On the origin of some Northern Songhay mixed languages
This paper discusses the origins of linguistic elements in three Northern Songhay languages of Niger and Mali: Tadaksahak, Tagdal and Tasawaq. Northern Songhay languages combine elements from Berber languages, principally Tuareg forms, and from Songhay; the latter provides inflectional morphology and much of the basic vocabulary, while the former is the source of most of the rest of the vocabulary, especially less basic elements. Subsets of features of Northern Songhay languages are compared with those of several stable mixed languages and mixed-lexicon creoles, and in accounting for the origin of these languages the kind of language mixing found in Northern Songhay languages is compared with that found in the (Algonquian) Montagnais dialect of Betsiamites, Quebec. The study shows that Tagdal and the other Northern Songhay languages could be construed as mixed languages, although the proportion of Berber and Songhay elements varieties somewhat between these languages, and also indicates that the definition of ‘mixed language’ is labile because different mixed languages combine their components in different ways, so that different kinds of mixed languages need to be recognized. NS languages seem to belong to the category of Core-Periphery languages with respect to the origins of more versus less basic morphemes.
Keywords: mixed language, Northern Songhay, Tagdal, Tadaksahak, Tasawaq, Korandje, Tabarog
Published online: 04 December 2017
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