Building on what I shared earlier this week, in compiling and preparing the data for the comparative analysis, I noticed two interesting word borrowings:
The word for ‘land or country’, ganda is the same in Bangime, the Dogon languages in which the word for Bangime means ‘hidden or secret’ that I showed on the map, and also, Songhai. Now, we know about the Songhai Empire so it’s not so surprising to find words from their language popping up in languages across West Africa, especially in Mali. We also know that one of the main reasons the Dogon fled to the cliffs was to escape persecution from such empires. So, what if the Bangande lived at a point in time and space among the Dogon, and hid in the cliffs after their ancestors were annihilated?
However, today, I discovered the word for ‘domestic animal’ is daaba in all of the plains Dogon languages, Fulfulde, and Songhai, and quite clearly originally from Arabic. As illustrated by this map, and by historical records, around the 11th century Arabic-speaking populations from the North influenced Fulani who in turn spread their customs and cultures, the most importantly their domestication and herding of animals. The map shows that the Dogon living on the plains have been more susceptible to borrowing the word for ‘animal’ from the Fulani, whereas those living on the secluded cliffs have retained their original form.
Curiously, in Bangime, the word is completely unrelated to either the Dogon languages that have retained their word, nor to Fulani, and, based on a search through RefLex, nor to any other area language. This, plus the unique agriculture terms in Bangime, coupled with the fact that the current speakers of Bangime inhabit a sort of cul-de-sac as it were, suggest that they have been agriculturalists prior to the Dogon, with an estimated arrival ot the area around the 1500’s, or anyone else for that matter, so perhaps the Dogon found them where they are now? Given that Bangime toponyms are also unique, this scenario seems plausible, though it still leaves many questions unanswered!