Beja language

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"Bedawi" redirects here. For the variety of Arabic, see Bedawi Arabic.
Beja
بڈاويێت Bidhaawyeet
Native to Sudan, Eritrea, Egypt
Ethnicity Beja (Beni-Amer)
Native speakers
unknown (1.2 million cited 1982)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-2 bej
ISO 639-3 bej
Glottolog beja1238[2]

Beja (also called Bedawi, Bedauye, To Bedawie, Ta Bedawie, Hadareb, or by dialect names; Beja: Bidhaawyeet, Tu-Bdhaawi) is an Afro-Asiatic language spoken in the western coast of the Red Sea by the Beja people. They number around two million people, and inhabit parts of Egypt, Sudan and Eritrea.[3]

Classification[edit]

It is usually seen as Cushitic, but several scholars, notably Robert Hetzron (1980), have regarded it as an independent branch of Afro-Asiatic.

Phonology[edit]

Beja Consonant Phonemes[4]
  Bilabial Labio
dental
Denta/Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m     n (ɳ) (ɲ) (ŋ)    
Plosive   b     t d ʈ ɖ   ɟ k ɡ ʔ  
Labialised                     ɡʷ    
Fricative     f   s       ʃ   (χ) (ɣ) h  
Trill         r                
Approximant w     l     j        

Nasals other than /m/ and /n/ are positional variants of /n/. The consonants /χ/ and /ɣ/ only appear in Arabic loanwords in some speakers' speech; in others', they are replaced by /k/ or /h/ and /g/.[5]

Beja has the five consonants /a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, and /u/. /e/ and /o/ only appear long, while /a/, /i/, and /u/ have long and short variants.[6]

Beja has pitch accent.[7]

Orthography[edit]

Most academic researchers have devised their own independent systems for transcribing Beja. Only two systems have broader usage on-line: One based on Roman script, the other on Arabic. The Arabic system may largely be defunct,[8] but it is still in use on the Beja Language Website.

Beja Orthography[9]
IPA Roman Arabic
ʔ ' ء
b b ب
d d د
ɖ dh
f f ف
g g ق
ɣ gh غ
gw قْو
h h ه
ɟ j ج
k k ك
kw كْو
l l ل
m m م
n n ن
r r ر
s s س
ʃ sh ش
t t ت
ʈ th
w w و
j y ي

In the Roman orthography, the vowels are written with the letters corresponding to the IPA symbols (i.e., 'a', 'e', 'i', 'o', 'u'). Long vowels are written with doubled signs. As /e/ and /o/ cannot be short vowels, they only appear as 'ee' and 'oo', respectively.

The single 'e' sign, however, does have a use: To distinguish between /ɖ/ and /dh/, 'dh' is used for the former and 'deh' for the latter. Similarly, 'keh' is /kh/, 'teh' is /th/, 'seh' is /sh/. Single 'o' is not used.

In the Arabic orthography, short vowels are written with the same diacritics used in Arabic: fatḥah for /a/ (ﹶ), kasrah for /i/ (ﹺ), ḍammah for /u/ (ُ). Alif (ا) is used as the seat for these diacritics at the beginning of a word. Long /aː/ is written with alif (ا) preceded by fatḥah, or alif maddah (آ) when word-initial. Long /eː/ is written with a modified Kurdish yā' ێ. Long /iː/ is written with yā' ي preceded by kasrah. Long /oː/ us written with a modified Kurdish wāw ۆ. Long /uː/ is written with wāw و preceded by ḍammah.

Pitch accent is not marked in either orthography.

In addition to these two systems and the several academic systems of transcribing Beja texts, it is possible that Beja was at least occasionally written in the Greek alphabet-based Coptic script during the Middle Ages.[10]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Beja at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Beja". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Gordon 2005
  4. ^ Wedekind, Klaus; Wedekind, Charlotte; Musa, Abuzeinab (2004–2005). Beja Pedagogical Grammar. Aswan and Asmara. §26. 
  5. ^ Wedekind, Klaus; Wedekind, Charlotte; Musa, Abuzeinab (2004–2005). Beja Pedagogical Grammar. Aswan and Asmara. §§31–32. 
  6. ^ Wedekind, Klaus; Wedekind, Charlotte; Musa, Abuzeinab (2004–2005). Beja Pedagogical Grammar. Aswan and Asmara. §§26, 30. 
  7. ^ Wedekind, Klaus; Wedekind, Charlotte; Musa, Abuzeinab (2004–2005). Beja Pedagogical Grammar. Aswan and Asmara. §27. 
  8. ^ Wedekind, Klaus; Wedekind, Charlotte; Musa, Abuzeinab (2004–2005). Beja Pedagogical Grammar. Aswan and Asmara. §25. 
  9. ^ Wedekind, Klaus; Wedekind, Charlotte; Musa, Abuzeinab (2004–2005). Beja Pedagogical Grammar. Aswan and Asmara. §26. 
  10. ^ Browne, Gerald (2003). Textus blemmyicus in aetatis christianae. Champaign, Illinois: Stipes Publish L.L.C. ISBN 1-58874-275-X. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Almkvist, Herman N. . 1881-1885. Die Bischari-Sprache. 3 vols. Uppsala.
  • Comparative Vocabularies of the Languages Spoken at Suakin: Arabic, Hadendoa, Beni-Amer 1888
  • Blažek, Václav. 2003. "Beǧa language", in: S. Uhlig et al. (eds.), Encyclopaedia Aethiopica Vol. 1: A-C (Wiesbadn: Harrassowitz), pp. 519b-521b.
  • Hudson, Richard A.. 1974. "A structural sketch of Beja," African Language Studies. Ed. D.W. Arnott. London: School of Oriental and African Studies. Pages 111-142.
  • Hudson, Richard A. . 1976. "Beja", in: M. Lionel Bender et al. (eds.), The Non-Semitic Languages of Ethiopia (East Lansing: Michigan University, African Studies Centre), pp. 97–131.
  • Reinisch, Leo. 1893-1895. Die Beḍauye-Sprache in Nordost-Afrika 2. 3 vols. Vienna: F. Tempsky.
  • Reinisch, Leo. 1895. Wörterbuch der Beḍauye-Sprache. Vienna.
  • Roper, E. M. 1927. "The Poetry of the Haḍenḍiwa", in: Sudan Notes and Records 10, pp. 147–158.
  • Roper, E. M. 1928. Tu Beḍawiɛ: An Elementary Handbook for the use of Sudan Government Officials. Hertford, Herts, England: Stephen Austin and Sons, LTD. Oriental and General Printers.
  • Voigt, Rainer. 1998. "Zur Gliederung des Kuschitischen: das Beḍauye und das Restkuschitische", in: I. Fiedler, C. Griefenow-Mewis & B. Reineke (eds.), Afrikanische Sprachen in Brennpunkt der Forschung: linguistische Beiträge zum 12. Afrikanistentag, Berlin, 3-6 Oktober 1996 (Köln 1998), pp. 309–324.
  • Vycichl, Werner. 1953. "Der bestimmte Artikel in der Bedja-Sprache", in: Muséon 66, pp. 373–379.
  • Wedekind, Klaus, Charlotte Wedekind, and Abuzeinab Musa. 2007. A Learner's Grammar of Beja. Koeln: Koeppe Verlag.
  • Zaborski, Andrzej. 1975. The Verb in Cushitic. Warszawa.
  • Zaborski, Andrzej. 1989. "Der Wortschatz der Bedscha-Sprache. Eine vergleichende Analyse", in: Ausgewählte Vorträge. Deutscher Orientalistentag (Stuttgart; ZDMG Supplement VII), pp. 573–591.
  • Zaborski, Andrzej. 1997. "Problems of the Beja Present Seven Years Ago", in: Lingua Posnaniensis 39, pp. 145–153.

External links[edit]