Talk:Gbe languages

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Former featured article Gbe languages is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
Main Page trophy This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on July 11, 2005.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
May 25, 2005 Peer review Reviewed
May 28, 2005 Featured article candidate Promoted
August 30, 2010 Featured article review Demoted
Current status: Former featured article

On sentential negation[edit]

On "sentential negation": does Kojo not buy the kite or the bike? Lupo 11:30, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)

It should be kite (kátikáti), I changed it. Thanks for pointing it out! - Mark Dingemanse (talk) 11:53, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I have removed the addition of Category:Gbe languages to the article Gbe languages and similarly for Kwa languages. I believe that in in the case of languages, Categories and Subcategories can be best used to reflect the language family hierarchy. To achieve that, one should not include the co-ordinating article in the Category, but only the articles of individual languages (e.g. only articles like Ewe language and Fon language should be member of the Category:Gbe languages. Gbe languages on the other hand should be member of Category:Kwa languages.) Mark Dingemanse (talk) 19:43, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Never mind, I was wrong, see User talk:D6 for the relevant discussion. Mark Dingemanse (talk)

Doctrina Christiana and Timbuktu[edit]

"As early as 1658, a translation of the Doctrina Christiana in the language of Allada was made by Spanish missionaries (reprinted in Labouret & Rivet 1929). This document is most probably the earliest text in any West African language." I'm no expert on it, but surely some of the Timbuktu manuscripts would be earlier? - Mustafaa 04:11, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)

There surely are older documents among the Timbuktu manuscripts, but they all seem to be in Arabic. In any case, that's what I found out after reading some things on the subject (I'm no expert on it either). mark 20:51, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Interesting. I'll have to look into the history of "ajami" manuscripts... - Mustafaa 21:28, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I guess you're right. Apparently, Hausa writing didn't really get started till the 17th cent. [1] - Mustafaa 22:17, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)
You got me searching again :). In any case, it is going to be close. I've come across several statements like the one in the article you link to. Some quotes: Camara (1996): ... Wolof spoken in the Senegalo-Gambian Basin, a language whose literature, written in the Arabic alphabet long before being written in the Latin alphabet, has existed since the 17th century. John Edward Philips (1996, [2]): Writing in Ajami began in the 17th century, increased in the 18th and 19th centuries and continued into the 20th. Etc. Unfortunately, none of them does specify the dating, the manuscript, or the language. Various other sources mention Ajami literature in Wolof, Pulaar/Fulfulde, Hausa, and Kanuri. Mostly, this concerns 19th - 20th century poetry.
As it stands now, our findings seem to support the claim. However, I'm not attached to it at all. I must say I did not make it up myself; I think the claim comes from Law (2000, The kingdom of Allada).
Incidentally, I found something about a recent discovery of an Ajami Tamasheq manuscript dated in the 1500's: [3]. Interesting stuff. mark 00:20, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I don't know the answer, but I bet Arabic Medieval Inscriptions of the Republic of Mali, edited by Paulo Fernando de Maraes Farias, will have something... I just saw it in a bookshop the other day, and spent some time drooling before tearing myself away ;) - Mustafaa 00:50, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Pronunciation of "Gbe"[edit]

Can someone add the english pronuciation of the word "Gbe"? Axamoto 14:17, 11 July 2005 (UTC)

Good point, I've added it. I have thought about adding a sound file, but since an untrained ear can't hear the difference anyway between the voiced bilabial stop [b] and the voiced labio-velar stop [gb] (the only discernible difference is loudness), I've decided not to. Instead, I've added a note — mark 21:20, 13 July 2005 (UTC)

Taxobox question[edit]

Although this suggstion is probably a little late, with this article having been promoted to FAC status, & featured on the front page, but shouldn't Template:language be used in this article? It appears to me that all of the needed info is in this article. -- llywrch 17:52, 11 July 2005 (UTC)

I don't think so — {{language}} is a template for individual languages. This is a cluster of languages (or a language family), and we don't have a taxobox for that yet. — mark 21:00, 13 July 2005 (UTC)

Renaissance du Gbe?[edit]

Is there a particular reason for having that heading in French, or is it just an oversight by whoever translated it from the original french?

Yes there is, and no, it wasn't translated from French. That section mentions the influential 1988 work of H.B. Capo, titled Renaissance du Gbe. As the title of that book nicely captures the revival of a broader linguistic interest in the Gbe languages, I thought it a good line for the heading. — mark 20:58, 13 July 2005 (UTC)


Something isn't right about the description of Capo's account of nasality. Voiced oral & nasal stops have been argued to be allophonic in several West African languages, including most of Western Kru, but the analysis doesn't apply to Gbe, or at least not to Fon. It requires not only that there be no nasality contrast after nasal stops, but also that there be none after voiced oral stops. Gbe only matches the first condition. Basic Fon verbs like dòn "pull" and gǎn "escape" would not be possible if the description in this article were correct.

Also, it wouldn't be necessary to postulate elided vowels for syllabic nasals, only that the nasal stop were the underlying allophone, and were denasalized before oral vowels. kwami 11:06, 14 November 2005 (UTC)

I haven't Capo's articles lying around here right now, but I remember that I based the description of his account almost literally on relevant parts of his 1981 and 1988 publications. I will try to look it up, to see on which data his analysis is based. As for the postulation of elided vowels, that only reflects Capo's position. — mark 11:23, 14 November 2005 (UTC)

Manuscripts written in Songhai, too[edit]

I also doubt the Doctrina comment. In Timbuktu, most of the manuscripts are in Arabic however some were also written in the Songhai language and probably in Mande as well. But I've seen two sources stating that the manuscripts were written in Songhai and other "a'jami" languages. A'jami means foreign, implying that the language used to write the text was not Arabic. Considering that literacy goes back at least to about 1300 AD in Mali alone, I think the Doctrina claim should be removed.

this is my source

--Scott Free 22:54, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

As I said above, I'm not attached to the claim at all. I've changed it into 'one of the earliest texts'. — mark 06:36, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
If you read carefully the link mentioned above, it is clear that it does not claim that non Arabic languages were written in Timbuctoo earlier than in 18th century. I think that earlier scientific consenus was, that there are no extant manuscripts of a'jami tradition earlier than 18th century (possibly excluding some Berber languages). It is true that nowadays there seems to be some short texts written in Songhay that predate the colonialism, but you have to remember that colonial period began in Mali around 1900 AD. I have not found anywhere any attempt to date those Songhay texts so it is quite possible that they are from 18th or 19th century and do not, therefore, change the general picture. 10:33, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

Mutual intelligibility[edit]

How similar are the Gbe languages to one another? Could someone that spoke Aja understand Ewe and vice versa? Thnx in advance. :) Scott Free 14:26, 16 November 2007 (UTC) PanAfriL10n treats them as a single language, the differences aren't that big, though ewe is quite far from all the others. Contributions/ (talk) 12:18, 15 June 2009 (UTC)


Blench now places Gbe in a Volta-Niger linkage. kwami (talk) 00:17, 10 August 2008 (UTC)