Pular 𞤆𞤵𞤤𞤢𞤪 فولا
|Native to||Western Africa|
|speakers||L1: 37 million (2014–2021)|
L2: 2.7 million (2019)
Official language in
Core and peripheral Fula-speaking regions. Note that most of these areas, with the exceptions of Senegal and Guinea, are not primarily Fula-speaking, as this map only shows the absolute numbers of speakers.
Fula (// FOO-lə), also known as Fulani (// fuul-AH-nee) or Fulah (Fulfulde, Pulaar, Pular; Adlam: 𞤊𞤵𞤤𞤬𞤵𞤤𞤣𞤫, 𞤆𞤵𞤤𞤢𞥄𞤪, 𞤆𞤵𞤤𞤢𞤪), is a Senegambian language spoken by around 36.8 million people as a set of various dialects in a continuum that stretches across some 18 countries in West and Central Africa. Along with other related languages such as Serer and Wolof, it belongs to the Atlantic geographic group within Niger–Congo, and more specifically to the Senegambian branch. Unlike most Niger-Congo languages, Fula does not have tones.
It is spoken as a first language by the Fula people ("Fulani", Fula: Fulɓe) from the Senegambia region and Guinea to Cameroon, Nigeria, and Sudan and by related groups such as the Toucouleur people in the Senegal River Valley. It is also spoken as a second language by various peoples in the region, such as the Kirdi of northern Cameroon and northeastern Nigeria.
Several names are applied to the language, just as to the Fula people. They call their language Pulaar or Pular in the western dialects and Fulfulde in the central and eastern dialects. Fula, Fulah and Fulani in English come originally from Manding (esp. Mandinka, but also Malinke and Bamana) and Hausa, respectively; Peul in French, also occasionally found in literature in English, comes from Wolof.
Fula is based on verbonominal roots, from which verbal, noun, and modifier words are derived. It uses suffixes (sometimes inaccurately called infixes, as they come between the root and the inflectional ending) to modify meaning. These suffixes often serve the same purposes in Fula that prepositions do in English.
The Fula or Fulfulde language is characterized by a robust noun class system, with 24 to 26 noun classes being common across the Fulfulde dialects. Noun classes in Fula are abstract categories with some classes having semantic attributes that characterize a subset of that class' members, and others being marked by a membership too diverse to warrant any semantic categorization of the class' members. For example, classes are for stringy, long things, and another for big things, another for liquids, a noun class for strong, rigid objects, another for human or humanoid traits etc. Gender does not have any role in the Fula noun class system and the marking of gender is done with adjectives rather than class markers. Noun classes are marked by suffixes on nouns. These suffixes are the same as the class name, though they are frequently subject to phonological processes, most frequently the dropping of the suffix's initial consonant.
The table below illustrates the class name, the semantic property associated with class membership, and an example of a noun with its class marker. Classes 1 and 2 can be described as personal classes, classes 3-6 as diminutive classes, classes 7-8 as augmentative classes, and classes 9-25 as neutral classes. It is formed on the basis of McIntosh's 1984 description of Kaceccereere Fulfulde, which the author describes as "essentially the same" as David Arnott's 1970 description of the noun classes of the Gombe dialect of Fula. Thus, certain examples from Arnott also informed this table.
|o 𞤮||Person singular||laam-ɗo 'chief'; also loan words|
|ɓe 𞤩𞤫||Person plural||laam-ɓe 'chiefs'|
|ngel 𞤲'𞤺𞤫𞤤||Diminutive singular||loo-ngel 'little pot'|
|kal 𞤳𞤢𞤤||Diminutive quantities||con-al 'small quantity of flour'|
|ngum/kum 𞤲'𞤺𞤵𞤥/𞤳𞤵𞤥||Diminutive pejorative||laam-ngum/laam-kum 'worthless little chief'|
|kon/koy 𞤳𞤮𞤲/𞤳𞤮𞤴||Diminutive plural||ullu-kon/ullu-koy 'small cats/kittens'|
|nde 𞤲𞥋𞤣𞤫||Various, including globular objects, places, times||loo-nde 'storage pot'|
|ndi 𞤲𞥋𞤣𞤭||Various, including uncountable nouns||com-ri 'tiredness'|
|ndu 𞤲𞥋𞤣𞤵||Various||ullu-ndu 'cat'|
|nga 𞤲'𞤺𞤢||Various, including some large animals||nood-a 'crocodile'|
|nge 𞤲'𞤺𞤫||mainly for 'cow,' 'fire,' 'sun' 'hunger,'||nagg-e 'cow'|
|ngo 𞤲'𞤺𞤮||Various||juu-ngo 'hand'|
|ngu 𞤲'𞤺𞤵||Various||ɓow-ngu 'mosquito'|
|ngal 𞤲'𞤺𞤢𞤤||Various including augmentative singular||ɗem-ngal 'tongue'|
|ngol 𞤲'𞤺𞤮𞤤||Various, often long things||ɓog-gol 'rope'|
|ngii/ngil 𞤲'𞤺𞤭𞥅/𞤲'𞤺𞤭𞤤||Various including augmentative singular||ɓog-gii/ɓog-gii 'big rope'|
|ka 𞤳𞤢||Various||laan-a 'boat'|
|ki 𞤳𞤭||Various||lek-ki 'tree'|
|ko 𞤳𞤮||Various||haak-o 'soup'|
|kol 𞤳𞤮𞤤||'Calf' 'foal'||ɲal-ol 'calf', mol-ol 'foal'|
|ɗam 𞤯𞤢𞤥||mainly for liquids||lam-ɗam 'salt', ndiy-am 'water'|
|ɗum 𞤯𞤵𞤥||Neutral||maw-ɗum 'big thing'|
|ɗe 𞤯𞤫||Nonhuman plural||juu-ɗe 'hands'|
|ɗi 𞤯𞤭||Nonhuman plural||na'i 'cows'|
A common example are verbs from the root -𞤤𞤮𞥅𞤼 loot-:
- 𞤤𞤮𞥅𞤼𞤵𞤣𞤫 lootude, to wash (something) [active voice]
- 𞤤𞤮𞥅𞤼𞤢𞥄𞤣𞤫 lootaade, to wash (oneself) [middle voice]
- 𞤤𞤮𞥅𞤼𞤫𞥅𞤣𞤫 looteede, to be washed [passive voice]
Another feature of the language is initial consonant mutation between singular and plural forms of nouns and of verbs (except in Pular, no consonant mutation exists in verbs, only in nouns)[clarification needed].
A simplified schema is:
- w ↔ b ↔ mb
- r ↔ d ↔ nd
- y ↔ j ↔ nj
- w ↔ g ↔ ng
- f ↔ p
- s ↔ c
- h ↔ k
Fula has inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns. The inclusive pronouns include both the speaker and those being spoken to, while the exclusive pronouns exclude the listeners.
The pronoun that corresponds to a given noun is determined by the noun class. Because men and women belong to the same noun class, the English pronouns "he" and "she" are translated into Fula by the same pronoun. However, depending on the dialect, there are some 25 different noun classes, each with its own pronoun. Sometimes those pronouns have both a nominative case (i.e., used as verb subject) and an accusative or dative case (i.e., used as a verb object) as well as a possessive form. Relative pronouns generally take the same form as the nominative.
While there are numerous varieties of Fula, it is typically regarded as a single language. Wilson (1989) states that "travelers over wide distances never find communication impossible," and Ka (1991) concludes that despite its geographic span and dialect variation, Fulfulde is still fundamentally one language. However, Ethnologue has found that nine different translations are needed , and it treats these varieties as separate languages. They are listed in the box at the beginning of this article.
Fulfulde is an official lingua franca in Guinea, Senegal, Gambia, northeastern Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali, Burkina Faso, Northern Ghana, Southern Niger and Northern Benin (in Borgou Region, where many speakers are bilingual), and a local language in many African countries, such as Mauritania, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Togo, CAR, Chad, Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia, numbering more than 95 million speakers in total.
|Plosive||plain||p||t||c ~ t͡ʃ||k||ʔ||ʔʲ|
|voiced||b||d||ɟ ~ d͡ʒ||ɡ|
|prenasal||ᵐb||ⁿd||ᶮɟ ~ ᶮd͡ʒ||ᵑɡ|
|Close||i iː||u uː|
|Mid||e eː||o oː|
Short /i e o u/ vowel sounds can also be realized as [ɪ ɛ ɔ ʊ].
|Creator||Ibrahima Barry and Abdoulaye Barry|
|ISO 15924||Adlm (166), Adlam|
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, two teenage brothers, Ibrahima and Abdoulaye Barry from the Nzérékoré Region of Guinea, created the Adlam script, which accurately represents all the sounds of Fulani. The script is written from right to left and includes 28 letters with 5 vowels and 23 consonants.
Fula has also been written in the Arabic script or Ajami since before European colonization by many scholars and learned people including Usman dan Fodio and the early emirs of the northern Nigeria emirates. This continues to a certain degree and notably in some areas like Guinea and Cameroon.
When written using the Latin script, Fula uses the following additional special "hooked" characters to distinguish meaningfully different sounds in the language: Ɓ/ɓ [ɓ], Ɗ/ɗ [ɗ ], Ŋ/ŋ [ŋ], Ɲ/ɲ [ ɲ], Ƴ/ƴ [ʔʲ]. The letters c, j, and r, respectively represent the sounds [c ~ tʃ], [ɟ ~ dʒ], and [r]. Double vowel characters indicate that the vowels are elongated. An apostrophe (ʼ) is used as a glottal stop. It uses the five vowel system denoting vowel sounds and their lengths. In Nigeria ʼy substitutes ƴ, and in Senegal Ñ/ñ is used instead of ɲ.[clarification needed]
Sample Fula alphabet
Long vowels are written doubled: <aa, ee, ii, oo, uu> The standard Fulfulde alphabet adopted during the UNESCO-sponsored expert meeting in Bamako in March 1966 is as follows: a, b, mb, ɓ, c, d, nd, ɗ, e, f, g, ng, h, i, j, nj, k, l, m, n, ŋ, ny (later ɲ or ñ), o, p, r, s, t, u, w, y, ƴ, ʼ.
Fula: "Innama aadeeji fof poti, ndimɗidi e jibinannde to bannge hakkeeji. Eɓe ngoodi miijo e hakkilantaagal ete eɓe poti huufo ndirde e nder ɓ iynguyummaagu."
IPA: /inːama aːdeːɟi fof poti, ⁿdimɗidi e ɟibinanⁿde to banᵑge hakːeːɟi. eɓe ᵑgoːdi miːɟo e hakːilantaːgal ete eɓe poti huːfo ⁿdirde e ⁿder ɓ ijᵑgujumːaːgu./
English original: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."
- Arnott, D. W. The Nominal and Verbal Systems of Fula. London: Oxford University Press, 1970. Print.
- Arnott, D. W. 'Fula'. In International Encyclopedia of Linguistics, vol. 2. W. Frawley (ed). Oxford University Press, 2003.
- McIntosh, Mary. Fulfude Syntax and Verbal Morphology. London: St Edmundsbury Press Lt, 1984. Print.
- Paradis, Carole. Lexical Phonology and Morphology: The Nominal Classes in Fula. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc, 1992. Print.
- Shehu, Ahmadu. Stress Placement Rules in Fulfulde: A Review. Bayero University, Kano, 2014.
- Wilson, W. A. A. (1945). Atlantic. In John Bendor-Samuel (Ed.), The Niger–Congo Languages, pp. 81–104.
- Grammar of the Fulde Language: With an Appendix of Some Original Traditions and Portions of Scripture Translated Into Fulde: Together with Eight Chapters of the Book of Genesis. Church Missionary House. 1876.
- Fulani at Ethnologue (26th ed., 2023)
Pulaar (Senegambia, Mauritania) at Ethnologue (26th ed., 2023)
Pular (Guinea, Sierra Leone) at Ethnologue (26th ed., 2023)
Maasina Fulfulde (Mali, Ghana) at Ethnologue (26th ed., 2023)
Borgu Fulfulde (Benin, Togo) at Ethnologue (26th ed., 2023)
Western Niger Fulfulde (Burkina, Niger) at Ethnologue (26th ed., 2023)
Central–Eastern Niger Fulfulde (Niger) at Ethnologue (26th ed., 2023)
(Additional references under 'Language codes' in the information box)
- Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student's Handbook, Edinburgh
- "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: ful". ISO 639-2 Registration Authority - Library of Congress. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
- "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: ful". ISO 639-3 Registration Authority - SIL International. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
- (Arnett 1975: 5).
- (Paradis 1992: 25).
- (Arnett 1975: 74).
- (McIntosh 1984:45-46).
- (Arnott 1975: 5)
- (McIntosh 1984:44)
- Arnott, D. W. (1956). "The Middle Voice in Fula". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies. 18 (1): 130–144. doi:10.1017/S0041977X00122244. JSTOR 610132. S2CID 163033896.
- "...malgré son extension géographique et ses variations dialectales, le fulfulde reste une langue profondément unie." Ka, Fary. 1991. "Problématique de la standardisation linguistique: Le cas du pulaar/fulfulde." In N. Cyffer, ed., Language Standardization in Africa. Hamburg: Helmut Buske verlag. Pp. 35-38.
- The Alphabet That Will Save a People From Disappearing, Kaveh Waddell, Nov 16, 2016, The Atlantic
- Hasson, Randall. "The ADLaM Story – How Alphabet Changes Culture". The Randall M. Hasson Blog. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
- Bach, Deborah (29 July 2019). "Ibrahima & Abdoulaye Barry — How a new alphabet is helping an ancient people write its own future". Story Labs. Microsoft. Retrieved 25 December 2019.
- "B. Peul. Alphabet et Inventaire des sons réprésentés," page 8 du Rapport Final de la Réunion d'un groupe d'experts pour l'unification des alphabets des langues nationales, Bamako, 1966. (Presented on Bisharat.net)
- "OHCHR | Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Pulaar". OHCHR. Retrieved 2023-01-31.
- Fulfulde Ajami script how to
- Fula- Language Gulper
- fulfulde app on googleplay
- Fulfulde Language Family Report (SIL) – includes maps of the dialects
- D. W. Arnott. The Nominal and Verbal Systems of Fula General Introduction webPulaaku
- Listen to a sample of Adamawa Fulfulde from Global Recordings Network
- Adlam alphabet
- Fula on the web
Below are some websites from different countries that use the Latin alphabet of Fula/Fulfulde: