Korandje language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Native toAlgeria
RegionTabelbala, Béchar Province
Native speakers
3,000 (2010)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3kcy
Songhay languages.svg
Location of Songhay languages[3]

Northwest Songhay:


Eastern Songhay:


Korandje (Korandje: kwạṛa n dzyəy; Arabic: البلبالية‎, translit. al-Balbaliyyah) is a Northern Songhay language which is by far the most northerly of the Songhay languages. It is spoken around the Algerian oasis of Tabelbala by about 3,000 people; its name literally means "village's language". While retaining a basically Songhay structure, it is extremely heavily influenced by Berber and Arabic; about 20% of the 100-word Swadesh list of basic vocabulary consists of loans from Arabic or Berber, and the proportion of the lexicon as a whole is considerably higher.[4]

The only published studies of Korandje based on first-hand data are Cancel (1908),[5] a 45-page article by a French lieutenant covering basic grammar and vocabulary and a couple of sample texts; Champault (1969),[6] an anthropological study containing some incidental linguistically relevant materials such as sentences and rhymes; Tilmatine (1991, 1996),[7] an article (published in German, then reworked in French) revisiting Cancel and Champault and adding about a page of new data recorded by the author; and Souag (2010a, 2010b),[8] the former arguing the case for Western Berber loans in the lexicon, the latter studying the effect of contact with Berber and Arabic on its grammar.


No complete phonological study of Korandje, systematically justified by minimal pairs, has yet been made. According to Souag (2010),[9] the vowel system consists of lax ə, ŭ [ʊ], ə̣̣ [ʌ] and tense a [a], i, u, ạ [ɑ], ụ [o], while the consonant system is as follows:

Labial Coronal Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal
plain lab. plain pha. plain lab. plain lab.
Nasal m n
Stop voiceless t k q ʔ
voiced b d g
Affricate voiceless t͡s
voiced d͡z
Fricative voiceless f s (ʃ) x ħ h
voiced z (ʒ) ɣ ɣʷ ʕ
Approximant w l j
Trill r

Items in brackets are not normally used by older speakers. A bilabial click is attested in one baby-talk word.

An earlier proposal by Nicolaï (1981),[10] based on a very limited corpus of recordings provided by Champault, suggested a smaller phoneme inventory:

Labial Coronal Palatal Velar Labiovelar Glottal
Plosives b t d k ɡ kʷ ɡʷ
Affricates ts dz
Approximants l j w
Fricatives f s z ʃ ʒ ɣ h
Nasals m n
Trill r

alongside pharyngealised consonants ṭ ḍ ṣ ẓ ṇ ḥ as well as x q, found mainly in loanwords, and a six-vowel system: a, i, u, e, o, and ə (schwa).



The pronouns are: aγəy, I; ni, you; ana, he/she/it; yayu, we; ndzyu, you (plural); ini, they. Possessive forms are ʕan, my; nən, your; an, his/her/its; yan, our; ndzən, your (pl.); in, their. Subject agreement prefixes on the verb are ʕa- I; n-, you; a-, he/she/it; ya-, we; ndz-, you (plural); i-, they.


The infinitive and singular imperative are both the stem (e.g. kani "sleep"); the plural imperative takes a prefix wə- (wə-kkani "sleep! (pl.)"). Cancel describes the conjugations as follows (also for xani):

English Preterite English Aorist
I slept a xani I sleep a (ba) am xani
you slept n(e) xani you sleep n ba am xani
he/she/it slept a xani he/she/it sleeps a âm xani
we slept ia xani we sleep ia âm xani
you (pl.) slept nd'(a) xani you (pl.) sleep nd'ba âm xani
they slept ia xan they sleep iba am xani

According to Tilmatine, verbs are negated by surrounding them with `as ... hé/hi, e.g. ni `as ba enγa hé > n`esbanγa hé "do not eat!". "No" is hoho or ho: n'd'xani bînu, willa ho? "did you sleep yesterday, or not?".


The most productive plural marker is the clitic =yu, e.g. tsəksi "goat" > tsəks=yu "goats". This marker comes at the end of the "core noun phrase", the unit consisting of noun+numeral+adjective+demonstrative: e.g. ạḍṛạ inẓa bya=γ=yu (mountain three big=DEM=PL) "these three big mountains".[11] Some Berber loans retain versions of their original plurals, usually with the circumfix (ts)i-...-ən, e.g. awṛəẓ "heel" > iwṛạẓən "heels"; while the morphemes involved are clearly of Berber origin, the details of this system differ from any one attested Berber language, and this plural is extended to at least one item of Songhay origin, tsạṛə̣w "spoon" > tsiṛạwən. Some Arabic loans similarly retain Arabic plurals.

The possessive is expressed by the particle n, with the possessor preceding the possessed: wi n tsə̣ffạ "woman 's knife".


The only non-Arabic numbers in normal use are a-ffu "one", inka "two", and inẓa "three". There also exist "cryptic" (argot) and children's counting systems. The syntax of numerals in the noun phrases is complicated.

External links[edit]

  • See Information on Korandje. (in PDF format; go to p. 163)
  • Jabal al-Lughat- a linguistic blog by Lameen Souag, a specialist on Korandje (note that the blog calls it Kwarandjie, Kwarandzie, or Kwarandzyey)


  1. ^ Korandje at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Korandje". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ This map is based on classification from Glottolog and data from Ethnologue.
  4. ^ Grammatical Contact in the Sahara: Arabic, Berber, and Songhay in Tabelbala and Siwa, Lameen Souag, PhD thesis, SOAS, 2010
  5. ^ «Etude sur le dialecte de Tabelbala», Lt. Cancel, Revue Africaine 1908, Nº 270-271, 302-347.
  6. ^ Une oasis du Sahara nord-occidental, Tabelbala, Dominique Champault, Paris: CNRS, 1969.
  7. ^ "Tabelbala: Eine Songhaysprachinsel in der Algerischen Sahara", Mohamed Tilmatine, Afrikanische Arbeitspapiere Sondernummer 377-397, 1991; "Un parler berbèro-songhay du sud-ouest algérien (Tabelbala): Elements d’histoire et de linguistique", Mohamed Tilmatine, Etudes et documents berbères 14:163-198, 1996.
  8. ^ "The Western Berber Stratum in Kwarandzyey (Tabelbala, Algeria)", in ed. D. Ibriszimow, M. Kossmann, H. Stroomer, R. Vossen, Études berbères V – Essais sur des variations dialectales et autres articles. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe, 2010; Grammatical Contact in the Sahara: Arabic, Berber, and Songhay in Tabelbala and Siwa, Lameen Souag, PhD thesis, SOAS, 2010
  9. ^ Grammatical Contact in the Sahara: Arabic, Berber, and Songhay in Tabelbala and Siwa, Lameen Souag, PhD thesis, SOAS, 2010
  10. ^ Les dialectes du songhay. Contribution à l'étude des changements linguistiques, Robert Nicolaï, Paris: CNRS (1981)
  11. ^ Grammatical Contact in the Sahara: Arabic, Berber, and Songhay in Tabelbala and Siwa, Lameen Souag, PhD thesis, SOAS, 2010