Dagbani language

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Dagbani
Dagbanli
Region Ghana
Ethnicity Dagbamba
Native speakers
825,736  (2002)[1]
Niger–Congo
Dialects
Nanuni (Nanumba)
Tomosili
Nayahil
Latin
Language codes
ISO 639-3 dag
Glottolog dagb1246[2]
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Dagbani (Dagbane), also known as Dagbanli and Dagbanle, is a Gur language spoken in Ghana which is closely related to and mutually intelligible with the Mampelle and Nanumba languages which are also spoken in Northern Region, Ghana. Dagbani is also similar to the other languages of the same subgroup spoken in this Region, Dagaare and Waala languages, spoken in Upper West Region of Ghana, and the Frafra language, spoken in Upper East Region of Ghana. [3][4]

Its native speakers are estimated around 825,736[5] and are primarily of the Dagomba people. Dagbani is also widely known as a second language in the Northern Region of Ghana. It is a compulsory subject in Primary and Junior High School in the Dagbon Kingdom, which covers the eastern part of the region.

Dialects[edit]

Dagbani has a major dialect split between Eastern Dagbani, centred on the traditional capital town of Yendi, and Western Dagbani centred on the Administrative capital of the Northern Region, Tamale. The dialects are however mutually intelligible and mainly consist of different root vowels in some lexemes, and different forms or pronunciations of some nouns, particularly those referring to local flora. The forms Dagbani and Dagbanli given above for the name of the language are respectively the Eastern and Western dialect forms of the name, but the Dagbani Orthography Committee resolved that “It was decided that in the spelling system <Dagbani> is used to refer to the ... Language, and <Dagbanli> ... to the life and culture”:[6] in the spoken language each dialect used its from of the name for both functions.

Phonology[edit]

Vowels[edit]

Dagbani has eleven phonemic vowels: six short and five long vowels:

Front Central Back
High i ɨ u
Mid e o
Low a
Front Central Back
High
Mid
Low

Olawsky (1999) has the schwa in place of /ɨ/, unlike other researchers on the language who use the more articulatorily higher /ɨ/. Allophonic variation based on tongue-root advancement is well attested for 4 of these vowels: [i] ~ [ɪ], [e] ~ [ɛ], [u] ~ [ʊ] and [o] ~ [ɔ].

Consonants[edit]

Bilabial Labiodental Alveolar Palatal Velar Labial-velar
Stop Voiceless p t k k͡p
Voiced b d ɡ ɡ͡b
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ ŋ͡m
Fricative Voiceless f s
Voiced v z
Lateral l
Approximant ʋ r j

Tone[edit]

Dagbani is a tonal language in which pitch is used to distinguish words, as in gballi [ɡbálːɪ́] (High-High) 'grave' vs. gballi [ɡbálːɪ̀] (High-Low) 'zana mat'.[7] The tone system of Dagbani is characterized by two level tones and downstep (a lowering effect occurring between sequences of the same phonemic tone).

Writing system[edit]

A teacher at School for Life, a project in northern Ghana

Dagbani is written in a Latin alphabet, but the literacy rate used to be only 2–3%. This percentage is bound to rise as Dagbani is now a compulsory subject in primary and junior secondary school all over Dagbon. The orthography currently used (Orthography Committee /d(1998)) represents a number of allophonic distinctions; tone is not marked.

Alphabet[edit]

a b ch d dz e ɛ f g gb ɣ h i j k kp l m n ny ŋ o ɔ p r s sh t u w y z ʒ

Grammar[edit]

Dagbani is agglutinative, but with some fusion of affixes. The constituent order in Dagbani sentences is usually agent–verb–object.

Lexicon[edit]

There is an insight into a historical stage of the language in the papers of Rudolf Fisch reflecting data collected during his missionary work in the German Togoland colony in the last qarter of the nineteenth century, especially the lexical list,[8] though there is also some grammatical information[9] and sample texts.[10] A more-modern glossary was published in 1934 by a southern Ghanaian officer of the colonial government, E. Foster Tamakloe in 1934,[11] with a revised edition by British officer Harold Blair.[12] Various editors added to the wordlist and a more-complete publication was produced in 2003 by a Dagomba scholar, Ibrahim Mahama.[13] Meanwhile the data was electronically compiled by John Miller Chernoff and Roger Blench (whose version is published online,[14] and converted to a database by Tony Naden, on the basis of which a full-featured dictionary is on-going, and can be seen at.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dagbani at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Dagbani". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Naden, Tony (1989). Gur. Lanham, MD: University Press of America. pp. 141–168. 
  4. ^ Bendor-Samuel, John T. [ed.] (1989). The Niger-Congo Languages. Lanham, MD: University Press of America. 
  5. ^ FUSHEINI ABDUL - RAHMAN (2004). "SPECTROGRAPHIC ANALYSIS OF DAGBANI VOWELS". Retrieved September 3, 2014. 
  6. ^ Committee, Dagbani Orthography (n/d (1998)). Approved Dagbani Orthography. n/p (Tamale, N.R.): privately. 
  7. ^ Olawsky 1997
  8. ^ Fisch, Rudolf (1913.a). "Wörtersammlung Dagbané-Deutsch". MSOS 16: 113–214. 
  9. ^ Fisch, Rudolf (1912). "Grammatik der Dagomba-Sprache". Archiv für das Studium deutscher Kolonialsprachen 14: 1–79. 
  10. ^ Fisch, Rudolf (1913.b). "Dagbane Sprachproben". M. veröfffentlich vom Seminar für Kolonialsprachen in Hamburg 8: beiheft. 
  11. ^ Tamakloe, E.Foster [ed.] (1934). Dagomba Dictionary and Grammar. Accra: Government Printer. 
  12. ^ Tamakloe, Emmanuel F.; H.A.Blair [eds.] (1940). Dagomba (Dagbane) Dictionary. Accra: Government Printer. 
  13. ^ Mahama, Ibrahim (2003). Dagbani-English Dictionary. Tamale, N/R: School for Life. 
  14. ^ "Dagbani Dictionary". 
  15. ^ "Dagbani Dictionary progress". 
  • Blench, Roger (2006) 'Dagbani plant names' (unpublished circulation draft)
  • Olawsky, Knut J. (1999). Aspects of Dagbani grammar, with special emphasis on phonology and morphology. München: LINCOM Europa. 
  • Olawsky, Knut J. (2003). "What is a word in Dagbani?". In R. M. W. Dixon and Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald. Word: A Cross-Linguistic Typology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 205–226. 
  • Olawsky, Knut (1997) 'Interaction of tone and morphology in Dagbani' (unpublished)

External links[edit]