Kissi language


Kissi language
Kissi
Spoken in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone
Native speakers 327,000  (1991)
Language family
Niger–Congo
  • Atlantic–Congo
    • Mel
      • Bullom–Kissi
        • Kissi
Language codes
ISO 639-3 either:
kss – Southern Kissi
kqs – Northern Kissi

Kissi (or Kisi) is a language split into two parts, northern and southern. The northern dialect is spoken in Guinea and in Sierra Leone. In its northern form, it often uses loanwords from the Malinke and the Mende language.

The southern dialect is spoken in Liberia and Sierra Leone. The two dialects are notably different, but are closely related.

In Guinea, the main places Kissi is spoken are the cities of Kissidougou and Guéckédou and their préfectures.

Contents

Grammar (northern Kissi)

Letters not in the English alphabet

Note that this is the new orthography. The old one was used in the Kissi New Testament (1986) and many documents of the time of Sekou Toure (the first President of Guinea).

IPA Description English example Kissi examples
ɲ Palatal nasal consonant like French champignon or Spanish año. ɲunaa (ask)
ŋ Velar nasal consonant as in 'song' [sɒŋ] o kɔɛ loŋ (He went there)
ŋɔŋɔndo (bullfrog)
ɛ Open 'e', open-mid front unrounded vowel as in 'elderly' [ɛldərli] laossɛ (greeting)
muɛi (knife)
ɔ Open 'o', open-mid back rounded vowel as in 'coin' [kɔɪn] mɔmɔ (rice)
kɔɛ (to go)

number one to ten in kissi

Kissidougou dialects preserve a distinction between /r/ and /l/ phonemes that have been merged as allophones in dialects south of Guéckédou. For instance, "la huŋ" means exactly the same as "ra huŋ". Also, "Thank you" is realized as "barika" around Kissidougou and "balika" south of Guéckédou.

Sounds

/gb)/, the voiced labial-velar plosive [IPA-ɡ͡b] is a sound that doesn't exist in European languages. it is spoken like the beginning of a /g/ (like in "grow") and a /b/. Practice repeating 'beg' rapidly until it becomes 'gbe'. Theses are some examples:

gbaŋgbaŋ (name of a river in Kissidougou)

gbaala (outdoor kitchen)

maagbana (a city taxi)

gbɛŋgbɔ (a stool)

Pronouns

Kissi pronoun Pronunciation English pronoun Kissi example English translation
y /i/ I y tyo kɔlaŋ loŋ. I'm going there.
a /a/ You a tyo kɔlaŋ loŋ. You're going there.
o /o/ He/She o tyo kɔlaŋ loŋ. He's going there.
n /n/ We n tyo kɔlaŋ loŋ. We're going there.
la /la/ You (plural) la tyo kɔlaŋ loŋ. You're going there.
aa /aː/ They aa tyo kɔlaŋ loŋ. They're going there.

As you can already see from these examples, verbs aren't conjugated like English verbs, but they are inflected by tone.

Kissi pronoun Pronunciation English pronoun Kissi example English translation
ya /ja/ Me o tyo ya lɔ.
yɔŋgu ya ho. / k'ya ho.
He's going to beat me.
Give me that.
nɔm /nɔm/ You y tyo nɔm lɔ. I'm going to beat you.
ndu /ndu/ Him /Her y tyo ndu lɔ.
o tyo ndu pilɛ lɔ.
I'm going to beat him / her.
He's going to beat himself.
na /na/ Us o tyo na lɔ. He's going to beat us.
nia /nia/ You (plural) o tyo nia lɔ. He's going to beat you.
ndaa /ndaː/ Them o tyo ndaa lɔ. He's going to beat them.

Articles

Definite and indefinite articles do not exist in Kissi, so "muɛi" means "the knife" as well as "a knife". If an object has to be defined (because there are more than one, for example), "this" is used:

example: muɛi coŋ - this knife

If that is not exact enough, an object is described using adjectives.

yɔŋgu ya muɛi. / k'ya muɛi. - Give me a/the knife.

yɔŋgu ya muɛi bɛndɛi. / k'ya muɛi bɛndɛi. - Give me the big knife.

References

  • Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.), 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. Online version.
  • G. Tucker Childs. A Grammar of Kisi, A Southern Atlantic Language. 1995. 370 pp.
  • G. Tucker Childs: A Dictionary of the Kisi Language. With an English-Kisi Index
  • Denise Paulme. Les Gens du Riz: Les Kissi de Haute-Guinée. Paris. Librairie Plon. 1954, 1970. 324 pp. Online version

Links


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