Fur language


Fur language

language
name=Fur
nativename=bèle fòòr
familycolor=Nilo-Saharan
states=Sudan, Chad
region=Darfur
speakers=3,000,000
fam2=Fur
iso2=ssa|iso3=fvr

The Fur language (Fur bèle fòòr or fòòraŋ bèle, Arabic فوراوي Fûrâwî; sometimes called Konjara by linguists, after a former ruling clan) is the language of the Fur of Darfur in western Sudan. It belongs to the Fur branch of the Nilo-Saharan phylum. It has about 3,000,000 speakers (500,000 in 1983.)

Phonology

The consonantal phonemes are:
*Bilabial: "f b m w"
*Dental/Alveolar: "t d s n l r"
*Palatal: "j ñ y"
*Velar: "k g (h) ŋ"All symbols have their IPA value except for the following: "j" = IPA| [ɟ] , "ñ" = IPA| [ɲ] and "y" = IPA| [j] . "z" occurs only as an allophone of "y". Arabic consonants are sometimes used in loanwords. /"h"/ is very rare.

The vowels are as in Latin: "a e i o u". There is dispute as to whether the +ATR vowels IPA| [ɛ] , [ɔ] , [ɪ] , [ʊ] are phonetic variants or separate phonemes. IPA|/f/ is in free variation amongst a series of sounds ranging between IPA| [p] and IPA| [f] ; thus some sources give the name of the language as "IPA|pɔɔr".

There are two underlying tonemes, L (low) and H (high); phonetically, L, H, mid, HL and LH are all found.

Interestingly, metathesis is an extremely common, and regular, grammatical phenomenon in Fur; when a consonant pronoun prefix is prefixed to a verb that begins with a consonant, either the verb's first consonant is deleted or it changes places with the following vowel. Eg: "lem-" "lick" > "-elm-"; "ba-" "drink" > "-ab-"; "tuum-" "build" > "-utum-". There are also a variety of assimilation rules.

Morphology

Plurals

Noun, and optionally adjective, plurals can be formed with "-a" ("-ŋa" after vowels): "àldi" "story" > "àldiŋa" "stories", "tòŋ" "(a certain species of) antelope"> "tòŋà" "antelopes"; "bàin" "old" > "bàinà" "old (pl.)". This suffix also gives the inanimate 3rd person plural of the verb: "lìiŋ" "he bathes" > "lìiŋa" "they (inanimate) bathe", "kaliŋa" "they (animate) bathe".

Vowel-final adjectives can take a plural in "-là", as well as "-ŋa": "lulla" "cold" > "lullalà" or "lullaŋà" "cold (pl.)". A similar suffix (metathesized and assimilated to become "-òl/-ùl/-àl") is used for the plural of the verb in some tenses.

A few CVV nouns take the plural suffix H"-ta"; "ròò" "river" > "ròota" "rivers"; "rèi" "field" > "rèito" "fields".

At least two nouns take the suffix -i: "koor" "spear" > "koori" "spears", "dote" "mouse" > "kuuti" "mice".

Nouns with the singular prefix "d-" (> "n-" before a nasal) take the plural "k-"; these are about 20% of all nouns. In some cases (mostly body parts) it is accompanied by L. Eg: "dilo" "ear" > "kilo" "ears"; "nuŋi" "eye" > "kuŋi" "eyes"; "dagi" "tooth" > "kàgi" "teeth"; "dòrmi" "nose" > "kòrmì" "noses".
*In some cases the singular also has a suffix "-ŋ", not found in the plural: "daulaŋ" "shoe" > "kaula" "shoes", "dìroŋ" "egg" > "kìrò" "eggs".
*Sometimes a further plural suffix from those listed above is added: "nunùm" "granary" > "kunùmà" "granaries", "nuum" "snake" > "kuumi" "snakes", "dìwwo" "new" > "kìwwolà" "new (pl.)"
*Sometimes the suffix "-(n)ta", is added: "dèwèr" "porcupine" > "kèwèrtà" "porcupines"; "dàwì" "tail" > "kàwìntò" "tails".
*One noun, as well as the demonstratives and the interrogative "which", take a plural by simply prefixing "k-"L: "uu" "cow" > "kùù"; "ei" "which (one)?" > "kèì" "which (ones)?".
*Several syntactic plurals with no singulars, mostly denoting liquids, have "k-"L-"a"; "kèwà" "blood", "kòrò" "water", "kònà" "name, song".

Nouns

The locative can be expressed by the suffix "-le" or by reversing the noun's final tone, eg: "tòŋ" "house" > "toŋ" "at the house"; "loo" "place", "kàrrà" "far" > "loo kàrrà-le" "at a far place".

The genitive (English 's) is expressed by the suffix "-iŋ" (the "i" is deleted after a vowel.) If the relationship is possessive, the possessor comes first; otherwise, it comes last. Eg: "nuum" "snake" > "nuumiŋ tàbù" "snake's head"; "jùtà" "forest" > "kàrabà jùtăŋ" "animals of the forest".

Pronouns

Independent subject:

I"ka"we"ki"
you (sg.)"ji"you (pl.)"bi"
he, she, it"ie"they"ìè-èŋ"

The object pronouns are identical apart from being low tone and having -ŋò added to the plural forms.

Prefixed subject pronouns:

I- (triggers metathesis)we"k-"
you (sg.)"j-"you (pl.)"b-"
he, she, it- (causes vowel raising; "*i"-)they (animate)
they (inanimate)
"k-" (+pl. suffix)
"(*i-)" (+pl. suffix)

Thus, for example, on the verb "bu-" "tire":

I tired"ùmô"we tired"kùmô"
you (sg.) tired"jùmô"you (pl.) tired"bùmô"
he/she tired"buô"they tired"kùmul"

"gi", described as the "participant object pronoun", represents first or second person objects in a dialogue, depending on context.

Possessives (singular; take k- with plural nouns):

my"duiŋ"our"daìŋ"
your (sg.)"diiŋ"you (pl.)"dièŋ"
his, her, its"deeŋ"their"dièŋ"

Verbs

The Fur verbal system is quite complicated; verbs fall into a variety of conjugations. There are three tenses: present, perfect, and future. Subjunctive is also marked. Aspect is distinguished in the past tense.

Derivational suffixes include "-iŋ" (intransitive/reflexive; eg "lii" "he washes" > "liiŋ" "he washes himself) and gemination of the middle consonant plus "-à/ò" (intensive; eg "jabi" "drop" > "jappiò/jabbiò" "throw down".)

Negation is done with the marker "a-...-bà" surrounding the verb; "a-bai-bà" "he does not drink".

Adjectives

Most adjectives have two syllables, and a geminate middle consonant: eg "àppa" "big", "fùkka" "red", "lecka" "sweet". Some have three syllables: "dàkkure" "solid".

Adverbs can be derived from adjectives by addition of the suffix "-ndì" or L"-n", eg: "kùlle" "fast" > "kùllendì" or "kùllèn" "quickly".

Abstract nouns can be derived from adjectives by adding "-iŋ" and lowering all tones, deleting any final vowel of the adjective, eg: "dìrro" "heavy" > "dìrrìŋ" "heaviness".

ources

* A. C. Beaton. "A Grammar of the Fur Language". Linguistic Monograph Series, No. 1. Khartoum: Sudan Research Unit, Faculty of Arts, University of Khartoum 1968 (1937).
*Angelika Jacobi, "A Fur Grammar". Buske Verlag: Hamburg 1989.
* Constance Kutsch-Lojenga & Christine Waag, "The Sounds and Tones of Fur", in "Occasional Papers in the Study of Sudanese Languages No. 9". Entebbe: SIL-Sudan 2004.

External links

* [http://www.ethnologue.org/show_language.asp?code=fvr Ethnologue report for Fur]


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