Discuss culture and traditions
By bkidd
I was recently talking with Mamady and Monette about various inflections in Malinke. Interestingly, the example that Monette brought up was the word "Kono", which can have four meanings depending on the intonation and context.

1. bird
2. but, such as
3. stomach
4. in

A little while back I posed a question about a dununba rhythm where Djembefeeling and Dugafola kindly pointed out that it was Konowulen 2, which Djembefeeling referred to as the "bloody bird".
This conversation got me thinking about how tricky transcribing a tonal language into an atonal system such as English or French. Most words aren't written down in Malinke (the confluence of technology and N'Ko might change this
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/11/magaz ... ssage.html)
so we're stuck with various transcriptions. I'm curious, how do folks deal with the tonal variations? When reading or hearing a Malinke word such as Konowulen, what strategies do you guys use to decode that this is "Kono" and "Wulen", which mean bird and blood? For example, is this by analogy to soliwulen, which means "red panther" or where do we find this out? The obvious answer is to store such a question for someone who speaks Malinke. A second choice would be to use a dictionary or other reference:
however, these aren't so great. Are there other resources that people have found useful?

By Daniel Preissler
yes, wulen means red. blood is dyeli, but I don't really manage to distinguish it (by pronounciation) from the words dyeli=how many and dyeli=griot ;-)

in general, the problems you mentioned will always be there for us.
but we can distinguish some logical categories:
number 3 and 4 are "the same word". The word for "inside" has become (long time ago) the word for stomach. Same thing with "da", meaning whole, mouth and door.
it's the problem of eggs and young chicken (both "sisseden" - child of chicken).
With this problem even maninka people can have their problems. There are some jokes about pronounciantion/meaning in maninka. I only know one of them: you ask someone what "kankanda" means, and most people don't know or think of the first houses of the city of Kankan (kankna's mouth). Then you "hit" one of the guys' neck to make him understand: kankanda could mean "neck injury"/whole in the neck/neck wole.

other differences are no problem for maninka people, because they hear a differences (of intonation, as you said) that we don't hear. but principally we could learn it.

good night
By bkidd
Afoba wrote:
number 3 and 4 are "the same word". The word for "inside" has become (long time ago) the word for stomach.
I thought these might be the same meaning. Thanks for this clarification.

When Mamady pronounced the 3 different variations of Kono I was totally amused because I was having such a difficult time hearing them as different. I've sometimes wondered if learning Malinke would help my drumming, but it might be more frustrating than simply playing more. :)

By tauber
I have been taught nothing about blood. It could be but I doubt it. It means red (headed) bird.

By neuroanimal
There are much more similar words to "kono" in Mandé. Please look on some of them below.
  • kọ̃nọ (kõno) [kɔ̃nɔ] ߞߐ߬ߣߐ -> oiseau / bird
  • kọ̃nọ̄ (kõnō) [kɔ̃nɔ̄] ߞߐ߬ߣߐ߫ -> oiseaux / birds
  • kõnị̃ (kõnĩ) [kõnĩ] ߞߏ߬ߣߌ߲߬ -> seulement / only
  • knọ̃ (knõ) [knɔ̃] ߞߣߐ߬ -> mais / but
  • knọ̄ (knō) [knɔ̄] ߞߣߐ߫ -> en (prép.) / in (prep.)
  • knọ (kno) [knɔ] ߞߣߐ -> abdomen / abdomen
  • translitaration (simplified) [phonetic transcription IPA] N'Ko -> translation to French / English
  • tilde above character means: short low tone
  • macron above character means: short high tone
  • no diacritics above character means: neutral tone
  • dot below character means: nasalization
I hope you like it :dance2: