Sunday, April 27, 2014

Speaking in Oran

It's a bit last minute, but I'm glad to announce that I will be giving two talks in Oran over the next few days: It would be a pleasure to see some readers of this blog there.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Siwi addressee agreement and demonstrative typology

My article "Siwi addressee agreement and demonstrative typology" has just been published, in STUF 67:1. In this article, I discuss the semantics of Siwi demonstratives, focusing especially on a phenomenon that I briefly covered in a post from 2012, Siwi: addressee agreement and addressing Aljazeera. Here's the abstract:
Siwi, a Berber language of Egypt, shows gender/number agreement of medial demonstratives with the addressee. Such phenomena are crosslinguistically very rarely reported, and are not discussed in major surveys of the typology of demonstratives (Diessel 1999; Imai 2003). However, within person-oriented demonstrative systems, such marking amounts to an iconic representation of addressee anchoring. The pragmatics of Siwi demonstratives thus cast light on the nature of the mapping from person to place that such systems reflect (Greenberg 1985). Comparative eastern Berber data suggests that demonstrative addressee agreement may be more widespread than the literature reflects.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Darja notes 3: Diminutive kumquats and affricate phonology

Continuing the Darja theme of my previous posts, I learned a new word today, from a speaker of the traditional dialect of Algiers: تشوينة čwina "kumquat".  This is obviously the diminutive of تشينة čina "orange" (a borrowing from Spanish), just as مشيمشة mšimša "loquat" - another originally Asian fruit - is of مشماش məšmaš "apricot". But its form is a handy clue to the sound system of Algerian Arabic.

Some years ago, Jeffrey Heath wrote a key study of Moroccan Arabic phonology, Ablaut and Ambiguity. Among the questions he tackled was the status of تش č: one phoneme, or two? One way to check is to look at its behaviour in diminutives. Words beginning with two consonants in a row form their diminutives by inserting an i after the two consonants, eg لسان lsan "tongue" > لسيّن lsiyyən "little tongue". Words beginning with one consonant followed by a vowel form the diminutive by replacing the vowel with و w and adding i after it, eg شيخ šix "old man" > شويّخ šwiyyəx "little old man". We thus see from تشوينة čwina that تش č behaves like a single consonant in Algerian Arabic, not like a cluster of two consonants. Since ج j is pronounced as an affricate in the north-central dialect under discussion, this conclusion makes sense. For Morocco, judging by Heath's account, the situation is more ambiguous, and speakers don't really seem sure how to form the diminutive; perhaps the same is true in other parts of Algeria.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

More Darja: sea creatures, folk tales, etc.

I’m just back from Algeria, with plenty of work to get to – but before they fade from my memory, here are a few more miscellaneous observations, written down on the plane with help from my notes...

On this trip I took the small, lavishly illustrated book Sea Fishes and Invertebrates of the Mediterranean Sea, by Lawson Wood (London: New Holland, 2002). It proved very useful for checking species identifications, a task I attempted earlier with mixed results in Souag (2005). Since I was on holiday, I didn’t attempt to track down fishermen and do a proper job of identification, but showing it to a cousin yielded the following lexicographical haul:

Previously unrecorded names: rbibət əs-səlbaħa ربيبة السلباحة (“eel’s stepdaughter”) “brittlestar” (Ophioderma longicauda); bu-jəɣləllu بوجغللّو (“snail”) “sea hare (Aplysia sp.)”; langušṭa لانڤوشطة “lobster”; ɣəṭɣuṭ غطغوط “damselfish (Chromis chromis)” (also used in the expression: kħəl ɣəṭɣuṭ كحل غطغوط “pitch-black”); šuṭ شوط “barracuda (Sphyraena sphyraena)”.

Names recorded in Souag (2005) without identification: ṭṛiʕ طريع “Neptune grass (Posidonia oceanica)”; šadiyya شادية “violet sea urchin (Sphaerechinus granularis)”; bərjəmbaluq برجمبالوق “comber (Serranus cabrilla)”; ẓṛiṛga زريرقة (“little green”) “rainbow wrasse (Coris julis)”; luq لوق “striped grouper (Epinephelus costae)”; kəħla كحلة (“black”) “saddled bream (Oblada melanura)”; ʕin əl-ħəjla عين الجلة (partridge-eye) “ornate wrasse (Thalassoma pavo)”; čalba تشالبة “cow bream (Sarpa salpa)”; buriyya بورية “boxlip mullet (Oedachilus labeo)”.

Names differently identified in Souag (2005): zarniyya زارنية “great amberjack (Seriola dumerili)” (previously: derbio or leerfish); čarniyya تشارنية “blue runner (Caranx crysos)” (previously: grouper).

Minor differences in identification: šaɣəṛ شاغر “white bream (Diplodus sargus sargus)” (previously: sea bream); bu-snan بوسنان (“toothy one”) “two-banded bream (Diplodus vulgaris)” (previously: young šaɣəṛ = sea bream); fərxa فرخة (originally “chick”) “dusky grouper (Epinephelus marginatus)” (previously: young čarniyya = grouper).

Confirmed: bu-zəllayəq بوزلاّيق (“slippery one”) “blenny (Parablennius sp.)”; qaṛuṣ قاروص “sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax)”; gʷrəng ڤُرنڨ “conger eel (Congerconger)”; mustila موستيلة “forkbeard (Phycis phycis)”; ẓənkuṛ زنكور “wrasse (Symphodus sp.)” (previously: wrasse); ruži روجي (French rouget) “striped mullet (Mullus surmuletus)” (previously: mullet).

There are plenty of etymological difficulties among these, but clear non-French Romance loanwords include šaɣəṛ (Latin sargus), čarniyya and zarniyya (Latin acernia), čalba (Latin salpa), gʷrəng (Latin conger), and, judging by the š, langušṭa. bərjəmbaluq is from Turkish, cp. balık “fish”, but I still can’t identify the first part.

Moving from wild sea life to domestic animals, reminiscences of life before independence brought up a number of words I had rarely or never heard: nhəš نهش “bite (eg donkey)”, ṣǔkk صكّ “kick (with hind legs)”, ṣhəl صهل “bray”, ɣrəz غرز “stop giving milk (cow)”, tkəlləl تكلّل “curdle”, bəgṛa ṭṛiyya بڤرة طرية “a cow who has recently given birth”, ɣǔṛfa غرفة “1st story floor” (2nd story for Americans). yəmni يمني and šəlli شلّي for “right” and “left” were equally new to me; usually I’ve heard ymin يمين and šmal شمال, or feminine yəmna يمنى and yəsṛa يسرى.

The genre of folk tales is just about extinct in Dellys, as far as I can tell, but it too came up in a few reminiscences. A tongue-twister (say it ten times fast!) alludes to a short anecdote: dadda ʕaḅḅʷa lli ḅḅʷa l-bab دادّا عبّا اللي ابّوا الباب “Dadda Abba who carried the door on his back”. I’m unlikely ever to hear the tales of lunja bənt drig əl-ɣul لونجة بنت دريڨ الغول “Lunja daughter of Drig the monster” or bəgṛət l-itama بڤرة اليتامى “the orphans’ cow” in Dellys, but the fact that versions of them have been collected all over the Maghreb – such as this Kabyle version of Lunja summarised in English, or the song Tafunast igujilen –  is some consolation; indeed, a version of the latter tale is popular even in Siwa. From near the ending of the latter comes the following rhyme: when the orphan brother invites his sister to run up the ladder and escape the well, she says ħsən w-əlħusin fi ħəjri, ma nəqdər nəjri حسن والحسين في حجري، ما نقدر نجري“Hasan and Husayn (her twin sons) are in my lap, I can’t run”.

Usually I don’t take much interest in French loanwords, but I noticed one that looks as if it has undergone quite a curious semantic shift: puṭaži پوطاجي means “kitchen counter”, from French potager “kitchen garden” (or some non-standard dialect of French?) Behnstedt and Woidich report that in Biskra this form means “kitchen”; I wonder whether that is a further semantic shift or a misunderstanding.

Finally, to follow up on the last post’s themes, I found two more words which have retained Berber nominal affixes, again without plurals (pardon the etymology): taklufit تاكلوفيت “meddling”, tayhudit تايهوديت “malice”. (From my 2005 paper, I can also add the fig breed timəlwin تيملْوين, and the seaweed species tubrint توبرينْت). However, this strategy is quite atypical; much commoner is to drop the Berber affixes and substitute Arabic ones as appropriate, as in jəgjiga جڤجيڤة “dandelion” (Kabyle tajejjigt “flower”) or məjjir مجّير “mallow” (Kabyle məjjir).