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mer. 13/12/2017 Atelier Histoire et Ecologie des Langues: Gerard Philippson: The bizarre phonological system of Bube (A31) and its relationship to “Proto- Bantu”.
ISH-Andre Frossard

The Bobe language (ebobée or ɛʧo, Bantu A31) spoken on the volcanic island of Bioko (formerly Fernando Póo) in Equatorial Guinea was until recently very poorly described. However publications by Justo Bolekia Boleká (Diccionario español-Bubi, 2009; Lingüística bantú a través del Bubi, 2008) have provided abundant lexical - and some grammatical - data which enable Bantuists to better take notice of both the great diversity of local varieties, which is doubtless due to the difficult mountainous terrain of this volcanic island, and of some specific phonological features not usually found together in the average Bantu language - I should point out that these are not exotic sounds per se (with the exception perhaps of an areally unusual supra-segmental phenomenon) since they mostly belong to a basic consonant inventory in terms of Maddieson (1984). What is surprising is the type of Bantu correspondences exhibited by the various dialects, some of which have unconditioned denasalisation like in ɓ≠ɔ́lla "child" cf. Duala m≠ɔ́na, and contextual nasalisation, in very unlikely environments like in si≠rɔːḿ "bird" CB *-nɔ̀dí or ba≠nna "blood", CB *-gìdá !

I will present in turn the geographical location of the language and the dialect situation on Bioko and briefly review the various linguistic groups of Guthrie's zone A and their phonological typology. I will then turn to the correspondences between the consonant inventories (vowels are not problematic) of the various dialects and how they relate to Common Bantu, pointing out their peculiarities vis-à-vis other Bantu languages. Finally I will discuss what these features can tell us on the position of Bube within the overall classification of Bantu languages.


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