Suppletion in Tagdal
A study of some verb root interactions between Songhay and Tuareg-Berber vocabulary in a Northern Songhay language
Northern Songhay languages are known for combining Songhay and Tuareg-Berber features. Nicolaï (1979) divided these languages into nomadic and sedentary sub-branches, something which Benítez-Torres and Grant (2017) confirmed, bears out very well from a grammatical standpoint. This paper explores some of the interactions between Songhay and Berber vocabulary by looking at suppletion in Tagdal, a nomadic Northern Songhay language. In Tagdal, suppletion occurs when a verb root of Songhay origin is replaced by one of Berber origin whenever a Berber derivational prefix is present. It will be demonstrated that when Tagdal was in its formative period, the prosodic features that came along with the Songhay and Berber portions of the language made it either easier or necessary to keep the two apart. The paper ends with a brief discussion of how Songhay and Berber vocabulary may have interacted during the period when Tagdal and other Northern Songhay languages were still being formed.
Keywords: Northern Songhay, Tagdal, language mixing, suppletion
Published online: 01 October 2020
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