VP Abba Tahir on Language Variations in Fulfulde

VP Abba Tahir on Language Variations in Fulfulde

On February 12, the Vice President for University Relations and adjunct professor in the School of Arts & Sciences, Dr. Abba Tahir, gave a guest lecture on "Language Variation in Fulfulde."

At a Language and Society class taught by Dr. Hannah Mugambi.

Dr. Tahir explained that language variations in Fulfulde resulted from the intrusion of other languages and cultures, leading to a multiplicity of dialects which has affected as well as modified it over time. "Every language must borrow to evolve with the evolving world."

This variation may occur in cases of change of location, where the dialect of the new location becomes adopted, intra-marriages, as well as mixing and mingling with other people of different origins. "If you are a Fula from a francophone country, your Fulfulde would tilt and sound like French."

Dr. Tahir described the Fulani people also called Fula, as the most itinerant group with almost 60 million spread across countries like the Gambia, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Chad, Gabon, Côte d'Ivoire, Nigeria, Cameroon, Congo, Mali, Benin Republic, and Sudan.

He traced the origin of the Fula people to the intermarriage between Banjo Mango, a Jew, and Uqba-Bin Nafi'a, an Arab woman.

The Fulani came into Nigeria during the 1804 Jihad in the North by Usman Danfodio with his disciples who were mostly Fulani from Senegal. The Islamic reforms in the northern emirates infused by Dan Fodio and his disciples also resulted in the infusion of Fulani in the regions.

Today, Fulfulde has spread across the country and is divided into Western, Eastern and Central dialects, with Muri (Taraba), Gombe, and Adamawa as the three major emirates where Fulfulde is spoken.

However, because of its mingling with the predominant Hausa-speaking people of Northern Nigeria, Fulfulde has some of its words and concepts mixing with Hausa. This brought about the first coining of the term "Hausa-Fulani" by Mvendaga Jibo, a journalist, in the 1970s.

Dr. Mugambi, the host professor, said the idea behind the lecture was to shed more light on the fact that no language possesses a single speaking style. "I came across Prof. Tahir speaking Fulfulde with another professor from Senegal and I couldn't help but notice some variations in their utterances."

Khadija Shehu, a law major said she found the class completely captivating "even as a Fulani, there were some things I didn't know that I learned about today."

Reported by Tina Bitrus