The Latin script was introduced to Pular-speaking regions of West and Central Africa by Europeans during, and in some cases immediately before, colonization. Various people – missionaries, colonial administrators, and later during the colonial period, scholarly researchers, devised various ways of writing the Pular language they encountered. One issue similar to other efforts by Europeans to use their alphabet and home orthographic conventions to write African languages with unfamiliar sounds was how to represent the implosive b and d, the ejective y, the velar n (the latter being present in European languages, but never in initial position), prenasalised consonants, and doubled vowels (the latter being as significant in Pular for meaning as tone differences are in other languages).
Major influences on the current forms used for writing Pular were decisions made by colonial administrators in Northern Nigeria and the Africa Alphabet. A major conference on African language orthographies held in Bamako in 1966 confirmed this trend.
Nevertheless, orthographies for the language and its variants are determined at the country level. So while Pular writing uses basically the same character sets and rules (such as for doubling vowels), there are some variations.
|This section requires expansion. (June 2008)|
Some general rules:
- Long vowels are doubled
- Two different vowels are never used together
- To accentuate a consonant, double the consonant (or write " ' " before the consonant. Example, "temmeere" = "te'meere".)
Alphabets by country
Senegal, Gambia, Mauritania
Version 1: a, b, ɓ, nb, d, ɗ, e, f, g, ɠ, ng, h, i, j, nj, k, l, m, n, ɲ, ŋ, o, p, r, s, t, c, u, w, y, ƴ
Version 2 (with keyboard-ready characters): a, b, bh, nb, c, d, dh, nd, e, f, g, ng, gn or ny, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, w, y, yh
Matching the two versions: bh = ɓ (as in bheydugol); dh = ɗ (as in dhuytugol); q = ɠ (as in qaagnagol, or qermugol); gn or ny = ɲ (as in gnaamugol or nyaamugol); yh = ƴ (as in yhettugol). Note: As native speakers of Pular from Fuuta Jalon, we are unable, so far, to find words that use the ŋ and nj characters.
Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia
Mali, Burkina Faso
Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad
Arabic (Ajami) alphabet
The Arabic script was introduced into the West African Sahel with Islam several centuries before European colonization. As was the case with other languages such as Hausa, Muslim Fulas who went through Koranic education adapted the script to writing their language. This practice, while never formally standardized, followed some patterns of customary use in various regions. These usages differ on some details, mainly on how to represent certain consonants and vowels not present in the Arabic language.