictionary entry alone. But given this attested usage with "firewood", the semantic specialisation poses no problems. What does surprises me is that it was borrowed as a bare stem, rather than with a fossilised 3rd person prefix y/i - contrast yəf (Tashelhiyt y-arf "roast", not attested in Tamasheq), ikna "make" (Tamasheq i-kna). Usually, only stems that start with a syllabic onset are borrowed into Korandjé without the y/i.

Another probable loan into Korandjé that I noticed going through the grammar is Korandjé ləwləw "shine, gleam" - cp. Tamasheq m̀ələwləw "shine".

However, a number of words have gone the other way - from Songhay into Tuareg. Heath comments on many of these in his dictionary (eg kə̀rikəw "practice sorcery"), but not all. One that struck me is the verb ḍùkr-æt "become angry at", obviously related to Gao Songhay dukur "be angry"; I don't recall seeing this verb elsewhere in Berber (not even in Alojaly's dictionary of Tamajeq), whereas it's widespread in Songhay.

Obviously cognate are Tamasheq é-tæqq "male ostrich" and widespread Songhay forms such as Gao taatagey, Fulan Kirya taataɣey "ostrich" (the shift of g to ɣ next to non-high back vowels is regular in several Songhay varieties, and in Tamasheq qq is the geminate equivalent of ɣ). The word is generic in Songhay but specific in Tuareg - the opposite of what we saw with "bring" - which suggests to me that it was borrowed into the latter, as does the fact that I don't find the term in Alojaly's Tamajeq dictionary. However, since ostriches are extinct in most Berber-speaking areas, it's difficult to prove the direction of borrowing.

9 comments:

John Cowan said...

The word is generic in Songhay but specific in Tuareg [...] it's difficult to prove the direction of borrowing.

I would say that's definitive all by itself. Cf. Spanish sombrero 'hat' > English id. 'traditional Mexican hat'; Inuit iglu 'house' > English igloo 'snow house'; Japanese kimono 'something put on' > English id. 'traditional Japanese robe'; English cake > French id. 'English-style fruitcake'; French gâteau 'cake' > English id. 'fancy cake'; Spanish salsa 'sauce' > English 'Mexican-style spicy sauce'; German Panzer 'tank' > English id. 'German World War II tank'; and doubtless many other examples. English toast > Egyptian Arabic tust 'American-style white bread' is said to be a counterexample, but I think that's more of a normal semantic shift.

Y said...

I don't think 'sombrero', 'aloo gobi', and the like are a good equivalent. In all these cases, speakers of the receiver language are familiar with the borrowed item in its generic sense, but not in the restricted sense (e.g. English speakers familiar with houses, but not with arctic ice houses.) This is different. If a Tuareg speaker is familiar with ostriches, they would also be familiar with male ostriches.

I speculate that the crux of this is that male ostriches provide the more luxurious black feathers. Perhaps the Tuareg provided male ostrich feathers to the Songhay, who applied the specific name of the trade item to the bird in general. Alternatively, in Songhay the word for the more valuable gender became generic, just as English chicken went from young fowl, the kitchen favorite, to a generic term.

I shamefully admit that I am wholly uneducated on the subject of early ostrich trading in the Sahel.

David Marjanović said...

What does the grave accent mean? Wikipedia doesn't mention a pitch-accent system, which would have been my first guess.

English toast > Egyptian Arabic tust 'American-style white bread' is said to be a counterexample, but I think that's more of a normal semantic shift.

German Toastbrot sometimes, and perhaps increasingly often, means "bad, sometimes even sugary, white bread meant for toasting".

Lameen Souag الأمين سواق said...

The fact that male ostriches produce the feathers must be relevant, but I'm not sure how the trade worked either - have to look into that...

David: grave=accent assigned by default rules, as opposed to acute = lexically fixed accent. Eccentric notation, but it does the trick.

protouralic said...

What does surprises me is that it was borrowed as a bare stem, rather than with a fossilised 3rd person prefix y/i - contrast yəf (Tashelhiyt y-arf "roast", not attested in Tamasheq), ikna "make" (Tamasheq i-kna). Usually, only stems that start with a syllabic onset are borrowed into Korandjé without the y/i.

I fail to follow this — what would a stem with a "syllabic onset" be, if a vowel-anlaut stem such as y-arf doesn't count?

(Also, amusing side fact: skudzi 'wood' rather brings to mind Helsinki slang skutsi 'forest'; a loan from a local dialect form of Swedish skog 'id.')

Lameen Souag الأمين سواق said...

The stem is arf, whose first (and arguably only) syllable has no onset (not even a glottal stop). Likewise, the k in i-kna is a coda rather than an onset. Contrast with səndəf "reopen a wound", whose first syllable has the onset s; it is borrowed as səndəf, with no prefix.

protouralic said...

Ah yes, of course: "syllable onset", not "a [+syllabic] onset". Thanks.

Rab Bar said...

السلام عليكم ;

و الله عجبا للاسف الشديد جدا بعض اللغويين يحاولون تشويه حقيقة علمية قاطعة جدا و وواضحة للأعمى و للطفل الصغير و هي منبع واحد متحد بين لغة الأمازيغ و الصنغاي

لا يوجد أي اقتراض بين لغة الأمازيغ و لغة الصنغاي انما هو قضية أصل مشترك بين لغة الأمازيغ و الصنغاي


و توجد أدلة علمية قاطعة جدا على الأصل المشترك بين لغة الأمازيغ و الصنغاي


الدليل الأول حيث توجد لهجات أهلهات أمازيغ طوارق حيث ما لا يقل عن 90بالمئة من أفعال هذه اللهجات تتطابق حرفيا مع افعال زنوج

الصنغاي و لكن هذه تتحول الى افعال اخرى في حالات تصريفية أخرى و هذه الافعال المتحولة هي نفسها تماما افعال مشهورة عند لغات الامازيغ



الدليل الثاني

نفترض أنه لا توجد لهجات امازيغية تتميز بظاهرة التحول الذي تكلمنا عنه في الدليل الأول

فرغم هذا نجد تطابق لغوي قوي جدا بين لغة زنوج الصنغاي و و باقي لهجات البربر

امثلة


*jangal = يراقب لغة الصنغاي / jangal = يراقب ألأمازيغي


*karfu = يركع صنغاي / kerfe(t) = يركع أمازيغي


*sunfu = يستريح لغة الصنغاي / sunfu يستريح أمازيغي


*bubu = يحمل على الظهر صنغاي / bubu/ bib = يحمل على الظهر أمازيغي ; و


*dankey= يكون ماهرا صنغاي / danki/ dankay = يكون ماهرا أمازيغي


و الامثلة كثيرة


و سلام


Rab Bar said...


السلام عليكم ;

و الله عجبا للاسف الشديد جدا بعض اللغويين يحاولون تشويه حقيقة علمية قاطعة جدا و وواضحة للأعمى و للطفل الصغير و هي منبع واحد متحد بين لغة الأمازيغ و الصنغاي



لا يوجد أي اقتراض بين لغة الأمازيغ و لغة الصنغاي انما هو قضية أصل مشترك بين لغة الأمازيغ و الصنغاي


و توجد أدلة علمية قاطعة جدا على الأصل المشترك بين لغة الأمازيغ و الصنغاي


الدليل الأول حيث توجد لهجات أهلها أمازيغ طوارق و هي لهجات امازيغية و ليست بلهجات الصنغاي


حيث ما لا يقل عن 90بالمئة من أفعال هذه اللهجات تتطابق حرفيا مع افعال مشهورة عند زنوج

الصنغاي و لكن هذه الافعال تتحول الى افعال اخرى في حالات تصريفية أخرى و هذه الافعال المتحولة هي نفسها تماما افعال مشهورة عند لغات الامازيغ



الدليل الثاني

و هدا الدليل الثاني نظيفه فقط كزيادة لان الدليل الأول كفانا و أغنانا

و جعلنا نؤمن بأنه أكثر من مليار بالمئة منبع متحد بين لغات البربر و الصنغاي

فنفترض أنه لا توجد لهجات أمازيغية تتميز بظاهرة التحول الذي تكلمنا عنه في الدليل الأول

فرغم هذا نجد تطابق لغوي قوي جدا بين لغة زنوج الصنغاي و و باقي لهجات البربر

امثلة


*jangal = يراقب لغة الصنغاي / jangal = يراقب ألأمازيغي


*karfu = يركع صنغاي / kerfe(t) = يركع أمازيغي


*sunfu = يستريح لغة الصنغاي / sunfu يستريح أمازيغي


*bubu = يحمل على الظهر صنغاي / bubu/ bib = يحمل على الظهر أمازيغي ; و


*dankey= يكون ماهرا صنغاي / danki/ dankay = يكون ماهرا أمازيغي


و الامثلة كثيرة


و سلام