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Dialects of fulfulde (Pulaar).


    About Pulaar

    Pular is in the Atlantic branch of the Niger- Congo language family. Other languages in the Atlantic branch are Wolof, Serer, Koñagi, Baga, Landuma, and Kissi. The Mandé branch is also in the Niger-Congo family, and includes Maninka, Susu, Jakanke, Jalonke, and Soninke. The dialect taught in this book, known as Pular Fuuta
    ,is spoken in the area that once comprised the theocratic kingdom of the Fuuta Jallon (most of which is in modern-day Guinea). Other dialects in the area are Fulakunda, spoken in Casamance (southern Senegal) and parts of Guinea-Bissau and Gambia; and Pulaar, the language of the Toroo6e (Toucouleur) in Northern and southeastern Senegal and southern Mauritania (as well as in Dinguiraye in Guinea). Other forms of Pular are spoken in Niger, Mali, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Cameroon. Linguists sometimes refer to Pular and its first cousins by the generic name of Fulfulde
    It is a useful language in West Africa, not only because it has relatives in so many different countries, but also because the Ful6e Fuuta are every-where. As a result of large emigration movements over the last 50-60 years, every West African capital has a colony of Ful6e traders, merchants, etc.
    Today there are over 2.5 million speakers of the Fuuta Jallon dialect, out of around 14 million Pular speakers total.

    A brief history of the Fuuta-Jallon Ful6e.

    You may hear a lot of stories about the origin of  the Ful6e(1): they came from Ethiopia, they came from Australia, they’re the lost tribe of Israel, and so on. There are several causes for this speculation: The French wondered about their light skin and fine features, and their language seemed unrelated to any of the surrounding languages; add to this the fact that there are credible historical sightings of the Ful6e as far east as Libya and Egypt. And the Ful6e themselves like the idea that they are some-how mysterious, different from (and perhaps superior to) their neighbors.

    1 Also known as the Peulh (the Wolof word for them) or the Fula (the Hausa word for them). Ful6e is what they call themselves (Pullo in the singular).

    More recent research in anthropology and linguistics lends support to the following story: The Ful6e originated north of the Sene-gal river, in what is now Mauritania. They traveled widely; some wandered east, where they were islamicized by Arabs or Berbers, and eventually returned west.

    The Fuuta Jallon was settled by the Ful6e in two waves: the first, possibly as early as the 13th century, consisted of pagan (non-Islamic) Ful6e, known as Pulli. The second began in the 16th century and consisted of Moslem Ful6e from Macina in what is now the republic of Mali. This clan of Ful6e originally shared the Fuuta Jallon with its other inhabitants, non-Muslim Ful6e and Jallonke. Sometime in the 17thcentury, though, they became fed up with the pagans’ drinking and dancing, and declared holy war. This jihad was long and bloody and featured a number of atrocities, if the Fulåe’s own oral history is to be believed. When the dust settled (around 1725), the Muslim Ful6e had established a federal theocracy under Islamic law, with a central ruler in Timbo (near present-day Mamou), a holy city
    in Fougoumba, and seven other provinces (diwe) with a certain amount of autonomy.

    Labe quickly became the wealthiest and most powerful of these, expanding its borders to the north and west until it encompassed an area nearly as long as the rest of the kingdom put together. From the outset this kingdom was plagued by power struggles. The descendants of the first Almaami (Imam/king) quickly split into two houses, the Alfaya
    and the Soriya, which fought more or less incessantly throughout the history of the kingdom. For a while a system of
    bicephalism was formalized, in which there were always two Almaamis, one from each house, who would trade off power every two years. In practice this didn’t work out very well, as one might expect; and reigning Al-maamis stood a good chance of having their heads cut off and delivered in a gourd to the Al-maami-in-waiting.

    The French were able to establish themselves in all the surrounding areas long before they made any headway in the Fuuta. They were finally able to capitalize on internal power struggles, and on Labe’s hopes for greater autonomy. In 1896, at the battle of Pore-Daka, the French, along with the armies of Alfa Yaya, chief of Labe, defeated the last Almaami, Buubakar Biro.

    The colonial authorities moved quickly to con-solidate their power over the area, putting puppet chiefs in place, dividing the Fuuta in order to strengthen leaders favorable to them, and little by little diluting the role of the Almaami. As Alfa Yaya watched his authority slip away, he tried to organize an uprising against the colonists; but his plot was discovered, and he was sent into exile. He died in a prison colony in Mauritania.


    Fulani History manual PDF