Numeral Systems in Various Fula Lects

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The paper presents the analysis of Fula numeral system. Fula is an Atlantic language, dispersed throughout a vast territory in Sub-Saharan Africa. It has over 20 differently-sized lects subdivided into three zones - Western, Central and Eastern. The research included collecting the language data on six major lects, two from each zone. Then this data was analyzed from the point of view of internal and external syntax of ordinal, cardinal, distributive and fraction numerals. The comparative analysis of Fula numeral system on inter-lect scale has never been reflected in earlier Fula studies. Apart from a unique collection of numeral data from all language zones of Fula, the paper presents comparative analysis of such data, including, but not limited to, phonetic and contact-induced variabilities. The sources of structural and lexical loans in the system are listed wherever possible, because the disperse nature of Fula lects means that the contact languages and the ensuing changes can be different for each lect. Special attention is paid to the numeral bases, which can be somatic, commercial of a combination of the two. The Fula numeral system has never been analyzed from this point of view, and the contact changes to it are of great linguistic interest. Also cardinal numerals in Fula can change their form depending on the personality parameter of head noun. This system is unique for Fula and, more specifically, to its numeral system, and is properly described for the first time. Some parts of the Fula numeral system, like distributive and fraction numerals for some lects, have been found underrepresented and poorly described, which leaves room for further research, both field one and typological.

About the authors

Maria A. Kosogorova

IAAS Lomonosov Moscow State University Institute of Linguistics RAS

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7145-4710
12/1 Bolshoi Kislovski Per., Moscow, Russian Federation, 125009

Ph.D., leading research fellow of the Department of African Studies IAAS Moscow State University; research fellow of the African linguistics department, Institute of Linguistics RAS


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