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Re: Nouns for things that occur in pairs

From:Ingmar Roerdinkholder <ingmar.roerdinkholder@...>
Date:Sunday, May 25, 2008, 17:52
Maybe this is not exactly the same subject, but it made me think of this:

Fula, also known as Fulah (Gambia, Sieera Leone), Fulani (Nigeria), Pular
(Guinea), Pulaar (Senegal), Foula (Guinea), Peul/Peulh/Peuhl (French), Fulfulde
(Mali), Fulbe, Ful (German), Toucoulor (Senegal), Bororo (Niger), Woodabe
(Niger), Fellata (Chad, Sudan) etc. is an Atlantic language spoken througout
the Sahel zone in Western, Central and even Eastern Africa (a real language,
not a conlang!).

It has an interesting way with generic nouns, not only the usual mass nouns:

Singular   kaabawal         corn (ear of corn)
Plural      kaabaaje          ears of corn
Generic   kaaba              corn

Singular   bareeru ndun    the dog  (this one)
Plural       bareeji dhin      the dogs
Generic    bare on            the dog

Singular    biiniiri ndin       the bottle
Plural       biniije dhen      the bottles
Generic    biini on            the bottle

Sing         otowal ngal      the car (from French "auto")
Plur          otooje dhen     the cars
Gen          oto on            the car

Sing         saabiwal ngal    the key
Plur          chaabiije dhen   the keys
Gen          saabi on           the key

Sing         bireediwal ngal   the bread (from Engl. "bread")
Plur          bireediije dhen   the breads
Gen          bireedi on         the bread

Sing         leemunneere nden   the orange (from "lemon")
Plur          leemunneeje dhen   the oranges
Gen          leemunne on      the orange

Other interesting plurals are:

deftere = book
defte = books

bheyngu = wife
bheyngure = family (the Fula are polygamous muslims)

jullure nden = the chair
julle dhen = the chairs

wudure nden = the sheet
gude dhen = the sheets

As you can see in some of the above examples, initial consonant mutation
often occurs in pluralization.

Note these very interesting singular and plural nouns:

gorko = man, worbhe = men.
debbo = woman, rewbhe = women.
suudu = house, chuudi = houses.
pullo = Fula, fulbhe = Fulas.
saare = town, cha'e = towns.
landho = chief, lambhe = chiefs.
mboddi = snake, bolle = snakes.

Sometimes real languages can be more fantastic than conlangs, and I think
Fula is definitely one of them!


On Sat, 24 May 2008 16:19:07 -0500, Eric Christopherson
<rakko@...> wrote:

>I remember reading somewhere that some languages have a special >marking for nouns for things that normally occur in pairs. What do >you call this phenomenon? Is it an example of grammatical number (and >if so, what is that number called?) And does anyone how those >markings evolved?