Koromfe

Koromfe

Koromfe belongs to the Central Gur branch of the Niger-Congo language family.

Classification

Geographic distribution

Koromfe is spoken in a U-shaped area around the town of Djibo, in the north of Burkina Faso.

Dialects

There are two major dialect areas, most conveniently termed East and West. The traditional centre of the Eastern area is Aribinda and of the Western area Pobé-Mengao. The western area is also known as Lorom (with two short close mid vowels), which should not be confused with the recently created province of Loroum centred around Titao. (Titao is ethnically Koromba, but Koromfe is no longer spoken there.) The grammar of Rennison (1997) describes the Western dialect.

Sounds/Phonology

  bilabial labio-
dental
alveolar palatal velar glottal
plosive      
nasal      
tap          
fricative      
approximant          
lateral approximant          

  labial-velar
approximant

The tap [r] is an allophone of /d/ (which occurs as [d] only word-initially and after nasal consonants). There also exists a spirantised allophone of /g/, i.e. [ɣ]: phonetic [g] only occurs word-initially, after a nasal consonant, or between two ATR high vowels. Before nasal vowels the approximants /j/ and /w/ are nasalised, and the nasalised /j/ in careful / slow speech can even harden to [ɲ]. However, there is no honest-to-goodness palatal series of consonants in Koromfe.

The vowel system comprises 5 non-ATR vowels {ɪ,ɛ,a,ɔ,ʊ} and their ATR counterparts {i,e,ʌ,o,u}. All vowels occur both orally and (context-free) nasally, and long and short, giving 40 full vowels. There is also a schwa ([ə]) which alternates with zero and disappears in faster / more casual speech.

Writing system

Koromfe has no written form.

References

  • Rennison, John (1997). Koromfe. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-15257-7.

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